I Left My Heart in Haiti

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Tony and his friends in Haiti
I don’t know what to write about my experience in Haiti last week, but I need to share something here with the readers. This post is far from complete and I have so many stories to tell.
God has opened a door for our church to work in a rural community near Jacmel over the last eight years. Each time we stay on the guest floor of a Haitian orphanage. This was my first trip and never expected how deeply it would affect me.
Our team partnered with Haitian churches on several projects. Working through local pastors, we replaced leaky roofs, distributed children’s shoes, and gave away soccer balls. We also tried a new idea — using a batter powered printer, we printed over 600 photographs in rural areas for people who can rarely afford such personal mementos. Besides the work in the community, we spent many hours with the children in the home. They are glad for all the attention that comes with visiting church groups.
Maybe the greatest impact of our trip was relationship building. This community knows our people and our past efforts. The staff at the children’s home have become our friends. The local pastors remember our names. We’ve connected with many of the young adults through Facebook over the years.
I don’t know what’s next for me personally in Haiti, but the Spirit says this is only a beginning. There is a definite call on my life to serve in a greater way.
I’m back in America, surrounded by friends and family. But I left my heart in Haiti.
Leaving our new friends. Goodbye for now.
It wasn’t supposed to end that way.
I’m don’t cry that often and it takes me some extra time to bond with new people — After all I’ve been working with children through foster care, church ministry, or personal volunteering since I was a kid. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting compassion fatigue.
So all last week in Haiti, I tried to keep a safe distance.
Tried but failed ….
My personal project for downtime through the week was to practice and learn a little Creole.
Several of the girls in the children’s home were happy to serve as my teachers. Using the Jesus Storybook Bible in Creole, we would read along together. At first just a few words, then whole lines. By the week’s end I was getting 90% of the pronunciation right. There is something powerful about reading God’s story with a child, even when the Creole language is a barrier.
Nearing the week’s end, I had bonded with several of the children and knew it was going to be hard to leave. I just never expected it would break my heart.
Fast forward one week — I’m just getting settled back home now, but you’re going to hear more about Haiti in the future… In the meantime, you can view more of my photos on Google+.
I’d love to hear your stories too. Have you been to Haiti? Has a short mission trip changed your life? Leave your comments below.

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