I am a true believer in the phrase “things happen for a reason”. That phrase holds the key that God will unlock if you just let Him. I was in the driver’s seat for so long that I decided to hand the wheel over to God and see what path I should be on. That path started when my eyes fell upon a Facebook post Thanksgiving week of 2010. My child-hood best friend of thirty-four years was going on a mission trip to Haiti. Knowing that this was something I always wanted to do but didn’t think it was possible, I emailed her immediately. Her response was brief but to the point. It didn’t matter. It was all I needed to have my mind made up. The difficult part was “how to convince my hubby”. My husband has a heart of gold and was wanting to do a mission trip with me, but I knew he would not agree on this one so I figured I would fly solo. My safety is his number one concern and since the news is filled with negativity and violence, naturally he was against it. I will never forget the email I sent Tammy. “Tammy, you have to help me convince Kris! I really want to go!” I approached the subject with him again. Still did not go in my favor. A few weeks go by and Tammy sends out her testimony from her January trip. On my break time at work, my eyes were glued to my phone as I read every word of her testimony. I immediately forward it to Kris. Within an hour I receive a text from him saying, “Do you think you can raise enough money for two people to go?” My heart jumped. Her testimony pressed on his heart as it did mine. He then responds with, “I haven’t read her testimony yet. I simply prayed about it and found peace”. He was going! I get to have this experience with a friend I’ve had all my life along with the love of my life.
Several months of planning, raising money and saving every penny could never prepare me for the journey I was about to embark on. I knew that no matter how hard I tried to imagine what my experience would be like, I really was walking into this country like a newborn baby. I felt so many emotions leading up to the trip that when we finally arrived those emotions were heightened times ten. Sensory overload. The sounds, the smells, the sights. Oh the sights. How can this place exist? Why is it acceptable to live this way? They have NOTHING. No running water, no electricity, no food. As I am staring in disbelief I overhear the fourteen year old volunteer say, “So this is hell”. I thought, “yup, that sounds about right”. Then I realized this is hell to us, but home to them. This is all they have ever known.
I knew the next few days would be the hardest days I have ever faced. Unbearable heat and agonizing heartache. I believe that God was testing me mentally and physically. I found strength I didn’t know I had. I became a pharmacist for three days, I showed love to people of all ages, I learned a new language (including smiling, it speaks a thousand words), I observed a surgery, and I listened. Do you ever stop to just listen? I remember laying in bed my first night and when everyone was asleep, I listened to every sound. I chuckled to myself as I thought of the nature CD’s we buy to help us sleep and yet I’m hearing it for free. Why does it sound so different in Haiti then back home? Maybe because life gets so crazy and busy that we don’t stop to listen to what is really going on in this world.
Growing up in the U.S. , we become consumed by careers and objects. Some of us work seven days a week to pay for these objects. Before this trip was introduced to me, I came to a strong realization that my life was about MY wants, MY desires and everything else came second. I had it all wrong. It’s not about me. I know God will always take care of me. So all of my daily frustrations and stress will be handed over to Him and I will focus on others. Isn’t that what life is all about? Love.
The Haitians are the strongest and most spiritual people I have ever laid eyes on. Their continued faith is what gets them through life. A life we are all guilty of taking for granted. I have a new appreciation for this short life we live. The air smells different, the colors are vivid, and for once I am listening.