Mission Renew taught me that happiness is found within the simplicity of life, which God perfectly created.
The most frequently asked question upon returning from Haiti was, “How was Mission Renew?” This is a simple question, which requires a complex answer. My response was always summarized with the most valuable lesson that I acquired from the beautifully, broken country. Mission Renew taught me that happiness is found within the simplicity of life, which God perfectly created. Discovering this happiness bounded with the purity of the world was accomplished by spreading the love that Christ bestowed in me.
Immediately arriving in Haiti I sensed the raw culture that felt so foreign to me, but it sparked a desire to gain as much insight as I could during the short time I was privileged to spend there. If someone would have captured a picture of me after exiting the airport and entering the chaotic city of Port-au-Prince, I am confident it would have displayed a wide-eyed, open-mouthed version of myself. As I gazed around I thought my eyes were deceiving me. In the first five minutes of the bus ride to Jacmel, I witnessed hundreds of men and women sitting in front of piles of miscellaneous objects that they were desperately trying to sell, unattended children scurrying around with no shoes or pants, Haitian livestock roaming the streets, and countless broken down shacks that served as working homes. After the first five minutes of being introduced to Haiti’s Darwinist approach to life my heart burst with joy and fear knowing the work that Christ had in store for us.
During the bus ride up to La Vallee-de-Jacmel it did not take long for Christ to consume us with his presence. About halfway up the mountain, as we joined together in prayer, the bus slowly stumbled over a speed bump. Unfortunately, it was not slow enough to keep the trailer, filled with our luggage, attached to the bus. Not only did the trailer break loose from the bus, but it also took the entire trailer hitch along with it. We had to improvise fast. While the men were quickly transferring the luggage onto the bus, we could not help but notice an extra body offering his hands. A mentally ill boy happily volunteered his time to help a group of foreign strangers. Everyone who witnessed this was easily moved by this boy’s grace. Once the commotion came to a halt we handed the Haitian boy a bag of candy to show our appreciation. The boy’s facial expression during that moment could be interpreted as the purest form of joy. Written down on paper, most people would assume this boy had very little, but in that moment the Haitian boy felt like he had everything. Something so simple meant the world to someone so special. This bump in the road foreshadowed a week full of grace and an abundance of love.
Throughout the week Mission Renew was able to achieve more than I could imagine, but it did not come as surprise since Christ was present every hour of every day. We were able to create and participate in activities for the boy and girl schools, clean the local church, plant over 500 trees, and help run a summer camp for the precious children of La Vallee-de-Jacmel. Each child I was able to interact with felt like a privilege.
One of my most memorable days in Haiti was the first day we were able to interact with the children. In the early afternoon we hiked up to the girl’s school, and awaited us were hundreds of beaming smiles that radiated into my heart. There we played games such as, kanna, kanna, zwa (duck, duck, goose) and prayed among the children. Also, while at the girl’s school we passed out stickers and snapped Polaroids of their beautiful faces. Two simple objects, such as a sticker and a picture, made these children go from happy to euphoric. It was during that first day that I began to learn that happiness lies within the simple things in life. Although I could not directly communicate with them, a smile and the presence of Christ within each and everyone one of their eyes translated into perfect English. Anyone that was present could feel the circulation of love that was absolutely contagious.
Reflecting back to Mission Renew it is nearly impossible to transcribe the ways that Christ worked in that short week. I do know now that once you gained the trust of a child they never stopped offering their love, and I never stopped absorbing it. I do know now that as we renewed their hearts through Christ, they inevitably renewed mine. I do know now that happiness lies within the simplicity of the raw world that Christ has preciously designed. Perhaps these are lessons that everyone could aspire to understand, I just had the privilege of experiencing them.