The blazing Sun beats down on the dry, hot earth. A corrupt government beats down on the potential for prosperity. The poverty beats down on the people. An Earthquake 6 years ago left the country in rubble, and left families devastated. Water, food, clothing, shelter. These things are not taken for granted. They are taken as rarities, luxuries.
Welcome to Haiti. The poorest country in the world.
“To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48
I’ve felt this calling in my mid 20’s. To give in some way to a cause greater than myself.
At 24 years old I came across a book by Frank McKinney called Make It Big. Since then, I’ve heard this biblical verse said over and over again by Frank, during the 8 years of knowing him and reading his work.
Since then, I’ve been donating towards Frank McKinney’s Foundation called The Caring House Project, which builds villages for families in need. Frank has built 23 villages in 13 years. Each village houses over 40 families and 400 people, with water wells developed and self sustaining farming and livestock provided, and introduced to the villagers.
Three out of the last four years I’ve had the privilege of flying to Haiti with the annual group of donors to see the finished village. We have lunch together, play with the children, provide solar lighting to each family, and mostly importantly share a timeless moment connecting with human beings from our same world, but who are so far away from the world we know in the United States.
Frank and The Caring House Project have recently teamed up with another charity organization called Hope To Haiti, founded and directed by Scott Bonnell. Scott and his team manage the construction for Frank’s villages. Scott is another person who dedicates his heart to a cause greater than himself.
Scott also runs 2 orphanages outside of Port O Prince. During our 3 day visit, we spend a day visiting his orphanages. We share an action packed day including giving the children gifts, and enjoying a big lunch in between playing soccer and a lot of singing and dancing together.
The tears of joy and the laughter of happiness shared with these kids is special. It’s a heart warming feeling, a feeling one might describe as other-worldly. A feeling that comes from somewhere in the Universe, somewhere from God, yet undoubtedly is feeling felt within all of us. The light shines down on these orphans as bright as the mid afternoon Haitian Sun, and these orphans shine that light right back to everyone involved in this 3 day adventure.
Among many, there are 2 distinct insights that left an imprint on me this year:
1. Seeing orphans, young children without parents and families, yet see how they are filled with happiness and joy. They are happy to be with their friends, content to be with each other, happy to have each other. This is all they need. They don’t have anything else. They don’t need anything else. It was a reminder and a wake up call for me. A reminder to pause next time I complain about something. After seeing these children, why would I ever complain about anything ever again?
2. Being in Haiti helped me realize the special gift is to give. Through giving, we get out of our own self-centeredness. Through helping others, we focus less on ourselves. In everyday life, we get caught up in our own minds about “having” or “needing” things. In most cases, this usually leads to more stress.
Being in Haiti was the ultimate reminder to bring this giving attitude back home. The mindset of helping others and getting out of our self-centeredness. No, we can’t go to Haiti everyday and live in villages. No we don’t have travel thousands of miles and move mountains. But what we can do is work on being kind everyday. We can do small, random acts of kindness. We can help our neighbors, we can help our families. We can listen to someone. We can smile at someone. These small things make the biggest difference. Everyday I will try to live with this Haiti reminder in my heart.
“Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25. This verse was shared by one of the members during our last night group discussion.
It’s so true. When we live generously, not only will we lift an energize others, but we absolutely lift and energize ourselves as well.
This Haiti adventure, these moments, will live with me forever. A part of my heart, will continue to live on, with Haiti inside of it.