We took a special trip to Haiti of five high school and college students over the November 2015 Thanksgiving break. It was evident that God carefully orchestrated all the details, as we made plans to visit Haiti only two months prior to the trip. A couple of our team members had previously been to Haiti, and began formulating a plan to return after falling in love with the country. The urgency of the trip and short turnaround time came about when a good friend/brother of our team decided to move to Port-au-Prince for six months. Nathan Weichman left Iowa for Haiti in the fall shortly after announcing to his friends and family that he felt the Lord leading him to this mission field. Our team came together shortly after, and we quickly realized that Thanksgiving break was the only time we would be able to go and be an encouragement to Nathan while he was there.
Upon arriving in Haiti, we were all overjoyed to be reunited with our dear friend and also awestruck by the simultaneous beauty and poverty of the country. Over the next week, the Lord used us and taught us as we went about our various missions. The main goal of our trip was to work on building a new community at Bon Repos. However, we were there during a slow time and in between major projects. So, we spent a few days at the job site working on odds and ends, and we built and mounted trusses on a new home. Our other days were filled with a variety of other activities, which included a Haitian church service, a visit to two orphanages and a school, and a day of sightseeing and learning about the culture.
A particular special day happened to be Thanksgiving when we went up the mountain to Gressier to see the first homes that OMS-MFM built following the earthquake in 2010. While there we had the opportunity to visit a school and an orphanage. The girls at the orphanage greeted each of us with a kiss on the cheek and proceeded to play and laugh with us, despite the strict language barrier. As we left there, we were all humbled with a new mindset about Thanksgiving especially after spending time with those children who had nothing, yet they radiated a contagious sense of joy.
It was bittersweet for everyone to be away from home over the holiday, but it made the trip more impactful as we went into the trip already reflecting on what we were thankful for. To spend a week surrounded by the extreme poverty opened our eyes not only to the extent that God has blessed us, but also to the joy and peace that comes from God alone, which cannot be bought with material things. The Haitian believers displayed a powerful testimony of total dependence on God rather than a reliance on worldly comforts.
Since we have been home, our team of longtime friends and family members, has spent a lot of time together reflecting on our experiences. Everyone grew closer as a result of our shared experiences. We have been challenged to keep our hearts focused on the mission field of our own communities, even when we’re not on a special trip to a foreign country.