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I woke bright and early that day. My dad shook me awake and said, "Ready for the big day?" Silly question; I had been waiting for this day for the past two years and to be honest I was a little anxious.
I grew up in a Christian household with Christian values. I loved going to the Lutheran church we went to and VBS. I wanted to fulfill what God wanted me to do but I had a difficult time with the preaching God's word part. I was pretty sure the majority of kids at my elementary knew about God's love for them and I never really met anyone who didn't believe in God (yet). But now was my chance, I was going on a mission trip to Haiti with my dad, Don, Mark and Curt.
I was really excited but nervous; I knew some creole but not very much, I never have had to use a passport, what if it didn't work, and would they accept me and what I was trying to teach them. There were a lot of unknowns; however my dad, Mark and Curt had made the trip before so we weren't completely sheltered from what was going to happen.
That morning we picked up Curt and his wife, then Mark and Don, and then we were off to the airport in Chicago. The old, ginormous church van made the five hour trip with us.
Unfortunately the trip held complications even before it began. Mark's passport didn't work! He put it through the washer accidentally a week earlier and it was a little discolored. That meant we had to pay for an extra two person worth of luggage. This caused a lot of yelling and frustration but a few hours we were on a plane bound for Florida.
We got out of the airport in Florida around midnight. Then we booked into a hotel and got about three hours’ worth of sleep. That pretty much drove me insane. But by six that morning we were off for Port au Prince, Haiti.
Once we got in the airport the differences between here and the U.S. were too large to ignore. There wasn't even close to as much security for one. Once we got through all the security was probably the only scary part of the trip. Now, people in Haiti, for the most part, fall far below the poverty level in the U.S. and everyone's only trying to feed their families but I witnessed a few fights which were a bit unsettling to me.
Once Tangai got behind the wheel I was one hundred and ten percent terrified. There may be lines on the road in big towns and traffic signs but that does not mean they are followed or used at any means. Then there were the excruciatingly bumpy and muddy roads that are outside of the towns that we drove over for about four hours until reaching Christianville.
Christianville is the place we stayed for the duration of the time we were in Haiti. It is a Christian Mission that has been around for about thirty years. Originally it just started with the church but now it is much more. Now it is schools, feeding programs, hospitals... etc.
We spent a little bit of time in the pharmaceutical/hospital area. My dad is a pharmacist and helped out for a while. Now this wasn't like a hospital in the U.S., there isn't any huge fees and you just come and have to stand in a line for the majority of the day waiting. They could help with something as simple as a sinus infection and I'm not really sure how complex but I do know they helped with broken bones.
We went to a couple of orphanages that same day. In Haiti if you are in one of those orphanages there isn't a large chance you’re getting out which is really sad. There aren't many people that would be able to support you in Haiti and sometimes when people from the U.S. tries to adopt those kids the biological parents make it extraordinarily difficult to get the child out of the country. Trying to talk to the children was hard but fun and I really liked their songs. It was hard to see them though because those kids aren't in the best shape. They don't have all the necessities and a lot of infants aren't even named because they have that minimal of a chance of living. I got very mad at this, it wasn't FAIR! Why couldn't they get everything they needed, like I did? I think what killed me the most was I really couldn't help. I wasn't going to be able to just wave a magic wand and make it all fair. I hate when people use the word fair. Life isn't fair. THAT freaking SUCKS!
The next day we went on a hike. It was pretty fun and I liked it a lot but I always got frustrated when I couldn't communicate well and I ran into this girl. She was probably my age and she pulled on my arm and begged me to understand but I couldn't. That moment I wished I had studied my creole a little harder.
Later that day we handed out school supplies to the kids. Every time I tell my story I call the event like the feeding of the five thousand. When we got there, there were more kids than we planned and we were afraid we’d run out. God was with us and granted that there was going to be more suitcases each time we turned around. To me it was a miracle and nothing less than one. There I met this girl named Charlotte, she was really cute and somewhere around three. Her treasure was this old McDonald’s toy from a Monster’s V.s. Aliens theme. That for me, just proves to show how blessed most Americans are.
The whole experience changed me. I use to say if my brother got the last cookie that “it isn’t fair!” Now if you are around me and say something isn’t fair you are guaranteed a lecture over what is and isn’t fair. I remember a lot of those people I met and wonder if what I did changed their life. I know they changed mine. Sometimes I feel like what I did wasn’t enough and I need to do more. I really want to go again and touch more lives and hopefully teach them God loves them and they are his children. That probably won’t happen any time soon because my dad says he doesn’t feel God is calling him to come again. If you ever get the chance to do something like this please take it. I promise you it won’t disappoint you and you will be rewarded, not in materials but in something worth a whole lot more.