We hopped on the “tap-tap” and geared ourselves up for the day ahead. My mind was jostled about as much as my body was thrown back and forth over the bumps (er…craters?) in the road. I looked around and tried not to just notice but to see. While on trips like this, especially when you have done it many times before, it is easy to just notice things. The child running around naked. The grandma walking uphill with a huge basket of mangos on her head. The teenage boy chopping down a tree. The makeshift tin huts. The emaciated dogs. I’ve seen it all before. Many, many times. But my prayer this time was a bit different: “God don’t let me just notice, but let me see”. Because for someone like me who has been there before and seen it all, it is easy to become calloused. To write it off as just another missions trip and just their way of life. But this time was different. I felt helpless on this trip, as though there wasn’t a hope or a prayer for this country that was stricken by such extreme disaster. But it’s not just the disaster that made me feel helpless, it was the fact that this country has a long history of being that way. When a country is founded on the basis of slavery and abuse, is it even possible for it to ever recover?
The sun would beat down on us and we would sweat profusely as we made our way up the mountain to a remote village. And my mind? It.just.wouldn’t.stop. I wanted to come up with an answer. A solution. A brilliant idea that would somehow turn this way of life around. I thought out loud with other team members about how it begins with the education of the children, or how revolution has to come from within not just by the Western world meeting material needs, or about clean water helping the issue of disease and sickness, or….well, like I said, my mind wouldn’t stop. So instead, I looked. And I saw. And much to my surprise, when I tried to calm my mind down a bit I saw that these people, despite their conditions, had hope. I condemned myself for feeling like Haiti is hopeless when the native Haitians see hope. They are the ones dealing with the extreme heat, dirt, disease, sickness, and poverty every day. Yet they still have hope. And when I looked, I saw hope. I saw it in the eyes of a child whose smile was as wide as the eats is from the west. I saw it in the mother who brought her children to our kids program. I saw it in our translators, native Haitians who have chosen to help their country instead of just leaving it and moving elsewhere. I saw it in our host, Sam, who was born in Haiti but moved to the USA when he was 12, only to feel God leading him to return to Haiti in his adult life and help his native country. And through these people, I saw. I saw hope and I saw healing. I saw reality and I saw restoration. And it’s my prayer that every time I return to Haiti from now on, I don’t just notice but see.
The little jet that we took from Port au Prince to Jacmel.The view of Jacmel from up above and our tap-tap.There are no words.Meet Sam. And I’m just gonna go ahead and say what everyone is thinking: He has great arms. The photo on the right is one of my favorites from the trip. The life expectancy in Haiti is 50 years so to see an elderly person is quite uncommon.This little girl had the prettiest eyes I have ever seen and I couldn’t narrow it down to just one photo of her, so i am posting a few.Holding this baby was heartbreaking. His scalp was peeling, he had bug bites all over him, and he was breathing very heavily. So sad to see such a small child that sick.One afternoon we played soccer for a few hours in a field up in the mountains. Holy hotness! And dirt.Our dinner one night. I kid, I kid. But it was going to be someone’s dinner that night.Haiti wasn’t all work. We had a bit of play time too on their stunning beaches.Our incredible team!