I know it can’t always be a day in Haiti, but I wish it could. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, yet go figure, there is no place I would rather be more. How can that be possible one may ask? Well, fasten your seat belts, because the Louboutin lady is about to explain why Haiti, in her mind, is so magical.
The journey that lead me to Haiti was almost, no, it was as spiritual as the actual journey itself. Shortly after completing my second stay at the “not a spa”, and then completing 90 days in intensive outpatient therapy and really finding and focusing on myself, I started venturing out into the real world, but only to functions that spoke to my heart and I felt lead to. Gone were the days of being excited about seeing my face in the local paper each week or caring about being a part of the “who’s who” crowd. There was one event though that really interested me. It was regarding poverty in our area and how to help those affected by it. As helping others often does, this luncheon started out by me wanting to see how I could make an impact on those in our community, instead however, this luncheon ended up being something that made an impact on the rest of my life.
You see, at this luncheon, I was invited on a mission trip, a trip I nervously said yes to, a trip that I knew I needed and wanted, yet had no clue how much it would affect or shape my future. As I prepared for this trip something happened, something spoke to me. To be honest, something spoke to many others in our gracious town, because we raised close to $5,000 in just one week for the trip. Yes, that trip that would change not only my life, but others as well.
From the moment you begin packing your bags to when you first step off of the plane into the heat, you know it will be an adventure, but nothing can prepare you for what a day in Haiti is like. There is no way to prepare you for the experience of getting off of a plane and right into the back of a pick up truck with strangers that will quickly become family, as you travel through the hills and the mountains of some of the most beautiful landscapes you have ever seen. Imagine the journey taking you through gorgeous green, tropical, lush conditions before you then begin to climb up through somewhat questionable “roads” through untouched layers of mountains as you look all around you only to cross those mountains into a desert, sandy, dry area. You will cross rivers in the truck (yes rivers) and will even be rained on. You are going to see some of the most amazing waterfalls, and yes, get the opportunity to swim in them as well. There is nothing like your first day in Haiti.
A day in Haiti also means you will be driving through some of the poorest towns you have ever witnessed in your life. That what you thought was poor at home, is luxury living in Haiti. You will realize as you stop to walk through these towns that expressing love, holding hands, smiles and the faith of God is priceless. You will also see that the pride of a Haitian is huge. Despite having no detergent as we do in America, all of their clothes are pristine white and clean. Children’s hair is neatly done, and dirt porches are cleanly swept. Many women and children traveling miles, again on these questionable “roads”, to get water everyday while the men are working. You will see how they carry heavy loads back and forth, on their heads, and reconsider why we complain about having to carry the grocery bags in at home without help. As a woman tries to hand the lady next to you her baby as you are leaving because she wants a better life for her child, so her child can eat, you will understand what loving sacrifice is all about. And yes… you will cry.
Your day in Haiti will include a stop in a town where there is an orphanage built by donations and you will see how different the lives are there for children. How the families still are able to have contact with one another, and these children are learning Haitian-Creole, French, English and sometimes Spanish. Their math skills and geography skills are amazing and they are also getting a faith based education. These children also get to eat daily (as opposed to once every three or four days). This is where our some of our donations went. This is were the “lucky” children go. THIS IS THE FUTURE OF HAITI.
A day in Haiti wouldn’t be complete without an all night Church service… you will have a choice because there are several going on during a Friday night. The faith of a Haitian is stronger than most in my opinion. On a recent trip, there was a Pastor in charge of a school that had many needs, and should have shut it’s doors many months ago. Instead of giving up like many do, he knew in his heart that God would provide. He knew God had a plan. He knew God would not fail him. How many of us could say the same? (PS - God did provide and the school has been saved!)
During your day in Haiti you will meet many children along the way, and adults, that simply want to hold your hand. The language barrier will not matter. Three simple words are known throughout Haiti and will ring through the streets as you walk by - I LOVE YOU. On the most recent trip a youth member said it best when she said, all I had to do was smile, and no matter what, everyone smiled back. She said that this is a lesson she is going to take back with her to the United States. This girl is 14 years old and has learned something that most adults still haven’t picked up on.
There is something magical that happens in Haiti… we walk around holding hands with strangers, kids and adults alike. We go there wanting to make it a better place, leaving everywhere we go better than how we found it. Praying for every person we come across and knowing everyone is going through something so we do not take anything personal. We have faith stronger than ever before trusting that God has a plan even during our darkest moments.
I understand that it can’t always be a day in Haiti, but couldn’t we come close to it if we started practicing those same beliefs here? What if we started being kinder to strangers, kids and adults alike? What if we left every place better than how we found it? What if we prayed for every person we came across and had an understanding that they may be going through something we may not understand? Most importantly, what if we had a faith in God like a Haitian? What if we lived like it was always a day in Haiti?
Having seen the dark side of mental health illness, Jennifer refusesÂ to hide in shame, but rather hopes to connect with people who feel isolated because of their own struggles.
She is excited about the launch of her new site in March and hopes you all will visit it often to see what her next adventures are.Â For now, we are excited toÂ share her journey on All Things Treasure Coast.