A Summer with #LiveBeyond

By: Parker Southerland, LiveBeyond summer camp counselor

My name is Parker Southerland and I am a junior biochemistry major at Abilene Christian University. Last spring break I was looking for a medical mission trip to go on and ACU had a group of students going to Haiti. I signed up for this group and was well on my way to changing my life forever.

My life was completely changed after seeing the dire circumstances that most of the Haitian people live in. God (and LiveBeyond) allowed me to see this first hand. LiveBeyond is doing godly work in Thomazeau that is undoubtedly transforming that area for the Kingdom of God.

Almost as soon as I returned to the states I was ready to be back in Haiti, so I applied to be a counselor at LiveBeyond's summer camp. After receiving the news that I had been chosen for the job, I was thrilled and as a group, the counselors and I began planning our day-to-day activities that we would be doing with  70+ kids in Kè Pou Timoun.

These children were the biggest blessing to my life thus far. They taught me that while things may not always go your way, there are plenty of things to be happy and grateful for. Most of the children's home situations are bleak, but that never stopped them from coming to camp with a smile on their face every single day. They were always happy to be at camp no matter what had happened at home or the previous day.

If I could say one thing that differed from my one-week trip over spring break to my three-week trip in July, I would say that a one-week trip bombards you with experiences and faces which can be overwhelming at times. Before you have any time to mull over these things you have to leave to go back to the US; however, an extended stay  allows you to digest these experiences, and in my opinion, make them much more personal. The people you meet become family, and the experiences you have are never forgotten.

I believe that I made some lifelong friends because of my time spent in Haiti with LiveBeyond, and I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to help and spread God's good name over this past spring break and summer.

I have already started fundraising for my next trip to Haiti which will hopefully be in January. If I don't raise the money in time I will be coming on spring break of 2016.