[Isaac Pak] This year was my second time visiting Haiti.
Even before starting the journey to Haiti, I knew that there had been a notable change in Haiti, mainly the earthquake a couple months before the mission trip. Most importantly, however, I knew that most of my expectations were purely speculation and that I really needed God’s help because this year, we were planning on doing VBS activities for the first time at our own Peace Academy, which I knew was not going to be an easy task.
When we first arrived in Haiti, I was greeted with the same long lines in customs and the same scorching heat and the same hectic episode as we left the airport as last year. What surprised me, though, were the air conditioned shuttles and larger airport terminal. This was when I realized that because of the earthquake, donations had come in from worldwide.
Throughout the week, I was amazed at how much help had come in from overseas. In addition to the airport upgrades, these donations could be seen through new cars and reconstruction. I was also glad to see a lot more foreigners in Haiti, most likely there to help with the relief efforts. With a bitter-sweet heart, I thanked God that although the earthquake had a devastating effect, it was able to bring Haiti into the spotlight. What was previously a small, poor country in the western hemisphere suddenly became the center for hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. People became aware of the suffering that the people of Haiti were going through even before the earthquake, and through government intervention, Haiti was suddenly getting donations from all over the world. It was because of that that I was happy and thanked God; these donations would be used to help Haiti and further God’s plan for this people.
The main mission work that we did this year was at our own church, Peace Academy in Haiti. Again, I personally felt unprepared for this—I felt as though the preparations that we made in Seattle were inadequate. When I stepped into the church, I was a little overwhelmed and I wasn’t sure what to do. The quick glances that some of the older children and teachers gave me made me a little uncomfortable. While we set up for that day’s VBS, I sensed that I really didn’t know what I was doing. As the children gathered and VBS started, there was a feeling of chaos and disorder—a feeling that our team wasn’t getting the right message across and ultimately, I left the church without any satisfaction that day. Looking back, I feel as though God was teaching us to rely on him and that what we were trying to do was impossible by our own strength.
That said, the second and third days of VBS at Peace Academy went very smoothly. It felt unfortunate that we had to lock our doors, but for the benefit of the younger children and so that our main goal, the VBS portion, went well, I believe it was necessary. By working with the children side by side, by watching the teachers and the rest of our KPPC mission team working together, I felt that God was using us to make a difference. Even though the drenching sweat and burning heat, I was able to feel a sense of accomplishment seeing the children holding up their finished crafts and singing along with us.
We spent two afternoons at the Mother Theresa Hospital that we visited last year. Again, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. The first thing that I noticed was how different the area looked. The main building had collapsed and on top of the rubble, there were lines of tents set up. I saw the same infants lying down in their cribs, some that looked literally of just skin and bones, some that couldn’t even muster up the strength to cry. I was glad to see the huge amount of donations that this facility received, however: many high-tech fans, piles of canned foods, and even the tents they were now living in. We spent one afternoon just playing the VBS songs and dancing with them, handing out candy and some toys. It made me happy to see them smiling, even after such a catastrophe. As we shared our time with them, God gave me a sense of hope: that everything will work out in His time and through His plan, not ours.
Throughout the week, there were periods of happiness and joy as well as sadness and suffering. I believe through this time in Haiti, through its ups and downs, I was able to gain a glimpse of how God works through us. Even though we may be incapable of changing Haiti through huge sums of money, through military aid, or by supplying much needed teachers and doctors, we did what we could and God used that and turned it into twelve basketfuls of leftovers. Through this mission, God gave us experiences and visions that we couldn’t gain anywhere else, and for that, I thank God and the congregation of KPPC for giving us this opportunity.