My first trip to Haiti was one of the craziest experiences of my life. Getting the call asking me to leave for Haiti only a day before departure and flying on a private jet to a third world country are definitely not conventional practices for missions trips. I was warned of the destruction that this nation suffered; but I honestly did not fully understand until I saw it with my own eyes- people sleeping under bedsheets as their only shelter, government buildings crumbled to the ground and mile after mile of rubble piled on the side of the road.
The first day was definitely overwhelming. I felt out of my element in a culture that I did not understand surrounded by people speaking a language that I could not comprehend; but almost overnight I felt a transformation. Without clean water to bathe or air conditioning, I experienced a sense of joy from these Haitian people that I had never known. Not only are the children at the Hope House orphans, but they have also recently felt extreme loss and fear in their community from the earthquake. While they cannot go back to school because their buildings have been cracked and they have lost many loved ones, they are still more joyful than any child I have met. Whether they are playing jacks with pebbles or basketball with an crushed up can, they are constantly smiling and laughing. Although these children had only known me for a few days, they displayed an unconditional love for me: moving me to the shade when the sun became too extreme, looking after my personal belongings if I was busy with a task and taking time to ask me about my life.
I fell in love not only with the Mission of Hope, but also with the children. At this point, I was able to accept an invitation to return on April 20 without hesitation to teach English at the Hope House orphanage and coordinate activities with the children. I am currently anxiously awaiting my return to Haiti but have much to prepare in the meantime. Please continue to pray for me, these children and the Mission of Hope as it continues to bring hope to a nation in need!