The following was written by our friend, Kaitlyn Hopfer, who is pouring her heart into helping the people of Haiti and Haiti Awake.
I run a local non-profit called Mission Made Jewelry which is focused on creating jobs in developing countries through the sale of handcrafted items. Early last year, our founder suggested that I join him on a trip to be able to truly experience what it looked like to live in one of the counties we worked with, Haiti.
In June 2016, I boarded my flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti full of nerves, questions, and concerns. I wrote in my journal during the flight into Haiti:
Little did I know that from that day forward God would awaken in me a passion towards Haiti that is indescribable.
Upon our arrival, my team members commented on the smell of the burning trash, the animals scattered throughout the road, the state of living conditions throughout the area, but I noticed something else – the people.
All around people were huddled together, hugging and high fiving, helping each with heavy baskets or broken down cars, standing united in a way I had never seen before. As we were driving down the road we came to a sudden halt, the person in front of us had saw someone they knew and literally stopped the car in the middle of the road to talk to them. I quickly realized, Haitians take relationships seriously. They live out the command to love their neighbor in a way I have never experienced before.
I thought I was going to Haiti to "give back to those in need,” but I quickly learned that this experience was about something much bigger; it was about building relationships. I realized that I needed to open my heart to loving them, not fixing them.
In the book Helping without Hurting, Steve Corbett states:
I knew that if I wanted to make a difference in Haiti I needed to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
My friends in Haiti have taught me to love selflessly until it hurts. They practice fellowship in the way Jesus represented it, spending fellowship with his disciples, pouring into them and helping them grow. Jesus could have had 10,000 disciples, but he didn’t. He chose a select group of individuals to pour into, to love, and to share life with.
Haiti Awake gives us the opportunity to do just that, to walk alongside our friends in Haiti in fellowship.
In June I will be heading back to Haiti for my 3rd trip in less than 1 year. I continue to invest my heart into Haiti Awake because these are my friends. They are no longer nameless faces in a far-off country. Instead, they are the people I pray for daily and share fellowship with.
They are the people who I want to experience life with.
Each time I see them I know that God is helping us grow together for His kingdom. I believe that Haiti is the next crowning jewel of this world, that Jesus Christ will be known through the nation, and that Haiti Awake will play a huge role in making that happen.