LiveBeyonder, Jana Emerson, is a "regular" down in Thomazeau, and when she's not in Haiti, she's focused on getting more people to join her on another trip. She is a cardiac RN at Hendrick Health Systems and is a member of Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. Team #LiveBeyond is lucky to have her onboard!
How many LiveBeyond mission weeks have you served on?
October will be my ninth trip. And I'm already registered for three trips in 2016–You could say that I love it.
Share how you got involved with LiveBeyond.
LiveBeyonder, Dr. Taylor Tidmore, did a presentation about LiveBeyond's work at our church. He finally convinced me to say, "YES!"
What's your favorite part(s) of the mission week?
There's nothing like driving up to the LiveBeyond guest house on the first night. I get to see the faces of so many people that I've come to love over the past two years. It brings tears my eyes every time! Community visits and morning worship time with the Haitians are also at the top of my list.
Share one of your most memorable experiences or encounters in Haiti.
It's hard to pick one memory that stands out since we go so often. The people touch my heart over and over.
But on my seventh trip in June 2015, a young, mentally disabled girl came down the mountain for church on Sunday. She had a baby in her arms, and we were told she had been raped. She and the baby were very dirty with tattered clothing, and it was evident that both were extremely malnourished. We went to the guest house to clean them up and put a nutritious meal in their bellies. Several ladies actually got in the shower with the girl to bathe her and wash her hair. I am quite certain she had never been that clean. Then it was time for a mini spa treatment–She got clean clothes, and then we trimmed and scrubbed her fingernails and toenails. Even though she couldn't communicate with us, the smile on her face told us that she loved every second of her time with us. I am pretty sure it was one of the best days of her life and mine, too!
Over the past two years that you've been involved with LiveBeyond, how have you seen our work expand?
Every trip that I've served on, there have been new facilities built and new programs implemented. It's crazy to think to my first trip that was less than two years ago and consider the unbelievable growth that God has orchestrated at the LiveBeyond base. And each trip, I see more and more healthy moms and babies in the maternal health program. It's so amazing to be a part of this transformation!
What keeps you coming back to Haiti with LiveBeyond?
I have never been to a place that needs people being the hands and feet of Jesus like they do in Haiti. Haiti and the people of Thomazeau are now a central part of my heart. When Jesus talks about caring for "the least of these" this is who he's talking about!
Through my trips, God has revealed to me that one of my purposes in this life is to bring more to Haiti with us. Haiti hasn't just changed my life, but it has changed my entire family's life. The Lord says, "GO!" and that's exactly what my husband and I want to motivate and encourage others to do. You cannot go to Haiti and walk away unchanged. When you have an open heart, God reveals Himself and His plan for your life in amazing, radical ways!
How have the people of Thomazeau have changed your life?
This place and these people have radically changed my life for the better. We are put on this earth to serve others and to physically help these people. It changes everything when you know their names and can kiss their faces. I see the face of Jesus in the Haitian people, and that fills my soul.