Despite the U.S. State Departments travel warnings about Haiti, Whitewater High senior Graham Geyer decided not to let the warnings deter his spring break plans. Geyer along with four adults from the Fayette County area traveled to Port-au-Prince as part of a fact-finding mission for an upcoming mission trip in June.
“We went there to visit the orphanage and see the “tent city” we are going to be working at in June,” Geyer said, “The orphanage has 120 children and about half of the kids have mild to severe disabilities and the tent city is filled with children. It’s very sad.”
Geyer is the son of Heritage Christian’s pastor of family ministries, Steve Geyer.
This wasn’t Geyer’s first trip to a third world country. “I started traveling with my dad when I was about 10 years old,” Geyer said, “My first trip was to Tecate, Mexico to build houses for families who were living in homes made of cardboard or whatever materials they could find.”
How did Haiti compare to previous trips?
“The volume of people was intense.” Geyer said. “In Mexico we were in ‘colonias’ or neighborhoods that have some sense of order. In Port-au-Prince there are just tents crammed next to tents in no particular pattern.”
Geyer admits that there were times when he felt uneasy if not a little afraid during the trip. “When we went into the city where the presidential palace is, I got a little nervous because we were riding in the back of a ‘tap-tap’ and Stan (fellow traveler Stan Horrell) got out to ride in another vehicle.”
A “tap-tap” is a small pick-up truck with a topper.
“I felt safer with Stan because he knows the area,” Geyer said. “No one in the ‘tap-tap’ had ever been to Haiti, spoke Creole, or even had a cell phone so it was a little nerve-wracking when our driver couldn’t keep up with the other vehicles in our group.”
Another difference Graham describes is a sense of “sheer desperation.”
“I am not sure why, but it just feels more intense in Haiti,” Geyer continued, “Everywhere you go you see thousands of people and tents everywhere. You see families lined up along the streets with buckets waiting for clean water and taking open air showers from water tankers. It’s been over a year since the earthquake and it still looks this bad so I imagine it just wears them down.”
Geyer is going back in June with his church to bring hope and relief to the people of Port-au-Prince. Although Heritage takes short-term mission trips to other countries, this is the first trip to Haiti.
“We take our mission plan from Acts chapter one where Jesus instructs the disciples to take care of people from your own neighborhood to the outer reaches of the world,” he said.
Steve Geyer, Graham’s father, who helps oversee short-term missions at Heritage, added,“We’ve taken trips to Mexico, India, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Ukraine, and to England. This summer, we have teams going to Haiti, Peru, trips to Africa as well as a domestic trip to build a playground at a mobile home community in Stockbridge.”
Asked if full time missions are in his plans, Graham replied, “I am not really sure what my future plans are past getting into Kennesaw. I mean I would not rule full time missions out, but not really sure if it’s what I ‘m supposed to do.”
He says he’ll always go on mission trips because, “I understand how blessed I am and I’m grateful for what God has given me. I have learned that when God blesses me He really wants me to bless others.”