Devon Flanagan takes a summer service trip to Haiti

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On June 25th at 1:30 a.m. the journey began and I had no idea what to expect. Between two plane trips in a period of ten hours, the team made it to Haiti safely. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I immediately started taking in the smells and the sounds. It was a little overwhelming but also exciting, I had never seen a place so different. The rules for driving are enough to make one a little nervous! There is no real regard for the speed limit and the roads are extremely bumpy making rides tons of fun.

On a serious note, I cannot even begin to describe the change this trip brought me. We worked the first two days shoveling dirt and stones and lugging concrete. Everybody on the trip could easily show you their bruises for proof! I found this strength inside of me I never knew I had. And every time I felt even slightly tired, I could feel God encouraging me to keep working. All the work we were doing was helping to set up for the building of a new septic system and a cistern at the orphanage. Devon Flanagan in Haiti It was exhausting but incredibly rewarding when I saw all the children it would help. The orphanage is run by two remarkable people, Julie and Franceli Joseph. These children who have nowhere to go are given an amazing opportunity to have an education, a roof over their heads, and food. I used to take for granted all three of those things but as soon as I got to help pass out food to the orphans I changed. Every single child waited until they all had food. And they shared everything they had with each other. These children that have nothing still are able to give. There was no way I could watch all of this and not develop a deeper appreciation for life. As the week unfolded, we helped plan and run a two day VBS for the street children and the orphans. We also took the orphans for a fun trip to the beach. It was amazing to see the trust they had in the team to hold them in the water considering the children cannot swim. On our last day in Haiti we helped with an incredible food distribution that gave food and water to over three hundred families! I sweated more on that day than I ever have before!

There was one orphan in particular though that I spent most of my free time with and her name is Rosi. Rosi is a nine year old girl from City Soleil inDevon Flanagan Service Trip to Haiti 2 Haiti. City Soleil is the worst part of Haiti to live in, even more brutal than the tent cities. Rosi’s mother, according to Julie, was a very pretty woman who had more children than she could take care of. Rosi came to the orphanage when she was three years old and has lived there ever since. She is the kindest girl, with the biggest heart in the world. The language barrier was hard at first, but I realized she wanted nothing more than to be held. I had nothing to give her except my love, but that was all she wanted. I began to grow an attachment to Rosi and every day when we would come to the orphanage I looked forward to seeing her face. She began to write me letters in Creole, and I would write her back in English. I was amazed. I never realized that I had as big an impact on her life as she had on mine. This little girl was changing my life for the better and I could see Jesus working in her.

On our final night there I cried more than I ever have before. And all I could do was hold her, while we both cried because I was leaving on a plane the next morning and she was staying in Haiti. I left her my favorite pair of sunglasses and a piece of my heart. During devotionals later that night, everybody was really absorbing everything that we had seen the past ten days. I have no way to tell Rosi exactly what she meant to me, but if I could, I would tell her this: Rosi, you have changed the way I view the world. You have made me grateful for just being alive and healthy. You showed me what real love is and I hope one day to be able to share that with more people. You are beautiful and God has a great plan for you, I love you. Ton amie, Devon.

While we were waiting in the airport, a wise man sat near us. He said “Northern hemisphere cultures focus more on task. We work incredibly hard to get done what needs to get done. Southern hemisphere cultures focus more on relationships, the safety and care of their people.” It made me think of the street children in front of Franceli’s house who will play with you for hours and the orphans who would give anything to sit on your lap. It made me think of the young Haitian boys who help an old woman carry her food during food distribution day and the children who are more than willing to share food when they are incredibly hungry themselves.

If anybody ever tells you Haiti is not beautiful, they are lying. The country is beautiful because it is overflowing with love, that despite every natural disaster and daily struggle: the people still smile at you, the street kids will still hug you, and the orphans will still hold your hand. I thank God that he put it on my heart to become a part of such an amazing team. I hope to return next year and continue to meet and spend time with such incredible people. My life will forever be different and I could never forget such an amazing experience.

Before HOBY I never realized how big an impact one person can make. HOBY opened my eyes to the world in a new way and helped me to see ways that I could make it a better place. I became incredibly eager to volunteer and help whenever possible. In the winter, when my church presented the opportunity to take part in a mission trip to Haiti, I was one of the first people signed up! HOBY renewed my passion for helping people, even in small ways. Life can become busy, unbelievably busy, but there is no better feeling than helping those who really need it. Thank you HOBY for opening my eyes to all the possibilities in the world, I am forever grateful.

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