Haiti 2015

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I will never be able to put my experience in Seguin, Haiti into words, but I feel I owe God my best effort to share my experience.

When I arrived in Port Au Prince with my Americanized mindset, I was terrified. Their tiny airport and the heat welcomed me and I was reluctant to touch anything. The dirt and smell and the people — I was in culture shock and I hadn’t even made it to the street.

As we waited for our bags, bugs lingered by my deet covered skin. This is the second I started second guessing my decision. What on earth did God get me into? How in the heck was I going to survive the week?

When we walked outside of the airport, I was “greeted” by a large crowd of Haitian men asking to carry my bags in French Creole. When I nervously shook my head no, they stared. When we finally made it to our enclosed van it felt like a sanctuary. I took a deep breath and with an upset belly I began to take in the people (and smells) of Haiti.

We traveled for quite some time through the Haitian filled streets. We were stared at and begged to buy goods our entire trip to our hotel in Jacmael. I must admit I stared equally as hard, but mostly at the women. I looked in awe as they balanced large buckets, baskets, and goods on their heads walking either barefoot or in some sort of worn out flats.

I wish I could say once I made it to the first hotel, that my attitude changed. But as I stood in the lobby listening to the loud conversations of the Haitians around me, I could feel the fear growing in the pit of my stomach. I think at this point, I had germx-Ed my hands at least 20 times.

Sarah and I made it to our room only to be greeted by a large cockroach. I screamed and the Haitian man squashed it and scooted it out of our room as if it were harmless. That night we had a buffet of Haitian food. I was terrified to eat or drink anything. I ate a quarter of a plate of rice and beans. That night, Sarah and I slept in our sleeping bags on top of the bed.

The next morning, we began our trip to Seguin. We rode this large truck called a tap tap up the extremely rocky, unpaved Haitian roads. I feared for my life on that one, not gonna lie. It took us four hours to travel 17.5 miles up the mountainside to Seguin.

I will never forget driving up the driveway to the clinic for the first time. We were warmly greeted by at least 30 Haitian children chasing us to the entry way. The second I hopped off the tap tap both my attitude and life changed forever. I wasn’t on the ground more than two seconds before I had two beautiful children in my arms and three pulling at my raincoat. This is the moment I knew I was going to survive the week. This is also when I saw the beauty of Haiti for the first time. I didn’t see dirty, shirtless children — I saw my baby brothers and sisters in Christ. Their excitement was contagious and I was overwhelmed with God’s peace.

I am sure I will elaborate on my week in its entirety, but for now I will consolidate the best I can. I spent my four days in Seguin hiking the beautiful country side building raincatchers for the world’s poorest of the poor. When we hike, we hire Haitians to carry our backpacks. I know how terrible this sounds, but they want to work for their money and Bob (the founder of raincatchers) has worked hard to instill that mindset in them. I was running behind our first afternoon of hiking and I ran out the front door to a little boy waiting for me. He pointed at me and said, “Mue, backpack Shae?” I felt the tears well-up. How on earth did this kid remember my name? I swallowed the lump in my throat and said, “Yes! Of course!” He grinned and grabbed my hand. I looked down at his bare feet and looked at an older Haitian and asked if he had shoes to wear. He did not. Bob gave him a pair as I ran back in to fill his water bottle. After I laced his shoes, he grabbed my hand and Joress and I embarked on our week together.

Throughout the week he stayed faithfully by my side as I built raincatchers with my fellow teammates. Let me take a second and explain this process. Raincatchers are made of PVC pipe. We put them on the side of the homes, build a “filter” and give them a large blue barrel to collect their water in. Come to find out, these barrels often get stolen and are like gold. After we finished building the raincatcher, we prayed with the family, and blessed them with food, toys, clothes and shoes. I fought back tears every single time as I stood inside these small homes the size of my bathroom with no furniture or electricity. Their gratefulness was overwhelming. Every single hike was made worth it in that moment.

One of my favorite times of the day was in the evening after we finished our meals. Little Haitian faces and bright smiles peeped through the window of our door. Mind you they stood there and watched us eat every single meal. But once we finished our dinner we invited them inside and fed them our leftovers at the table. We portioned out the food the best we could but some nights, Bob had to turn several kids away. I feel like I’ve had my heart broken, but never like that. Once we got the kids in, as hungry as they were, they never touched their food until everyone was seated and someone said grace. I cried watching them eat every single night.

Mine and Joress’s friendship grew throughout the week. Everyday after school he was there to carry my bag in the same outfit from the day before. He had the largest heart. On every hike he shared his water I gave him with the other Haitians. But, he would never quite drink it all. I equated this with the fear he would not get more. At the end of every hike I snuck him a treat and told him to run home with it. The kids fight over the snacks and rightfully so. They have no idea when we will get back or when they get these things again. We even watched them lick our wrappers out of the garbage.

My hardest day was the last day. Not only was I feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, the Haitians had a different mindset knowing it was our last day in Seguin. Their smiles were fading and tension grew on the mountain. Many Haitians hiked miles to bring Bob notes of needs and asks as they knew we were leaving. As we hiked out to repair raincatchers, I will be totally honest I had an awful attitude. I hadn’t showered in a week, my body ached, I was dehydrated, and I was hungry. My spirits were waning. But God gave me a fast reality check.

That afternoon we went to visit the poorest of the the poor. These Haitians homes were literally made of cornstalks. We took tarps to these families to cover their homes to protect from the rain and hurricanes. These living conditions crushed me. As went went from cornstalk home to cornstalk home, the children followed us to see the “blancos”. We were the first white person that many of them had seen. They were all barefoot and once they watched Joress hold my hand, many of them grabbed me and held my hand from place to place. One of my highest moments was walking through he countryside with at least ten Haitain children with me. They had no idea what I was saying in English, but as I said it, they echoed me in perfect harmony. I said, “I love you” and without missing a beat they repeated “I love you.” This continued until we all burst out into laughing fits. I will NEVER forget that moment.

My week came to an end with having to say goodbye to Joress and all the beautiful people of Seguin. I couldn’t fight my tears on the last night as we fed them one last time. I did well not crying in front of the children, but tonight I couldn’t hold it back when Joress wrapped his arms at my waist. He heartbeat pressed into my stomach and I closed my eyes prayed that his heart stay healthy, kind, and full of God in his coming years. When Jorress saw me crying, he cried too.

He waited for two hours by the door peeping through the window whispering my name through the crack. I had to ignore him and my heart ached a feeling that is impossible to describe.

I didn’t sleep my last night. I tossed and turned at the thought of leaving these beautiful people and as I type this my heart still hurts. Today, as I sit midair, homeward bound to a country that is far too materially wealthy, the people of Seguin are continuing to fight for survival.

I am beyond privileged to have had God call me to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus to the people of Seguin. As my week went on, I thought about how God calls us to serve others and get dirty like Christ did. Once I saw the need of these people, my fear of touching the people and things evaporated quickly. All I could think is if I were to get sick, at least I would get the treatment I need at home. Nothing even mattered other than stopping and loving these people.

I have to thank God for this experience and allowing me to see Him in inexplicable ways this week. I went to change Haiti and it changed me.

Many of you have asked how you can help. Unfortunately we cannot send packages to these people. There is no way for them to get them. The main thing Raincatchers need is money. These trips operate solely on their own. They are not funded by outside sources and the money from my trip goes directly to feeding the kids and building raincatchers. There are not many organizations out there like that. If trips don’t happen, these people aren’t blessed. This organization is sustained by donations. I can assure you your money will go directly to the people of Seguin. If you know me, I’m hesitate with situations like this but if you need to ask questions, I know Bob would be more than willing to talk with you.

They need benches, clothes, food, water, and they needed funded for school. You can sponsor a child’s education. Please, please consider this option. These children are SO proud of their education and getting to go. They showed their uniforms off to us as if they we headed to prom. It was heart wrenching to watch these kids march into their classroom and several of them stand behind watching because they have no money to go to school. It only costs $200 a year to fund a child and is an ongoing commitment until they graduate 6th grade. Please message me if you’re interested and I can put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Another way you can help is my donating to my go fund me account that I’ll set up in the coming week. I am going back to Haiti and the matter of when is based on how quickly I can fund my trip.

I will end my post by saying thank you to Bob, Krista, Kim, and Travis for this experience and both their sacrifices and dedication to Haiti. I know it isn’t easy, but they are not only changing Haiti, they’re changing the missionaries too.

I am leaving Haiti with more than a new outlook, I’m leaving with the definition of true love.

The video you’re about to watch is the Haitian children chasing us down the mountain side because they know we throw off goods.

Please pray for rain in Seguin. God bless.

-Shae

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