We often receive similar questions regarding mission trips – here are some of them with more in depth answers. For more basic questions, be sure to read our mission trip manual (which is available here).
Q: Is there a minimum age requirement for team members?
A: Yes, any children/students traveling with a team must be at least 12-years-old.
Q: Do we need to bring linens?
A: We will have sheets and pillows available for each person – however, if you’d like to bring your own sheets/pillows you can do so and leave them behind for the children. You could consider bringing a fleece blanket (something which would keep you warm on summer nights) as it can get pretty cool in Haiti at night. Please bring your own towel and washcloth as well.
Q: How much money should I bring on this trip?
A: The only times you will need money is if you are interested in purchasing gifts to bring back for family/friends or food at the airport. You shouldn’t need more than $100 at the most for those reasons.
Q: Why do you request that women wear dresses/skirts outside of the orphanage?
A: In rural Haiti, dresses are simply the cultural norm for Christians. There are plenty of cultural norms that are unproductive, which we can oppose, but we try to respect cultural norms that are not matters of morality. Requesting that women wear modest dresses in the community allows us to honor the culture while simultaneously upholding modesty in a culture that often treats women like objects. We are also examples to the young girls at the orphanage – they, like all children, will follow where we lead. We want to lead them well.
Q: I read in the missions manual that you would rather us cover up tattoos and take out piercings, why?
A: Similar to the above question about dress, what we display to the world will impact the message we share. When presenting Christ to another culture we must be aware of their beliefs and worldview, again – to ensure our message isn’t hindered unknowingly. Tattoos and piercings can have a very negative connotation in the Haitian culture and therefore we would encourage you to do what you can to remove piercings and hide tattoos. At the orphanage, people are more accustomed to Americans, but outside the walls they may distract from whatever you are trying to teach or do.
Q: What can we expect to eat?
A: While in Haiti with GVCM you will not go hungry! GVCM has hired a cook to focus solely on the teams which sacrifice time, energy and money to come to serve alongside us. You will eat many local Haitian dishes, some of which are slightly modified to appeal more to the American palate.
You will be fed three meals a day in the cafeteria. For breakfast, our cook Nana normally serves either Haitian eggs (eggs with some spice) or pancakes. Lunch is usually some type of sandwich or hot dogs and fries. Sometimes there is a soup. Dinner is the meal Nana usually goes all out for! Spaghetti, LOTS of Rice and Beans, a yummy vegetable and goat (yes, goat), always paired with some type of side: fried plantains, fried okra,
Bring water from your room and we will have the option of Nana’s coffee (soooo good) in the morning and soft drinks for some other meals.
Q: Can you explain the safety precautions GVCM takes?
A: Safety is of high priority for our ministry – when you are responsible for the lives of 130 children and hundreds of friends who sacrifice time/money to serve with us you do your best to ensure safety.
Teams are never allowed to travel outside of the orphanage without a Haitian staff member. This staff member will help you understand cultural precautions and give you the ability to communicate with others as needed.
While on site there is a 10 foot wall which surrounds the orphanage along with a 24-hour armed security guard team at the gate.
GVCM takes your safety seriously, but we must remember the truth of our situation. We live in a fallen world – which means as much as we try to set up boundaries and safety protocol we cannot keep all harm out of your way. This is not meant to scare you but to keep you alert and remind you of the truth that harm can happen at any point in your days, we must be alert and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives.
We truly believe there is no safer place to be than fully walking in the will of God.
Q: Tell us about the children’s schedule.
A: During the school year the children are up at 6 am for their daily devotions, followed by getting ready for the day and then breakfast. School usually lasts from 8 am – 1 pm, depending on the grade the child is in. After school, there are chores to complete, homework to finish, and dinner to eat. The older a child is, and the higher their grade level, the more responsibilities they will carry. During the school year we are trying to keep activities with the children to a minimum, allowing them to focus on their school work.
Q: What type of clothing should I wear on the travel days?
A: Travel days take us sometimes between two extremes. We leave the coolness of the north and travel to the heat of the south, and vice versa. We also find ourselves aboard planes that fluctuate between temperatures dramatically and the possible long distance run between gates.
All this to say – dress comfortably, yet modestly. We do ask that you not wear leggings/yoga pants while traveling as a way to honor our hosts in Haiti.
A suggestion would be tennis shoes, jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. If you’d rather wear sandals of some sort, I would suggest carrying a pair of socks in your carry-on for when we are on the plane, as it can get pretty cold.
Q: What religion does the majority of the population practice in Haiti?
A: There are actually a variety of religions practiced in Haiti, but the largest ones would be Roman Catholicism and Voodoo. These two religions are connected in Haiti – let me tell you how.
When slaves came from Africa they brought with them their native religion – Voodoo. If you were to ask a person who practices Voodoo if they believe in a God, they would say yes. They believe there is a God, but they do not believe he is a personal God. They believe God is just a being in charge of many other spirits, named often after Catholic saints. These saints/spirits are the ones which control life on Earth – either for good or for bad. In order to please the saints they set up shrines, give sacrifices and participation in dances and spirit possession. Practicing voodoo is a life surrendered to the god of this world, Satan. He and his demons will use those who have surrender their soul to him to play our his schemes on earth.
Will you experience any Voodoo while in Haiti? Only God knows. You may hear the beat of voodoo drums in the evening or mornings from outside in the community. You may see some shrines as we walk through the community. You may meet some children who come from a voodoo family.
The one thing to know is this – when your heart is full of Jesus Christ there is no room for Satan and his demons.
Q: If we go swimming, what type of swimwear is acceptable?
A: We ask that women wear either a one-piece or tankini and wear shorts if possible. Men can wear
Q: What do we do if a child wants to sell us something?
A: We ask you not to purchase or agree to purchase anything from an individual child. However, if you are interested in seeing what they have to sell (mostly bracelets), ask our staff to set up a childs’ “market” at a set time. A children’s market is simply an opportunity for all of the children to set up their wares in one place and to give them each a fair chance to make a sale. Additionally, this allows our staff to know what children are receiving money and ensure that they are only making authorized purchases.
In addition to children, we will occasionally allow a couple of local vendors to sell trinkets in a set place for a limited time. There should be no one else on campus who would ask you to purchase items from them. If someone presents an offer to you, please check with our staff before you agree to anything.
Q: Why do you recommend not giving out our Facebook or contact information?
A: We recommend that all missionaries NOT share their personal contact information or social media connections with the staff and/or children at GVCM, especially with people you have met only once. There is a well established bad habit of remote begging among a significant number of Haitians (though certainly not all). Giving away your contact info means you may well be asked for money by both people in honest need as well as con artists. In either case, we as a ministry do not exist to facilitate begging, we exist to empower and equip Haitians through work. We ask you not to give away your contact information so that you don’t end up being one of dozens of people who gets asked for money whenever your Haitian contact has a problem in his life.
Q: Can children eat with us in the cafeteria?
A: Unfortunately, no. I know how quickly it can seem that you build a relationship with the children at the orphanage, however, we ask that there are no children in the cafeteria for the following two reasons:
- Allowing some children into the cafeteria, but not all of
them,sends the unintended message that some are more important than others. We wish to protect the hearts of all our children from pride and from discouragement.
- You will be surrounded by children for the entirety of your trip. Your meal times are an opportunity to connect in fellowship with your team members, and to pray about your mission while in Haiti and when you return home. Keeping the children outside the cafeteria will allow you to focus on the needs of your team and decompress from the constant activity that is the 130+ children.
Q: Tell me about
A: Church in Haiti has similarities and differences to our church experience in the US.
At GVCM there are two church experiences.
First is the main church experience. This is where the adults attend with their children. Three hours of singing, praying and learning more about our Heavenly Father. There are also some administrative items they take care of and introductions of new individuals to the church. Here your team will be asked to come up in front of the church and be introduced to the congregation. Your team may want to sing a song for the church – that is a special gift which you can give to the welcoming congregation. Church lasts from about 8:00 am until about 11:00 am and can get warm. Bring a full water bottle!
Next, there is a children’s church for the orphanage children. If you’d like to attend children’s church with the kids, just let us know! We ask that you wait to do so until after they present your team to the congregation out of respect and to honor our hosts. During children’s church the children listen to Bible stories, sing many songs and pray. It is either held in an enclosed room in the orphanage or at the Zacchaeus tree outside.
Q: What types of games can we bring to play with the kids?
A: This is one of many people’s favorite parts of a mission trip – the 1 on 1 time you spend with the children. Bring any type of game that encourages connection. We know that it was a relationship with Christ which changed our
Some suggestions: soccer/
The children here are also extremely artistic and very fast learners – so any other form of craft you may want to teach them, or other games you think they’d enjoy – bring them along!!!
Q: Tell me about internet connection on campus. How can I contact family back home?
A: GVCM has both internet capability and a landline that can call the US. You will be able to call home should you need, and connect with friends and family via internet connection as you desire.
Be smart about your smartphone. Use it to connect with people and take pictures, but don’t miss the experience. Additionally, while a smartphone can be a useful tool to connect with a child who doesn’t speak much English (through a game or pictures), please don’t let kids play with your phone independently or walk off with it. Also, some kids may be pushy about asking to use your phone – be the adult and don’t reward rudeness.
Our internet is backed up by battery chargers which will help us maintain a more steady system. However, there may be times when the internet is completely down. We will do our very best to get it back and working – and we will always have a way for you to connect with your family back home should the need arise.
Q: Are there any items I can bring to donate that would help the people of Haiti?
A: Yes! See our list here: Blessings you can pack