The encounters we have during our trips are ones that we can probably never fully express. It's difficult to share the despair, the horror, the disbelief, the gratefulness, the love, the compassion, and the joy that we find during our journeys. We have tried to take a moment to reflect on and share the things that moved us during our stay so that our moments might make you understand our experiences and allow you to appreciate each of your life's moments even more.
Stories from the Field
Cite Soleil is an inspiration. To travel through a sea of trash only to discover the gems of life, love, and hope. To feel the warmth of the children’s hands and embrace their excitement and joy for life is the true essence of humanity.
During mass Father told of a baby abandoned at the gates of St. Damien covered in ants that very morning. My initial reactions were ones of horror, disgust, and sadness. I thought to myself, “How could a mother do such a thing?” Father questioned, “Could you imagine the mother’s torment?” She had to have experienced torment with the decision to place the child at the only place it may have a chance of survival. Father then proceeded to pray for both the child and the mother. To see the world through such eyes, through the lens of love, compassion, hope, and selflessness…the view becomes a much brighter future.
My Haiti is filled with as many sun rises as sunsets.
In my Haiti I never fear death nor perseverate on tomorrow. I speak honestly when I say today is only what matters.
My Haiti is filling up with green trees, bananas, baby chicks and tilapia. Everywhere I look I see new life.
My Haitian day begins with quiet prayers, peaks with the feeling of needing to work harder and ends with the sense of accomplishing what I was put here to
My Haiti is always welcoming and I am never fearful of the vanities that direct my life in directions that provoke anxiety.
My Haiti is blossoming...slowly...but blossoming nonetheless.
Initially Bhavesh requested we email one experience that moved us most during the trip. That’s impossible! There were too many moments to count and not words to describe them all. Looking back I’m not sure it can be described in moments of isolation, but many threads that individually don’t produce the same beauty and meaning as when weaved together into the larger tapestry of life. It started before I even left as I discovered my suitcase was “missing” as I was on my way to the airport. How could this happen I thought? Who would do this? The first of many challenging questions I had to wrestle with this week about humanity and need. God answered some of my questions through scripture though when I was reading the Message translation of Luke and came across Luke 10: 2-4 with the help of my Kindle late one night. It says, “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask God of the Harvest to send harvest hands. On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like a lamb in a wolf pack. Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage.” After reading that I had the peace that for this particular trip a comb and toothbrush was sufficient to do my job (I decided to expand that to clean underwear also which I purchased in the airport). Then it brings me to Haiti and what do we really need to share God’s glory with others through our spiritual gifts. Sometimes it takes supplies, but sometimes it takes nothing more than a desire, a prayer, and a different perspective and then something incredible can be born out of that. It started with the hospital staff and their gifts of compassion, teaching, and tongues. A translator has a marvelous gift that can never be taken away and teaching imparts a new skill no one can steal, and compassion can comfort people even when they have nothing else. Then there was the ride to Cite Soleil where the sunset blazed as brightly and beautifully there as it does in Hollywood, as spectacle for all to see declaring God’s glory.
Upon arrival we were shown the gift of hospitality by Phozer who graciously took us on a tour showing off how evangelism in the form of a hospital and housing is starting to transform a community slowly. In America and the world of instant technology we want immediate results and quick fixes, but being an all-knowing, just, and righteous God he works on his own timing, and we just have to put our trust in it. That night after dinner there was much flooding in the streets after the downpour of rain, one area so high that the UN trucks were stopped, afraid of being washed away should they enter. With the higher truck, a skilled driver, and a set of roads not so well traveled we made our way home.
Isn’t that the same with God…during the storms he provides a firm foundation, wisdom to navigate us, and shows us the path home to him that is not always well-traveled. The next evening we were blessed with a night of celebration at Rafael’s house which was yet another example of the spiritual gifts of hospitality and service and also nurturing. Nurturing to our souls and bodies with a delicious spread of food cooked on a day’s notice and comradery that adds sunshine to even the shadowy places.
Then of course there is Father who possesses so strongly the gifts of discernment, wisdom, faith, leadership, and mercy. That powerful combination mixed with him tirelessly working has produced the empire and legacy we see now. But there is so much more than the buildings that he has produced, it’s the lives and attitudes changed. Whether sharing in his office late at night, reading morning prayers, or speaking in mass there are constantly moments and ah-ha moments for me about life in the past, present, and future. It is all those life-changing moments he provides to the many he comes in contact with, both locals and foreigners, which calls to mind, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15).
Thanks for the opportunitiy to serve and grow.
"Your heart exploding with feelings and your brain struggling for words" - that is a perfect way to describe it.
I have been pondering our experiences trying to come up with a select few to talk about. It seems impossible to highlight any without the under-girding of them all.
The group was so cohesive and supportive of each other. I think Hollie really set the tone to the trip after having her bag stolen and then making the decision to come anyway. Her adaptability and focus on what was really important was infectious to us all.
For me, I had never been around so many dead bodies. I have really only been to two funerals in my life. The honor given to each life, no matter how small, was such a beautiful and touching thing. In the Bible, Peter exhorts believers to give honor to all people, and when I see the dead treated with such care and respect, I realize how much more honor and respect they must show the living. I don't know if that makes sense or not. Maybe simply put, I am just describing respect for life, or respect for the sanctity of life. It is just from a perspective, I have never really considered, since I am not as readily exposed to death.
One particular day stood out to me, I think I shared this with you already. It was the day that Fr. Rick discovered the premature baby covered in ant bites, and shared with us the story of his friend who had just passed away from brain cancer. His words were like a balm stemming from His faith in God. His devotion to God and his implicit trust in God's sovereignty was so evident. Fr. Rick seems to live in each moment, whether it is dealing with the emergency of an injured abandoned baby, or reciting morning prayers, whether comforting those grieving the loss of a beloved family member or dealing with his own grief, whether making big budget decisions or making a simple cup of coffee. He so completely walks out his faith. I am totally convicted.
The moment we stopped outside of Cite Soleil, so you could check out a friend of one of the Rafael and Amarel, and then the hospitality that was shared by some local Haitians giving crazy cold beers to American/French individuals riding in the back of this truck now stopped in the middle of the road, that was truly beautiful.