Often times when people think of the Bahamas, they conjure up pictures of beautiful beaches in a tropical paradise. What many people don’t realize is that when you pull back the tourism-saturated curtain, there is much more to find other than fancy attractions. One week in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas spending time with the Haitian refugees in their baron communities taught me new lessons and offered new experiences that will remain with me forever.
On March 4, 2017 I set out for the Abaco Islands, Bahamas with eighteen of my fellow classmates and teachers to spend a week serving others. Although the schedule varied day-to-day, the main overall focus was the Haitian refugee children living around the island. When you venture out of the tourist-ridden neighborhoods and look past the resorts and shops, there are crowded communities with rotten houses surrounded by trash. These are the communities of the unwanted Haitian refugees. Here the children live lives filled with bad influences, difficult home situations, and little resources. For many, they find their hope in the opportunity for an education. On our trip, our team was able to not only serve the children in the communities by picking up trash and playing with them, but also by teaching in their classrooms at their school. Despite their troublesome lives, the kids had an unconditional love for learning and found joy in spending time in the classroom. In addition, behind their smiles and laughs was a love for Jesus, and a hope found in him. I never, and will never, grow tired of their beautiful smiles and resounding laughter.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the trip was the unexpected relationships I developed with others, both on my team and within the communities and school. Prior to my trip, I had spent limited time with most of my teammates and did not know them very well. But, at the end of the week, this was all changed. Through late nights in the house, playing games, fun car rides in the back of the truck, and the ultimate bonding experience of serving together resulted in a sense of family among the team. Because of this mission trip, I know have special relationships with my peers and teachers that I will forever cherish, and that I would not have been able to develop otherwise. In addition, I developed strong relationships with the children we served. Specifically a little girl named Theresa. Theresa was a nine year old girl who lived in the community and attended the school we worked at. I have never seen a smile so wide on a girl so small, or a hope so big in a life so demanding. I will never forget the sound of her laugh, and I will always be inspired by her love for others and positive outlook.
In conclusion, my mission trip to the Abaco Islands, Bahamas was one of the most rewarding and unforgettable weeks of my life. Although I did get to experience a few of the fun, touristy aspect of the island, when I ventured deeper I found a place that will forever hold my heart. Often times people see only what is on the outside and not what really lies beneath, and I’m forever glad I found the unexpected beauty of the Bahamas, in the people we served and the hearts we changed.