By Hannah Griffith, a young parishioner from the Church of the Nativity in Burke, VA, who recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti with Food For The Poor.

Often times we think of communication and connection going hand-in-hand, but what happens when communication is limited? Many of us wondered how we would share the love of Christ and our desire to help the Haitian people if we didn’t speak the same language. Little did I know, we would soon be familiarized with many languages during our trip.

Nativity mission traveler Maddie and Shelove
Nativity mission traveler Maddie and Shelove

The first day in Haiti, we visited the Little Children of Jesus orphanage in the village of Santo. Here, we learned that words were not necessary, but instead love was expressed through a smile, laugh, or simply holding hands during a walk around the grounds. The Little Children of Jesus facility was home to individuals with special needs and many of them were non-verbal and bed-ridden.

One specific little girl captured my heart. After visiting with the children in cribs lined along the walls of one of the housing units, I came across a little girl named Shelove in her crib in the back of the room. She had a cast on one of her legs and would motion to me to take her outside. Soon she found herself being carried around by myself and friends on the trip. The leaders with Food For The Poor and Nativity reminded us that money was not the only way to show we care and the joy we brought to children like Shelove made an impact she may remember for the rest of her life. What a beautiful treat it was to experience the world through the eyes of those at the Little Children of Jesus.

A trip favorite was our visit to the village of Despuzeau, where we were immediately greeted with singing, yet another way to communicate. Throughout the day as we dedicated homes, led Vacation Bible School, and planted trees, the families in the village never stopped singing, thanking Nativity, and thanking Food For The Poor for the improvements they’ve witnessed and the blessings they thank God for every day.

One of my friends on the trip, Lauren Sinclair, led an effort collecting sunglasses and eyeglasses for the people of Despuzeau and through this effort, an elderly woman was given sight again! One of the community’s leaders asked me for a “photo” of him and the woman; now there’s an English word I recognized! Seeing the woman with literal new lenses, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was given new perspective as well. Here, Haiti taught the language of music and gratefulness.

Although I may have only known how to say a couple words and phrases in creole, “mesi” was a word everyone mastered by the end of the trip. I think I speak for the team when I say this is a trip we will never forget. The country of Haiti has captured my heart and I want to say “mesi” to Food For The Poor and “mesi” to the people of Haiti. Mesi for your immense love, overwhelming joy, and admirable humility. Every night during reflection, our trip leaders would ask us where we saw the face of Jesus and I conclude that there is not a corner of the villages we had the privilege of visiting that did not show us exactly that.