SUMMITVILLE, Ind. —
With a mind to save the world, a small group from the First Christian Church in Summitville began regular medical mission trips to Haiti. They found that the experience changed them more than the residents of the Third World country.
“Once you get there you realize you aren’t going to stop world hunger, but God works on you — you are the one that’s transformed,” said Nathan Lutterman, pastor. “The huge awareness changes you and come back ready to build up momentum here.”
Every other year a team from the congregation travels with doctors, dentists and nurses to provide services the poor could not receive otherwise. Those without medical training fill various needs, such as sterilizing equipment, holding down patients during procedures, unloading medical supplies from the semi-trailer sent across the border, talking with the people as they wait in line and praying for those with untreatable conditions.
“We go down there with all this stuff and leave everything but the clothes on our backs,” said Lutterman, who also teaches fifth grade at Howard Elementary School in Kokomo. “When you come away from Haiti, you really appreciate what you have. It’s one thing to see a kid starving on a TV show and another to see one 10 feet from you. You feel guilty for the luxuries you have.”
Seeing the difference in culture and lifestyle can be very jarring. Not only are normal costs of traveling calculated, but money for bribing officials has to be considered. Without these resources, help for the people will not be allowed into the country. They sometimes pass bodies lying on the side of the road and treat conditions at the medical center that turns the stomach.
One year their contact was shot and killed right before they left.
“This is not a Sunday school version of helping others,” he continued. “There is no peacekeeping force in Haiti other than the United Nations, so when we go through the area we have a heavily armored vehicle.”
“I certainly don’t take anything for granted anymore,” said Shane Riley, former Madison County resident now stationed at Fort Hood. “It was overwhelming how grateful the people were that we were there and for the smallest things we gave them. It was a real eye-opener — I have a different perspective on life after visiting a Third World country.”
From Here to There: A series about Madison County residents who travel to help their fellowman. If you know of an individual or civic, school or church group that has embarked on a mission trip in the last year, please email email@example.com.