“I still don’t know why I went,” he said, genuinely puzzled. “I know why you went,” I answered my dad. “You don’t just go to Haiti for fun. You go because the Holy Spirit tells you to go.”
My dad and my brother-in-law Matt recently traveled to Haiti with the Haitian Health Foundation, an organization that provides healthcare, education, food and shelter to more than 200,000 Haitians living in the city of Jeremie and in rural mountain villages. Matt and my dad went with a team of dentists from Connecticut. They helped pull rotten teeth and dispensed medicine and food for five days straight.
I admit, I was shocked when he announced earlier in the year that he had signed up to travel with the Foundation. Like me, my dad is a somewhat troubled believer. Traveling to Haiti at age 70 on a mission trip was unexpected, to say the least.
My dad came home sick. Not physically ill, but heart-sick. And a little bit spiritually sick, too. He talked for a long time, sitting on my red couch, tucked into our cozy living room with the lights burning bright and clean water from the faucet and cabinets stocked full of food. He described what he had seen in Haiti, what he kept seeing when he closed his eyes at night, comfortable in his king-sized bed.
Children scavenging for food amid garbage, playing in the stream of raw sewage that flowed by their shacks.
Orphans, their bellies grossly distended from malnutrition.
Families lined up at sunrise for the chance to see a dentist.
Mouths full of sores, swollen gums and rotting teeth.
Fathers selling bits of junk and charcoal on the street.
A mother who held out her sick infant, begging “Take, take.”
“No, no,” my dad had said, shaking his head at the woman who thrust her child at him. “No doctor, no, I’m not a doctor.” He stood outside of the orphanage in the blazing sun. “I just couldn’t do it,” he said. ‘I just couldn’t look at those kids for another second.”
I don’t know what the answers are. I don’t know about the solutions, or even whether there’s really hope for Haiti. But I do know this. The Holy Spirit sent my dad to Haiti. He doesn’t know why and neither do I. But there was a reason. That I know for sure.
How YOU Can Help:
More than 92 percent of funds collected by the Haitian Health Foundation go directly to services for the poor in Jeremie and the surrounding mountain villages. Relief programs include healthcare, Feed-A-Child, Save-A-Family, housing construction projects, latrine building projects, education sponsorships and more.
Please visit the Haitian Health Foundation for more information or to make a donation.
*Photos taken by my brother-in-law Matt (pictured in the black glasses and the baseball cap). I’m just so proud of my dad, who went on his very first mission trip at the age of 70 – what a leap!