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Marysville United Methodist Church members help Haitians rebuild

MARYSVILLE — When Marysville Methodists traveled to Haiti, they found a country struggling with shocking poverty, but also one whose citizens still harbor hope.

The eight members of the Marysville United Methodist Church who had taken a mission trip to Haiti from Feb. 27 through March 7 devoted the evening of March 17 to sharing their experiences with fellow church members.

Vern Woods, who trained during this trip to assume the leadership role for the mission trip that the church is already planning for next year, thanked their 47 shareholders for supplying $1,725 in funds for them to help dig the foundations of a church, which Woods was able to spend frugally enough to set aside a budget surplus of $1,100 to help fund the next trip.

"All the pre-trip conceptions I had of what I would find were wrong," said Woods, who's taken part in mission trips to other destitute areas. "Port-au-Prince is in the worst state I've ever seen a place, but there was very little begging. These people want to earn their money. They deserve our help, but they just don't have any government. The chaos they live in every day is scary. I saw one homeless man drinking the mud out of a puddle."

Caryn Young, who helped provide medical care, echoed Woods' observations of the lack of infrastructure in the country, but also agreed with him that the Marysville Methodists and the Haitians with whom they worked on the church's foundation gained a sense of kinship through their shared religious faith and laboring side by side under the hot sun.

Paul Bowlby pointed out the difference that outside aid can make to a nation whose people earn a per capita personal income of $1,200 a year, when even a single brick can cost $3.50 of an $8.50 daily wage. Chris Pratt, who has experience in building inspection and construction, explained that the Haitians' buildings were unable to bear up against the earthquake not only because a total absence of building codes, but also because they had to be built to withstand hurricanes instead.

"It's eye-opening what they have to put up with," Dale Gribble said. "The garbage doesn't get picked up and water mains are still broken and pouring out onto the street after months. And yet, the children are wonderful to be around. They liked to touch our skin and our hair. One little girl had a scar on her brow, so I showed her a scar on my leg, so she could see we're all the same."

"You have lots of people striving for more, but you also have lots of people thinking that it's a good day if they've had a good meal," said Tom Albright, pastor of the Marysville United Methodist Church.

The Marysville Methodists left behind their work clothes, including their boots, for the Haitians, many of whom didn't have shoes.

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