And despite the fact that it's my first day back to school since my week-long trip to Haiti, I have three online classes for grad school needing things from me immediately, AND I have dinner with my family tonight, I sit here and type because I think my reflections on what I've learned from my most recent trek to Haiti are a helpful guide to how to live life TODAY...no matter what circumstances you find yourselves in.
This is my second trip to Haiti in two years with my Good Shepherd, Fr. Rick Nagel, and other young adults from the St. John's Catholic community in Indianapolis. The invitation to go to Haiti came unexpectedly last year during a time where my life was being flipped upside down anyway...so why not go to Haiti? All signs pointed to "yes," I was granted time off in my school year and I went.
This year was a little different in that I had to apply and was then appointed as a "young adult leader" for the team. I was expecting to be with another (besides Father) who had been before and that didn't happen and immediately going to Haiti became this burden--raising money, taking time off, writing lesson plans, etc. What had I gotten myself into?
As the trip got closer, and by God's grace, I found excitement in returning once again--seeing this opportunity as truly unique. I mean, really, who gets to go to Haiti? TWICE? Better yet, who gets to teach kids (impressionable fourth graders, that is) about it later??
It would take days for me to type up all that I saw/experienced/learned in Haiti whether it be from the Haitian people we met, the priests and religious sisters that accompanied us, or my mission team of incredible young adults. If you're my friend and you live life with me, you'll get to see all those lessons unfold and shape who I am in the future. But, I'll put it in the cliff notes "Top 5."
Top Five Lessons Learned in Haiti
1. When you give your life to God, ridiculously amazing things happen in your life and you're given complete joy. Thank you, Columbian Sistesrs of the Sacred Heart for witnessing this to me.
2. Just because they aren't Haitian, you still treat others with dignity and respect that they deserve. Thank you, Fr. Rick, for pointing this out to our whole team in the hotel the morning back from Haiti.
3. Mass by far is the greatest gift to the world and my life that there is. Where else can you share something in common all over the world, no matter where you go? There is beautiful unity in the Catholic Church and you see this when you celebrate Mass in another country.
4. God beautifully weaves peoples' paths together for wonderous purposes. Thanks to my mission team and their informal (like really informal...on the back of a pickup truck) testimonies of how God has "interrupted" their lives and saved them from all their plans of destruction! :) Major shout outs to Evan, K-Duff, Morgan, Brea, Leah, Veronica, Caitlin, and Nic for trusting me enough to share their life with me in specific. I was truly blessed this week by getting to know you better.
5. I'm stuck with Haiti forever. There's a difference between stuck WITH Haiti and stuck IN Haiti. Right now, I'm their advocate, encouraging those I know to share their wealth with a country that has so little. But, awesomely enough, I don't despair for Haiti because the faith-filled people, just like me, know that the deepest longings of their hearts will never go unanswered. God loves us and is ever victorious..even in the most dire of circumstances.