Would you believe that prior to this year I had never been on a mission trip, but now I have been to Haiti four times? Would you believe that I, someone rarely short of words, find it extremely hard to write this testimonial? It’s mainly because I’ve already told you so much about Haiti and I don’t want to tell you about Haiti anymore… I want you to come with me. I want you to experience it.
Though a place devoid of nearly all of the comforts, securities and possessions we value, Haiti has given me the most precious gift. Haiti unlocked a door I never knew existed. After walking through that door, nothing, I mean nothing, has been the same. Haiti changed my thoughts, my perspective, my priorities… Haiti changed my life. I am so thankful I opened my heart and mind and set foot on that plane 10 months ago. The idea of the necessity of walking in ones shoes to gain true understanding has a whole new meaning… Life has a whole new meaning…
To know me is to know how much I love a good meal. Now, when out at a nice restaurant, I pause with the reminder that in Haiti, $150 will send a child to school for a year and provide his/her tuition, books, exam fees, school uniforms, a meal a day and a Christmas present. I think of how many patients People for Haiti could treat for the cost of that same meal.
When I am stuck in traffic and start to get frustrated, I think of the nearly 30 Haitians who are lucky to be crammed into the back of an open air pickup truck, getting filthy while struggling to hold on down the filthy dirt road. I think of the women carrying heavy baskets on their heads. I think of men transporting bulky supplies using mule carts, with themselves serving as the mules. When I take a relaxing hot shower, I wonder what it must be like to have never had a real shower, or even clean water to drink. When I see kids turning away food they don’t like, I think of the children in Haiti who eat cookies made of mud to fill their bellies. When I look at all the shoes in my closet, I wonder what it must be like to have never had a single pair. When I am not feeling well, I think of the very young and parentless children bringing themselves to our medical clinics and learning how to take their medicine on their own…
When someone asks if we are truly making a difference, I smile and profess a confident, absolutely! I think of the several lives saved and thousands of lives touched by our doctors. I think of the hope we instilled in many by simply looking in their eyes, smiling at them and giving them a hug. I think of the people dancing with joy when simply given $1 reading glasses. I think of the approximate 75 children who are now receiving an education thanks to the donors in our People for Haiti family. I think of the hundreds of children that truly know what it’s like to love because we so readily share our love with them. And I think of our People for Haiti missionaries who have learned to care for others and to love in ways they never thought possible.
It’s these thoughts that keep me in check. It’s these thoughts that help me maintain perspective. Through talking to you about my missions to Haiti, I hope each of you has gained the perspective of knowing the power each of us truly has to make a difference in the lives of many.
I know traveling to Haiti is not for everyone, but for those that feel even an inkling to go, do it! Your only regret will be why you waited so long. For those that cannot go, please do what you can. We can all do something… from donating used clothes, to arranging clothing, toy, nonprescription medicine and reading glasses collection drives… if we all do our part, WE TRULY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!