[Callie Shinkle recently went on a medical mission trip with FMC in Haiti. Her reflections are published here with her permission.]
Peering out the window of the plane as it circled over Haiti, I attempted to catch a glimpse of the country that I would call home for the next week. I saw stunning mountain views and luscious pockets of green, paired with cardboard houses and piles of trash surrounding the airport.
As I met the missionaries and the group that would become my second family, I began to realize that this week would be unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
From the beautiful faces of Haitians greeting us as we waved and blew kisses from atop the canter to the sweet laughs of kids receiving us as we pulled into L’Asile, I immediately fell in love with Haiti. I fell in love with the deep faith of the Haitians and their unwavering trust in God. I fell in love with their thunderous singing and joyful dances while praising the Lord. And I felt so blessed that God had chosen me to pray with these inspiring people.
One night my mission group and I hiked to a village near L’Asile to hold a prayer service. We sang and offered testimonies before calling each person to the front of the Church and praying over him or her. During this service a woman handed me her baby and asked me to pray for him. He began crying, confused that he was being held by an unfamiliar person. I don’t speak Creole and I couldn’t find the mother of the baby, so I whispered “Jezi renmen ou” (Jesus loves you) into the baby’s ear. To my shock, he stopped crying. I finished praying for him and thought how lucky I was that God and this baby’s mother had entrusted me to embrace this new life.
This experience showed me that one phrase, although simple, is powerful enough to change lives.
This sentiment continued throughout the week, as I witnessed members of the mission trip perform countless acts of love and finish them with “Jezi renmen ou.”
The more I said this phrase and shared my encounters with God (with the help of the missionaries’ translating) the more I realized that the Haitians and full-time missionaries were greater examples of living the Gospel than I could ever imagine. These people who experienced so much suffering, who had so little, remained unshaken in their faith in God. They clutched their rosaries and hiked miles to attend Church; weeks ago, I had struggled to get out of bed to drive to Mass in an air conditioned car. They sang so loudly in Church that the walls were shaking; at my Sunday mass, the singing can barely be heard from the last pew. The Haitians wore their best clothes on Sunday, despite only having a few outfits; we often wear beach attire to Church.
After visiting Haiti and seeing the full-time missionaries’ love for God and for His People, I truly believe that each and every one of us is called to be a missionary at home and abroad. We are all called to act with Love and to remind those around us that “Jezi renmen ou.”
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