On June 4, I set foot in one of the most oppressed countries in the world. My plane had just landed in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. That was my first glimpse of just a few of the things I would be facing for the next week. I would see hunger like I’d never seen hunger; I would see poverty like I’d never seen poverty; but most importantly, I would witness love unlike any love I had experienced before.
What stopped me in my tracks and changed my heart forever was something that will never fade in my memory. It was my first night in a third-world country. It was like I awoke straight into panic mode at 2:48 am. I could hear the eerie thuds of drums being played as voodoo was being practiced at a nearby peristyle. This meant that pigs were being sacrificed, Satan was being worshipped, and lost souls were burning themselves in the process. I laid in my bunk shaking more violently than I ever have. I was scared. I was scared for the Haitians. I was scared for myself. I was scared that my God could allow something so horrible in a place that was already so broken. I prayed and prayed and prayed so passionately that God would help these people and take them away from Satan’s grasp.
Throughout the next five days, I realized that my God is an incredible God. An unshakeable God. A God who uses average people like me to glorify Him in the most heartbreaking situations. In the midst of all this brokenness, I began to see those around me working as His hands and feet to show unconditional love, forgiveness, and selflessness to every soul we served. I saw my fellow volunteers love on 12-year-old children who were responsible for taking care of their six younger siblings because of their mother’s death. I saw them play and love on children with disabilities. I saw them pray over men and women who came into our clinic for treatment. I saw them bring joy to hopeless Haitians. Not only did these volunteers change Haitian lives, but they changed mine as well.
I have never experienced such pure and innocent love. The children wanted nothing more than my love. A back scratch. My arm around them. To sit in my lap. The littlest glimpse of love was all they desired. In these days, I learned to be more selfless than I ever imagined. I left a giant part of my heart with these kids. They’re not just faces on a commercial anymore. These are kids who I’ve held and kissed and loved. They’re my kids. These kids didn’t care about money or flashy toys or what I was wearing. They cared about me. The here, the now, the love that was right in front of them.
Throughout my week in Thomazeau, Haiti, I treated wormy bellies, scabies, and a variety of conditions that we hardly ever see in the United States. I treated third-degree burns all the way up to a woman’s knee that were caused by walking on fire while practicing voodoo. This woman, Maizie, walked all the way down a mountain, barefoot, just to receive medical treatment from our clinic once a week.
My week in Haiti wasn’t only seven days of my life. This week wasn’t simply a trip to make me feel better about living in the richest country in the world. This trip was something that changed my heart forever. A trip I will continue to return to as the years go on. I pray that others are inspired and the fire to serve our God is ignited, just as mine was. There are so many ways to support LiveBeyond. In the short time I’ve been supporting this organization, I have seen first-hand where the pennies and dollars go. Because of the generous donations to LiveBeyond, many villages now have a well with clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Because of LiveBeyond’s maternal health program, women and babies are stronger and healthier than ever. Because of LiveBeyond’s Kè Pou Timoun program (heart for children program) many children are attending school, dressed in clean clothes, following the Lord, and learning the English language. Because of LiveBeyond’s medical clinic, hundreds of individuals have received medical attention. Above all, because of these amazing donations and servant hearts, so many Haitians have heard the Gospel and come to know Jesus! These are just a handful of the incredible things I got to witness on my journey.
So as I barely scrape the surface of this unbelievable adventure, I ask you to not only pray for the people of Thomazeau, I ask you to pray about going! The work there is unending and the Lord is seeking servants to be His hands and feet; all He asks is for your willingness.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:12)
The Lord provides y’all.
Marissa Gonz is attending Missouri State University where she will receive her RN, BSN in May 2017. She currently works as Nurse Technician at Mercy Hospital- Springfield and a Certified Medicine Technician at Riverview at the Park, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.