In April of 2014, I was blessed to be able to participate in a short-term mission trip to Respire Haiti, located in Gressier. I had never participated in any type of foreign mission work before and was feeling more than just a little overwhelmed, as we left the comforts of home to travel to what I now know, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Although I felt certain that God had directed me to take this trip, I was uncertain about what I would see, feel, and experience while at Respire.
Our team’s goal for the week was simple: work with the teachers and children in Respire’s special needs classroom in order to teach and model a variety of special needs teaching methodologies. Throughout the week, we spent our mornings with the students in both the special needs and primary classrooms and spent our afternoons assessing students, preparing instructional materials, and strategizing with Respire staff. In the evenings we worshiped with staff, watched soccer practice, and even got to participate in an English class for local adults.
We stayed in accommodations that I can only compare to a sleepover summer camp (minus the electricity) and slept surrounded by mosquito netting and a 15-foot wall topped with razor wire. We drank warm water, ate unfamiliar foods, hiked the mountain (repeatedly), sweated profusely and applied more sunscreen and bug spray than I ever thought possible in one week’s time. We laughed together and at each other, made lots of new friends, learned to speak a little “Crenglish”, and I even had the good fortune to have my hair pulled… oops I mean braided by the girls from the special needs class!
Although I can write all of the logistical details of my trip with ease, there really are no words to truly express what I saw, how I felt and what I experienced during my journey to Respire. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life (ranking not far behind marriage and child birth) and I pray daily that God will guide me to return. I am in awe of the commitment that the staff at Respire have made to the people of Gressier and surrounding communities and hope to return and work alongside them as they serve as the hands and feet of Jesus.
The truth of it is, I have had many stumbles in my faith walk over the years, and have often been too quick to ignore or suppress God’s call. Many of the experiences I have had at Wheatland over the last couple of years (being involved in Gift Mart, joining a small group, etc.) have taught me not only to pray for God’s will over my own, but also to listen for an answer. I truly felt called by God to travel to Respire and continue to feel generously rewarded for having followed his call. I have never felt closer to God then when I was standing on the mountain watching him work in and through the children and adults at Respire.
Having returned to the States, healthy, happy, and without a sunburn, I have had the chance to reflect and can only hope, that I was able to leave the people of Respire, with just the smallest fraction of what I was given by them and by God during my time with them.