Trip about dedicating time, love to people in need


Of the 15 or so trips Rodney Burton has taken to Haiti, the one he will embark on Monday is much more sentimental than the others.

“I don’t know what to expect, and I don’t know if I will be emotional or not,” he said. “This time is different.”

It’s different because it’s the first time the Seymour resident will return to the country since he and his wife, Amanda, adopted their 4-year-old son, Marcus.

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Burton and 23 other volunteers from local Lutheran churches will leave Monday for a week to begin the construction of a church in Village Coracess, Haiti, through Heart-4-Haiti. The group also will teach and worship with local Haitians.

Heart-4-Haiti is a missionary organization first started at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vallonia that is now supported by Lutheran churches in Jackson County. It has constructed facilities and supports the congregations and schools associated with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Port-au-Prince and Leogane.

In 2014, the organization and its volunteers helped construct a school in Leogane.

The organization has raised more than $100,000 since a fundraising campaign was established in 2015 for the church project in Village Coracess.

The area of about 1,500 was settled following the 2010 catastrophic earthquake that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Haitians.

“This area did not exist until the earthquake when people moved from the disaster areas near Port-au-Prince,” said the Rev. Andrew Currao with Redeemer Lutheran Church. He is leading the group of volunteers during the mission trip.

Currao has been to Haiti and said he is looking forward to the trip. Through his experience, local Haitians enjoy gathering around as they work and even help.

“It’s fun to interact with them,” he said.

Currao said the people in Haiti do not need the help in constructing the church because they’re capable, but organizing an effort puts faith in action.

“They can build the church, and we don’t need to physically be there for them to build the church. We’re going to because we want to show them our care, kindness and love and that we’re willing to come all the way down there to give them a hand,” he said. “I think that means something.”

Burton agreed and said he sees how appreciative the people of Haiti are when the group works side by side.

“It’s easy for us to sit down and write a check, but when you go down there and you work with them and you sweat with them and get cut and bleed and get blisters with them, that shows love and shows you care,” he said. “You can see it in their eyes.”

Many don’t realize the level of poverty in the country, Currao said. The country is the poorest in the western hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when we talk about poor what we really mean by poor,” he said. “Poor for us here in Seymour is having a home, food, clothes and things like that. It’s a different thing when we talk about the level they’re at.”

Burton said many question why the congregations are focused on helping Haiti when there is a lot of people in need locally. Burton said even though the system is flawed, there is a safety net for many here.

“In Haiti, it’s life or death,” he said. “I don’t think God sees boundaries, and they sometimes put God in a box and say he’s the United States’ God, he’s not Haiti’s, but you can’t put God in a box.”

That’s the message he had when he and his family reached the decision to adopt Marcus.

Marcus was in an orphanage in Haiti when Burton helped area Lutheran congregations help construct the Leogane school in 2014.

“We knew when we were married, we were going to adopt. We just didn’t know when, where or where from until we went on the mission trip,” he said, adding his parents adopted his younger brother and had foster children. “He was one of 15 kids there at the time.”

Now, Marcus attends preschool at St. John’s Lutheran School-Sauers and enjoys playing with animals on the farm.

“He’s doing great, and his English is good,” Burton said. “He’s a happy, excited little boy.”

His older brother, Trenton, said his brother also enjoys television.

On Sunday before the group leaves, they will worship in Port-au-Prince and then return in the afternoon to worship with the people for whom they’re building the church.

“I’m really happy it’s going to work out where we can have a worship service with these folks,” Burton said.

Currao said helping Haiti through mission work is what the Bible calls Christians to do.

“The Scripture is clear about loving our neighbor and about doing all we can to help them,” he said. “There are a lot of parables about caring and loving people, and it never stops.”

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Follow Heart-4-Haiti’s mission work in Village Coracess next week as they construct a church.

The group will post updates on its Facebook page, Heart-4-Haiti.


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