It was the lights of Miami that told me our trip was over. The lights I didn't take for granted, and that seemed so richly abundant—excessive and wasteful, even—after a week spent in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
 
The plane ride allowed for some time to take stock of the past three days. None had the emotional rawness of Wednesday, but they continued the work of understanding this place and its people—and made me aware of how much I have to learn and experience.

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Trip co-leader, Mike Carpenter warned us at Tuesday night's evening reflection that if something is going to go wrong during our time in Haiti, it'll happen on Wednesday. He was both right and wrong.

The day started with a visit to MPP's schoolhouse, which was expanded in the past year with a generous gift from the Unitarian Society of Germantown. We helped with the grounds and met the children, who were full of wonder. Then we headed to our vehicles.
 
And that's when Wednesday struck.
 
On the road back, we came upon an accident. A motorbike with a passenger clipped a boy crossing the road. The boy was lying limped where he fell, and the bike fell over too. One of the young men limped off the road. 
 
Our caravan stopped and two members of the group jumped out to aid the boy. Monica Perme and Nuala Carpenter are both health care professionals and cared for the boy, while the boy's father and others incited a loud, angry argument over who was to blame for the accident.
 
Amidst the furor, the boy regained consciousness.IMG 8610
 
Eventually, Monica, Nuala, the two injured Haitians, and the boy's mom went to the hospital in one vehicle, and the rest of us headed home in the other two.
 
So often we ask ourselves why we're in a place like Haiti. It's not an easy question. Today we knew. We weren't there intending to help in this situation; we were just there. We have no way of knowing if what we did prevented something worse, though it kind of felt like it did. What we do know is that at a terrible time in a young boy's life, when he was surrounded by confusion, and anger, and noise, he received compassion and skilled care and he was delivered safely to more care. 
 
The reflection this evening centered on that event, and several other out-of-leftfield experiences that seem to happen more here than at home. And on the joy that comes with doing this work of living together.
 
It included Monica remembering something that one of the youth, Julia MacDonald, said while gathering rocks to clear a space for a playground at the school what seemed like a lifetime earlier. She said, "I wish I had bigger hands to help." 
 
May all of us have the hands and hearts to help, wherever and whenever we're needed in this world that so often confounds our plans.
 
-Kevin Donahue
Youth Coordinator for the trip

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We are settled in with our Haitian hosts after a whirlwind day and a half.

The 13 members of the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice service learning trip to Haiti arrived in Port-au-Prince Friday and Saturday. Most of us are from the Main Line and Wellsprings congregations In suburban Philadelphia.
 
On Sunday after attending a morning evangelical Christian service with more than 1,000 Haitians, we took a brief tour of the country's national history museum. Then we climbed into three vehicles for the three-hour trip to the headquarters compound of the Mouvement Peasant Papaye (MPP), our hosts for the week. 
 
The trip took us past a vast ghetto of makeshift housing near Port-au-Prince, through the mountains and into Haiti's Central Plateau.
 
To see the depth of poverty here, to be so close to the people who live their lives here, is a world-rocker. 
 
We shared our feeling of heart-opening and heart-breaking at the night's reflection. A house away, we could hear a family going through its paces--talking, laughing, a child calling out. For me, it was a reminder that our circumstances may be so different but our humanity is identical. We live, we dream, we fear, we grow angry and despair. We persevere. 
 
After the reflection, we star-gazed. The sky is both darker and brighter here, and bursting with light. May that be a good omen.
 
Monday we will hear more from our hosts, including MPP's founder, who recently abandoned a presidential campaign. And hopefully we move one day closer to understanding and being in relationship with the people who live in this complicated, difficult, wondrous place.
 
Please keep us and our hosts in your thoughts.
 
-Kevin Donahue
Youth Coordinator for the trip

Join Your Community in Service

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 18, beginning at 9:00 a.m.MLK day buona risoluzione
MLUC will partner with other local churches for the annual MLK Day of Service. This year, we’ll be doing something different. Led by Rev. April Martin, pastor of the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Devon, volunteers (children welcome) will assemble at Saint Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church: 203 North Valley Forge Road in Devon. Rev. Martin will organize projects like collecting and delivering men’s toiletries, towels and washcloths, over-the-counter medical supplies, and non-perishable foods to local hospitals, clinics, and homeless shelters; making blankets; and making cards for sick children.

We will collect supplies at MLUC on Sundays, January 10 and January 17. Please donate if you can. View the list

Rev. Martin will lead a separate worship service on Saturday, January 16, noon, at Mount Zion Church: 380 N. Fairfield Road in Devon, followed by a fellowship meal that participants can purchase.

A women’s group from our Partner Church, the Unitarian church in the village of Várfalva, in the Romanian province of Transylvania, sent us a gift of embroidered aprons, runners, placemats, and bookmarks to use for fundraising. The bookmarks were sold at the Annual Auction last month. The other items will be sold at a silent auction in the Atrium on December 6 and 13.

Accompanying the gift was a letter from the Várfalva varfalvachurch minister, Rev. Zsolt Barabas. He opens the letter “Dear Friends!” and explains, “In 2012–2013 the Unitarian church in Várfalva realized a very important plan: we managed to renovate the church tower. In this renovation task, the financial support provided by the Main Line UU Church was crucial. Our congregation is very grateful for your support.”

Aware of our Capital Campaign and our repair and renovation plans, Rev. Barabas says he saw “a great chance for us to contribute somehow to your task, and to give something back from the generous help we received from you.” At his suggestion, a group of women, led by Rev. Barabas’s wife, Aliz Barta, gathered weekly beginning last January and created the gift of embroidery pieces. The letter ends, “With this gift, we would like to express that your dreams and plans are important to us too, and to achieve your goals, we wish you strength and energy.”

On December 6 and 13, after each Sunday service, the Partner Church Committee will host a table in the Atrium where you can bid on the embroidery items and sign a Christmas card to the members of the Várfalva congregation. All proceeds from the auction will go to MLUC’s Capital Campaign.

Learn more about our Partner Church.