Haiti: A Life Changing Experience



It’s winter, I’m sitting in church at the 6:00pm mass and Deacon John is talking about the Haitian mission that St. Bernard supports. 

His story is interesting to say the least. I find myself thinking about their situation in Haiti.  John, with his way of painting a picture with his words portrays an opportunity that is fulfilling and needed.  We’ve all seen the commercials on television about the people who have so little and are less fortunate than we are in our country. 

Over the next few weeks John’s talk keeps coming to me and I think, is that something I really could do?  Do I have what it takes to help.  I talk to my wife about it and she says I should go; it would be a great opportunity to help those in need.  She also makes the point it would probably be an experience like no other; and not just an experience but probably a life changing one.

Have you ever thought about doing something that is new and uncertain? 

Have you ever thought about why some people are more fortunate than others? Like all people I’ve had many experiences in my life, school, work, marriage, children, death of a loved one.  These experiences mold us and make us the people we are, but they can also change our outlook on life.

Needless to say I decided to go on the Haitian mission.  It was 9 days of my life that gave me more emotions that one could expect to receive in that period of time.  I didn’t know what to expect, even after speaking with others who had gone before.  I was excited, scared, hopeful and apprehensive.  It was nice to go with some whom had been before and some that were new to it just like I was.

After arriving at the airport, then taking the trip to the convent where we stayed, it was already starting to hit home that this wasn’t what I was used to or expected.  Seeing the condition of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, it began the list of emotions that would change my outlook forever.  The Sisters made us feel like family and opened their home and hearts to our being there.  Over the next week we visited several schools that had the most wonderful children.  Many were very excited to see us and some were quite shy.  It was understandable why they had mixed emotions.  It became clear the longer we were with the children the more comfortable they became.

There were also children at the convent that looked at us with many different feelings and emotions.  As the days went by the relationship and trust with the children grew and we exchanged lots laughs and had great conversations.

I thought I would be going to Haiti to help and provide service to their people. I truly know this was accomplished. But it was I that gained more from them than they did from me.  It wasn’t just the children that made an impression on me.  There are so many Haitian people who are helping others in need.  They are caring and loving and you can see God’s will within them as they do what they can and give hope and guidance to all.  

Not only did I meet and work with wonderful people in Haiti but I met the best group of friends right here in Fitchburg doing God’s work.

How did I now feel as I was getting ready to leave this country, this experience?  My emotions became clearer to me.  I AM….

Humbled when I see how many live with their daily conditions.

Appreciative for what I have when others have so little.

Impressed with what the Sisters do and the love they show for all the children in their care.

Thankful for the beautiful people I was able to meet during my time spent in Haiti.

It put things in perspective when I think what is important to me versus what is important to others.

Thank you Jill, John and God for sending those messages to me, for I am the one who had the Life Changing Experience.  I am the one who received the beautiful experience only the children of Haiti could provide.

 Love always…Dennis

Todd Parker