Our Christmas in Haiti
Our hearts were filled with overflowing love, joy, friendships and community from our time spent in Jacmel as Brad, Jen, Bailey, Meredith, Drew, and I (Abby Hawn) reflected on our trip and enjoyed our last evening in Haiti. It was hard to believe that our time was already coming to a close and we were preparing to head back to the states. In a sense, the trip seemed almost like a dream and as I look back I still cannot believe that we actually had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of what God is doing at La Concorde in Jacmel, Haiti. After initially hearing about the work the Wilkersons and others in our community were doing to help many young and beautiful children in Haiti, the thought about being able to visit La Concorde Orphanage one day weighed heavily on each of our hearts. We had talked about it a few times, but I never actually thought we would really truly have the opportunity to go. The dream to one day go turned into a reality the day that my dad received a letter informing him he had a sponsor child, Frantz Cissco. Our hearts instantly melted as we looked into the beautiful brown eyes of this young child in Haiti. Before I knew it, dad scheduled a meeting with Barb to talk to her about going to La Concorde over Christmas, as he knew the Wilkersons went as an entire family the previous year for the holidays.
Soon thereafter, we were getting the plane tickets, updated passports, vaccinations, planning what to take, praying, and having several conversations with Rick and Barb to try and prepare ourselves for what we were to experience. However, there were times where other people’s opinions about Haiti would get into our heads to try and make us doubt our decision to go. Jen reflects on hearing from other people about the apparent safety concerns and issues Haitians supposedly have with white people, which had made her not necessarily look forward to the trip a whole lot. However, she mentions the desire to learn about another culture, help LOVE Takes Root, strengthen our family’s bonds with one another, and show her children how lucky we are to have what we have outweighed the negative thoughts from others. She also made an excellent point stating, “the more we let fear dominate our thoughts, the less love and God’s plan for us is able to flourish.” Fear was not going to keep us from going on this trip and for what God had in store for each of us along with the kids at La Concorde.
However, little did we know, the preparation before hand would not even come close to getting us ready for what we would actually experience once we were there. After arriving in Port-au-Prince to drive to Jacmel, Jen recalls the sheer difference in the way Haitians live compared to people in America. For instance, it is hard to find any street signs to understand how Haitians know how to get from one place to another, or to understand the rules of driving. It seemed to us there were no road rules since people drive wherever there is space on the road and rely on their horns instead of turning signals. Another major difference, Jen notes, was everything was, or more so rather was not, organized. She states, “errands that would take us 30 minutes or so in America, such as buying groceries or getting a part for your car, can easily take at least half a day to accomplish in Haiti. And obviously, nothing can prepare you to see the sad conditions people in Haiti are living in. Most of the poorest among us in the United States have far more then what we observed landing in Haiti.