Ahhh, I’m back. Last week I went on my second trip to Haiti, the first being last summer. This one was different than the last in many ways. This one was a medical mission. I was one of only four youth on the trip. I got to travel to a few new villages I hadn’t been to before. It was a completely new experience.
And yet, it was exactly the same. The joy of the people down there in that little corner of the world, in between newspaper headlines and the middle of nowhere, it still amazes me. The countryside and the city streets are still beautiful, and the resilience of these people who have almost nothing, yet still make do with what they do have is still astounding.
For those of you who want to know what I actually did while I was there, I’ll give a quick summary. We got there Saturday just before dinnertime and on Sunday we went to church for a couple of hours ( I think, I didn’t actually have a watch). Church was a bit emptier than usual. Pastor Pierre and some other staff took roughly 140 kids on a week long camping trip, so most of the kids and several adults weren’t there. After church we hung out and played soccer and ultimate frisbee for a while. Of course, the little Haitian kids totally crushed the white people at soccer. That night, and most of our other evenings, was spent playing cards, talking, and hanging out with our team and the awesome staff.
Monday was our first day of clinic. We drove maybe half an hour ( again, no watch) to Onaville, the once tent city up on the northern mountains of the central Haitian valley. We set up our triage, nurse, prayer, and pharmacy stations inside the church there. I worked in the pharmacy, writing prescriptions and instructions in Creole to put with the medicines we were giving them. I couldn’t help but notice the patience the people that were waiting in the wooden church pews had. In America, people get irritable with even a short wait to receive care, and even get in fights. But here, here all 90 of them just sat quietly. The ones that went last waited from eight in the morning to about two in the afternoon with very little or nothing to eat or drink, just …waiting. It was just amazing.
The next day went much like the first; we went to Onaville and saw a few more patients than the day before. The next day, Wednesday, the team went to a new village NVM ( Nehemiah Vision Ministries) had never served before: Letang. I didn’t go, though. I stayed behind and helped Roger, who was working on setting up wifi for the entire campus so the staff, and even the visiting teams, could have more stable internet access. I really enjoyed learning something new and helping Roger out by going up and down the ladders, fetching things for him, and even installing some equipment while he was busy.
The next day we went to my mom’s favorite village: Fon Cheval. Way up in the mountains, it took an hour and a half of driving on narrow and bumpy roads by tap-tap (sort of like a bus) to get there. We set up our clinic stations under a few big avocado trees that have been our shade since clinics had been coming to Fon Cheval. That day, I worked in triage, which gave me the opportunity to hear the stories of some of the patients as the others asked about their symptoms and problems. There were some pretty entertaining characters we met that day, including the charming Pastor John Claude.
The final full day of our trip to Haiti was spent largely at the beach. Now, before you get all religious about how we shouldn’t be going out and playing around when we could be serving let me explain. Pastor Pierre, the head of NVM, tries to get every team that goes down to Haiti to have a day at the beach for two reasons. The first is simply because it helps to lessen the culture shock as we return to the States. The second, and biggest reason, is that Pastor truly believes that there is beauty in Haiti, even if what we see most is the poverty. He wants us to experience what Haiti should be like, and what he believes it one day will be like.
With that out of the way, we did have a nice day at the beach, even though most of us would have preferred to spend a day in the village. I had a lot of fun bartering with some of the vendors at the beach, and some of us even had a nice talk with some of the workers there about differences and culture and the like. It’s always fun to experience that side of their culture that we don’t get to see while we’re doing clinic, or building a house.
So, thank you for reading this somewhat long-winded update on my trip. I hope it has encouraged you to see the beauty and joy in God’s creation, and I hope it’s encouraged you to seek out that joy for yourself. It’s everywhere around you, if you just take the time to look for it.