Pause for a moment to think about some of your deepest and longest-lasting friendships. Depending on how old you are, some of your connections with close friends may have spanned many years or even many decades.
The joy of long-term relationships is that we have the opportunity to share all the various dimensions of our lives with others. Together, we can rejoice over life’s blessings, mourn the losses which inevitably come, rely on one another in trying times, offer encouragement in the midst of uncertainty, and serve as trusting confidants when advice is needed. Whether our best friends live around the corner or across many time zones, we know that we can lean on those individuals through all of life’s valleys and mountaintops.
As La Gonâve Haiti Partners celebrates its 30th anniversary, one of the things we are most grateful for is the deep and meaningful friendships that have emerged through the years. From the beginning, the partnership has placed a particularly strong emphasis on mutuality and trust. Over time this has led not only a unique power-sharing structure within the organization, but more importantly to the formation of genuine and long-lasting friendships which now guide everything we do together. Although we live in different places and speak different languages, both Haitian and American partners view their counterparts as genuine friends who can share all parts of our lives – the joys, the burdens, the hopes, and the anxieties – together with one another.
Though these relationships are sometimes messy and inefficient, they continue to shape and teach all of us in profound ways. First, through friendship we have found a more effective and sustainable path toward development. When we truly trust one another and are committed to working together, we can create a common vision for the future and know that both parties are resolved to make that vision come to fruition. We can think comprehensively about not just addressing one individual issue, but instead work to create all of the conditions necessary for flourishing. Second, through friendship we have come to understand that each person has unique gifts and insights to contribute. Instead of seeing others as dependent or deficient, our long-term relationships have revealed what each partner is good at and can offer for the good of the whole. Finally, through friendship we see God at work in surprising places and in unexpected ways. Friendship serves as a means of grace, revealing to us the vastness of God’s love and promise God offers us all for healing and reconciliation.
As La Gonâve Haiti Partners celebrates this significant milestone, we not only look backward with gratitude for the previous 30 years, but we also look forward to the next 30 years in front of us. While we cannot anticipate what new challenges and opportunities await, we trust that with our friends by our side, we can accomplish great things together!
Dave Logeman serves on the board of directors of La Gonâve Haiti Partners and is a member of Eastside Church, a United Methodist congregation located in Atlanta, Georgia.