I asked our team that went to Haiti to send me some thoughts on what going to Haiti meant to them. Here are a couple of their responses. In these you can hear a challenge to go, an encouragement we want to give to every person, that at some point in life you need to go to a hard place, abandon yourself and your comfort to share the Gospel and do justice for people living in another culture.
I am not even sure where to begin explaining the personal effects the trip to Haiti has had. I must admit that I feel like this adventure probably impacted my life differently than a lot of my fellow travelers. My first international mission trip was an unforgettable experience, for sure. The first full day we were there, I, unfortunately, was pretty ill, which left me feeling quite discouraged—I hate being sick at home, let alone in a third world country. To say I was out of my comfort zone, might be a bit of an understatement. While preparing myself for this trip, I fully expected that I would fall head-over-heels for one specific child that God would lay on my heart, and that I would probably end up trying to smuggle that baby home with me. For those who know me, you know where my heart lies—with babies, and toddlers, and children in general. However, throughout the week I realized that God had a different plan in store for me. I felt as if my role on the trip was to serve in the background, to serve my team in order for them to connect fully with the girls—a very strange feeling for me. Usually I am the first in line to play and connect with children, but on this trip I found myself feeling more useful and comfortable doing the physical jobs that needed to get done while we were there. Please do not get me wrong, I loved every single child I came in contact with over that week—they were all so beautiful, and sweet, and a couple of them were little sassafrasses (my favorite “type” of child!!), and I had so much fun getting to know them and getting to love on them while I was there—but I never felt myself getting attached to any one in particular. To be sure, I enjoyed my time there, and I loved meeting the girls, the grannies, the other children from the community, and the wonderful people running HOH, but I wasn’t sad to be coming home. When I first came home, my feelings of happiness to be here devastated me in a way, because that was not how I imagined feeling in the months leading up to the trip. To be honest, I felt heartless, and dissatisfied, and unsettled, because I didn’t leave my heart in Haiti. But then I started to realize that that’s okay—that I just haven’t figured out what God has planned for my life, and while that is, quite frankly, terrifying, it is also exciting and I can’t wait to figure out where He is leading me.
I also learned a LOT about patience, and grace, and forgiveness. During our last devotional in Haiti, I attempted to explain how God had used me on this trip, and I will try to explain it here also. There are so many people in Haiti who need Jesus, and we were there to spread the Gospel, and to serve the people in His name. However, I realized that even though I was saved when I was 16, sometimes I forget that I still need Jesus too. That might sound strange, but I feel as if it is absolutely true. I have Jesus in my life, but I still constantly need His patience, His grace, His forgiveness because He knows, I mess up all the time. Realizing my own need for Jesus is what rocked my world on this trip. Remembering what it’s like to fully give Him my worries, and my fears, and, essentially, my life. Mind-blowing. I am going to screw up A LOT, lose my patience, and forget how to forgive, and withhold grace in stupid situations. But Jesus won’t. And feeling the power behind that truth is what has truly hit me post-Haiti.
Haiti was definitely one of the best trips and life changing trips of my life. God opened my eyes and filled me with the Spirit. God really spoke to me through the girls. I obviously don’t have kids of my own so I have never experience that kind of love before. But playing with those little girls from the orphanage taught me so much about unfailing love. There was a little boy there named Nelson and he had scabies, a disease where little bugs crawl on you and leave bites on your body. You can easily get the bugs by skin to skin contact. That may seem really gross and people would want to refrain from holding him. However, I loved these kids so much that I didn’t care if he had this disease. I was still going to hug him and hold him. I was willing to take that chance. This really showed me how unfailing Gods love is for me. He loves me even in the midst of my brokenness and longs for me to come running to him with open arms. He wants nothing more to call me his daughter and to shower me with his love.
Haiti is a very broken and poor place. People there barely have any clothes, food, or shelter. I remember walking through tent city where there is rows and rows of handmade houses out of simple materials. One of the grannies homes was made out of wood sticks and tarps. The floor was dirt and her door was a piece of scrap metal. She had a small mattress but another than that there was not much she owned. However, she welcomed us into her home and was so proud to show it off. The people in Haiti have nothing but they are so much happier than people in America. They don’t find their happiness in material and worldly ideas or treasures. They find all their happiness in praising and worshiping God. And that’s ultimately what God calls for us to do. It’s so heartbreaking when you come back to America and you see people trying to fill their lives with useless items or gorging themselves with food knowing that the people in Haiti have nothing.