One of the things we did during out time in Haiti was “hut to huts.” This is when you walk out in the streets and just talk to people you meet, reaching out to the community. The people in Haiti were not what I expected. They were very joyful, content with the little they had, open to talking to you about Jesus (even if they weren’t Christians), and always friendly. I had been told by people who have gone on other mission trips that people are usually happier than you would think. And it’s so true. If Americans were placed in the situations that these Haitians are in, I don’t think they could have had the same contented attitude and happiness. I know that I certainly wouldn’t.
The first full day we were in Haiti, I went out with Paulette, Brent, Aaron, and Annette and we walked around part of St. Louis. Paulette speaks Creole so she acted as our translator. She stopped and talked with everyone, asked them how they were, asked them if they knew Jesus.
In Haiti we walked around and spoke to people about our faith. We prayed with them. Invited them to church. Told them about Jesus. In America when people walk around neighborhoods, trying to tell people about their faith, they’re laughed at. They’re turned away. People pretend that they aren’t home.
It seems to me that as Christians we should be kind to everyone who shows up at our door. Even if we don’t believe the same that they do. The Haitians we spoke to were so open and welcoming and kind. They didn’t turn us away because we were foreigners. They listened to us and showed interest in our faith. Or shared their thoughts about faith, their relationship with Jesus.
People in Haiti lean on God because He is the one who will save them. They lean on each other because solidarity doesn’t get you far in a third world country. They trust that God will provide for them because they live in a country where people often can’t provide for themselves or their family. Their faith pulls them through the hardships they face everyday. Their strong sense of community fosters a healthy and warm atmosphere. Neighbors help each other.
People in America pride themselves for being self sufficient. Even when their lives are falling apart they believe that they have the ability to fix things. They feel no need to lean on God because they can go to the store and buy the things they need. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. Having faith is often seen as a weakness as well. Most people aren’t content with the things they have. They’re always looking at their richer neighbor. They think things would be better if only they could get that new computer, fix their car, get a raise, buy designer clothes.
These are generalizations, I know. But there is a stark contrast between Haitians and Americans in their attitudes towards daily life and the things they have. And from what I saw, Haitians are better off. They’re happier. Content. More at peace. Those were all things I felt while I was in Haiti. I felt this strong joy while I was there. Not everything was happy and things certainly weren’t easy but I was able to have an enduring joy and sense of peace for the whole trip. I felt more content there than I do at home. Things were simpler and it was surprisingly easy to live with so little.
While we were walking in the streets, Paulette stopped and spoke with everyone. She told us that she could see it in their eyes, see their need for Jesus. I think that if you walked the streets in this country and truly looked at people, you would see it in their eyes too. A longing, a need. One that they don’t understand and try to hide. But I believe it’s there, it’s in everyone. We all need Jesus.
Here are some of the beautiful people we met in St. Louis: