First Thoughts on Being Back From Haiti

I’m not sure what I want to say. I keep jumping all around in my mind, a nontemporalproximal place.

The number of emotions that sweep over me remain overwhelming.

I feel a sadness now that I’m back. I feel like I’ve died.

I feel a great relief to be back home though. Yet, I hate what home brings with it.

I am acutely aware of the sounds: the low murmur of cars on I-5. The buzz of the street lamps in their orange glow. The people yelling down the street. The cars as they drive past me.

It’s so cold here. I’m not used to sleeping with all these blankets.

I put my ear buds in and play a podcast…not my usual one, but one I would listen to in Haiti. My whitenoise maker reminds me of the airplane engines. I fall asleep.

As I walked to the next gate at the airport, I felt inundated with commercial advertisement. What is this product? Why do I need it? Why the fuck are they even advertising this, nobody needs this.

I keep looking out the window, not wanting this plane ride to end. Planes and airports now remain my last vestige of something that means so much, yet I can’t accurately explain what or why.

I don’t want to collect my bags on the carousel. I don’t want to leave the airport — it means I have to say goodbye.

There’s something special about spending such intimate time with these people. We eat together, we sleep together, we pray together, we ride together, we laugh together, we cry together, we work together. We created a new being — a new life form — that existed for 11 days. It was symbiotic and it will never exist again like it did.

I don’t want to go to sleep, because it means I have to move on.

It feels weird to be alone, knowing there’s no one just around the doorway.

We see each other at church and naturally gravitate toward each other.

We seem different now. Sure, we’ve all taken our hot showers; but it’s not that. We act different.

I don’t want to look at my email. There’s 116 new emails covering at least 50 different topics.

Work, even life here, seems too complicated. Too complex. Too overwhelming. I just want to curl up into a ball and cry.

I want things to be simple again. I want to focus on what’s in front of me right now, not what may or may not happen in two weeks.

3026 photos, that’s a lot of memories. I look at them and replay the trip over in my head. I look at the photos from the very beginning of the trip, from when before we really knew each other. Who are these people?

Coming back this time was different. Last time, I was excited to be home because I didn’t know when I was going to get home. This time though, I could anticipate getting home. I knew almost precisely when I would land.

There was no large contingent of people waiting with bated breath for us at the airport. Just our parents, significant others, or roommates.

We sang our song one last time. It was beautiful, amazing, poignant, awesome…just like Haiti was.

I don’t know if I want to go back. I love the simplicity of it. I love Bruce and Deb. I love to see what God is doing. But I hate the politics. I hate that things don’t make sense. I hate that people sometimes try to take advantage of me because I’m “blan”1; it doesn’t feel good when I’m trying to help.

I don’t want to let go of that feeling of being down there. I want to hold it close to me. But I don’t know how to do that and still live and work here.

I don’t know what’s next. I just want to feel that way again.


  1. white 

Going Back To Haiti

In case you didn’t know, I’m going back to Haiti and leaving in just over two weeks! I wanted to share with you my support letter and ask that you consider partnering with me or directly with Haiti:


Dear Friends,

Just over a year ago, I had an amazing opportunity to go on a mission trip to Haiti.

It was a chance, I thought, for God to use my talents for His glory. I assumed that as a college-educated engineer still wet behind the ears, I would show Haiti all the amazing things that could be done with a little bit of math, some ingenuity, and elbow grease.

I am humbled to report that I was wrong. Well, at least wrong about what talents God would be using.

Before leaving for Haiti, I was praying with Jon Epps, the director of Convergence (the young adults group at church). I was feeling ambivalent about so many things in life. Jon prayed that “God would rock [my] world,” and He really did…in every sense of the word (we were there during the earthquake).

I can’t fix Haiti. My skills as an engineer focus mostly on sensing, control, and communication; not designing hurricane strength aqua ducts, constructing bridges over raging rivers, or building earthquake resistant homes (because nothing is ever really earthquake proof). I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not supposed to fix Haiti. Sometimes it takes a little smack from God to remind me of that.

There is something I can do though. I can engage Haitians. I can come alongside them as best I know how and show them God’s love and compassion. I can do the work that God laid out using the tools He has equipped me with, even if they aren’t the tools I thought I would be using.

I can also come back and tell my story, which I’ve had the opportunity to do as a guest writer in The Oredigger (my alma mater’s student newspaper), and in the UPC Times (my church newspaper), in addition to my pictures and posts on my blog. I’ve also had the pleasure of talking in person with many people at work, church, and around town about my experience and the issues facing Haiti.

Now, I have been given another opportunity to spend 10 days serving the Lord in Haiti. In April, I will travel with 11 others as we come alongside UPC ministry partners Bruce and Deb Robinson. We will engage with the Haitians as we work to continue construction of a school as well as take on other tasks Bruce and Deb set out for us.

So I’m humbly asking if you would be my partner in this service through prayer, financial support, or both. I am looking for a group of people to commit to praying for me and my team during this Spring’s experience. As for finances, we are asked to raise $1600 each.

I know that is a lot to ask, so any contribution you could make to this trip would be greatly appreciated, and I promise none of it will go to pay off my school loans. Your gift will be fully tax deductible (your cancelled check serves as a receipt), and any contributions I receive above my individual cost will be applied to team expenses as a whole. Please make any checks payable to UPC (“Haiti: Andrew Ferguson” on the memo line please) and send the enclosed response card1 with your donation by April 5th.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 [NIV])

Your Brother in Christ,

Andrew Ferguson

If you’re interested in helping support me, you may also do so online through PayPal:





Download a copy of this letter: Haiti Letter (PDF: 345KB )


  1. only if you received an actual letter….you can use the PayPal link below instead 

A Haiti Followup

It’s hard to believe I was in Haiti only seven months ago. It’s a weird dichotomy of feeling like time has been going both very fast and very slow, all at once.

YouTube finally decided to allow uploads greater than 10 minutes, so I thought I’d share a video slide show I put together1. Click through to see the HD version (worth it, I think).

Since my group went to Haiti in January, UPC has sent two more groups: one was a team similar to ours (i.e. short term, 10 day mission), the other is team of engineering students from the UW sent by UPC for World Deputation.

Team Haiti: Adam, Jeff, and Jordan

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Seattle, Washington, United States

They’re just about ready to return, but have been keeping a blog detailing some of the work they’ve been doing and fun they’ve been having:

On a related note, Bruce and Deb are going to be in Seattle in September and we’re going to get to have dinner with them!


  1. including some wonderful CC-licensed music from Arthur Pope 

Because…

This is a letter that Bruce sent Amber, who forwarded it on to the rest of us and I thought it was worth sharing as well:

Dear Amber and UPC team,

Because you couldn’t fly out normally, we had to drive to Cap Haitian.

Because we were going to be in Cap Haitian, Bill Piepgrass, surgeon and former missionary doctor here decided to come to Haiti since he had a ride back to La Pointe to work at the hospital.

Because Bill was going to come to Haiti to work on Port-au-Prince refugees, he invited his friends, Gary an orthopedic surgeon, Don an anesthesiologist, and Helen an OR nurse.

Since we were going to be coming back empty, we asked and God gave us a load of medical supplies from Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Because we had all the medical stuff in the back of the truck, all these medical people had something to sit on (sortof) in the back of the truck for the nine hour trip back via Gonaives. Incidently, it is not as easy when you are over 40.

Because the doctors came and because they had stuff to work with, they were able to treat patients like you are going to read about below1.

Sometimes waiting is a very difficult, important, and fulltime job. Because you patiently waited until it was God’s time and way to get out of the country, we were able to get in sequence for the timing of all that was to come. And be there with the truck.

On Tuesday Lord willing we should be receiving two more plane loads of medical supplies from the cruise ships of Royal Caribbean.

Thanks for coming and helping. The team house roof is pretty much done except for the dinking around finish jobs and it shouldn’t leak anymore.

In Christ,
Bruce

PS please pass on to the team members

Bruce was also able to put in the outlet that we didn’t get to and they now have power at the vocational school in Foison.


  1. Bruce forwarded a story about two Haitians whom the medical supplies helped  

Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2

Everyone was shocked; I hadn’t even once considered that the epicenter could be Port-au-Prince.

My first reaction was untempered, “Let’s go! People need our help!” However, Bruce kindly and patiently explained our position: a group of white people, with no experience in disaster recovery, who can’t speak French or Creole, and don’t have place to stay, food to eat, or water to drink. Of course, Bruce was right; we would have been more of burden than anything. I guess that’s the kind of insight one gets after working in Haiti for twenty-five years.

Life continued, more or less, as normal. Bruce was working overtime trying to coordinate relief efforts with his organization, CrossWorld, and we did what we could for the people of Port-au-Prince from where we were by praying. The only real impact to us was that our days were a bit shorter since Bruce had so much going on.

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, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti


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, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti


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, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti


Continue reading “Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2”

Mission Trip Haiti: In Words and Photos – Part 1

Editors Note: Sorry it has taken so long to get this post up. The last several weeks have been hectic, at best.

I wrote this as a stand alone blog post for a variety of reasons. One of which is that I was asked by my college newspaper, The Oredigger, to write guest column – which I was more than happy to do. The original plan was to take a blog post and then repurpose it for the newspaper. As it turned out, I did it the other way around.

Below is an expanded version of what I wrote for The Oredigger.

For those who aren’t majoring in History, here’s the quick introduction to Haiti, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook:
From www.cia.gov:

In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’ouverture. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country [and also perceived as the most corrupt] in the Western Hemisphere , Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.

My involvement with Haiti is a rather curious one. Last spring, I was looking for a summer mission trip that would be able to use to my skills as an engineer. Although I pursued several different avenues, I didn’t find anything that struck a chord with me. Excuses will always be prevalent, especially in today’s society. Through an interesting set of short conversations with a variety of people over the fall, I decided that it’s high time I let my “religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” (G. K. Chesterton)

So there it was.

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Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States

I left for Haiti on January 8th. It was an arduous journey to get there (or so I thought), leaving in the early morning from Seattle, flying to Chicago, and then to Miami. Miami only offered a short reprieve (I think we spent more time trying to get to our hotel rooms than we did in them) before we had to be back at Miami’s International Airport to catch our flight to Haiti.

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Miami International Airport, Florida, United States


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Miami International Airport, Florida, United States


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Miami International Airport, Florida, United States

Continue reading “Mission Trip Haiti: In Words and Photos – Part 1”

Haiti Update

I finally got out the last batch of the letters I’m planning on sending for fund raising purposes. Inevitably, there are some people who I didn’t send letters to who may feel left out. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send letters to everyone. It takes a lot of time and energy to address and prepare letters (plus 44 cents in postage). I targeted people who I though would not read my site on a regular basis and/or would be interested to know what I was up to. Please consider this letter personally addressed to you.

Last night our group received a list of what Bruce and Deb hope for us to accomplish. There were many things on the list, mostly dealing with some basic construction needs a la High School Mexico Mission Trip

Of particular interest to be are:

  • Troubleshoot the wiring from the generator to the well and find out why it is not pumping water to the school.
  • Look at an possibly improve the wiring for the generator and school and church there, or at least plan what should be done.
  • The church has a fledgin ‘computer center’ with a couple of computers and an internet connection. I don’t know what shape it is in but I need to talk with the pastor to see if he wants anyone to work with some of the teachers and their instructors on this.

The internet connection in our team house does not at present work. We have not been able to re-aim the satellite dish with the new transmitter even though we have the right equipment and have done it before. This is a prayer request. If it is not working when you get here, if anyone can help us we would appreciate it.

All these things make me very excited! I’m pretty good at trouble shooting and I love guerrilla improvisation. I’ve already relayed a message1 back to Bruce asking for more information so I can read up on the right specs and bring the correct tools.

I’ve been reading up on Haiti (here, here, and here), including the fact that it is perceived as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, even more than Russia.

Some important dates to keep in mind:

  • January 3rd, 7pm – Commissioning at UPC Evening Service
  • January 5th, 7:30pm – Commissioning at Convergence
  • January 8th, 12pm – Depart Seattle
  • January 18th, late at night – Arrive Seattle

I can’t believe I’ll be in Haiti in less than a month; better start packing!


  1. It was really just a volley of questions 

On a Mission For God in Haiti

I will be sending out letters later this week, but I wanted to provide an update on my plans now!

haiti-letter

Dear Friends,

It is with great excitement that I write to you about this next step in life. As you know, I graduated this past May from the Colorado School of Mines with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering. After traveling in Europe for nine weeks, I started my job at Boeing as an entry level Design and Analysis Engineer for Integrated Defense Systems. For a while, I have known that God has blessed me with special talents, especially those involving technology; and over the last several years, I have felt called to use my talents for His glory.

Last spring, I was looking for a summer mission trip that would be able to use to my skills as an engineer. Although I pursued several different avenues, I didn’t find anything that struck a chord with me. Excuses will always be prevalent, especially in today’s society.

This fall, I’ve been attending Convergence, the young adult ministry at UPC. Through an interesting set of short conversations with a variety of people over the last few month, I’ve decided that it’s high time I let my “religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” (G. K. Chesterton)

I have been given the opportunity to spend ten days serving the Lord in Haiti. I will travel with 11 others as we come along side UPC ministry partners Bruce and Deb Robinson. We will be engaged in a variety of work ranging from irrigation projects to rebuilding structures damaged during hurricane season, and more. I have no doubt that God will be able to use me and my skills for His work.

I am writing to ask if you would be my partner in this service through prayer and/or financial support. I am looking for a group of people to commit to praying for me and my team during this winter’s experience. As for finances, we are asked to raise $1500.

I know that in this economy that is a lot to ask, so any contribution you could make to this trip would be greatly appreciated; and I promise none of it will go to pay off my school loans. Your gift will be fully tax deductible (your cancelled check serves as a receipt), and any contributions I receive above my individual cost will be applied to team expenses as a whole. Please make any checks payable to UPC and send the enclosed response card with your donation by December 31 if possible.

This is a pretty exciting trip and I’m looking forward to seeing what God is up to. If you would like to stay appraised of my goings-on, I will be writing about my process and trip to Haiti on my web site, which you can visit at http://AndrewFerguson.net

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV))

Your Brother in Christ,

Andrew

Download a copy of this letter and fundraising response form: Haiti Letter (PDF: 595KB)

Operation Water Engineering: A Mission Trip to Haiti?

For several months now, shortly after I saw The Advent Conspiracy, I have wanted to be involved in humanitarian/missionary projects to bring clean water to places that don’t have it.

Last semester (Spring 2009), I was part of a group at Merge (Flatirons Community Church) that was looking for opportunities for college-aged people to be more active in mission work. It was at that point that I started developing more passion for using my engineering skills to serve other people, specially with regard to getting access clean water.

A specific idea I had was doing what I’ll call “emerging technology transfer.” The idea is that we would take some form technology and extract the emerging technologies out of it to be put to use in different ways. For example, technology in a Toyota Prius, could be used to design a wind turbine where the blades would be made using the same composite technology1, which would connect to a generator that is based on the regenerative braking system. The same motor-generator system would also be used to power the water pump. Excess energy would be stored for later use in NiMH batteries ius. And for the cloudy days, the efficient gas-engine could be used. There are other issues, such as: will they be able to maintain this equipment? So I digress.

Convergence, the Young Adult Ministry at University Presbyterian Church, is going on a mission trip to Haiti in January to “come alongside UPC ministry partners Bruce and Deb Robinson as they serve the Haitian people through various community development initiatives, mainly through flood control projects.”2

From upcconvergence.files.wordpress.com:

We will be doing a variety of work, ranging from irrigation projects, rebuilding structures damaged during hurricane season, and more. We will primarily work on construction projects. If you have specific professional skills, we will inquire to see if they might be useful to the community. In addition, you will get to see how God has been working through the Robinsons during their time in Haiti.

As it turns out, I do have specific skills that could probably be useful. I have a passion for the project, I can get the time off, and I can mostly afford the trip (if I decide to go, I may ask for some fund raising help). I’ve also never been to Haiti before, which would sort of tack on a bonus country to my Travel the World goal.

But there’s still that hint of reservation…is this what I should be doing?


  1. I actually don’t know if such technology is used on the Prius, just assuming here. 

  2. http://upcconvergence.wordpress.com/mission-trips/haiti/