Saturday, August 13, 2016

Perspective from a 3-time Haiti volunteer

After 4 months of taking an upper level Global Aid and Humanitatrian class during my sophomore year of college, my professor and 22 classmates nearly convinced me that missions trips cause more harm than good. I was told that missions trips and non profit organizations are meaningless, a tease, and utterly unhelpful. After growing up in the Church and continuously hearing about how we Christians must take time out of our busy lives and go into the world on missions, I felt as if I had been figuratively slapped in the face by my class and their misconceptions.

As I return to Haiti for my 3rd summer in a row, I can say with full confidence that I disagree. As my team of 17 rode the bumpy ride up the hill heading to Grace Village, my heart started to race -- not of nervousness, but of pure excitement. It had been a year since my last goodbye with all the precious faces. The large gate opened and there Grace Village was, appearing colorful, lively, and extremely welcoming -- as it always has. The kids were waiting for us under the pavilion hiding from the sun (it had to be at least 100 degrees). They were all wearing their new, blue "Camp Catch It" shirts that we delivered the day before. We all walked toward the kids carrying buckets full of sport supplies in each hand. Eyes began to widen as the balls, parachutes, bubbles, tap shoes, chalk, and costumes drew closer. The members of our team that had been to Haiti before immediately searched and reunited with the kids who they had made previous connections with and all the first timers were drawn in forming instant relationships. 

We were given a tour of the orphanage, which encouraged one of our teammates, Scott, to stray away from the term "orphanage" and instead use the word "familyage". Healing Haiti strongly believes in family structure and the importance of a mother and a father figure in every child's life. Thus each dorm is given a "mommy" and a "pappi" for a feel for real life family living. Also we were shown where transitional kids (those that are older than 16 and supposed to move out of the orphanage) are being taught how to properly adapt and live on their own. Instead of sending out the transitional kids to fend for themselves outside of the orphanage, Healing Haiti understands the importance of giving the kids a proper education and multiple job opportunities. 

Continuing with the tour, meeting cooks, translators, mommies, pappies, and more staff, we were given a glimpse of how many job opportunities Grace Village is offering to the people of Haiti.

We spent the next few hours attempting to play our "planned" games of basketball, kickball, and baseball, but finally gave in and joined in on the kid's favorite game: soccer. All of us who had been to Haiti before couldn't believe our eyes as we watched these kids play with such a difference in behavior in comparison to the prior years. The kids were respectful, joyful, hard players, compassionate towards everyone, and deep lovers and followers of Jesus. Each year I am shocked more and more by the transformation of these kids because of the staff here at Grace Village and the Healing Haiti workers and volunteers. These kids are educated, lively, and very hard workers. They are going to make incredible contributing members to the Haitian society one day. And going to bed tonight, I can't help but dread yet another goodbye with these very kids tomorrow morning.

To be clear, let me state once again: not all organizations and missions work accomplish the good they intend. However, Healing Haiti is providing jobs for and training the Haitian people, building "familyages", churches, and bakeries, educating youth, bringing water to villages that have absolute no access, making visits to homes and orphanages that need light and love, and most importantly: spreading the one, true Gospel and the love of God that is intended for every single one of us -- no matter where we're from. 


P.S. Hi foe and mom :)

Day Six, Heartbreak in Haiti

There seems to be a reoccurring theme laying on my heart this week spent in Haiti; heartbreak. I wake up each morning thinking "No more heartbreak today! Today is going to be a happy day!" I feel as if I am being forced to alter my idea of what happiness is. Each day that starts with this "hopefulness" of being happy, my heart gets torn in two. But why?

With that being said, my team and I had a wonderful day at the beach today. It was much needed. Observing God's giant creation, the clouds, the ocean, the mountains, all of it was so Bel. Yet, my heart was breaking; for a much different reason this time. I was observing such beauty, feeling such joy, and who could I share it with? Of course my teammates were observing the same beauty, and in a sense I was sharing the experience with them. But where was the one I love when I was gazing deep into the ocean? Where was my dad when I sipped out of a fresh coconut? Where was my mom when the sand was burning my feet yet the breeze from the mountains cooled my face? This was a beautiful, happy, and yet difficult day. I love my family more than anything on the earth, and I am beyond thankful for their support, I only wish I could physically share these beautiful moments with them.

Heartbreak comes in many forms, Iv'e felt every single one this week. Saying goodbye to a dear friend, witnessing real hunger and thirst, feelings of regret, time fleeting, my inability to share a beautiful moment with the ones I love, and over all, Haiti. Haiti breaks my heart. Pastor Sue once told me, "I need to be here because this is where God is." I understood the depth of this today more than ever. God is all over this place. He's in the face of every child. He's in the dark and dirty, He's in the bright and crisp. He's everywhere, and He's breaking my heart. God will continue to allow Haiti to break my heart for the rest of my life. Because I know that as soon as I step foot in the States, my heart is going to break even more for Haiti. My heart will break for my absence from Haiti, and it will break during my presents in Haiti. Because this is where God is.

I am beginning to believe that I should be thankful for this heartbreak, and therefore happy that my heart is getting broken. Although I never want my heart to scar over, become tough, and no longer be able to become broken. I'm learning the importance of heartbreak; especially since my heart has never been broken like Haiti breaks it.

"God is breaking my heart for what breaks His." (Katie/Marlo)