How do I explain my experience in Haiti? If I really tried I could probably write a whole book. But for now I am going to try to talk about all the things I did and experienced in the poorest and richest country in the western hemisphere (more on that later) in this post.
Just by flying into the country you could tell how bad of a situation that Haiti is in physically. Before I even stepped foot in the country my heart was breaking for the Haitian people. Flying in was one of the biggest culture shocks I have ever had. There are these things called tent cities and they were everywhere. You could fit at least six or seven tents in my living room to kind of give you an idea how of small and packed together these tents were. For miles all you could see were tents. That really got at me because I realized that entire families lived in these tents and I have a room that could fit four or five tents in my bedroom. It just shows how much abundance we Americans have compared to countries like Haiti. When we were in Vegas waiting for our plane, we were walking through a casino and my youth pastor, Brent, asked us to take a mental photo of all that was happening in this casino. Flying into Haiti, that mental photo was brought to mind, and it made me sick. Americans have so much in abundance that we can go and gamble away our money, and the people of Haiti and many other countries live off two or less dollars a day.
After landing in the airport, getting through customs, and getting our luggage, we met our group leaders, Josh, Jenny, and Tiffany. We got on a bus and started the long drive through Port au Prince to Carrefour. Driving through these two cities, I noticed that a lot of the buildings were still in ruin and the rubble had not even been cleared, even after eighteen months. Haiti doesn’t really have people hired to pick up trash so there was a lot of that laying around. Of the whole time I was there I saw one garbage truck. But the whole country is not like this. On one bus ride we were out of the major cities and got to see the country side. Haiti is a very beautiful country. Right now I am trying to paint a picture of the physical description of Haiti to you. To get the full picture you would just have to experience it for yourself.
In the physical aspect Haiti is a very poor country. But in a spiritual aspect, Haiti is one of the richest countries in the world (this is what I meant earlier). The Haitian people are so full of life and they have a faith in God like I have never seen anywhere. They know that God will provide for them. And I think that because the United States and many other richer countries are so independent that we have lost the ability to depend on God for the things that we need.
Throughout the trip we would go on prayer walks. We would walk around Carrefour to pray and talk with people. We would also do these in the tent cities. I remember one time we were in a tent city and a woman walked up to us and told us that there was a sick man and the she wanted us to pray for him. We learned that the week before this man had had a stroke and had lost all feeling in the left side of his body. So we prayed for him and he was very thankful. Another time we were walking around Carrefour and we were talking to a young woman. We prayed for her and afterwards an elderly man, who was blind in one eye, walked up to us and asked us for prayer. We asked him if he knew anything about Jesus and he said he didn’t. So I talked to him about how Jesus was a man but he was also God and that he came to Earth to die for the sins of the world on the cross. I also told him that Jesus was resurrected three days later. After I was finished one of my friends, Austin, told him about how Jesus healed the blind man because he had so much faith that Jesus could heal him. He decided to accept Christ as his lord and savior that day. Our very first prayer walk, another group was approached by a man and he told them that his wife wanted to know Jesus. So they followed him to his tent and when they got inside he told them that him and his wife wanted to accept Jesus. I heard it was amazing and I wish I could have been there. I got to meet them though because they were at church with us on Sunday. God is moving in amazing ways in Haiti.
Church was definitely a different experience. People were dancing and worshiping the Lord with such passion. You don’t really get a lot of worship like that in the states.
We also did Vacation Bible School at the local church and at an orphanage. These kids were amazing. We had a lot of fun with them and we also got to teach them about God. The orphanage was run by a woman named Madame Gustave. The kids there were so full of life, even though some of them had come from bad backgrounds. They loved bubbles, jumping rope, and playing soccer. We also broke out the sidewalk chalk and construction paper and crayons. These kids loved to draw. These kids were so amazing and the spirit of God was alive in them.
My first experience in a tent city was something very hard to see. As we were walking around, we saw many people did not have shoes. There were also many kids who did not have clothes. Many of the babies did not have diapers. The tents were very hot and very small. These tent cities are all over and all the people are displaced because of the earthquake. A few nights it had rained really bad and Josh was talking to us about how he was wrecked at how these people and children had to sleep in a flooded tent city. We take so many things for granted that we don’t even realize how easy we have it. We have food and a place to stay to keep us out of the rain and other types of weather. Most Haitians don’t have these comforts.
Even through all the stuff the Haitian people have been through, they still have a very strong faith in God. And this is what I think is the most amazing thing about them.
One of the things that we learned is that all the money that was donated to Haiti after the earthquake only 10% made it into the country and of that 10% only 3% was used to aid the people. Haiti’s gov. gets 75% of its budget from foreign countries, so throwing money at the country is not going to help.
Haiti is a broken and hopeless country. It cannot be fixed with money. The only thing that could fix this country is God. Thank goodness God can do things that we humans cannot.
Coming back into the US was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Just in the airport alone there were stores dedicated to perfume and purses and many other things. After seeing Haiti and how much need that there is, I was disgusted by how greed has taken over the US.
I hope I have given you a glimpse of what it was like for me to be in this amazing country. If you ever get the chance to go to Haiti, I would take it. It is something that will change your life forever.
In God’s grip,