Lots of excitement and a little apprehension. Know the feeling?
That was me as I set off for Haiti a few weeks ago. Thank God for a mom gracious enough to drive me to O’Hare airport at two-something in the morning for a 5:15 a.m. flight.
At my gate, I snapped a picture and posted it on Bright Hope’s Facebook and Instagram, promising to give more updates as the week went on—hoping I could deliver on that, but not really sure what I was about to encounter.
Step into a developing nation and you’re welcomed with a host of variables we don’t often encounter in the U.S.
Wi-Fi? Maybe, maybe not.
Electricity? Maybe, maybe not.
Hot running water? Uh, no. Not on this trip.
Rain and flooding that necessitate a Plan B? Possibly.
Here’s the thing about traveling…anywhere: every country is different, and just because you’ve been to one place doesn’t mean you’ll know what the next one will be like.
Open mind, open heart. Flexibility. And a good sense of humor. If you’ve got these things—and some hand sanitizer—you’re well positioned to have a good trip.
I didn’t say easy trip. I said good trip. Because those are two very different things. But they’re often in one package.
My trip to Haiti was fantastic, but there were aspects of it that were not easy. One vivid moment was when we stopped to talk to an elderly man standing in front of a home, and, through the open doorway, I could see an elderly woman lying on the ground, her head on a large rock. On a rock. Can you imagine seeing your mother or grandmother on the ground with a hard, lumpy rock beneath their head?
We visited another community where there was a well with a water pump… but it hauls up salty water. Some people buy water instead, but I was told that some people just get used to drinking salty water. Can you imagine getting used to drinking that? The official term is “brackish,” meaning the salt content isn’t as high as the ocean, but nevertheless…
Yet there were beautiful things happening too. A pastor in this same community where we work told me church membership has doubled in the four-ish years he’s been there. Not only that, but the church used to be called a “garage” and only had four benches. He offered to buy two, at a hefty price, and little by little other people started buying benches too. It’s so encouraging to hear stories of the church and community coming together like that, isn’t it?!
And that’s how a fantastic trip is made… it’s not all neat and pretty and clean—there are hard things to see and learn and walk among. The poverty can feel overwhelming at times, but God is moving in these communities. Change is happening. People’s hearts are opening, new skills are being learned, new water pumps are being drilled deep down to bring forth sweet water, and more.
You and I get to be a part of making that happen. Transformation isn’t an instantaneous process, but when it happens—and when we get to witness it firsthand—it is beautiful and, oh, so worth it.