Suwanee church group leaving for second mission trip to Haiti

Eric Bluhm gave an extra bottle of water he had to a child while visiting Haiti.

"He took the bottle of water and the first thing he did was give some to his friend first, before he took a swig and then offered it back to me," Bluhm said. "I told him to go ahead and drink it. So he stood there sharing the water with his friend and another little boy passing it back and forth until it was finished."

That simple act of kindness on behalf of a child in Haiti to another child was only one of the many acts of kindness Bluhm and other members of Epiphany Lutheran Church of Suwanee saw - and experienced - while visiting the Caribbean nation.

Epiphany is a partner of the Haitian Timoun - it means "children" in Haitian Creole - Foundation, which was founded by the church's pastor, Dr. Rick Barger, who had already planned his trip to Haiti when he was called to lead the Suwanee church in September. In October, five members of the church joined him on that trip, and today, six members were set to leave for another visit.

The Haitian Timoun Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with partners here in the United States and in Haiti to offer opportunities to children and the poor living in one of the "most fragile states" in the world, according to World Bank Group, which offers resources to developing countries.

"These are the poorest people on the planet, they have nothing," said Barger, who first visited Haiti in 1997. "Many children don't have any clothes and have been eating only two times a week."

Dave Shealy, who has been at Epiphany for eight years, was set to travel to Haiti with his wife, his first trip to the Caribbean nation.

"I already know it's a mess, the whole country is just a mess," Shealy said when asked what he expected to find in Haiti. "That's one good way to describe it in every shape and form as far as infrastructure, availability of food, water, clothing, things that we all take for granted."

The Sugar Hill resident works in oral and maxillofacial radiology.

"My intent, being a professional, is I'm going to show them ways to help themselves," Shealy said. "That's my main objective."

"We can't change the whole world," Barger said, "but we can change a part of it."

For information on the Haitian Timoun Foundation and the work being done in Haiti, visit www.hopeinhaiti.org. Visit www.epiphany

suwanee.org for more information on Epiphany Lutheran Church.