Here are two trip reports from the June/July 2008 team. They come from two very different perspectives. The first one is from Lucy, a first time visitor to Haiti. She is a student who entered college this fall. The second is from Natalie, a long time veteran of our Haiti trips. She first traveled there in summer of 2000 and has gone several times since.
In a world suffering from the effects of sin, disease, and cruelty, beauty can at times seem to be such an unexpected surprise. I was prepared somewhat for the poverty and sewage I saw in Haiti. I was even prepared to meet hurt and hopeless people. But I was completely taken away by the myriad of wonderful, hopeful, and beautiful people I found. I spent only a week in Port-au-Prince, passing buckets in the bucket line and then playing with the orphans back at Pastor Rigaud’s, yet I left a member of that family.
The relationships I made during this trip were a complete answer to prayer for me. Since my junior year, I have wanted to study French in college. This past year, faced with applications, interviews, and essays, my foundations were rocked, and no longer was I completely dead-certain that God was calling me to anything in particular, really. I went on a two-week exchange to France, which confirmed the fact that my passion lies in languages, but my time in Haiti has done more. The language was a key to building relationships with people who needed encouragement. Simply speaking French made so many of the workers just happy. I was constantly being told that it made them smile to hear me speak French “like that”. The funniest times were when they would not believe I was American at all.
At any rate, I have learned that for me, learning another language is not just good for talking, but really, for building relationships. Love can transcend language, but for me, language is a way to love.
Going to Haiti had become a routine mission trip that I would participate in just about every summer since my freshman year in high school. In June, I returned for my eighth time to Haiti. However, on this trip, I took on a new role as one of the chaperones for the Grace Community Church teens. And what an incredible experience this was. It was certainly different from simply being a team member – new challenges, new outlook, and a new role in general.
There was, of course, still the joy of seeing familiar faces from previous trips, seeing the progress that has been made on Pastor Rigaud’s school building. And there were the challenges that come with having authority. But God was incredibly faithful. As a leader, it was so rewarding to see a team bond together and build relationships, to see teens fall more deeply in love with the country and its people, to see individuals pray who had never even opened the Bible before, and to see team members broken as we left the impoverished country of Haiti.
In previous trips, I enjoyed going to Haiti both to see how I could help the people there and because of the impact that the country had on me. Being able to speak into the lives of the teens on this trip and see the impact that this mission trip had on them brought a whole new perspective. I was incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of this team.