Pieces of Haiti: Part 1

20 05 2011

Well, I got back from Haiti two days ago and I’ve been struggling ever since with how to put into words what I just experienced. I’m also still struggling with the reality that I’m back in the US and trying to regain a sense of normalcy. But going back to normal after being in Haiti is kind of like an oxymoron…

I’ve learned so much during the trip, there’s no way I can blog about it all. But over the next couple of days I will give you some bits and pieces of some of the things that I realized during the trip–starting with this…

#1. In America, we don’t really understand what blessings really are.

While I was in Haiti I saw the best and the worst of God’s creation. Haitian people are a beautiful people. The kids at the orphanage were adorable. They had the most beautiful smiles and all they wanted everyday was a hug or someone to say “I love you.” Even the people in the town were so hospitable and willing to exchange a smile for a simple “Bonjour.” Many of the people there have a joy about them that is very unique. And it’s contagious. On the same token, while I was in Haiti I saw lots of poverty, brokenness and despair. The people of Haiti are in need of help. They need resources and supplies. I realized from this trip that we take so much for granted here in America. Little things like:

  • Running water–We had to wash ourselves out of a bucket from the well everyday. The simple act of washing our hands was a luxury that only happened once while we were there. We had to endure that for 5 days. For the kids at the orphanage, this is their everyday life.
  • Clean underwear that fits–I saw a little girl wearing underwear that kept falling down around her ankles. We had to fasten the sides with a hair tie just so that they would stay on her bottom.
  • Clothing–We saw children running naked on the street. During one of our prayer walks we handed a little boy some clothes to wear. He put the clothes on right there on the spot, in the street. He didn’t even wait to go in the house.
  • Aspirin–while many people in the US pop these things like candy to help them sleep, to prevent cancer or migraines, the kids in Haiti don’t have access to this on a daily basis to cure many of their simple diseases.
  • Sunscreen–I saw women who were literally burnt by the sun.
  • Trash cans–In Haiti, they literally burn all their trash on the street. Imagine walking down the street or sitting in your home and smelling the scent of burning rubber, plastic, food, glass, etc. All. Day. Long.
  • Toilets that flush–While we’ve become a nation of automatic toilets, in Haiti, we had to let two or three people use the bathroom before we could pour water down the toilet in order for the pressure to cause the waste to descend down the drain.
  • Clean air–Once again, the smell of burning trash and livestock is always present. When I went to blow my nose, nothing but soot came out. This is what the children are breathing everyday.

We have so much to be thankful for. And yet, the people in Haiti are living their lives and doing so with joy and dignity.

When I left to go to Haiti, a lot of people warned me that when I came back I would want to sell all my possessions. I actually don’t feel that way. I’m not mad at the U.S. for having what we have. I feel very humbled that God has blessed us to have things. But one thing this trip has taught me is that in all of our blessings, we have to become more aware of the need to give and to share. We are a society that is obsessed with having more and with having multiple versions of the same things. I can’t just have one T-shirt, I have to have 5 of those same T-shirts, in different colors. Or one for every day of the week.

Even many of our churches are obsessed with the idea of God giving us stuff. I’ve been to churches where our greed is masked by the idea that we need to be materially blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. But what we don’t realize is that some people in this world are so deep in need, that even the simplest things we already have can be a huge blessing to someone else. Right before we left the orphanage, I gave one of the little boys a pair of socks. He was so excited to receive a pair of regular ‘ole white tube socks. I don’t need to be a millionaire to be a blessing to someone else. This little boy just needed a pair of socks. And the kids at the orphanage just need some love. That’s something that money can’t buy.

Even those of us in this country who consider ourselves to not have much are so blessed. We all have to (myself included) remember this when we tend to complain about trivial things. We also have to think about this when it comes to sharing what we have with those less fortunate.

I am so thankful to have experienced this trip, and I cannot wait to go back again. I’m even more thankful that I was able to experience it with my church, Restoration Church. This being my first mission trip, it was great to be with a group of people that take the Word of God and the Great Commission seriously. We didn’t just go to Haiti to do good deeds. We also went there and shared the gospel with people, because ultimately, Haiti’s biggest need is Jesus.

Please continue to pray for Haiti, the people of Oaunaminthe, and the children at Orphanage of the Rock. I’ll be sharing more Pieces of Haiti in the days to come, but in the meantime, if you want to know more about how you can help some of the people in Haiti, please visit http://www.haitilove.net.

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One response

20 05 2011
James

It’s as if you’re describing Cambodia too. I’m still here. It’s just how the third world is. I’d say the majority of Americans are clueless to the wealth and comfort that surrounds us. Looking forward to reading more about the trip.

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