There are journeys in our lives when we step out from the shadows and into the light. In Haiti, I feel as though my selfish sunglasses were removed from my eyes and I was quickly introduced to a world I had never known: a world I had only known from the media. The Haitian people blew me away. The people were courageous and joyful. They were in the mist of adversity, but they had a zeal for life. Their desire to serve God and serve others gave them a contentment that I could only admire. Matthew 12:46-50 kept running through my mind. “As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you. Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” The words penetrated to the core of my being. I always thought I truly comprehended what those verses meant, but I realized I had no clue. I could have walked away from everything because I felt like I was truly serving the Lord with all of my being while I was in Haiti. I was completely removed from everything I had ever known as normal. Throwing my selfishness into new customs, new languages, and new traditions… I didn’t stand a chance. I was consumed with compassion for the people, hunger to know them inside and out, with love for people who were different from me in so many ways, but there was one unescapable truth… we were all made and loved by the same Creator. Not only was God stirring my affection for Him, but for His people… stirring an affection in me to be a catalyst for change. In these next few blogs, I will be sharing the experience I was able to be a part of while in Haiti and how God changed me. He used the Haitian people to be a catalyst for change in my life. Bold people. Compassionate people. Courageous people. Driven People. Loving People. Passionate people. Selfless People. Everything I desire to be… they were!
(Typed out of my personal journal; I wrote these journals in Haiti)
Where do I even begin? There are no words to describe things we have experienced or been able to see thus far. The great has been great. Courtney, Jason, Jeremy, and I have been eager to get to Haiti. We have laughed a lot… some at Courtney. She says very funny things early in the morning.
[Scenario: Courtney and I were sitting in the plane heading to Miami. The sun was reflecting off of the ocean and it was gorgeous. Courtney looks out the window to see the view and sees the sun’s reflection off the water. She turns to me and says, “Ronda, is that the sun down there?” Then she quickly caught herself and said, “Nevermind.” We both just busted out laughing.]
Once in Miami, we sat around anxiously waiting to leave and get to Haiti. We talked about all the apprehensions we had and expectations. In the meantime, we met a family whom were waiting to board a plane to visit family in Venezuela. They were laughing at us picking on Jeremy. We shared with them where we were going and immediately the mother said, please don’t drink the water there. Be very careful! We laughed and not her we were not worried. We told her we believed the Lord would protect us and she said with a smile, “Amen.” After they left and boarded their plane we realized that we were the only ones in our area waiting to board a plane and our plane left in 20 minutes. Jason started asking around and we realized we were waiting at the wrong terminal. We grabbed our carry-ons and ran to our gate. We made it right as the last few people were boarding. We couldn’t help, but laugh in that moment at the possibilities had we missed our plane.
All morning my prayer had been that God would allow all of our nervousness to fade away and turned into excitement at the possibilities of what He was about to do in our lives. [We had no clue]. The flight was relatively short. Once we were off the plane we headed into this small building and began heading towards baggage claim. We walked into this building that looked like a warehouse and inside we were placed into lines to go through Customs. This was our first real experience with no air conditioning, but I don’t know if any of us really cared. We were overcome with excitement and bombarded with people everywhere.
We must have looked quite funny trying to find all of our luggage with 1,000 other people. We were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Within minutes of looking for our luggage, a young Haitian guy, appeared with a HCM shirt on. He introduced himself to us as “Fegens.” It did not take long for us to realize that Fegens was a character. He had a great personality with a big smile to go along with it. I quickly knew I would enjoy his presence and if everyone else was like him, then it would be an interesting week. :]
After all everyone had their luggage we headed outside to the van that would be taking us to the mission. On the way their we were suddenly surrounded by 3 other guys. I could tell all of us were unsure, because we had been told to be cautious when leaving the airport and not to let just anyone help you with your bags. Fegens reassured all of us that it was okay, so the guys took the bags and placed them into the back of our van. We all loaded up and the guys jumped into the van with us.
In the captains chairs sat Keke and Fegens. Keke was our driver. He was quiet, spoke very little english, and looked to be in his 20’s. Fegens, once in the van, introduced himself as Kanye West, which we all erupted with laughter. Fegens knew everyone. He was extremely outgoing and never met a stranger. In the next seat sat Jason and I. The seat behind us was two young Haitian guys. Robenson (23) and Samuel (18). Robenson, also known as Sonson, was very handsome with a sweet smile. He spoke English very well. He had a sweet spirit about him. He was socialable, but was not as outgoing as Fegens. He was not one to force a conversation. He seemed as though he was very humble and kind-hearted. Robenson had learned English in a very short period of time and had helped the Haitian people after the earthquake. He was an interpreter for the doctors in the Dominican while they were seeing many Haitian people; he did this as a volunteer for a few months and was later hired by HMC to help interpret for them. Samuel was younger. He was still in high school with only two years left. Samuel also spoke English, but he was still learning. [Robenson had been helping him learn]. Samuel was handsome as well. He had a sweet nature about him. He was very patient [which I learned while he was trying to teach me Creole]. Samuel had a hunger about him… to learn our language and about our culture. He was a little more shy which honestly just intrigued me. Samuel had a sweet smile as well. He was admired Robenson and looked up to him which was very obvious. Samuel had a spirit of boldness and encouragement. I will tell you more about them as you read on. Both are amazing young men and one thing was deniable about these two, they loved God with everything in them.
The ride to the mission was wild. People driving however they wish and as fast as they wish. There were motorcycles driving in the middle of the streets [which would have been white lines for us] with cars driving in both directions on either side at crazy speeds, people (young and old) running into the streets with cars coming right at them. Not to mention how many dangerous potholes there were along the way. It made for an interesting experience. haha.
On our way to the mission, Fegens recognized some people walking down the side of the road, so we stopped and let them ride with us until their stop. At this point there much have been 13 people in the van with us. It was awesome. We were all chatting about different things to pass the time. Samuel and I spent the time teaching on another; he was teaching me Creole and I was returning the favor by trying to help him learn new English words. [Clouds = Nyaj] When he could not understand what I was saying, he would turn to Robenson, saying, “Sonson? Sonson, I don’t understand?” Then Robenson, who was talking to Jeremy, would translate what I was saying so Samuel would understand. It was awesome!!!
It had been an incredible trip even up to this point and we had not even been a Haiti a full day. We were laughing and cutting up with the guys we had just met and I already felt like I had known them forever. I am pretty sure everyone on our team felt the same way.