As I posted earlier, most of my mission friends are now out of Haiti. Although two of their team are still at a hospital in the Caribbean. HPUMC will continue to update their site with the latest public information here.
I talked with Lila Foree for along time this morning. What an amazing story they have to tell. I am sure they will tell it when they are ready.
I’m just SO glad they’re home. A Facebook friend chided me a bit this morning for how much I’ve been posting about them, and it’s probably a good reminder. Yes, I’ve been to a clinic that was destroyed. Yes, my friends were gravely injured.
But thousands and thousands more are still trapped and/or dead. Many more will die in the coming days due to disease or lack of care.
Frankly, I must admit that I have not been able to watch much TV coverage of this tragedy. I’ve mostly been worrying about my friends, and am so relieved that they are safe.
But, early this morning, as I finally breathed out a long siiiighhhh of relief….something else quickly followed: Waves and waves of tears…sobbing tears…for the people of Haiti and for the scope of this disaster.
I still can’t look the TV coverage. I know it’s horrible.
So, after the tears stop, what do we do?
The first thing I will tell you is: GIVE MONEY.
Lot’s of it. As much as you can stand. Yes, I know, people say, “But they always just want my money.”
That’s not entirely true. Someday very soon, there will be a need for volunteers. And if you really want to go then, they can probably use you. But they don’t need your old sorority sweatshirt or dirty socks. Don’t send clothes. Please. I’ve seen bags of clothes, just rotting by the side of the road at some mission locations.
For right now, send cold hard cash.
After I push this point with people, they often follow with a second objection (After trying: “they just want my money”):
“But what if I get ripped off?”
So, let me quickly lay out a few principles of charitable giving for a time such as this (At least as I see it):
a) Loving others involves getting scammed from time to time
You give to an agency. You give a quarter to the guy in the parking lot. You make the effort. You build someone a house.
Then, they use the cash for drugs. They’re ungrateful for the new house. The agency you pick spends too much on overhead. Whatever. But it pisses you off.
But look here, and I mean this in all sincerity: the first rule about loving, of any kind, involves being willing to have your heart broken.
If you are unwilling to have your heart broken, do not give it away love. Keep it locked up. Keep it as safe as possible. Sure, you’ll be sad, lonely, pathetic, and by yourself, But, by God, you’ll be safe!
Hell, anybody whose ever loved knows that the closest people to you will eventually break your heart. That’s why forgiveness is always such a hotly debated topic.
So, if those you love most in the world will eventually let you down, what makes your favorite “do-gooder” organization won’t either?!! I mean, take your pick. It doesn’t matter if it’s secular or religious…government or private…any organization you love and attach your heart to will eventually break it. And then, you’ll be left to decide whether or not you want to keep connected to them, or whether you have to move on.
Love involves risk. Giving involves risk. Either be ready for it, or choose not to do it. But if you open yourself to the world, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s the way it works.
b) “Having Said That” (Thrown in especially for Larry David Show fans…)
No one deserves to get fooled time after time. If you think your favorite charity is scamming you, find a new one. If you think your favorite organization is leading you on, walk away.
c) There’s an App for That (OK…a website)
It’s called Charity Watch. They do nothing all day but “rate” charities. Check out your favorite charity there. It will help you put as much trust as you can into fallible, human and, by definition, flawed organizations.
d) I do have a favorite to recommend (I KNOW! I have an opinion…it’s so unusual… ;))
I have a favorite, and that’s the punchline of this blog. I alway do my charitable giving through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
UMCOR is one of the most well-respected aid agencies of any kind. Period. Not just *religious* organization, but any organization of any kind. Charity Watch rates it among it’s “Top Rated” agencies for “International Relief and Development” with the covted “A+ Rating.”
They work cooperatively with almost every other aid agency out there. They do not push their own “agenda.” They listen to local people.
The already-established structures of the United Methodist Church allow every cent of every dollar given to UMCOR to go even farther than in many other agencies.
The are top notch. And they are in Haiti now. In fact, top level folks with UMCOR were in Port Au Prince at the Hotel Montana when the quake hit. They were missing for severl days, and were only located last night.
The Hotel Montana was mostly destroyed in that earthquake. But I remember staying there several times, on our last nights before leaving the country. It was almost always packed with journalists, UN workers, Red Cross, other humanitarian workers, and almost always somebody from UMCOR.
They are always right in the midst of the world’s greatest disasters, because that is their calling as an agency, and our calling as a denomination. They are in Haiti now. They were there everyime I was there. And they will be there, long after the cameras pack up to go home (which they most assuredly will…)
Here’s video featuring a typical UMCOR program in Haiti from before the earthquake:
Our band has worked to support UMCOR for the past four years, raising tens of thousands of dollars for them.
As it would happen, our next show is at my church, this coming Friday, January 22nd.
As you might guess, we’ve decided to make UMCOR the beneficiary of the show. I can’t tell you how grateful that makes me. And I can’t tell you how eager I am to play that show. Every show we do raises needed money for mission “somewhere.” But this is mission I have seen with my own eyes…this will go to supplies I have actually used before….in clinics I dearly love…among people I actually know.
All our band will tell you that it is an incredible gift to be able to use the gift of music to raise money in a disaster like this. Even more so when you’re close to it.
So, if you are free, please come next Friday. Here are the details:
Connections “SuperHits of the 70s”
Friday, January 22nd, 7 pm
11211 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230
Here’s the official show posting at our band website.
Some of you may want to give right now. Please do. (In fact, give twice…today and next Friday!)
Here is the direct link to give online to Haiti Relief through UMCOR.
You won’t get ripped off by UMCOR. Promise.
And that will leave plenty of your heart to be broken by Haiti itself.