Monday, November 12, 2012

No Exit

The day began with a strange sense of being in the comfort zone. How quickly one can acclimate. As we walked across the lot of pits and gravel at the Haitian Truck stop (a bathroom, a counter and a tiny food set up) we were marveling at how our senses have changed. When we were at the water well on Tuesday we were apprehensive and reluctant to take a step forward without our leader going first. And today we are walking confident and laughing with our new Haitian friends. Feeling comfortable and competent. All the team members sprang in action the second their foot hit the ground from the top top. Laughter and love filled the air.
However, the afternoon was a different story. The pleasure of comfort zone was shattered as we entered the gates of the Home for Sick and Dying Adults. This time when the feet hit the ground it was with a slowness that could only represent hesitation. The team lingered around the top top as if it were a safe haven to shelter us from the unknown. Our only comfort lying in the companionship of these 14 people that 5 days ago were strangers but somehow today seemed to cross over to friends. When Amy returned from Mother superior’s office we sauntered towards our destination ; women upstairs and men downstairs. The women move in a single file line to the steps and the men step into a large room with rows of beds that held a man lying on each one. Nick’s rapid creole question lead to a bunch of hands in the air as each of our teammates took a deep breath and a slight step backwards. As Jack reached for the lotion bottle many of the Haitian men began taking off their shirts. Karl paused for a moment as he considered his options. Looking around at the other two men who bagan rubbing the lotion on the men’s chests he realized there was no exit for him. He stepped forward receiving some lotion from the bottle in the palm of his hand. He took the giant leap out of his comfort zone and gave the man the lotion. Within minutes the tension of the room eased and the power of connection filled the space.
Meanwhile the women were entering the room upstairs. No creole was needed. The first team member entered the room and an elderly woman put up her arm for lotion. One by one the team members moved towards a bed and a woman. Meak voices spoke “Bonswa” as the eyes said the rest. Lotion bottles moving around the room and olive oil being massaged into the hair occurred in near silence. The only sounds were the occasional murmur from a team member or a patient to attempt greeting and the quiet hum of Junior’s guitar. Just about the time that we were settling into the akwardness of our work Brunet’s beautiful voice filled the air and the room came to life. The ladies singing joyfully with great innocence temporarily leaving behind the broken heartedness of their conditions. Even the women who were terribly sick mouthed the words. The women of the team moved from room to room connecting with the universal language of music and the universal love of touch. The image of our glory days in Heaven when people will sing praise to Our Lord painted the room as the songs were sung in Creole and English. I sat on my knees on the floor massaging a woman’s foot who was terminally ill with a throat condition, most likely cancer, I couldn’t help but imagine how Jesus must have looked cleaning the feet of the disciples. This is the example He modeled for us but so rarely do we get to live it in this raw of an experience. The defenses of the men downstairs melted away allowing them to see the scars marking the beauty of a life lived, even in it’s pain. As the team filtered out of the doors the court yard light up like the sunshine peering through the cloudy sky. The enery of making a difference obvious in each team member’s expression. Each person spoke of the transforming effect this experience has on each of them. To be part of true connection despite language barriers and cultural differences with simple human touch filled the soul of many team mates. The ride back to the guest house was complete with the comfort of gratitude and honor to be able to worship using one of God’s greatest commands “Love one another”.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dear God –

Dear God –

I thought I knew what the definition of mercy meant in Your eyes. I have been blessed to walk with the brokenhearted for several years in a care ministry program at church. However, I was taken to a new level of understanding the action of mercy on a mission trip to Haiti. You had our team visit an elderly neighborhood in Haiti. During this visit, I met Edmond; an elderly Haitian man living in a one man tent in the hills of Titanyen. By your grace, I was given the privilege to sit with Edmond. Walking into his tent, I thought that I would be given a chance to show mercy to Edmond. I was allowed to put my arms around him, hold him, feed him, and pray with him. Then, I experienced a moment of a lifetime. Edmond put his arm on my thigh. At that moment, it was not me that provided Edmond mercy. In that moment, God, you were showing me mercy through Edmond’s touch. What’s more, Edmond, could be an angry and outraged elderly man. Yet, I witnessed a man filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Edmond is a man who is grateful for visitors, food, water, and a hug – the simple things in life.

I will be forever thankful, Lord, that you used Edmond to inspire and humble me. Thank you, Lord, that you have positioned Edmond in a place which defines mercy at its deepest core. Thank you Lord for, once again, unveiling my eyes to humanity's basic needs in order to survive which includes mercy. 

Written by Russ Scott

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A blog posting from our friends at Real Hope for Haiti.

A blog posting from our friends at Real Hope for Haiti.

Pillowcase Dresses – Such a Blessing!

We are always so humbled and thankful when we see how God is using people all over the globe to show His love to the Haitians here in Cazale.  Real Hope for Haiti has been blessed by receiving so many gifts and donations over the years from selfless, generous givers.  Each one is special and we’d love to blog about them all, but that’s just not possible.  Sometimes, however, a special story behind a donation makes us pause and savor God’s graciousness, and we absolutely must share it with you. 
This is one of those stories.
We got the message recently that a mission team from Healing Haiti had brought in some suitcases filled with donations for RHFH.  Healing Haiti teams have often brought in donations, carrying them in their luggage.  Receiving donations and supplies is logistically very difficult and costly here in Haiti, so it is always a cause for celebration when incoming travelers are willing to sacrifice space in their luggage (not to mention the hassle of handling extra suitcases in the airports) to bring needed items into the country for us.  Once the team arrives in Haiti, all we have to do is drop by and pick up the suitcases from them. 
The Healing Haiti suitcases didn’t just have pillowcase dresses inside, but baby formula and medication as well!  Wow!
This particular team was from St. Michael’s Church in Bloomington.  Prior to their trip, team member Margie Schroeder was aware of a big project that a young lady by the name of Caroline was undertaking:  making a huge number of pillowcase dresses for children who need them.  As God so often does, He brought several people together to accomplish this project, a project that would result in little girls at RHFH being clothed in adorable pillowcase dresses.    

Caroline, from Eden Prairie, MN, is a 17 year old high school senior known for having a heart for the Lord and for serving others.  She is a Girl Scout in Troop 10279.  
 ”I actually learned how to make the dresses about 4 years ago from my great aunt. My great aunt taught my mom and I how to make them just as a fun activity, but this past year I thought that making the dresses would be a great idea for my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. This is the highest award of achievement in girl scouting and it involves about 80 hours of service.”  Caroline sent out flyers to ask for donations of pillowcases to make the dresses out of.  She held a workshop one day in August at Prairie Lutheran Church, where several people gathered to join in the effort to make the dresses.  She had recruited many neighbors and friends to assist in ironing and putting Bible verses on each dress and praying over each child to whom the dresses would clothe.
According to Caroline’s mother, Gail, “This project will continue as over 20 women from our church want to make dresses every August to send to Haiti!”  This is very good news since our girls love the dresses, as do the staff.  They are cool and comfortable, hold up well through handwashings, and make it easy to continue caring for the child while wearing the dress, even if the child has an IV or bandages.  Several individuals and groups of supporters have made pillowcase dresses for the girls here at RHFH over the past couple of years.  Every time we receive a new batch, it’s always fun to see the cute patterns and personal touches the crafter has made.  We just love pillowcase dresses!   
Thank you so much to all those who were a part of making these sweet dresses and getting them to us here at RHFH.  Thanks to everyone who has given of their time and resources to help further this ministry in each and every way God has equipped you.  All for the glory of the Lord!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”     Romans 8:28

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dad, are you going to go fix things down there?

My son David asked me before I went to Haiti last week, "Dad, are you going to go fix things down there?". I told him that I was going to go help, but could not fix it. While I experienced a great deal and "helped" where I was able, God decided it was time to fix me. My eyes have been opened to the grand treasures we have that we take for granted and the extreme needs of others that are so very real.

Matthew 25

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Letter to the little girl in the purple dress with downs syndrome

Dear sweetie...thank you for blessing me today. As I started to play my guitar and sing you pressed in so close it was at first hard to play. Your face was inches from my hands and the strings as you peered deep into the sound hole in the guitar. Were you trying to figure out were the sound was coming from? You stood there for over an hour as we sang. I will never forget the moment you pressed in close enough to kiss the guitar strings as I strummed and then looked up at me and smiled. You melted my heart and healed a part that was broken. You were a gift to me from heaven and I will never forget you, the angel in the little purple dress.... Love and kisses back to you.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Good Morning from Haiti and our last morning here.  This is my first and last post as many have already written the words in my head.  This week was nothing short of amazing. I saw Christ in each person on our team. I saw Christ in the people who protected us and helped us each and everyday. I saw Christ in the beautiful Haitian people we met each day, the babies, the children, the mothers, the fathers, the orphans and the elders.  

A song came to mind this morning "One" by Chris Sligh

........But love, we keep trying to find a way to come together lord take these fears away
 Make us one. Make us one, one,  Lord make us One

We are the face of Christ in a world of shadows, is it God's love we are fighting for or denominations ego? We gotta let go of pride and embrace the idea of difference........ 

The journey has been one of transformation for so many of us. As we re-enter our lives home we ask you Lord to guide our intentions and our hearts to continue learning to be the light ......
As we looked in the eyes of each person they each  have a story to tell. A story that is filled with living and dying, laughing and crying..... I have found so much joy and laughter here in Haiti. So much more than I ever imagined. I want to remember each part of this. The journey I have taken. The hurt, the hunger and pain I saw as well as the smiles, the joy and the love for Jesus. Remember when you look down to always look up. When I looked down and saw sadness I looked up and saw beauty in the mountains, the sky, the ocean, the people and all God created. 



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Look Not to Earthly Things for Fulfillment

Eyes fixed on a prize that will but fade away in a matter of moments,

Look not to earthly things for fulfillment,

But look to the heavens for the greatest reward,

For it is in the hands and feet of Christ that our gaze may be shifted

 from an earthy promise of artificiality to that which really matters,

Take glance at that which surrounds you and witness the need for love

 and generosity among the most vulnerable of people,

Set down your possessions and free yourself of the binding act of


Extend your arms outward and reach out to those who yearn for your


May you be broken by those who you encounter,

May you be encouraged by the humbling of your heart

May you hear God's call in your life to serve his people through prayer,

 compassion, and commitment.

-Kayleen Smith 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How can I begin to describe a day like yesterday?  A day surrounded by a city made up of dirt-packed roads, garbage everywhere, children with visible signs of malnutrition and physical impairments that had never received medical care, people of all ages living in tin shanties with dirt floors, leaking roofs, no windows, no beds, no furniture and no sign of food to be eaten, many of them living 6-8 people in these dark one-room shacks, elderly people sitting inside dark homes or outside in the hot sun with nobody to look after them,  small children carrying buckets of water weighing more than themselves from our water trucks to their “homes,” countless children with no clothes at all, children playing in sewage-infested waters and walking barefoot over filth and garbage, small babies left crying and alone in darkness while their mothers were out getting water for their families, no bathrooms or running water, no hope for the future.
And yet, children running from all directions to greet us, children with huge smiles on their dirty faces begging for hugs, wanting to be held, tugging us from all sides, naked children finding joy in sitting under the water trucks drinking the water dribbling down the back of the truck or trying to catch it in small buckets, children wanting to tell us their names, ask us our names, play games with us, babies that were happily willing to be scooped up in our arms and stay for endless periods of time, children climbing into the newly-fetched buckets of water with delighted grins on their faces as they splash in the cold water, children joyfully following us through the garbage-filled streets, alleys and beaches gladly posing for pictures as we examined their lives and their homes, children who found happiness in a street, city, country that has so little to offer and so little hope for the future.

And amongst it all, there was a presence of God…

It can’t be described.  I couldn’t bear to be there, yet I couldn’t bear to leave—all in the same breath.  Words can never do justice to the experience.  Not even pictures can explain it.  Yet I share a few with you. 

Ann Brau


We were asked yesterday to choose one word to describe our day.  The first word that came to my mind was grit, probably because I was so dirty when asked to think of a word!  I had grit on my hands from turning cartwheels with the kids, grit between my fingers from holding naked children, grit on my shorts from holding children who ran through garbage and sewage with no shoes, grit on my face from dirt blowing from unpaved roads, grit in my nose from breathing smells that come from no access to sewage systems.  Not to mention the grit that it takes the people of Cite Soleil to survive from day to day.  It’s one thing to imagine what it would be like to live without water, but quite another thing to carry 50 pound buckets of water through narrow alleyways to shanties to lift that burden from a skinny child, pregnant woman, or elderly woman, and then turn around and do it all again and again.   

But then another word came to my mind as I was reflecting on the Gospel of John 15: “This is my one commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…. You did not choose me but I chose you.”  This is the first time in my 42 years on earth that I have felt like I could quite literally be the hands of Christ in this world.  “For I was thirsty and you gave me water to drink.”  It was so simple and pure and good and true.  So I changed my word of the day to HANDS.  God used my hands to give water to the thirsty.  How incredible is that?  God used my hands to hold babies needing love.  God used my hands to play with children looking for validation.  God used my hands to lift heavy buckets onto women’s heads so they could cook, drink, bathe and feed their families.  God used my hands to hold a water hose and fill buckets.  God used my hands to move buckets into place and out of the way.  God used my hands to show his love.

It’s easy to smile in Cite Soleil because all the children are smiling at you.  In fact, I couldn’t stop smiling for the first half of the day.  And then we walked back to the furthest recesses of the slums.  Back to where the sewage and muck stagnates. Back where people perch on outhouse structures over the ocean to go to the bathroom and where other children swim nearby because they have nowhere else to swim.  Back where people have to struggle more than their neighbors just to carry a bucket of clean water.  Where sharp corroded sheet metal and rusty nails poke out around every corner.  Back where pigs root, and chickens squawk, and the barefoot kids wince because the ground is so treacherous with sharp shells and garbage.  And I couldn’t smile anymore.  My face wouldn’t move.  But all the kids around me were still smiling.  As Fr. Reiser said, I can’t walk away from misery and do nothing.

Joyce Getchell

Monday, April 23, 2012

Serendiptious-"Come Upon or Found by Accident"

Our team is made up of a variety of goers: some first-timers, some
 who have been there a few times, and one who will be on his 40th

This will be my 5th trip.  My prayer, as it has been each trip,  is for God
to use me to be a light in a dark and desperate place.  I pray that the
people I meet don't see me, instead they feel the love of their Creator.
A serendipitous discovery has happened each time I've been in Haiti.
God has used the Haitian people to shine a light into dark areas of
 my heart: materialism and control.  These things distract me from
His Purposes and love.  The bonds of fear and materialism fade
away as I witness the passionate faith of the Haitian people as they
worship our Good Father.  It is amazing to hear Him honored,
praised and adored from those who have experienced abandonment,
 hunger, death, and destruction.  Humbling and inspiring.

My seven year old daughter asked me tonight, "Why doesn't God
just fix Haiti?"  God is fixing Haiti and He is using us to do it!
What I will share with her later, because I didn't think of it then,
is that not only is God using us to fix Haiti, God is using Haiti to
fix me!  I just LOVE how He works.  He is so GOOD!

Please join me in praying that God's love will be revealed
 in a new way in Haiti -  to the people we meet and for those
on our team, whether it's their 1st time or their 40th!

-Karen Moen

Friday, March 30, 2012

I can only pray that one will read this and it will touch their heart to listen to the words from a broken heart for the impoverished, less fortunate, the afflicted and the lost and do something. My hope is that one may possibly be open to hearing the nudge on a heart to serve God’s people and His people of Haiti. In America, we are the wealthiest country in the world materially. I believe this because I see so many put their trust in material things, in their jobs, in their money, in the activities that they do in order to surpass the time, to suppress the pain of the emptiness they feel from seeking material things. What we so often do not comprehend is that we will be supplied with everything we need through our Heavenly Father….I know this because I was deeply there and periodically fall back to that empty place.

It is America’s addiction…STUFF. If you think about’s a temporary fix to an eternal situation. Your new house, new car, new outfit, new hair color and cut, new shoes, new purse, trip to a luxurious resort, etc. will never be able to fill the hole in your heart. It is only through Christ that one will be able to become whole hearted once and for all. Again, I know this because I have been there. Often I say…I have been through so much and many different and difficult experiences that I can only be here to hopefully help others learn what NOT to do because I know where it leads and if I can help someone steer clear of trial and learn from my mistakes…so be it. We are here to be used not to sit on the sidelines.

So as I am here in Haiti again, it is amazing to see what God is trying to reveal to me…but only here where I am away from all my stuff relying solely on God and completely centering my focus on Him. I cannot imagine how many people here in Haiti would take my life over theirs. But I wish I could take their life over mine in America. I would take walking 5 miles over a $30,000 car, I would take a tin shanty over a $500,000 let a lone a $100,000 house any day. It keeps me living the life God intended. It keeps me focused, centered, and saturated in Him. And in the end…it doesn’t matter what you have or had…it’s the condition of your heart and what you have done with the gifts you have been given.

Throughout my time in Haiti, God has shown me the many blessings I have here at my American home. I am a single mother who lives paycheck to paycheck. I struggle to put food on my daughter’s plate yet somehow God ALWAYS provides. I may not have a home I own nor a big house to host others or to look like I live better than everyone else but I have a house that I "get to" call home. I am privileged enough to have a roof over mine and my daughter's heads, the luxury of a car-nothing big or fancy, that I "get to" drive to my blessed job that I may live under the American standard but I am blessed to live a very abundant life compared to the rest of the world. I make over $20,000 a year so I am in the TOP 5% of the WORLD'S WEALTH. I have a job where I serve people who want to make the "outside look good” and the “inside feel good TEMPORARILY”. With what I have experienced in Haiti, I struggle with people spending money on "STUFF" that one really does not NEED to SURVIVE everyday. Yet I realize that God has placed me in this industry to be "THE VOICE OF THE POOR" to some of the world's wealthiest people yet some of the most lost people in the world. I say"lost" in means of searching for the significance of life, our God given purpose. I am sent by God to be the light in the darkness and I have been abundantly blessed by the God given opportunities to travel to Haiti and being able to bring my 13 yrs old daughter 3 times in one year. I may not have much but I have this calling on my heart from God and am choosing obedience. I have sacrificed my own personal pleasures to serve “the least of these” in Haiti. It is not about me…it is about serving others and loving others as Christ does.

I know that we all do not have this calling of "Haiti" but ask yourself through your life and everyday...What does God want from me today? What can I do in order to fulfill all His desires for me. Each person has been called to a purpose in life. Be still and allow the Lord to do His work in you and guide you where He has planned. You may not be equipped but God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. Trust me, I never thought that I could be a here but I am with my daughter in Haiti. I think she is more at home here than I am. She sure lets the Spirit move her. Kira has this way of picking out the ones that no one else sees. I thank God for her faith. She keeps me moving on days that I seem to slow down. Praising God for her today as always.

Kira and I were called to serve in Haiti, for one reason or another. I believe our journey does not stop when we return home, it only continues. America is OUR NEW MISSION FIELD. God gave us some of His children’s stories in Haiti to cherish and to share with others. I cannot help but ask myself…What have I done with the gifts that God have given me? The revelations, the stories, the pictures, the love? Have I shared them? I have met these people that God so perfectly placed in my path for a reason, He has given me a new lens, a new voice, a new opportunity to serve, and the many blessings I have received through going to Haiti. I come back home and have this firestorm in my hearts…now to figure out what to do with it, to keep it burning and from not burning out. I do not know where this week is going to lead me but I am praying that God will give me some revelations and to reveal the path that He has chosen for me...

All this I pray every one...Be Still and the Lord will fight for You...Let Him lead you, guide you and protect you. May we live in His name, in His ways, with His love...all for His Glory.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I had the privilege of meeting Alyn Shannon about 4 years ago.  My friend, Margie Schroeder, invited me to a party showcasing Alyn’s beautiful jewlery.  Alyn was an amazing lady.  She lit up the room. Her jewelry pointed right to the throne of Christ. Pictured is the necklace I bought the night I met her….”Trust in the Lord with all of your heart” Proverbs 3:5.

Alyn’s words, her heart, and everything about her was pure beauty.  Alyn and I talked that night about Healing Haiti and we made a plan to introduce the ministry to our Sunday School kids at St. Michaels.  That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the children at St. Michaels and the kids in Haiti.  They never met in person, but Alyn and Jeff somehow were able to bridge the miles and help the children connect and see each other as friends loving and praying for one another.

Alyn went to be with the Lord about a year and a half ago after a battle with breast cancer.  I didn’t get to know Alyn well enough or long enough, but even the little I knew her, I was totally amazed by her LOVE.  Her love for the Lord, her love for Jeff, her love for the people of Haiti, really her love for us all.

And now, in 3 months, I have a chance to go to Haiti and see her dream and see the people she loved so dearly.  I am amazed at how God works so intimately in our lives.  Even though I know I won’t see Alyn there, I know I will feel her there.  When I look at pictures from Haiti, her spirit is in every smile I see.   Her beauty is in every inch of Grace Village and her warmth can just be felt by the Joy brought to Haiti through the ministry of Healing Haiti.  I feel so blessed to go on this mission trip.  I will be with my 2 oldest sons, 3 dear friends and their wonderful sons, and our trip leaders are my dear friend Margie Schroeder and the one and only Jeff Gacek.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store and I can’t wait to see all that Alyn loved so dearly.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5,6.  My prayer for the next 3 months is that our team will trust in the Lord and rely on Him and have our eyes open to the path He will take us on.

Marijo Ose
Healing Haiti Team Member

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It is a place that has shaped who I am...

Haiti is home to the largest slum in the Western hemisphere, Cite Soliel. This poverty stricken country can be reached by a short 90 minute flight from Miami; however, while Americans lay out on the sandy beaches in Miami, beaches located on the same body of water are avoided by Haitians due to the excessive pollution. These are two separate worlds entirely, and yet they are separated by a mere 90 minutes. I wonder how is there a country in such proximity to the United States with unimaginable unemployment rates, an extremely low life expectancy, an unstable government, and undreamed of living conditions. Large amounts of the population of Haiti are without running water, something almost unheard of in most parts of the United States.

My interest in service and in others brought me to Haiti for Spring Break where I worked with a team of volunteers to assist with the delivery of fresh water, to give love and attention to children and to spread God’s word. On my second evening in Haiti on a visit to a tent city, I met a boy who had a great deal to teach me. 

Passing through the gates of the tent city, I was hit by the stench of urine and crowdedness.  I wanted to look away and yet I could not turn my eyes from the display of uneven rows of crowded homes made of tarps and sheets strung together over sticks. Timidly, I began walking, leaving the comfort of the gate, edging closer in a trance-like state. Weaving my way between rows of makeshift homes, I struggled to avoid the stream of unknown fluid cutting a path inches from my feet. Walking past the open tents, I was greeted with an astounding amount of joyfulness, never less than a smile.  I continued to walk through the tents saying hello, and then I saw him. 

A few tents from where I stood a boy sat in his wheelchair. His twisted legs dangled from the well-worn chair while he ate a tiny portion of rice. He shyly glanced up and our eyes met as an enormous smile spread across his face, and in that moment I became so dispirited. I dropped my gaze and turned my back as my face flushed and tears began to stream down my cheeks.  What, I wondered, did this crippled, poverty-stricken boy have to smile about?  His family’s home was half the size of my bedroom back home.  Where I had lush carpet he had cracked earth, where I had air conditioning he had sweltering heat, and yet where he wore his smile I wore nothing. I could not remember the last time I smiled with such a full body smile as he had just given me.  Slowly, I dried my tears and walked towards him. Once I reached him, I bent down to look him in the eye, and with an unsteady voice, I asked, “Ki jan ou rele? “ In the gentlest voice, as if sensing my uneasiness, he responded, “Ronaldo.” Though we could not communicate with words, I felt completely at ease just sitting by his side in the dirt, enjoying his company.

After nearly 15 minutes of communicating through simple gestures, and a brief introduction to his family, it was time for me to leave. As I got up, I turned to the boy and with increased confidence said, “Ke Bondye Beni’ou “(May God bless you).  His smile, which had been so painful minutes before, now filled me up.  I returned the smile from a deep place in my soul and reluctantly returned to my night’s lodgings.  

Once more I passed through the gates of the tent city and ventured onto the uneven road. As I walked home my mind was a whirlpool of thoughts. Sleep did not come easily that night.  I despaired about how incredibly materialistic our society had become, how incredibly materialistic I had become. Ronaldo, with his bright smile amid squalor, reminded me, in an intense way, that living fully has little to do with having the biggest house or the latest gadget.  Initially, I was torn apart by the boy’s smile because of how guilty it had made me feel, but over our time together, I came to see that we could share a beautiful human connection.  I was more open in all of my interactions with others after meeting Ronaldo.  I realized that I had a gift for making others feel comfortable. Furthermore, upon returning people praise me for spending time in Haiti.  This praise, which is something I would have gladly taken before my encounter with Ronaldo, embarrasses me as it is undeserved.  I have learned that each of us should be expected to do what we can to enhance the lives of others and to learn about ourselves and one another. Haiti is a place that has had an incredible inspiration to me, it is a place I have come to love, and it is a place that has shaped who I am.

Sammie Maixner