This post is late in coming, but the events and people are still close to my heart.
This summer I spent a week in Haiti. It was my first experience flying alone, my first experience flying into another country, and my first mission trip where I knew no one going into it. As I reflect on that, I honestly don’t know how God convinced me to go. But for some reason I really wanted to, and I’m so glad I went.
Landing in Port-au-Prince I first realized the lack of airport signs – I just followed the crowds and the workers pointing, and hoped I’d find my luggage and my teammates along the way. My first experience of the Haitian culture was a live band playing music as we entered the airport. I loved the welcoming atmosphere and wished our airports in America could have a similar environment.
I eventually found my luggage (and had to convince the workers it was truly mine since I’d lost my luggage tag). And our team slowly found one another.
Pulling out of the parking lot was just the start of our journey. A couple men literally bounced a car up and down to lift it out of our way. The bus driver artfully squeezed through and we were on our way!
After a slow, long, eye-opening, and, at times, heart-breaking drive through the streets of Haiti, we arrived at our new home. We climbed the steep, dusty hill and entered a surprisingly huge and beautiful home. And the view from the house was incredible.
The family hosting us was wonderful, and they will always hold a special place in my heart. They had a daughter my age, and many of us quickly became friends with her, despite the language barrier.
Some of my favorite memories were the dance parties we had with our host family in front of their house. The Haitians taught us some of their dance moves, and we taught them dances, like the Cupid Shuffle. Dance was such a blessing to me, because it is a universal language. When we danced together, we could communicate and experience joy despite the verbal language barrier.
There were 13 people on our team, and it was amazing to see how united our team was and how quickly we bonded with each other.
One of the most impactful experiences was meeting Meloonda, an 8-year-old girl who was severely affected by the earthquake 3 years ago. At the time, she was only 5 years old and she was trapped under rubble with her two siblings and her mom.
When she was brought out from under the rubble, people thought she had died and prepared to bury her. Her mom, Clarice, believed that Jesus could make her live again, and would not let the people bury her. She took Meloonda to a church and a doctor, and learned that she was not dead but in a coma. At the time, Meloonda could not move, talk, or even smile.
When we saw Meloonda, she had the biggest, most joyful smile, could say a couple words, and loved to stand and even dance if someone held her arms. She is a living miracle. Her mom’s love for and perseverance with Meloonda were inspiring, as was Meloonda’s incredible joy. Meloonda teaches me to never give up, but to see hope in even the darkest situations; she is evidence that God brings beauty out of ashes.
I will never forget Meloonda’s feet resting on my legs, tears streaming down my face, as my team sang, “Jesus Loves Me” over Meloonda.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes Jesus Loves Me.
That’s the simple truth I want us to remember. Jesus loves every single one of us.
If you’d like to see more photos form my team, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/96899459@N08/sets/72157634118324193/