Hard to believe that just last week the Missions team was in Labrande, Haiti. During this week back, I was thinking about the past week of experiences and the impact it has had on me, personally, and what it may mean moving forward. I was not shocked or surprised with what I saw: poverty, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, etc. But, I was surprised to see the children, and the Haitian people, being genuinely joyful, happy, prayerful, accepting, appreciative, and humble. Despite their "lack of things" I found them to be more thankful than we are!
The next surprise was the enthusiasm by the young, mostly male, animators. They go to different camps in Haiti to "jazz" things up. They are the catalyst for a successful camp experience. The camp begins with the acappella, scherzando music for over 30 minutes. You see the hands clapping, the arms waving; the feet tapping. The children were having so much fun. One song highlighted our names which the children sang to us. How awesome is that! Very inspiring, very motivating, very emotional for us to witness. It is too bad that the camp could not continue for the remaining weeks of the summer. It is too expensive for the church to support. How sad ; - (
The food program that Nativity provides is a big nutrition and energy boost for the children. This camp gave the children another week of nourishment outside of the regular school year program. It is a meager portion but there are no complaints and not a morsel left. My question is: could this be the beginning to a ripple effect into the community? In the future could we provide food and hydration for the older generation, who are depleted, so that they can be physically strengthened? This can lead to other improved areas in their lives that we cannot even imagine.
The Haitian people want to be connected. Each team member was asked, at different times and independently, if we love Haiti. There is this other hunger and that is to be loved. Does this sound like John 21:15-19? Are we being called to take care of the "sheep", and to care for the people of God?
Father Wilner, seminarian Donald, and the staff could not have been more gracious, friendly, and accommodating. We ate well, actually to the point of feeling guilty because we were given too much! Which leads me to the next reflection. "To whom much is given, much is expected" and this is not all about money. It is about giving willingly and freely our talents, gifts and abilities to those in need.
My takeaway is that building relationships is imperative. Trusting in God that the much needed work to be done, with our new found friends, will happen. And, pray for them, and for us, to persevere and be strong in our future pursuits, whatever they may be and wherever God is leading us.