This past summer I had one of the greatest experiences any American could ever have.
I went on a missions trip to Haiti.
How does this have anything at all to do with teaching? I’m getting there. Just bear with me.
The thing about missions trips is that you go on them expecting to change the world, but really the world changes you.
I left the USA at the end of last July with mixed emotions. Nervousness, excitement, anticipation, fear. Just to name a few. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really know the people I was traveling with very well. It was a whole new world for me.
After almost a full day of traveling from an airport to a hotel to another airport, we finally arrived over the country of Haiti.
It was so poor.
I could go on about the poverty, the trash that lined the streets, the Haitians asking to work for you just to earn a dollar (the average day’s wage is about $5 a day), the damaged roads with no traffic laws, the mass graves with over 75,000 people buried from the earthquake in 2010.
This is just a small glimpse of life in a third world country, but there was one thing that stood out to me more than anything else.
We walked out on the first day to tour where we were staying and we came upon the village of Cupon (sounds like coupon). Almost instantly, I was surrounded by little Haitian children with big eyes and bigger smiles. I didn’t have a free hand or arm for that matter. They all just wanted to love me. And I instantly fell in love with them.
That was just day one.
The rest of the week was filled with kids everywhere I went. We stepped out on the porch of our compound and they waited for us to throw peanut butter sandwiches, probably the only meal they ate that day. And they’d wait there from sunrise to sunset every single day. When we went out, they flocked to me and my team like we were some kind of celebrities. It was like a parade everywhere we went. The kids called out, “Hey you! Hey you!” in their Creole accents. And we waved like royalty. We visited an orphanage on the mountain, and the kids sprinted as soon as they saw us coming up the trail. One little boy named Lincolnson planted a big kiss on my cheek every time he greeted me. These kids don’t just need food. They need love.
But love isn’t just needed in Haiti. It’s needed here too.
If I’m being completely honest, I wish I could have stayed in Haiti. I asked the principal of the school that our guys built if he hires American teachers. They do. But I made a commitment here. I left part of my heart in Haiti, but part of my heart is here at home. I have 20 precious second graders that need love just like those kids in Haiti do. They may not have hungry stomachs, but everyone has a hungry heart.
It’s my second year teaching and I must say that people who tell you the first year is the hardest are probably the ones who quit after that year. I believe with all my heart that the second year is the worst, but that doesn’t mean I quit. I actually wrote this post shortly after I got back from Haiti and I am just now getting around to publishing it. I wish I could explain to you how much more I’ve learned about what I said just a few line above. “Love isn’t just needed in Haiti. It’s needed here too.” You will find that you have kids in your classroom who just need to see what love is every single day. If I can make that difference, that’s what I’m going to try to do.
So that’s why I’m back in the States. That’s why I’m teaching this year. To share my heart for Haiti with the people at home.
Just one last thing, I know that you don’t really know what to expect if you’ve never traveled that far before. You hear about people’s experiences, but until you experience it yourself, you don’t understand. If you’re reading this now and you haven’t been on a foreign missions trip, you probably won’t get it. So here’s my encouragement, go as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.