Here are some of the volunteers reactions after going on the trip.
A Dream Realized
By Leslie Curry
For many years I wanted to visit the people that my friends Mary Ann and Jim Loafman fell in love with 15 years ago. I wanted to experience for myself the mountain people in Haiti who have little material goods, but big hearts; I was not disappointed!
Our first day, after team leader Tim Muth and interpreter Lamothe Lormier picked up myself and volunteers Michelle and Rachel Carroll at the airport they gave us a short tour of Port au Prince and we then headed up the mountain. I think what passed for a road was the biggest surprise of my visit. That a car could even drive up and around the rocks and ditches was amazing, but what was more amazing was that motorcycles could do it with two or three people on them!
After meeting the tall slender Fr. Petit, we were shown our sleeping facilities. That was another pleasant surprise. Rachel, Michelle and I had our own room with beds with two sheets on them, and screens on the jalousie windows. I had been worried about mosquitos, but that wasn’t a problem for us this year, I didn’t see even one! Father’s rectory had a lovely porch where one could sit and watch the children play in the yard, and play they did, with the jump ropes and Frisbees that we brought.
After settling in to our room, Tim invited us to take a walk to the soccer field that they had used the year before. We walked and walked, and after a half hour or more, with the football (soccer) field not even in sight, I decided to sit and wait in the shade while Tim, Rachel and Michelle went the rest of the way; I would catch them on their way back. That was a wonderful time. I could hear two women talking and laughing in a house that was down the other side of the hill. They couldn’t see me, but I was delighted to hear them having such a good time. A number of people passed me walking up or down the hill with simple flip flops on their feet, sometimes carrying baskets on their heads. Everyone gave me a smiling “Bonjour.” I felt perfectly safe in this mountain environment.
Besides Lamothe, we had two outstanding interpreters, Sunny and Gaspard. They had the perfect personalities to work with kids and truly get them excited about being at this Vacation Bible School. The activities that we brought to do (shell necklaces and coloring books) were well received, however, what those kids can do with pipe cleaners was truly amazing as was their demand for more and more stickers.
I think that my favorite thing was watching the football (soccer) match. Word had gotten out in this mountain community that there was a game being played on the football field and it seemed like the whole mountain community turned out to watch.
Fr. Petit’s idea of the two matches (first day girls, second day boys), provided everyone on the mountain with some entertainment. I loved watching old men, young woman with babies, and many, many kids, cheering, no matter which team scored.
My visit to Haiti fulfilled a dream I had had for many years. I hope something positive came out of it for the children, I know something positive came out of it for me, and I hope something positive will come out of it in the future for the people of Haiti.
My Haiti Experience
by Maya Aboutanos
While planning to go to Haiti, I expected to find broken down, poor, lost souls who needed our help for both physical and spiritual guidance. From the outside it appears that based on the world’s standards, the Haitian people are the poor ones. In reality, their love for Christ and dedication towards their religious lives makes them richer than anyone here living extravagantly in the United States. A bible verse familiar to most Christians that I have never truly understood until now is the one where Jesus proclaims that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
The Haitians have nothing. They live with the bare minimum of necessities needed for survival. This has enabled them to understand their dependence on God in everything they do. It has humbled them and given them abundant joy when praising God. I witnessed this in many of the remote chapels we visited; the Haitian children burying their faces in their hands in deep prayer. I realized that although their stomach’s growl and their mouths remain dry, they are at peace with the presence of the Lord within them. As Americans living in a first world country where most of us have three meals a day and a roof above our heads, it is often difficult to remind ourselves how much we need God. The world tells us to believe in ourselves, be independent, do whatever it takes to get to the top, and do whatever brings us instant pleasure. The devil tries to turn us away from God and towards materialistic pleasures that the world tells us will bring us the greatest happiness.
This is why it is so difficult for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of heaven. The more and more we seek worldly pleasures by the green slips of paper that continue to center our lives, the more and more we believe we don’t need our creator, our Saviour, and our Father to turn us away from sin.
Although we went to Haiti to spread the good news of the Lord, I realized that the Haitians are the ones teaching us about Christ’s love. Those with nothing are humbled and are able to realize that their hearts are restless, until they fully rest in the Lord.
My Trip to Haiti
By Michaela Aboutanous
My trip to Haiti was something that I could never have mentally prepared myself for. My first time out of the country became an experience I would never forget. It was a major eye opener for me because I was able to see how happy and loving the Haitian people were, even with so little. The children at each chapel we taught for the Vacation Bible School were definitely the best part of the trip. Every child would grab our hands excitedly, pulling us different ways to show their friends. Feeding the children was personally my favorite part of the trip.
As I was pouring small amounts of juice into each plastic cup, a little girl thankfully gulped hers down only to secretly push the cup back into my direction for more. We were only allowed to give one cup of juice to each child because there was not enough for everyone. After every child had juice, I decided that I could break the rule for one child, so I quickly filled up her cup and motioned for her not to tell anyone. She then smiled and ran to give the cup to her grandmother. I was honestly shocked. Despite how little the girl had in her life, there was still so much love and generosity in her heart.
A couple days later I was filling chocolate milk into cups for a different chapel with older kids. One girl who was 14 helped me pour the chocolate milk and pass them out to the class. She would joke around with me pretending to throw the milk on me and laugh when I did the same back. I could see so much joy in her heart and how it radiated onto everyone around her. As we kept joking around one of the cups slipped and chocolate milk got on her shirt. I thought that I had just ruined everything, but when I looked at her face she was laughing harder than before. I knew that was one of her only shirts for the year but she didn’t seem to care. From then on I realized that the little things we get so upset about like when one’s child breaks a special dish or when one doesn’t get his/her favorite seat for a long car ride seemed not to matter anymore. Haiti was honestly one of the best, if not the best, experience in my life. It taught me patience and showed me that what matters most is what you make of the life you are given.
My Haiti Memories
By Michelle Carroll
There are many beautiful things in Haiti.
I must say that my favorite part of Haiti was the friendships I made with the children of Morne a Chandelle. I loved them more than the beautiful mountain views, the delicious food, and the amazing nature that surrounded me. The children of Morne a Chandelle made me feel so welcomed and loved. Even though there was a language barrier between us, we did not let that stop us from bonding and having fun with each other.
I will never forget the dancing, singing, praying, craft making and playing soccer with my Haitian brothers and sisters. Their love and memories will be with me forever.
My Haiti Memories
By Rachel Carroll
My experience in Haiti was like none other.
In the city, a two lane road sufficed for 5 cars and 7 motorcycles. The mountain roads gave me a Haitian massage and communication with the locals was a fascinating mixture of Creole, French, English and charades.
Being able to let the children be kids, though, and seeing their faces light up with a smile, was worth the lack of showers!
Everyone was so kind and helpful. I was practically carried up the mountain by 10 people when I decided to walk. They showed true appreciation for everything they had, and they have taught me to be more thankful for what I have also.
The joy they gave me is unforgettable and I will always keep Haiti in my prayers.
The Distance to Haiti
By Steven Bauschlicher
This year I was once again reminded how physical distance has little to do with how far apart we really are. During my week in Haiti I got to witness how the local people lived and what they were passionate and excited about. I realized they had many of the same goals and dreams I had and were hopeful to see what the future had in store for them. I related especially well to the children, as I could see myself in them, hungry for knowledge and the opportunity to prove themselves to the world. It was occasionally easy to forget about the large economic divide between us and just sit together as brothers and sisters sharing in a common goal. Their love of faith and family gave me hope for future generations and inspired me to look at the struggles in my life and focus on what is important.
In contrast, I come back home and feel very distant from people I see everyday. Hidden behind our social media personas, many people seem unconcerned with those around them. Our material possessions have created an invisible space between us that is difficult to get around. Fortunately, we all have the innate desire for personal intimacy and love shown to us by God, calling us closer to him and each other. I pray we recognize that desire in our hearts and take the time to grow together. Like our Haitian brothers and sisters, let us not see distance between us, but the opportunity to journey together.