It was his simple story that brought me to a sad reality. You see, a mission trip is different than you’d think – at least for me it was. I’ve mentioned my overactive tear ducts before, and when we were preparing to go to Haiti, I was worried about how I’d control my tears. I wondered how it was going to be possible to be there, seeing poverty and pain like I had never before seen, and not allow my emotions to take over. When I got there I was surprised. It was different than I thought it would be. What we saw was unbelievable, heartbreaking, and surreal, but I felt a comfort and peace that I didn’t expect. The aspect of bringing hope outweighed the horrible scenes we saw. The people there inspired me to be stronger, kinder, more humble, more faithful, more resilient.
After six touching days, we went to a preschool run by faithful Americans that had previously lived in Idaho on a farm, and had felt led to move their family to Haiti and serve the people there. Admirably, they listened to the prompting and moved their family to this very unsettled and even dangerous country.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, we finally found their home. We drove down an alley and pulled up to high security walls that seemed to reach the clouds – nobody could climb over these walls. You couldn’t see the home from the road, just towering sturdy walls and a large metal gate. We had been on the phone with them to find our way so they were expecting us. The driver honked, they rolled open the gate just enough to peak out and once they confirmed it was us, they waved us in.
They not only had given up their comfortable lives in Idaho, but they were now sharing their home and days with countless adorable and underprivileged 2-5 year old active Haitian children.
In some ways it felt like a prison and in some ways it felt like a paradise. The small yard and high walls made it feel like a prison, but the love and Christlike sacrifice that went on in those walls every day was paradisiacal.
We set up our makeshift clinic, and they starting bringing the children out a few at a time. Each child had a paper with his or her name, age, and a little bit about them and their story on it. I mostly just helped get the kids to where they were going and didn’t read many of the papers. They were primarily for the providers to help better assess them. But I read Stanley’s paper. It read something like, “Has a hard home life. He misses school often…” My heart broke. Missing school when it is free and offers free meals and care is very uncommon. I held this sweet boy, looking at his big, sad brown eyes and tried to make him crack a smile, and that’s when it hit me, all of these people we are helping have lives I can’t even comprehend. Many innocent children are victims of acts we can’t imagine. When people are desperate, they do things they shouldn’t and most, if not all, of these people we had seen all week were desperate.
I learned something from our Idaho farming friends and from Stanley that day. We can’t help everyone, but we can help someone. Stanley, and all the other blessed children at that preschool have a safe haven to go to Monday through Friday from 7am until 3pm. They get two healthy meals each day. They learn, they laugh, they eat, they dance, they play. They are exposed to real love and a life where they don’t have to feel desperate. These saintly people sacrifice their lives to bring hope to others. They can’t help all of Haiti, but they can help these children.
One of my favorite memories of this place was seeing a beautiful blond teenage girl, holding a little Haitian girl’s hand, singing songs in creole while dancing and pouncing around in a circle. Her smile could light up the room. She had no makeup on and had no thought of herself or her needs, she had better and bigger things that consumed her mind.
As I watched this memorable moment, I yearned to somehow teach my girls how to be like this teenage girl – selfless, happy, and christlike in so many ways.
Time passes and memories fade. But we never want to forget the feelings we felt while we were there so we put together a video of our time in Haiti. It’s dear to our hearts and brings up emotion every time we see it. We hope it allows you to feel and see some of what we did that week.
Our message is always that bringing hope to others is one of the best things we can do with our time and for our soul. It may be in our families, in our communities, or in our world. It doesn’t matter who or where we are, it just matters that we are doing it! With God’s help, we can know where we are most needed and then love and serve.
There are Stanley’s all around us, and sometimes we just need to help them crack a smile.
This article was seen first on Real Imprints.