Every international trip I've taken I always try to get a sense of what God is looking to address in my life prior to leaving, however on this trip I was clueless. In fact, I walked into this most recent trip to Haiti more like an expert rather than a student. I already knew the issues in Haiti, I've already heard the stories, I've already seen the look of desperation, I've already met the mothers who have had to make unimaginable sacrifices to feed their children, I've already seen men wasting away, unable to find meaningful work. I honestly did not think I could see or feel anything new for Haiti. I guess I was undergoing missionary fatigue, where your heart stops responding to the very things that would drive your passions. I am so glad God did not leave my numb heart untouched. He invaded my heart once again.
Our task for the week was to conduct a sport’s camp for a group of some 250 students. It was a vision my husband had a year ago after seeing the needs of the children in Haiti last year. His desire was for each teenager to leave the camp with a shoe and a soccer ball. And that’s exactly what we did. Not only did they leave camp with a shoe and ball, they also received a shirt, bag and medals; all were gifts given by generous donors.
I absolutely loved watching the girls doing their best engaging in sports, something you don't see too often in Haiti. They were cute and timid but oh so competitive.
There is always room for nail polish, whether you're in the US or Haiti; nail polish is always a win.
They loved showing off their new nails.
From sun up to sun down, the below field was preoccupied with intense football matches. This view always takes my breath away.
Our team spent many mornings and evenings eating, sharing and laughing on this balcony.
We joined the students at their play; every night was an evening chapel service where the students sang so beautifully, danced and prayed. The last evening we were together was the talent show; my husband and our friend Brian's talent was push-ups: who can do the most push-ups? The children loved it. I was a bit embarrassed that my husband found yet another opportunity to take off his shirt.
God invaded our worlds once again in unexpected ways by teaching us he can take average people and change their hearts for the things that matter the most to Him. These students were in desperate need of love both in tangible ways and for us to model it. Every morning I would be greeted by: Sister Dieula, you are beautiful and I love you. Some would say it in creole and many did their best to say it English. They were responding to what I shared with them on the first day of chapel: you are beautiful and I love you.
The look on their faces when they walked into the chapel to select their shoes, balls, shirts, bags and medals were priceless.
On the last day of camp a group of girls and boys came up to share their appreciation for us and what we have given them. The funny thing is: we gained more from them than we could've possibly given them. The girls even shared a song to honor us.
The boys shared words of blessings to us and our families as we traveled back home.
Pastor Salnave, a dynamic leader with great love, admiration and passion for the youth. He inspired our team to lead with passion.
In the heated Haiti sun, we would join inside of this corrugated roofed chapel to what seemed like hours, praising and worship; possibly the best worship I have ever heard in my entire life.
And with every trip, there's always one that tugs on my heart and have me rushing to the throne of Christ for answers. The youth were so bright, full of passion and energy; many of them were working on their third language but the question that kept sending me to Jesus was: after these students were done with their secondary schooling (for those who can afford to make it that far), what would become of them? The reality is in countries like Haiti, by the time these students are done with their secondary schooling, it is close to impossible for them to continue on. I was on my knees a lot, asking God for more laborers to lend a hand to these students and provide opportunities for them to flourish.
My proudest experience on the field was how this team worked together. The US team loved, respected and honored the Haiti team. The Haiti team felt their sincere love; they shared with us that this was the first team to treat them with such dignity. The team exemplified the definition of true partnership really well.
I pray to the Lord that our efforts were not in vain. I pray our family will become lifetime partners with what's taking place around the world. I pray that they/we may bend to the Lord's will for our lives before we bend to the will of others and ours. The Previlons, had another successful mission's trip. 3 down, many more to go...