Last year the thought of visiting Haiti was just that, a mere thought. Now, I’ve been to Haiti three times in seven months. Haiti has become my home away from home. While the unfortunate realities in Haiti remain the same, I continue to take something new away from each mission trip. This time I learned about happiness.
This trip we ventured much further than we had in the past. On the way to set up a clinic hours away, we drove through City Soleil. A city often regarded as one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in the Western Hemisphere. A sad silence came across our team as we observed utter poverty. Minutes later, with our team still silently processing the sights of City Soleil, we drove by two young kids holding hands, dancing and laughing as they skipped seemingly worry free through an open field. Our team members’ spirits were quickly lifted and smiles erupted. We realized that though our hearts break when observing the living conditions in Haiti, most Haitians do not carry that same sadness. Maybe it’s because they’ve never known the luxuries that we know… Or maybe it’s because simplicity has allowed them to focus on the deeper meaning of life, such as relationships, and it’s those relationships that bring them all the happiness they need. I love seeing the way the children at Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home interact. Each of the children have overcome major illnesses, separation from family and heartbreak. And now, they truly live as one big family. They learn from each other. They look out for each other and protect each other. They truly love each other… And they are happy.
The last afternoon in Haiti we took a group of the children from the orphanage on a hike up a mountain. The entire time, two little boys held onto my hands and showed me the way up the mountain. We talked, we threw rocks, we ran, we sang…I was touched by how happy they were by just spending time with me. For me, this was yet another moment of true happiness.
When we got back to the orphanage, 4 year old Madeline strolled into our sleeping quarters to get her nightly medicine. When she was done, she turned to me and reached up for me to hold her. I had held Madeline many times before, but this time was different. This time we couldn’t let each other go. Holding her was cozy and calming. It was perfect. Madeline quickly fell asleep in my arms. Her head rested on my chest, her arms wrapped around me. She slept so soundly, so contently, like she found her peace…. And I found mine. Yet another moment of true happiness.
I held Madeline for over an hour as she slept. My eyes filled as I thought about how both of her parents are deceased and how not too long ago, she nearly starved to death. By the grace of God, Madeline was placed at Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home and her life was saved. Madeline is now healthy, is surrounded by love, and is my little angel. Madeline still doesn’t really talk, but she doesn’t have to… The way she looks at you and the way she holds you with her warm and pure embrace says it all. It’s amazing how children like Madeline who either do not speak my language, or do not speak at all, have taught me so much about pure love and pure happiness. Each trip, these beautiful children bring me back to the basics. They have given me a gift, a gift that I wish to share with you so you can experience these same blessings.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the children in Haiti. I truly wish I could bring some of these children home with me, but since it’s not that easy, I want to bring you to them. There is so much to be done in Haiti… So many little hands to hold…so many hearts that long to be loved by you…so many angels that will change your world… If Haiti is placed on your heart the way it was placed on mine, I hope you will consider joining me in Haiti. You will never be the same.