Don Dexheimer ’65, outreach director of Roscoe (IL) United Methodist Church, has been leading mission trips for more than 15 years after spending a full year, 1994, with his wife, Dorothy, on a mission team in Khabarovsk, Russia. Recently, he has found new challenges in Haiti, leading a team in May 2010 to work on a permanent school and church building in Fond Doux, a remote village.
Upon arrival, the team first stayed at the Petionville Guest House on the campus of the Haiti Methodist Church. While beds, towels, food and bottled water made the accommodations safe and comfortable, there was no air conditioning. “During that time the high temperature was 96 to 98 degrees each day with a low of 80 degrees and tropical humidity,” says Dexheimer. The campus holds about 300 tents for refugees; some actually have solid houses but are too afraid to sleep in a building.
The effects of the earthquake continue to slow progress in the country, he says. For example, traveling nine miles in Port au Prince took 1 1/2 hours due to the traffic on poor roads. Some streets are one lane due to the rubble.
The team then traveled 2 1/2 hours to the Petit Goave Methodist Guest House, which was about 30 minutes from Fond Doux. Some team members labored to build the foundation for the new building while others entertained the children with Bible school activities. Two nurses attended to medical needs. Dexheimer continually made notes of items needed for future trips. “The clinic saw many people with fungus due to bathing and walking in ditch water,” he noted. “It would be good to bring Tinactin to Haiti.”
The team attended Sunday services at Eglise Methodiste D’Olivier, which is on the Miragoane circuit. Worship attendance packed the building and some women walked more than a mile in mud wearing high heels. “The service lasted two hours with no air conditioning,” says Dexheimer. Refreshments afterward included cold sodas and crackers. “The people of Haiti treated us with gracious hospitality.”
Dexheimer was looking forward to returning with a team in February to Thor, Haiti, for painting and finishing a different school and church building. He was anticipating more comfortable temperatures. “We are taking precautions for cholera as well as shots and pills to protect against the many diseases we may potentially encounter,” Dexheimer says. “Life is hard in Haiti yet the people are working hard to rebuild their communities and their lives. They do have hope. Our presence is encouraging because they know they are not forgotten. We are a symbol that God cares and so do other Christian people.”
Dexheimer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.