Howdy, Friends and Family of Loving Haiti,
As President of Loving Haiti, I just wanted to pause as we take in summer’s last breath and personally say, THANK YOU! I know it’s just two words out of millions on record, but these two words expressed out of a heart of gratitude and in the context of our Loving Haiti family and friends, really can’t be said loud enough or often enough.
It’s because of your love and support over these seasons of life that we can together both pay and pray our blessings forward, making a difference in the lives of so many in the community of Pignon, Haiti.
Last month I traveled to Pignon as part of a Loving Haiti team of 15 members led by Denny Bain, one of our founders who now serves as our VP/COO. Denny organized and planned out the entire 10 day trip agenda and logistics. It was the first time in our young history that we travelled with such a large and very diverse group of people. The team ranged in age from 8 to 60 plus and from students (primary, secondary and college) to teachers (active and retired) to business professionals (profit and non-profit). By the way, Denny did an excellent job as Trip Coordinator and Team Lead. Thank you Denny! (If you are interested in traveling with us in the future, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call @ 541.760.0835, or write us @ 1607 Somerville Dr. Fort Collins, CO 80526)
For the majority of the team, it was their first time to Haiti. And for some, it was the first time in any impoverished country, surrounded by the beauty and ashes of both hope and despair. As Pastor Francois welcomed the team he reminded us, “You are now in Haiti. You are now in school where much learning will happen”. In Haiti, in my humble experience, it’s not a matter of what lessons are being taught, it’s whether they are being learned (on both sides).
So we began our trip with a beginner’s mindset, posturing ourselves for Listening, Looking and Learning before Leveraging our specific gifts and talents into a position where they could now be Leading, working relationally alongside the Haitians, striving to empower them to a sustainable, independent lifestyle.
The team did an exceptional job in Loving on Haiti and its people as we learned more about and experienced our 4 – Transformative Platforms: Children’s Home and Widows Care; Education and Leadership; Business and Vocational Center; and our primary partnership with Pastor and Madame Francois of PBC, Pignon.
Although there were no physical building projects that we took on this trip, our goals were simply to invest in and build relationships with the Haitian people and among our team; to learn and see the ways in which Loving Haiti has mutually prospered from our existing partnerships in Pignon and look for ways of strengthening them; to both give and receive love unconditionally, without judgment, shame, humiliation or fear; to have fun and look for ways of expressing joy while living in the tension of beauty (hope) and ashes (despair).
The kids from the Children’s Home are always the highlight of every trip. The team loved on them, and loved on them, and loved on them and again loved on them from every height, width, depth, and breadth – dimension of their being. As much as they gave of themselves, they received much more in return from these kids. I think team member Destini said it best: “Haiti is a place where we gave and received genuine love and friendship.”
Although these kids enjoy playtime and entertainment (like any other kid on the planet), they appeared to be even more content just being still in our presence, being valued and appreciated by the words off our tongue and the touch of our hands. They also enjoyed playing games and are super competitive (serious) and yet fun loving (silly) … so we played their games while teaching them some games and activities of our own (Chess, 4-square, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Nails and Feet Care, etc.,).
We traveled together (either walking or packed like sardines in vans/trucks) to the marketplaces, city landmarks, the beach, restaurants, the river, the mountains and church. We even converted a carport into an outside sit-in movie theater and watched movies through a digital projector powered by a diesel generator.
Our agenda allowed us to also visit and experience other partnerships in public charity, like Many Hands for Haiti (transforming communities by strengthening families – Education, Agronomy, Safe Homes, Medical Assistance and Leadership and Economic Development) and Haiti Home of Hope (providing healthy doses of Hope through their Milk/Feeding Clinic and Orphanage).
Through it all we traveled together, laughed together, cried together, ate together, experienced sleep deprivation together, dripped sweat together, worked together, played together, prayed together and Loved on Haiti together.
In closing, I’d like to again quote one of our team members, Juliet, who said, “A lot of people have asked what we built down in Haiti. At first I would respond, awkwardly, with ‘Oh, we didn’t build anything, we just spent time with the kids.’ The more I think about it, the more I realize that is not true. We built something stronger than any building. We built long-lasting relationships that we will continue to invest in.”
So please, safely enjoy the last blast of Summer as Fall is just a few horizons away. We’ll be kicking off our Fall Fundraising Drive in October as we move closer to our 2018 fiscal/calendar year. However, there are still opportunities to give before then – keep in touch with our latest blog on Loving Haiti, Facebook or our Website – lovinghait.org. Please click here to learn more about our special “Back to School” fundraiser!
Again, thank you, thank you and thank you, for all that you are and for all that you do for Loving Haiti.
Your most appreciative LH President – Mark Bell.
Cell Phone: 541.760.1573