Although I had seen stories about Haiti on television and photos on the internet, nothing adequately prepared me for what I personally saw and experienced. With a strong faith in God, an encouraging husband, prayerful family and friends, a supportive church family, a high level of gratitude and the wise advice to remain “flexible”, I set out on what would become a life-changing experience.
Reading that I was heading to the poorest country in the western hemisphere, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what that would look like; I was wrong. The poverty is so widespread – intensely so – that it’s hard to imagine how survival is even possible. No words and no photographs can capture this heartbreaking reality. On the van ride from Port-au-Prince to Leogane, it was like a watching a tragic film and just waiting … and waiting … and waiting for the hope. In my heart I prayed, “God, please show me the hope. Help me to see You here in this broken place and to share Your love in this place.”
On our first day of work, we headed to the Darbonne Clinic and School, and my prayer was answered. While touring the school and looking into the eyes of so many beautiful children, I saw and felt the hope of Christ. In one of the classrooms, the children were staring at us and we were staring at them. I couldn’t take the awkward silence so I asked Deacon Louis Chery if I could sing for them. I chose the Gospel version of “This Is The Day” and was delighted that the students started clapping and singing along in Creole! Praising God in song, we connected in such a powerful way. The group and I headed to the next classroom and repeated our performance and these children sang the song in English. As we made our way to the next classroom, the children we already visited continued singing – singing in-round throughout the school! In the other classrooms, we sang other worship songs, including, “Soon and Very Soon” and “How Great Thou Art!” Serenaded as we left the school, little hands waved to us from the classroom windows. I fell in love with Haiti then and there, and knew that God was there.
By God’s grace, I have operated on a pretty high level of gratitude on a daily basis for many years. As I was walking along and praying, I came to realize that God made even more room for more gratitude in my life. I am grateful for this experience, the beginning of my relationship with Haiti.