In a few weeks, a team of 19 from Redemption City will travel to Grand Goave, Haiti to work with A Door to Hope. This experience reflects one small part of our effort to “Love the World” the way Jesus did. As the team prepares and our Redemption Groups gather supplies for their journey, we asked StudentCity member and Ravenwood senior, Haley Barnette, to share some of her experiences in Haiti in the past. Here is Haley’s story:
Haiti has absolutely changed my life. In a good way. Actually, I should say in a great way. My family has always been involved with missions, and ever since I was a baby, my parents have either led or been a part of trips to Belize. The first summer I was old enough to go to Belize, my parents decided to take my sister and me to Haiti. At first, I was a little nervous because I didn’t speak Creole and also because I had heard so many scary stories about the Haitian earthquake and the intense poverty. Once I stepped off the plane all those feelings fell away. I saw the hope in their eyes, and once I started talking to them, I realized they were just like us in so many ways. Besides the fact that many of them live in tents and have been forced to eat whatever they can find, they have the same hopes and dreams I do.
I have been to Haiti five times now, and every time I go, I fall in love more and more. While we were there, we built a house for a family in need, worked with the church in the village, prayer walked, did VBS, and loved, loved, loved on babies! One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was when I first got to the guest house and I ran downstairs to the Creché (the orphanage attached to the guest house) and one of the kids screamed, “Haley!! Haley!” That moment I knew I had made an impact in a child’s life, one of the best moments you could ever have. Even though I can only speak a couple of Creole words and can barely form a sentence, I feel that I connect with these kids more than I have with any other child before. Their desire for love and attention pulled me in (literally, sometimes they will pull your hair so they can kiss you on the cheek), and I fell in love with them right then and there. When they were holding on to my leg and throwing their hands up so that I would hold them, I knew that this is the reason I was put on this earth. And then I realized that I should love everyone, no matter the size, shape, or color, as much as I love these children. That’s one thing that I have learned while going to Haiti: People always need love, no matter their story or background, however old or young. They might not be standing at your feet with arms open wide, but everyone needs love.
Reflecting back on the times I’ve been to Haiti, I also see more and more of God’s great, unconditional love for us. When I’ve looked out over the ocean or the mountains while we were traveling, nothing can describe the feeling of peace that overcame me. No one on this earth or in this universe could EVER love us as much as God does, and that is where this love that we show to others comes from. Let us not forget: “We love because He first loved us.”
Remember to pray for the Haiti Team and for the church they will support while they’re there. The team will travel to Grand Goave March 13-20, 2015.