It has come to my attention that I have not written a blog entry in a very long time. I quite honestly had forgotten about my website until I was reminded of it about a week ago while I was in Haiti. I went to Neply, Haiti and interned at an organization called myLIFEspeaks for my Winterim 2016. Last Wednesday, I was asked to give a devotional to a group of elderly Haitians about the cross. I only had an hour to prepare it so I found a post I wrote on here a couple years ago and tweaked it a bit. I was nervous to say the least to give it especially since I am not the biggest public speaker. However, I think God planned for me to to remind me of The Blessing Jar.
Spending those two weeks in Neply were the best thing possible for me at this time of my life. Before the trip, I was struggling with what my purpose was in life. I was ready for change and clarity. I didn’t know where I was going to end up next year for school or what I even would want to study at college. I was bored with my life. My time in Haiti changed everything.
myLIFEspeaks is a non-profit organization started by a family from Franklin, Tennessee four years ago. They’ve decided to call the village of Neply, Haiti their permanent home. myLIFEspeaks focuses on orphan care and prevention, public health, and education in the village of Neply. They are a Christian based organization and have seriously caused Neply to thrive over these past four years. It is impossible to explain to you what exactly what goes on at myLIFEspeaks because there is so much. What I can tell you is that the people of Neply suffer from starvation and poverty; however, they are filthy rich in love and happiness. Most children get one meal a day, yet they still laugh uncontrollably. Their smiles are so contagious that my cheeks would burn at the end of the day because I found myself smiling so much. I have never been surrounded by so much joy in my whole life.
Haitians speak French Creole, so there was a language barrier. It was frustrating at times to not know exactly what they were saying to me. However, the first night I was in Neply, Mike Wilson (the co-founder of myLIFEspeaks) said to us that love has no language barrier. Everyone can understand what a smile means. His words couldn’t be more true.
The joy I felt in Neply was based on service to others and a loving community of people. It wasn’t based on materialism. Money wasn’t a focus of life there like it is in the U.S. Nobody cared what clothes you wore or how pretty your hair was. The people there only wanted hugs and smiles. They wanted to laugh with you and learn from you. What blew my mind was that every person in the village knew everyone else. They knew whose chickens and goats were whose. They knew who everyone’s children were and cared for them like their own. They knew all of their neighbor’s prayer requests. It was truly overwhelming to see how love filled this village was when in the United States some people don’t even know the name of the guy next door. It was mind blowing to see children share their one meal a day with another child. These kids were around six years old and starving. Yet, they knew that the kid next to them hadn’t eaten in a while and needed the food more than they did. So, they gave their free meal to them. This happened every day at Feeding Program. There was not one day that this action did not amaze me. We rarely see children in the U.S. share things, especially something so valuable.
My whole trip I was pondering how I could bring these experiences back home. I was wondering how I could take what I learned from the people of Neply and apply it to my everyday life in the states. Everyday life in the U.S. is polar opposite of everyday life in Haiti so I have been struggling with how I can apply my experience to my life here. For now, I think that living each day with joy and a passion to get to know and help others is the best way to do this. I know I can’t go picking up any kid I pass in public or go into a stranger’s house to pray with them in the U.S., but I can show love to every person I meet. I can try to create a sense of community by seeing people face-to-face and having real conversations with them instead of behind a screen. I can show up randomly at friends’ houses. I can surprise my parents by cleaning the house for them. I can help a stranger in need if they seem like they need it. It’s these simple things that add spontaneity and joy to life. Serving others spices life up just a bit.
Leaving Haiti was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wish I was there right now. But, here I am. I’m about to start my second semester of high school tomorrow. God had taken me to Haiti for a reason. His timing was perfect and it always is. I now know where I will be attending school next year. I have a better sense of the direction God is pointing me in in life. I will never forget all of the relationships and bonds I formed with the people I met in Neply. I will continue to keep them in my prayers and I hope you do as well. My wish is to go back soon whenever that will be. But for now, I am going to try to create that same sense of community where I live.
If you have any more questions about my trip or myLIFEspeaks, don’t hesitate to ask. I hope to post more on The Blessing Jar and would love to share more stories from my trip.