Heading into this trip I was most excited about visiting the programs, my American comrades that I had already come to know, and witnessing the beauty and hardships of Haiti. What I wasn’t prepared for was how deeply I would connect with, and later become homesick for, my incredible Haitian teammates. While I know it is a tiny drop in the bucket and nothing like engaging in person, I hope to share more about these amazing friends who have a forever spot in my heart.
A year ago, we shared Vanessa’s story on the Heartline blog. Watching this amazing sister bring joy and love to every single person she encounters was the absolute top highlight of my time in Haiti, and left me bawling my eyes out when we had to say, “See you later.”
Just as many of us desire to pour into our communities and love our families well, Vanessa works tirelessly to show up and be present in the lives of Haiti’s forgotten. Every single week she gathers a faithful team of strong and brave women to prepare bread for delivery to a women’s prison and a weekly Kids’ Club. But they aren’t simply handing out provisions, Vanessa and her team get to know the stories of the prisoners and children and form trusting relationships – providing them a safe place to lament but also rejoice in all the ways God loves them right where they are. It was such a joy to watch them lead and love well.
One of the sweetest moments of my time in Haiti was walking along the beach in Titanyen, listening to Vanessa share her dreams for Haiti and for her family. It was a treasured time of connecting as mamas and sisters chasing hard after Jesus and laughing hysterically at our translation attempts.
Moise has led our Discipleship and Outreach team for more than 5 years, guiding other Haitian men through rich discipleship training, weekly prayer and worship time, and service to so many in their own communities.
God has given Moise a beautiful blend of quiet strength and bold love that he generously showers on special needs children at a local orphanage, residents of an elderly village, families struggling with the hardships of poverty, and the lively crowd at Kids’ Club. In our American terms, he serves the roles of men’s discipleship leader, teaching pastor, worship pastor, community shepherd, children’s ministry leader, special needs ministry connector, outreach ministry director, food pantry coordinator, and visionary – all with the most cheerful spirit and calm demeanor.
With God’s guidance, Moise has grown an incredible team of strong believers passionate about keeping God at the front and center of their lives despite the hardships and persecution they face. I was left in awe and with a renewed passion for praising God after our time worshipping and praying together.
As Charles walked us through the Heartline Education Center to the Advanced Sewing classroom, I was overcome with a sense of life and hope among the sweet community between the instructors, school leaders, and the students.
These dedicated students faithfully attended classes throughout a very challenging year for the Education Center, and had the most beautiful designs and creations to proudly share with our group. Dresses and suits that we would spend a fortune on in the States, all hand-created and delicately pieced together.
This little classroom was a mighty light breaking through the darkness with hope and resilience.
The instant I walked onto the property of the Heartline Maternity Center, I was engulfed in an overwhelming sense of peace. (In fact, I peacefully curled up and took a nap more than once during my visits to the MC!)
As a mom who wishes I’d had this incredible team around me during labor and delivery, it was beautiful to see laboring moms able to leisurely move throughout the center and truly listen to their bodies as they prepared to birth new life. I am not a crier (I usually hide out in the bathroom at the first hint of a tear) but I knew I had entered truly sacred ground as I saw the teamwork between the HMC midwives and nurses as they noticed, comforted, encouraged, and loved every mom.
One of the most touching moments came as KJ and Mica seamlessly worked together to encourage first-time Mama, Wolfna, and to do the zillion medical things required to provide a safe and comforting environment before, during, and after birth. I sat in awe as they calmly and efficiently prepared for sweet baby Monica’s arrival all while encouraging and comforting Wolfna and attending to her needs after delivery.
Haiti is a breathtaking place of beauty and resilience. My heart and prayers grew a few zillion inches as my Haitian teammates found a forever spot in both. I love you, team, and I cannot wait until we hug again! Keep loving and leading and being as beautiful as God created you. Thank you for letting me into your meaningful work and incredible stories, and for enthusiastically hemming me into this amazing Heartline Family. Na wè pita! – Danielle
What are some of your favorite memories from Haiti? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!