Traveling into a country and a culture drastically different from your own has such a tremendous impact on your mind, heart and soul. We have had this experience in multiple European countries as tourists and it was amazing. However, when Terry and I traveled into Haiti to visit family and actually become part of the culture for a short while, we experienced a decidedly more significant level of impact. I think it would be safe to say that you can't really become part of this family and the Haitian culture and not be moved and changed ways that you could never imagine. we felt extremely welcomed, loved and respected not only by Beth and the Haitian teens but also by all their Haitian friends.
There are times when the differences are overwhelming and you long for the familiar and what has always been comfortable. the majority of the time however, you feel in awe of what surrounds you. Such as prayers, all spoken out loud at the same time in language you don't always understand but at the same time can totally recognize. Words such as, "I love you Jesus." These prayers come deep from the heart in spite of past brokenness, pain and suffering. With the prayers also comes a special joy and peace which is so strong that you can actually feel the holy spirit lift and change you.
As you tour the country of Haiti, another thing that surrounds you is harsh contrast. There is much natural beauty in the lush mountains, gorgeous waterfalls and plush beach resorts but what impacts you the most is the relentless struggle and desperation that most Haitians experience daily basis to survive. You can see it on their faces and actually feel it as you pass through the huge crowds. I explain to Beth that I feel a sensory overload sometimes. All the senses are keenly aware that you are in foreign land but the amazing this is that right beside you are teens who demonstrate the love of Jesus by showing you unconditional love. They hold your hands when they know you need more strength, they prepare food and serve you, they respect and appreciate you regardless of what you wear and what you have. You soon realize, this country is not so foreign and God has greatly honored you with a Haitian family who gives all that they have to give and all that is really important, love. He knew all the time what the plans was and his blessing are beyond measure.