Today's post is from Ellen Franklin. Ellen is the Mission Team leader for our C2 - Haiti partnership. I traveled with Ellen to St. Anne's Church last November on her first trip to Haiti. Now Ellen and her team are working to create mission trip experiences for others that have as profound an impact as the November trip had on her. Here she shares a little bit about her time at St. Anne's and what she took from her experience.
Before I went to Haiti, I spent a lot of time reading about the country, talking to others who had been there, and praying. My hope was to be able to have some type of connection with the people in Labrande, which I knew would be difficult given the language barrier, cultural differences, etc.
One of the things that kept surfacing for me during our time there was the importance of being present to the experience and to finding God in it. I didn’t want the trip to just be a bucket list item, something that I did once, but something transformative.
When interacting with the children, the younger ones overcame their shyness very easily and swarmed around us at recess. The older ones were more reticent, although still very interested in us. One of the older girls stayed in the background, and would look away with a shy smile every time I saw her. On the last full day of our trip, I found her walking with me as we went over to watch the boys play soccer. She finally told me her name was Otolynn and that she was 13 years old. It had been a big step for her, and I was thrilled that she was able to finally make a connection with me.
We attended Mass each morning before school started. Although the rhythm of the Mass was familiar, it was entirely in Creole. On our last day, Fr. Wilner prayed at one point for “Nativity in Timonium," and then mentioned each one of us on the team by name. I was overwhelmed by that – that the people in this little church in a remote, impoverished village in a forgotten country would pray for us.
Both of these experiences have stayed with me since returning home. The prayer for us at Mass was a powerful reminder that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and are called to care for one another. And through my hard won connection with Otolynn, God put a face on that.