My missions trip to Haiti to work in the Canaan Church Orphanage (www.canaanchristiancommunity.com) was nothing like I would have ever imagined. After our month long training, my group of fourteen individuals started our travels on June 1, 2010. We flew to Port au Prince, Haiti. After collecting our 42 bags full of donations for the orphanage we all loaded into the back of a truck. It took us 4 hours to go from the airport in Port au Prince to Montrois, Haiti where Canaan is located.
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The children at the orphanage are between the ages of 2 and 19. Some are orphaned and some are kept at the school because their biological families cannot afford to care for them. The workers of the orphanage all treat the children as their own and take very good care of them.
One of the most life-changing happenings for me was witnessing a local starving child who came to the clinic only to be rushed to the hospital. Sadly, the two-year-old was not strong enough to endure the journey and died just a few hours of leaving our clinic. No one in our group was prepared for the news of the little boy, and from that moment on we learned to never take for granted our lives in the States.
Our main objective for the trip was to provide a Vacation Bible School for the children. Vacation Bible School is a time of worship, crafts, games, and snacks. The two other days were spent pouring a cement roof for a new health clinic. Since we did not have modern cement trucks, our job was to pass bucket after bucket of cement up the scaffolding to the roof. It was very time-consuming and exhausting work.
The difference in the Haitian culture took a while for us to absorb. As Americans, we expect a very punctual time schedule; however, in Haiti there is no such thing as being on time. Our activities never started at the same time each day.
The culture of the Orphanage was a real eye-opener. All ages of children ate, slept, schooled, and played together. They took care of each other like a family. The teens didn’t exhibit selfish or moody behavior like what I see in the States. These kids were actually thankful for their meager food and clothes, and loved the adults who sacrificed to care for them. The only spoiling we saw was the unconditional love the big kids had for the little ones. Attitude problems were dealt with and forgotten.
As a group, we had to learn that we couldn’t expect the Haitians to follow our schedule, but rather we had to adapt to their ways of living. This took some time but eventually we were able to live one day at a time with no plans for the next day. On the 8th of June, we started our travels home around 5 AM and were back home to our families by 7 PM.
Even though our goal for this trip was to be a blessing to the Canaan community the opposite was true. They were a blessing to me. I’m sure that we were able to benefit the children by bringing down 42 bags full of school and hygiene supplies, but in the end, we volunteers who went were grateful for the security and delicacies we are offered in the States. Our hearts will never be the same.
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