Sunday, March 27, 2011
On Saturday I attended a Haiti Gathering in Richmond. My friend Anne is very involved in planning this gathering and knew that I would want to be involved so she made sure to let me know about it. I have never been to one of these gatherings so I had no idea what to expect. I was pretty sure I'd be one of the youngest people there and one of few non-catholics as well as it was put on by Commonwealth Catholic Charities. I was a bit late but made it all the way to Richmond early in the morning on Saturday. I arrived to many more people than I expected! What an awesome surprise. There was a moving slide show playing for people to watch that showed pictures people had taken in Haiti. Next was a speaker from Haiti. He was very inspiring and entertaining. He reminded us that no matter how much we feel like we are or aren't doing for Haiti we are all doing alot just by raising money, visiting, and sending thoughts and prayers their way. He reminded us of the importance of education for the children and people of Haiti as his education is why he is able to be a successful Haitian man. He also reminded us that Haitians are a hopeful people by nature. No matter what is going on in their country they want to live there and make it better. They love to have visitors and be reminded that they are not suffering alone but are loved and cared for. This was good for me to hear because I had been struggling a little with missions where your purpose is to build relationships and live in solidarity. This confirmed my mission and trip for Haiti this summer. David spoke about his soccer league that is helping to change the attitudes of the youth in Haiti to a positive one. Instead of having harsh and harming team names they have changed them to names like "team Ghandi" or "team MLK". The kids also learn this way because then they ask what the names mean. This soccer program also brings kids from different neighborhoods together that don't get along to play on the same team. They have seen a lot of success in attitude and behavior because of this program. I learned more about Haiti's culture from a workshop with a panel of Haitian americans. One fun fact is that the reason Haitians like to share pumpkin soup with visitors is that when they were enslaved by France they didn't get to eat pumpkin soup but only served it. When they broke free from France they were now free to eat the soup they were fixing! On their independance day they eat pumpkin soup to celebrate! I also facilitated a group session on campus ministry and Haiti. It turned out to only be 2 other young people and myself with 10 or so older people with questions about how to motivate young people to go to Haiti, and what you do on "transformational travel" trips or trips that aren't for twinning or medical missions. This turned out to be a really fun and inspiring discussion. I shared a little about my trip and others did the same. It ended with these other people being thankful for our motivation and passion for Haiti. I left this gathering pumped to be traveling to Haiti in a few months. I was ready to hop on a place yesterday and head over! I know that God needs more time to prepare me and work in my heart before I go though. Until then I will pray and seek His plan for my trip and keep working to prepare.