On Tuesday evening (the 20th), my brother dropped me off at the airport in Minneapolis (Luke and I had flown in a few days before so that's why I was flying from Minnesota). Honestly, it felt a little strange to be flying or doing anything alone. I felt a bit out of sorts and had to remind myself that this was not my first rodeo when it came to traveling by myself to another country--I tried to channel that 18-year-old girl who zipped off to Guatemala for a semester.
By the time I got on the airplane, I felt ready to take some time away from the day-to-day, spend some quality time with my sister, and get a tiny glimpse of life in Haiti.
I flew to Miami on Tuesday morning, clocked in at a hotel to grab a few hours of sleep, and was back on a plane to Haiti by 10 am the next day. When I got there, it was a little bit confusing (isn't it always when you step into a practically new world with a different language?) and I wandered to where I thought my sister might be. Well, at that moment, I realized that she wasn't there and I didn't have any information to contact her (oops), so I waited and got lots of offers from taxi drivers in the meantime ;) Thankfully, she showed up about 10 minutes later, and we were off to Children of the Promise.
(recognize this print?)
The next few days were spent meeting other families who are working/living/doing ministry there as well as the kids they have in their care. I also had the chance to meet other volunteers who where there for a short time to help as well as many of the nannies and Haitian employees. My sister was such a lovely hostess and it was fun to just learn more her life in Haiti by following her around and spending lots of time just chatting.
On Saturday, we also had the chance to go to the beach with some volunteers, Jenna's roommate, as well as a family who is living there full-time. It was definitely fun to enjoy the sun as well as visit with them as we drove through the beautiful country roads (well, more like bounced through the roads!)
I think this trip was so different from so many of my trips abroad because my purpose/reason looked different. Of course, I was willing to help out where needed, but I also wanted to spend some quality time with my sister as well simply learn more about the needs of Children of the Promise. I saw how much impact Children of the Promise has in the community--not only by providing a home and care for lots of babies + little ones, but also by employing many of those who live there (you can watch this story to learn more about that). They have many different programs such as prenatal care, admit care, and nutritional programs (You can read more about that here). It was encouraging to see glimpses into each of these parts of COTP.
This trip was also different because it was my first trip as a mom. I've visited many orphanages/children homes (some nice, some not so much) and used to mostly notice the environment (cleanliness, food, etc). I remember feeling sad that the kids didn't have much. This time, however, I saw things from a momma's perspective. These little ones are getting taken care of so well--but many of them are still waiting on a family (especially the kids with special needs). Honestly, it made my heart ache. It just reminded me how important it is for children to have a family and a place. Josh and I want to adopt, and my time at COTP definitely solidified my desire to adopt as well as think more about adopting an older child or a child with special needs.
If you've ever considered adoption, I'm sure many of those who work at COTP would love to chat with you :)
Another difference for me was getting a tiny perspective of what life looked like for those serving there. Jenna shared with me some of the struggles as well as the good stuff. Plus, I had the chance to share a few meals with other families/staff there and listen to their experiences as well. I was reminded that living + working in another country can be stressful and overwhelming as well as rewarding and good. My sister will be sharing some practical ways to show care + support for those working in ministry tomorrow (so look out for that!). I was reminded how important it is to love on those who are doing the day in and day out ministry abroad (whether they are from your community or the local community). So, if you ever go visit another country to volunteer, be sure to ask how can support the missionaries or national workers there :) Or if you know of someone doing that, encourage them today (right now!)
All in all, it was really a special trip. It was lovely to spend time with my sister (who I don't see enough of) as well as get a better understanding of what Children of the Promise is doing and what that looks like in a place like Haiti. Of course, there are so many thoughts/experiences I have, but I think they'll just stay in my heart for now :)