There are many moments that move my heart and confirm what God is doing through our mission in Haiti... this is one of them. All glory to God... for it is only through Him that we get to do what we do. I hope you enjoy.
Glwa pou Bondye
Dear Mr. Jeffrey Gacek,
To begin, this thank you message is long past overdue. In all my seventeen years of living, I have never become more excited about life than I did after going on the Healing Haiti mission trip. That may even be an understatement. I remember last spring, asking my mother about finding a mission trip that I could go on this past summer. She said she would look into it, and maybe she would find something that could fit around my busy schedule. I went on my way, and a few weeks later, she got a call from a family friend of ours in Minnesota that explained about two open positions on a mission trip going to Haiti that she heard was a "great experience". When I learned that we could possibly be going on a trip, I was thrilled - it was the perfect time - exactly a week before I had marching band practice, and had exactly two open spots for both me and my mother to fill. I knew we had to take it. So, we did.
It was amazing to me that everything was falling perfectly into play. I would have a week to experience serving the Lord through compassion toward others, and I would be doing it with my mom. What more could I ask for? Clearly, I had no idea that God had crafted a marvelous plan with more beautiful surprises I had bargained for.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I want to believe it was coincidence that I lived the best week of my entire life with the most welcoming, incredible, faithful and accepting group of people I would ever meet in July. And then I think again, because as always, God creates my life plan. He just happened to slip in the most delightful experience for me and I got to reap the benefits of it all. Truly, the mission was God-sent. My mom and I live in Colorado, so we met Thomas and Shelley, Sue and Gary, Melissa, Laurene, Kristin, and Kristina over skype. It was an interesting way to become aquainted with them, but it worked. It worked well. I instantly felt like I was a part of something greater than a group of people ready to head into Haiti. We were all family instantly. This being my first mission trip, having that made everything easy from the start.
Then came the wonderful staff living at the Healing Haiti guest house. Fanfan, Jean, Junior, and Fanisse (spelling?) all welcomed us with open arms and open hearts. It was unbelievable to think that they do that every week with different people, but are still able to love every person so much. I felt at home in Haiti. I was comfortable and safe with my family, and that's what got me thinking - "Why do I get this great opportunity?" Little did I know, the Haitian people were about to rock the boat I was so comfortably seated on. Granted, they rocked my world in the only way they know how - through love.
It's so easy to get caught up in the fact that the living conditions in Haiti are terrible, and how children are sick and dying, and that there's trash on the ground that is affecting their clean resources and environment. But in the thick of it all, once I saw past these things, I saw grace. These people have difficult lives, and they struggle every day. How can they keep going? In some ways, I asked myself this all the time with a feeling of hopelessness. Yet I don't see them depressed with their heads hanging low. Once I thought about it, I couldn't recall one time where I wasn't smiled at or greeted with little effort on their part. Happiness and optimism comes so naturally to everyone there. My new extended family extended even further. I was cared for by people who had only one reason to smile - God.
Caring for people, spending time with others who just wanted to be held or played with was so impactful. We didn't even speak the same language, but they understood me. I connected in more ways that I could have imagined to people there. A memory I hold close to my heart was the second water truck day: I had met a young girl about my age the first time we went, and I taught her "head, shoulders, knees, and toes". She loved it so much that the second time we came, we sang it again. Then, she brought me a music book containing songs. We began to sing and then she flipped to a page with instruments. She pointed to the oboe and implied that she wanted to learn how to play it. I pointed to the clarinet and said that I did play it, and we laughed. It was such a simple moment, but it meant more than just pointing to a book to me. It showed that she was willing to show me her treasures and dreams, but that she was interested in mine as well. I adored her willingness to share all she had with me, when she virtually had nothing but herself to offer. The best part is...that was just enough.
So thank you.
Thank you for allowing my mother and I to go on this trip. Not just for my benefit but for hers, as well. She has rekindled her love of Christ and her compassion towards others. It's always been in her blood, but Haiti reaffirmed her giving heart and got her excited about being apart of things greater than her own life. I love to see how excited she gets when she talks about her times in Haiti, with the Haitian people.
Thank you for beginning this organization in the first place, because it changes lives every day, week by week. You've become an inspiration to Fanfan and Jean, your siblings, and anybody who has traveled with Healing Haiti or wishes to travel with them someday.
Thank you for helping me change my perspective on the world and for giving me the plan for my future that I was looking for. I've always had a feeling that helping others would suit me well, and now I know. I'd love so much to pursue volunteer work after (or even during) college.
Lastly, thank you for keeping a strong faith. I haven't met you personally, but I know through stories of your marvelous work that you're a man of God. I know that you work very hard to keep this program running. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You're always in my prayers and on my mind, as are the people of Haiti and those all over the world in need. If ever you have a prayer request, I'm more than happy to pray for you. Send me an e-mail or facebook message/wall post and it's a done deal. :]
I hope so much to return to Haiti in the future, and maybe I can get the privilege of meeting you someday. For now, may God bless you in every way. Ke Bondye Beni 'ou.
Love and blessings,
Laura Elizabeth Failinger
Healing Haiti Team Member