Friday, July 10, 2015

C2 - Haiti Travel Team Reflection

Here is our final travel team reflection from team member Carly Ruder:

As a 7th grader in my first French I class, I never imagined myself 11 years later translating for a Haitian priest in a third world country. To say Ms. Grimm would be proud is an understatement. 

We arrived in Haiti to the sound of drums down a long hallway at the airport. The lack of air conditioning was immediately apparent as my nose adjusted to the various unfamiliar smells. Next to the nearest bathroom, a sign that read "out of service" and a stall with a pile of rocks inside; it was at that moment that I knew I would have to put my fear of foreign bathrooms aside-not only for the sake of my bladder, but the whole intention of this trip. My mind filled with thoughts from family members and friends prior to departure- Letting go, feeling vulnerable and being present (a.k.a. not wishing for a nice cold shower or ice cream), were at the basis of this trip. Again, in that moment, I started to take these people seriously. I could share a few more bathroom excursions with you involving a small hut and a long hike, but that's all irrelevant. What is relevant however is a verse that has stuck in my mind and challenged my thoughts and actions, not only in Haiti but at home as well. When confronted or asked to explain the phrase, "Jesus is the way the truth and the light", most American children are likely to shrug or throw out a basic "Jesus loves you" (learned while coloring pictures of Jesus and sheep at bible camp). I say this knowing that would have been my personal response. Being in Haiti has given this verse a new meaning; "raised the bar" so to speak.

That hike I previously mentioned, well it was a daily escapade for the children of Haiti- a two hour walk in the mountains just to get to church, or school in the midst of rough terrain, heat, and an abundance of wild animals. If that's not faith, then I don't know what is. With very little food, water, clothing, or a stable living environment, you'd think these people would question the presence of a providing God; but the Haitian people stand with a strong trust in God, knowing this is truly " the way". This is evident in mass while hearing the entire parish sing without holding back. It's evident during lunchtime, when a child passes over his spaghetti to a hungry friend. And it's in the day to day humbling interactions amongst one another- a simple "Bonjou" when passing a stranger; dusting off a chair for someone to sit comfortably, or pulling a friend to the side as a car passes. At such a young age, the children possess a love beyond what words can express. The church is not just an establishment to attend on Sunday's before Panera bread, or golfing. It is the center of life and heart of this society.

I return to the U.S. tomorrow, grateful and proud to have taken part in the marvels of Haiti- some incredible moments and smiles I will never forget. A product of our encounters and experiences, the love of Haiti is something I intend on spreading back at home. It is quite possible, too, that one of my own 7th grade students in Baltimore will have the opportunity to experience God's great love abroad, and I will certainly be proud. This could mean giving Ms. Grimm a phone call to share with her the doors she opened simply by repeating verbs and teaching me French songs. I, however, do not wish the bathroom hut experience on anyone.

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