Thursday, September 2, 2010

I have to admit... I didn't know much about Haiti.

**Haiti** 07/28/2010 - 08/04/2010

I have to admit, before the earthquake, I didn't know much about Haiti. I didn't even know where it was located! The earthquake happened the day before my birthday. I was talking to one of my co-workers, and he was telling me how poor Haiti is. I remember him telling me that the average Haitian makes under $3 per day. I never knew this; I was shocked! He also told me he took a trip to Haiti and that the people there were extremely kind. After our conversation I went back to my desk and did a little research. He was right. Haiti is a poor country. And now with the devastation of the earthquake, things are even worse for them. I decided I should use all my vacation time and go to Haiti to help with this disaster. I tried to find an organization that I could go with, but at the time it looked like all they were looking for were doctors and nurses. After that, I stopped searching, but the thought of Haiti never left the back of my mind. A few months later, by the grace of God, I stumbled onto the webpage for I was amazed by their website. I watched a few videos and right then I knew that I was going to Haiti. I would do whatever it took to get there. This organization looked like they were really making a difference down there.

On July 28th my group met at the airport to head to Haiti. Before I went, I thought I knew what to expect. After arriving, I immediately saw that the country was much worse off than I could have imagined. Driving down the roads you see sea after sea of tents. People are still living in tents six months after the earthquake. This blew me away! Most people can barley stand to go camping for a long weekend, let alone to live in a tent for six months! Can you imagine? Another thing I noticed right away was all the friendly faces and people waving. Every time we drove by someone, they would wave and say "bonjour". Through all the turmoil these people are going through, they have the biggest smiles on their faces. It didn't take long for me to realize that Haiti may not have much money, however, they are still really rich. Rich in spirit, strength, compassion, and love. God is shining his light on these people, and it wasn't hard to see.

Every day in Haiti was my favorite day. It's hard for me to pick just one. One of my team members would tease me each day and say, "I thought yesterday was your favorite day" because every day consisted of something so important, yet so different from the next. One day we planned to take Guiliame's orphanage to the beach. We woke up early, made forty peanut butter sandwiches, and climbed on the bus to go pick up the kids. It was a long and bumpy ride, but we knew we had arrived when thirty kids started chasing the bus. We were approached with shouts of excitement, smiles, and hugs. I have never had such an overwhelming welcoming in my life. These kids were so excited to see us, as we were to see them! I couldn't even find open ground to stand on when climbing off the bus, and by the time my feet hit the ground, I realized I couldn't move. There was the prettiest little girl with her arms and legs wrapped around me. I picked her up in order to move forward because so many other kids were grabbing at me and wanting my attention. Once it was time to get on the bus, I noticed how well behaved the kids were. The lined up in a single file line - shortest to tallest. We got on the bus first and the kids followed. Before I knew it, there were seven people in my seat, which was only meant for two people. It was really hot in the bus, and we were all squeezed together, but no one cared because we were all so happy to be with each other. Right when the bus took off the kids started singing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High", followed by many other songs to praise the Lord. Some were in English, while the others were in Creole. Right in front of my eyes I was witnessing this group of kids that have nothing, not even parents, and here they are thanking God for the blessings in their life. This moment really taught me that we don't need "things". If we have faith and compassion, then we too can be rich! It's hard to find the words to explain that moment, but I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. It was an experience that not a lot of people will get to experience in their lifetime, and for some reason, God chose me to be there. I am so grateful for that! We all had an amazing time at the beach. We prayed, played, ate, and did a couple projects. Not one time all day did I hear a complaint or see any of the kids fight. Instead, just the opposite. I felt so much love, gratitude, and compassion from each and every one of those children. One the bus on the way home, the kids continued to sing for us. They sang a song that I am actually quite familiar with. The lyrics include:

" together at the end of the day- we all say

when I get older, I will be stronger

they'll call me freedom just like a waving flag

And then it goes back, and then it goes back, whoa. "

This really touched my heart to hear because it shows the faith and courage these kids have in each other and in God. They all have high hopes for the recovery of their country. The kids are the future of Haiti and I truly believe that one day they will be the difference that the country needs. These kids are truly God's angels and He just had them waiting there for me, to show me His work!
When I look back on the video at, I try to answer the question, "What is God trying to teach me?" I think God is trying to teach me to always think with my heart. He wants me to see how fortunate I am and to start putting the less fortunate first. God has taught me a valuable lesson of compassion and love through these kids that don't have really anything. He has shown me that no matter what, faith will always get me through. My goal when going on this trip was to share my love and example of Christ with all the kids. Who would have thought it would end up being the other way around? These kids taught me what real love is, as well as real heartbreak. My heart has never felt so broken. I, like many others, left my heart in Haiti. Can you believe this lesson was all learned in just this one day? Can you imagine the whirlwind I experienced when you include the other five days of my trip?

I am so proud of what Healing Haiti has accomplished thus far! With all our help, they have been able to do so much. We must continue to pray for the recovery of Haiti, as well as make awareness to the people around us. This experience in Haiti has forever changed my life, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to go back again!

Margaret Knaeble

Healing Haiti Team Member

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