Thank you for praying for B while she was in Haiti!
Enjoy (and be inspired by) this follow-up interview of her experience.
Describe your trip in one word:
Fantastic. Wow. Amazing.
Why did you choose that word (or those words as the case may be)?
Because Haiti…well…it’s crazy to think you can go four hours south on a plane and it’s a totally different world. But the people are some of the kindest, most appreciative people on the face of the planet.
It’s so neat to see all of the work – the ministry – being done there. Sure, there is a lot of hard work, but there’s a lot of mission work going on too.
And then these people who literally have nothing end up doing the ministering. We’re there to provide medical care or build a house, but they’re so appreciative and we end up receiving a blessing.
It’s very rewarding in that aspect.
It was also neat to work alongside the Haitian doctors who continually sacrifice so much of themselves to work day in and day out to serve these people.
Describe a typical day working in the medical clinics.
5:30 – Alarm goes off. Depending on our assigned household duty for the day, we start laundry, help with breakfast, or make sandwiches (PB&J’s) for the day.
6:30 – Breakfast.
7:30 – The medical team heads out to the clinic.
Once we get to the clinic site (we went to a different location each day and were typically in either a tent/tarp or just outside in the shade), there are already at least 100 people already waiting, and we set-up everything – tables, chairs, supplies, anything to get through the day.
First the people sing hymns in Creole. Then one of the doctors gives a short educational speech about cholera or hand-washing or an important topic regarding health. And then we introduce ourselves to the crowd, and the real fun begins.
The patients come through triage first, where I and a nurse’s assistant take vital signs (blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, etc.) with the assistance of a translator. Then they wait in another line to see the doctor (mostly for general aches/pains, high blood pressure, diabetes, and relatively minor conditions, but we did send one lady to a hospital for further treatment). After that, they can get what they need from the pharmacy (medicines, clothes, food, diapers…we couldn’t just hand out items or there would be “riots” – in the least chaos – so the doctors wrote prescriptions for everything).
12:30 / 1:00 – We take a short break for lunch…very short since we felt bad sitting and eating in front of people who had been standing all day and who may or may not have known the certainty of their next meal…then back to seeing patients.
3:00 – We pack-up the clinic and head back to the compound where we help the doctors get ready for the next day, get a shower, put our feet up, and/or help with dinner.
6:00 – Dinner.
7:00 – Group devotions.
8:30 / 9:00 – Bedtime (so we could do it all over again the next day!).
What was one of the best experiences of the trip?
The whole thing.
Specifically, on this trip, it was eye-opening to see what life is like for the Haitians outside of the city. Last time I was in Port Au Prince, and although the people had very little and the devastation from the earthquake was obvious, there was still the availability of stores, transportation, and resources.
But in the villages and mountains where we were this time, those resources are lacking, and the people live completely differently. They might be able to make an occasional trip into to town, but they live on what they can grow or trade/sell at the market. Electricity is sketchy, running water doesn’t exist (they DO have wells), and seeing the reality of this way of life opened my eyes to more of the culture and how some of the Haitian people really live.
Do you have any stories to share?
1) On the last day, there was a little girl at the clinic who was around 9, and she just wanted to touch your skin and stroke your hair because it was so different. She pointed out my earrings, and without words “said” that she thought they were pretty. While I was seeing her mom, she just stood there and rubbed my hair. It was funny and too cute!
2) Riding in the tap-tap (a Haitian taxi) was quite the experience. Basically, it’s a small pick-up truck with a covered back and a bench down either side of the truck bed. It’s called a tap-tap because when someone needs to get off, they “tap-tap” on the glass so the driver knows to stop. My tap-tap experience was slightly different because it was rented just for us, but minus tons of strangers crammed in together, it was basically the same. While Haitian driving can be frightening, we typically didn’t get nervous until the Haitians with us showed signs of alarm.
On the way home from clinic one day, we were headed back to the compound and there was a LARGE dump truck full of rocks and stones barreling down the mountain going at least 1000 miles an hour coming at us head on. While trying to maintain an appearance of calm (but panicking on the inside), I happened looked at the Haitian sitting next to me and saw a hint of fear flash across his eyes. At that moment, I wanted to scream, “FREAK OUT!!!” but decided to close my eyes instead. Fortunately, the dump truck went flying past us and we continued to putter up the mountain.
What was your biggest take-away from this trip?
It may sound cliché, but just realizing the necessity of being willing in listening to and answering “the call”. And then being willing to go and serve. It’s so much more rewarding and fulfilling to go and serve than to just stay in your comfort zone doing your own thing.
If someone reading this was considering an international mission trip, what would you tell them?
Just go. Get the heck on a plane and go.
“Now all I have I count it all as loss
But to know you and to carry the cross.
Knowing I’m found
In the light of the aftermath.”
Check back next week for “On Missions and Serving Part 2”!