Haiti, hidden away on the other side of the Dominican Republic, is a tiny country no bigger than the state of Maryland. Rarely heard of or seen on the news, this little island sits only 800 miles from Florida, and the richest country in the world; yet it remains one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.
Ever since I was little my parents instilled in me the desire to help those in need. They wanted me to live a life of service to those less fortunate and a life of gratitude for all that I had. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with my church missionary team I was thrilled to experience ways I could fulfill my purpose of service. I talked it over with my parents and got their overwhelming approval. It was official; I was now a Lifeline Christian Missionary.
Upon arrival in Haiti, it was apparent to me that this foreign land was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My senses were fully engaged from the beginning, from the smelly stench in the air, to the piles of trash everywhere, to the numerous children I saw walking around aimlessly without parental watch. This was a trip never to be forgotten.
Our bus ride from the airport in Port-au-Prince to the mission compound in Grand Goave was roughly 60 miles but because of the harsh road conditions it took us about 3 hours to complete the journey. I was exhausted after the full day of traveling and preceded to the dorms to catch up on my rest, only to be greeted by a gecko directly above my bunk. My friend got a kick out of the small creature, but it was then that I began to doubt my decision to venture out on this expedition alone.
Once asleep, the rising sun seemed to kiss my skin within only a few minutes. The sun was unlike anything I had ever felt back at home. It shone as if it were directly above me at all times of the day. The air seemed non-existent, and the heat unbearable, yet I knew I was not here for vacation but to help people in need.
After the initial shock I settled in quite well, making new friends everywhere I went. Although there was a great language barrier, seeing as I speak English and they speak Creole, there was almost an invisible sense of friendship and love. When words failed, we resorted to hand gestures and facial expressions. The smiling Haitian children had some of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen.
I thought my trip would be all about giving my time, efforts, and resources to the people of Haiti but what they gave me was so much more. They gave me the spirit of perseverance knowing that no matter how bad the situation might look if I work hard I can change it. They gave me the spirit of hope knowing that no matter how unpromising the future may look, I have the power to change what is yet to come.
This trip helped me to discover that volunteering is what I am supposed to do in life. I also realized that no dream is too big to fulfill and gratefulness is the key to happiness. I discovered all of this through a child’s smile.
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