1. Haiti does a lot of things right—especially, relationships and worship. I learned that relationships can be built non-verbally, through interacting, and cross-culturally. I’m a talker. A verbal-processor. But I saw that sometimes words aren’t necessary. That touch can be powerful and that laughter is a global language.
2. Happiness does not equal stuff. Worldly possessions are fleeting—in an instant they can be taken away, lost, or become out-of-date. Being in a place that is not driven by consumerism, you see how society functions remarkably well without the need to constantly buy and consume the next best thing.
3. The power of touch. Sometimes you meet a person whom imprints on you and you know you won’t soon forget them. I will not forget much about my time in Haiti, but my most vivid memory is of a woman named Karen. This is a woman who has been struggling with a skin condition for the last 5 years. She has to wear long pants and long sleeves and a hat to cover her skin. Her skin itches and has marks all over it and she has to force herself to eat. No one knows what her skin condition is and, thus, the whole community has ostracized her. The only interaction she has is with her 6 sisters – all of whom live in the same room with just 2 mattresses. We visited her, brought lotions and medicines and talked with her. Before leaving, we put our hands on her and prayed with her. Tears streamed down her face as we prayed and I left thinking, wow, it has probably been quite some time since she has experienced human touch. I saw her several times throughout the week and as we smiled and greeted one another I knew we had bonded. Jesus literally broke this physical boundary and allowed us to enter into an emotional and spiritual connection with Karen.
4. If you ever get the chance, look at the world through the eyes of a child. Get excited. Be curious. Show affection to others. Be loving and nonjudgmental. Getting to spend a week alongside dozens of children in Haiti was a huge blessing.
5. Ministry can look different than what you are comfortable with. Sometimes it means getting dirty and serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus, sometimes it means sitting with and being uninhibitedly with another person, sometimes it means loving your team and helping them to process. Then, upon return, looking for ways to serve in the place you have been planted.
6. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
Written by Kelly Shannon, a grad student at UNCW studying social work. Kelly is from Huntersville, NC, and she is engaged to Tyler Johnson. Kelly organized, planned, and led the March Haiti Awake team.