By: Ginger Paty
The tears began early. My eyes were overwhelmed with the scene before them, and somehow had to release the emotions that were stirring within me. My body jolted with each pothole and my mind raced as our driver carefully navigated us through the villages, away from the Port-au-Prince airport. The sun was setting, and the darkness became tangible.
The van was packed with people; some of whom I have loved for many years. There was chattering amongst them, especially ones that had experienced this trek to Thomazeau before. My husband and I, along with our 4 best friends, agreed to come to Haiti to serve on a medical mission trip. While I have zero medical background, we came on the recommendation of our dear friends, Ed & Jana Emerson, and quite frankly, I was just excited to be spending the week with many of my favorite people on earth. My husband is a physical therapist; so we thought we had some idea of what he would be doing while at LiveBeyond. We planned, prayed, discussed, asked questions, and planned some more for over a year and a half… and we had finally made it! But as I thought back to the many conversations that had taken place prior to this trip, I quickly drew a complete conclusion: No one could have possibly prepared me for this.
Outside the van windows, Haitians were everywhere. They wandered, they stared, and the children chased our van and cheered. The complete lack of infrastructure or purpose was palpable. The oppression was like a thick blanket, and the lack of hope was written on their faces. My tears began to fall, and quite honestly, they haven’t stopped.
Our week with LiveBeyond changed our lives forever. The scales came pouring from our eyes, as we were given the honor of serving the Haitian people. I will never forget standing on top of the guesthouse the first morning, and Dr. Vanderpool saying, “We do not believe that the Kingdom of God has dirty water, mothers dying in childbirth, or children dying of starvation.” Something deep within me cried out, “Yes! Me too! Why do these horrific things exist?” and we spent the next six days learning about what God expects us to do about it. Service has always been a part of my life; part of my DNA. Service in the name of Jesus was something I have done since I was a teenager, in my church youth group. But this immediately felt different. This was a complete pouring out; a sacrificial service that brought me closer to the heart of Jesus than I had ever experienced. I couldn’t get enough.
The days we held clinic were long, yet incredibly rewarding. The babies and their mamas, the elderly, the young children… their eyes communicated with me more than anything their lips or the lips of the interpreters could possibly say. My favorite “job” was working in the scabies clinic. It was so humbling to be given the responsibility of applying relief to their miserably itchy skin. One elderly woman came in, and I was asked if I could just rub some lotion on her skin. It blessed me beyond measure to simply offer her tired, aching body some moisture, and her tired, aching spirit some rest.
The sounds of the Kè Pou Timoun children on the other side of the building filled the air. Johnny’s Kids’ (there are no words for their delightfulness) laughter and activity infiltrated the designated rooms inside of the clinic, and I absolutely loved stepping around Chinyelo and his ongoing “soccer” games.
The Bible came alive for me in Haiti. Worship was renewed for me in Haiti. Purpose was given to me in Haiti.
Cody and I completed our first mission in October 2015 and are signed up to return in September 2016. We have many dreams and goals, as we know that our relationship with LiveBeyond and our Haitian brothers and sisters is only going to continue to grow in the coming years. We are passionate about Johnny’s Kids and helping raise the funds for a therapy clinic that will eventually be built. We have come home and talked nonstop to others in our community about our experiences there, and have encouraged them to return with us in September. But more than anything, we have come home and shared Haiti with our three young children. They have poured over the pictures, listened to our stories, and celebrated with us as we keep in touch and learn of advancements being made at LiveBeyond and in the villages of Thomazeau. While it is sometimes difficult to balance the responsibilities we have in raising our children, with the deepest desires of our hearts, which is to be in Haiti more than once a year, we know that God has a beautiful plan for us. We know that by introducing us to Haiti and to LiveBeyond, this is just the beginning. We are different people, which mean we are different parents, which means we are raising different children. LiveBeyond is not just transforming Thomazeau; it is transforming generations of families as we all strive to live our lives completely Kingdom-focused.
“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday; The Lord will guide you always…” Isaiah 58:10-11
Ginger Paty is a homemaker and former educator, having graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2000. She and her husband, Cody, make their home in Sweetwater, Texas, where he is the Director of Rehabilitation for Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital. They have three children: Claire (12), Gregory (10), and Meredith Grace (7).