On January 2, 2018, 16 travelers set out on the 2018 Haiti trip. They arrived safely in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, January 3. The group will spend time with the Little Sisters of the Incarnation, visit various areas where the Little Sisters minister, as well as working on projects that have been planned with the Little Sisters. Part of the journey involves prayer together using a Reflection Book composed by Sr. Marilyn Welch. While our group is in Haiti we will feature photos, updates and selections from the Reflection Book. Join us as we “follow” our travelers on their trip.
Present to Home and Shelter (from CCW Hands and Hearts Ministry 2018 Trip Reflections)
We are provided with accommodations in Haiti which often do not measure up to what we may have at home. We frequently look at the differences we experience between what we have at home versus what we have here in Haiti as an example of simplicity. Perhaps this is a skewed perception. Yes, we live with much less while in Haiti. The contents of our suitcases are all we have to work with for 12 days. There is little space for storage, so that is probably a blessing for us because we would not have a place to put our belongings in any organized manner. The simple bed and chair and storage cabinet are more utilitarian than a luxury in our perceptions. Yet we recognize that these accommodations are not common to those of most Haitian families. Though not all Haitians live in mud or straw huts, most do not have the luxury of individual sleeping places let alone beds designated for themselves.
What we admire as simplicity is really observing the facts of life in Haiti. If Haitians had a choice between their meager home and furnishings and ours what do we think they would choose? Haitians have learned to accept the limitations of life. It does not mean that they do not have desires for something better for themselves and their families.
Perhaps the lesson that Haitians teach us about housing and accommodations, possessions and material wants is not merely simplicity. The lesson we must appreciate is being happy with what we have and being grateful for it. Instead of being consumed by our desires for more and better places and things, we can become more grateful for what is.
PHOTOS: Today our group went to the central Plateau village of Pandiassou, Haiti. There they are spending time with the Little Sisters of the Incarnation who live and minister there. After a lunch prepared to look like works of art, the travelers set about painting the ceiling of the dining room of the center where the Little Sisters offer hospitality to groups who come to visit.
Present to the Morning (from CCW Hands and Hearts Ministry 2018 Trip Reflections)
Waking in Haiti often comes with many experiences that are different from being at home in the USA. It might be thjat we experience heat and lots of noise. The heat is different and difficult because we have traveled from the winter temperatures of North America. In our own “climate” we can obtain relief through air conditioning and a good fan. Here, in Haiti, our small fans do little more than move the dusty air until the heat of the tropics are dissipated by occasional winds. Even though we are happy to have arrived here in Haiti, we will gladly accept the warm beds and moderate temperatures that are part of what we call home.
Perhaps the morning brings to an end the sounds of the night in Haiti. Hearing voices in the night is a unique experience in Haiti. Sound carries well in the atmosphere where there are not as many physical obstacles to the transmission of sound. Although we hear cars and trucks outside our homes they are usually fairly close to us. There are many other sounds that drown voices and the rustling of trees and the call of night birds. In Haiti, we hear them all.
We may find ourselves startled by the sound of voices coming into our windows. We often are irritated by the sounds of goats giving birth. The roosters do not follow a timeline and crow whenever they will, 2, 3, or 4 a.m. The turkeys do their best to join the chorus along with the guinea hens and ducks and every other animal that wants to make their presence known.
What these experiences of morning bring to us is not only the little annoyances, but the gifts of recognizing the blessings of a new day. Appreciating the gifts of awareness of hot and cold, the sounds of voice and animal call, the dust and the faint cooling winds are treasures we often overlook in the business of our daily lives at home. Today, can we try to appreciate each experience whether convenient or inconvenient. Even though we don’t always like the experience, we learn to appreciate it and find the blessing in it.
Below are pictures of the group at dinner, then helping at the Bakery, cleaning trays for storing bread. Finally, a beautiful Haitian sunset.
Being Present to the Moment (from CCW Hands and Hearts Ministry 2018 Trip Reflections)
Jesus said: “Do not be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ These dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but the heavenly father already knows your needs. . . .Therefore, Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. . . ”
As we begin our mission trip to Haiti we can find it to be a time not only of ministry to others but also an opportunity to find spiritual blessings for ourselves. The planning and preparations for our mission journey includes effort and concern for our contribution to the good of the people of Haiti. While that is indeed an important element of our desire to visit Haiti and our friends we cannot allow ourselves to miss other aspects of the journey to Haiti. The time we spend in Haiti is also a time when blessings in abundance can be gleaned from each day and from every experience. this requires attention to the gifts of the present moment.
The people of Haiti have little concern for time in the same measure that those of us from the USA do. They do not “watch the clock” because for most there is no clock or watch available. Even though it challenges our patience, Haitians are not bound by “arriving on time” for events, liturgy or appointments. Living in the atmosphere of Haiti can be frustrating when we are so bound by time as we perceive it. The time we are in Haiti can provide us with many opportunities to reevaluate our own perspectives on time. Each day we are here we can find special blessings that are only available while we are here and only if we are attentive. The only time that exists is the present. The only moment we can live is the moment we are in and it is intimately connected to God. Let us use this experience as a gift of God to help us appreciate each moment of our lives.