I was so blessed to find myself making a second trip to Respire Haiti only seven months after my first! Everyone told me your first mission trip is really about getting to know people and absorbing everything around you and they were right! I prayed that this trip strengthened bonds I previously made with staff, friends and families of Respire and for guidance on my purpose.
As a social worker, I am keenly aware of cultural issues and social injustice that plagues the Haitian community and challenges every mission program within their borders. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that is needed and to have grand ideas of how to “fix” Haiti. As a play therapist I am also keenly aware of the hurt for these children and families. I see and hear about the abuse, hunger, lack of drinking water, and struggles that Americans can only imagine.
One asks themselves, “How do we fix this? How do we help?” The answer, as always, is provided for us. It is so simple yet so overwhelming complex.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
I could go on and on about the experiences I have had in Haiti. I could tell stories and name lots of names and show you a ton of pictures but that isn’t what I did. So, I will say this.
I sat on the floor playing puppets with children and we giggled. Students and I pretended to be big and brave as we walked over the dirt road back to the school. I hiked down the back of the mountain with staff members and we shared some stories of our past and hopes of our future. I laughed so hard with new friends that I couldn’t breathe. I held a baby for a family while they participated in a community support group for families with disabilities. I talked with a mom who told me about her son dying in the earthquake and I had no words except, I am sorry.
Haiti is part of me now. There is a love that I feel that only comes from the love of Jesus. My prayer upon return is from Genesis 31:49 “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” Jesus doesn’t want us to “fix” Haiti, the Haitian people or any other social problem we face. It is about loving people and relationships. It is about laughing and crying and sharing and being.