The hardest part about going on a mission trip to Haiti is trying to tell people about it when you return. How do you describe the desperation? How can you put into words the joy and happiness that still persists in one of the most desolate places in the world? Bear with me as I attempt to describe the indescribable.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when we left--perhaps that’s a good thing. I went with an open heart and mind, ready for what God had to show me that I could bring back and share with others. What He showed me was a people who have not lost hope, despite being crammed in tents three inches apart or in mud huts baked dry by the sun. Despite their desperate situation they still praise God.
The experience that hit me the most was going out on a mobile clinic visit to a village outside of Croix-de-Bouquets. We took with us supplies to give the mothers of malnourished children and vitamins and anti-worm medication (and some candy and stickers too!). When we got out of the truck I saw some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen: mountains and trees and wide swaths of land. The earthquake did not crumble the church that the people were gathered in to receive what we had brought.
My French and Creole aren’t much to speak of but I know enough to at least try to get my point across in conversation. The principal of the school there (set up in tents while the school is rebuilt) was so proud of his village and his people. He introduced us and the women and children smiled up at us, four strangers from far away. Then the women began to sing and it was the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard, one of welcome and joy and thankfulness.
We separated into stations and I was put with the vitamin-a capsules and anti-worm medication. If the child was under three then they had to have liquid medication, distributed in little cups. One by one the women came over, shyly glancing over at me and handing a piece of paper to Ramon-the-nurse. He would mark on the chart and then either gesture for them to get medication from me or that they were finished. Getting the little ones to drink their medication was difficult and I tried to be as helpful as I could.
The small-cup-distribution-system was not working though---the anti-worm medication went everywhere (including all over me!). But I held those children while their mommas tried to pour it in their mouths and the universality of children-not-wanting-to-takemedication hit me in an amusing sort of way. These women want their children to be well and grow to be happy and healthy, just like mothers all over the world.
After we finished up I wandered outside where a gaggle of children promptly mobbed me and my camera. They were all dressed in school uniforms so I said in as much French as I could muster “School? Is that your school?” gesturing at the tents. They eagerly bustled me over to the tents and I tried to take pictures but next thing I knew I was backed into a corner! I snapped a few pictures of the makeshift school before getting them to go back outside.
Since they had sung so beautifully for me I wanted to sing a song for them, but the only song I know in French is “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”... Much to my delight, they joined in! And then they sang some other songs for me. I tried to ask them to show me around the area but instead we ended up in a big circle holding hands. (“show me around... show me a round..”?) They started singing some silly song and playing a game which they wanted me to join in. I imitated their movements, dancing around in the circle and laughing. I have no idea what they were saying but it didn’t really matter. We had so much fun together despite the language barrier and I was so thankful for the bridges that Christ builds between us all. We may not be able to share in much, but we shared God’s love that day.
Singing and dancing with those children, being a part of their joy and silliness as well as trying to help the sick ones get better, brought to mind Christ’s words from Matthew: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Truly, the kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children of Haiti. Thank you so much for your prayers and support—it was truly a blessing to be a part of this journey! I hope that we continue to support the vital work of Lespwa Timoun so that more children can be helped and experience Christ’s love through us.
Posted on Sun, August 1, 2010
by Kathleen Jaco