To start my story, I am going to take you back to March of 2010. This would be my first mission trip to Haiti, just three months after the earthquake. When we landed in Port-au-Prince you could feel the chaos and fear in the air. Our plans for the week would be relief ministry.
We spent our days visiting churches to find out the needs of their communities. Spreading God's love was about all that we had to offer. However, the desperation in their eyes told me that there was much more that they hoped for. Money from the "rich Americans", food, water, shelter, education for their children. In some cases people begged us to take their children and give them a better life. My first thought was, "How can someone try to "give away" their child! Now, as I look back, I realize what a selfless act this was. The willingness to give their child away in order to give them a chance at a future. I don't know if I could be that selfless.
In the evening, we would get in our vans and drive several miles away from the overcrowded tent cities. Our vans would make there way up to the top of a hill where we would pull behind a huge iron gate that would lock us away from the "real Haiti". We would gather in the Haitian mansion with running water, an air conditioned room and enough food and drinks to supply an entire tent city.
I learned SO much about God and about myself in those seven days. I grew to love PEOPLE. Not the "poor Haitian people", but God's people. People that had the same joys and struggles in life as me. But, these people had learned to work hard and to persevere. I have carried one bible verse in my heart since returning from that first trip to Haiti. Romans 5:2-4 says "And, we rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God. We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character; hope."
My heart was forever changed by the lives of many people during that week in Haiti. People that I will hold dear to me forever.
- Our amazing translator, Watson. I will forever admire this man because of his heart for God, his heart for God's people and his heart for his country.
- So many people from the AIM staff.
- Mark Newland-watching you give yourself, completely, to the Haitian people forever changed me.
- Benny-your heart for those of us coming into Haiti to do God's work was transforming for me. You knew God would not bring a mother of four to Haiti for no reason. You spoke into my life and led me to understand God's purpose for me. I am forever grateful!
- Stephanie-the way that you captured the lives of the Haitian people and told their stories to the world! You made them real people with real lives.
- The mama with the twins-God used you to break my heart!
- Pastor Christian, Pastor David and Pastor Claudelle, their families and their congregations along with all of the children that we grew to love that week.
As our plane took off from Port-au-Prince airport and I looked down over the piles of rubble and the tent cities that covered miles of land, I knew that I would be back. I didn't realize that God's timing would be just a few short months later........