We did countless projects during our time there, both tangible and intangible. We built desks for schoolchildren who were sitting on the dirty floor. We attended a 2-hour worship service all in Creole, and I learned that you can pray and worship even if you don’t understand the language. We went to the hospital, which would barely be considered a clinic in the United States, where we passed out hygiene bags and Bibles, and prayed for the people there. We played music and prayed for ailing people lying in the sick house, a place for people who couldn’t afford to travel to a hospital, much less the hospital care itself.
These people were desolately poor, more poor than anything I have ever seen – and I’ve traveled to over 20 countries, so I’ve seen a lot! I looked upon a 5 foot by 5 foot home made of mud, shared with half a dozen people, containing no belongings except a mat on the floor where they sleep. I was overcome with sadness by their living conditions.
But as we traveled throughout the country, I realized that these people are happy. I mean really happy. They were almost constantly smiling big, bright smiles. They gave a jovial wave as we drove by. They laughed and hugged their neighbors. Their joy was contagious, and they were incredibly fun and uplifting to be around.
As I return to my blessed life here in Findlay, Ohio, I look around and wonder if maybe we have more to learn from them than they do from us. We are in the business of being busy, and we place value on having bigger and better things. But the Haitians taught me that simpler is better, and happiness doesn’t come from our possessions. Happiness comes from people and from the community they live in. Happiness comes from love.