Mary Ann Vicini: Sitting in Miami Airport with mixed emotions. It is wonderful to be back in the United States with flushing toilets and soap in the soap dispenser, but I can’t stop thinking about the kids we spent this past week with, waking up to another day in Seguin with little more than the shirt on their backs. I have no doubt that our kids brought great joy to the kids in Seguin for the past few days, perhaps that is enough. Haiti is a very complex, difficult country. It is amazing to see how many millions of dollars are spent by various organizations, the airport is filled with mission trips. Did we make a difference? I just began watching the video that I took throughout the trip and I hope to share it with Tim in the near future, you will have to see it for yourselves. I think once you watch it you will see that YES, our kids made a difference and they have grown in ways that are very hard to describe. Sure they will be back this week slipping quickly into their routine, but I know that they have a broader perspective and a greater appreciation for the life that they have. Thanks for sharing your kids with us this week, I really enjoyed the time we spent together.
Alex Lankfer: We just got into Miami, well about an hour ago, but I had to get American food at Wendy’s before I blogged. The trip was amazing and I really want to go back to Haiti my senior year of high school on a medical trip. Seeing how we impacted Haiti’s people so much simply by putting tarps on their homes, building latrines, and playing with the children has also impacted me in many ways.
Elizabeth Tietema: We are in Miami right now waiting for our flight back to Detroit. I am so happy to be going home and being able to see my family and friends. I am also really sad that we had to leave such a beautiful place. I had the most wonderful experience in Haiti and am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity. I have been truly touched by the people and community we were able to meet while there. I will never forget my time in Haiti or any of the memories I made while there.
Terri Hakeem: What an amazing week! Our time in Haiti was both heart wrenching and rewarding. The conditions that many Haitians live in are unbelievable yet they have a strong faith and much joy. So much for us to learn from them about faith, family and contentment not based on material possessions but on taking care of each other and putting God first in their lives. They are hard working and do the best they can with the little they have. The students from CC and WC were such a pleasure to work with. They worked hard and loved those children so much. I’m sure a special place will remain in their hearts for these friends in Haiti. There is much yet to be done in Haiti and I pray for God to help us all discern his will for us in the future.
Terese O’Rourke: I did not expect the week to fly by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday we were at the airport going to Haiti, instead of leaving. It was an amazing experience, that can never be repeated or replaced. I would like to go back in the future and see the progress they have made, but that probably won’t be for awhile. Anyway, it was amazing to see Haiti for myself, and make my own assumptions of it. It is not like the pictures at all. The people are so happy and religious, and it’s inspirational to see them like this. I mean if I were living in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and a huge earthquake were to hit, I would not be like them at all. They are strong and happy and calm. It seems as though nothing could move them, except for the Lord. I hope some day I can have the same strength as them, and love for the Lord. I just hope next time I go back, that they have made a lot of progress for the better.
Anna Duemler: Now we are in Miami waiting for our next flight and I just ate some great American fast food. Even though it was an amazing trip I am very glad to be home. I have so much respect for people who go to Haiti often and for long periods of time because I am not sure I could. As we were flying out of Port au Prince I was thinking about how bad I felt because I was so happy to leave and get home to my life when the people here have no ways of escaping and they are caught in an endless circle of despair. I felt bad wanting to leave and complaining about all the things I miss when the people here will never get a chance to lead a normal life and for once not have to struggle with everything. My heart goes out to them and I think they are all amazing for surviving what they have and being able to still everyday put a smile on their face.
Sam Terranova: I don’t think I could say it any better than those who blogged before me. This week, this whole Haiti experience was surreal. It has opened my eyes to an entirely different kind of living. My way of thinking is changed as well as some of my priorities. I can only hope I have the opportunity to take a trip like this again. Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to our awesome interpreters; Will, Martin, Monty, and Junior.
Aidan Nguyen: Everyone is talking about how we are back in the US and eating good food, but I would like to say something I failed to mention before. While in Haiti my race (Asian) became quite the hit. The Haitians there had apparently never seen an Asian child and persisted to find out what I was! They noted that my skin was tanner than that of a white person yet still lighter then a Haitian. My black hair was long like a white person yet black like a Haitian. I’m glad their schooling covers geography or else I would have to explain what I was! They came up to me tapping my arms as if to test the skin color, looked me in the eyes and asked me a simple question. Chiwa?? This in their tongue is, Chinese. As I mentioned before I was fine with this, yet the funny part came when they pretended to speak Chinese, ching chang chong! I laughed and pretended to speak back and suddenly they thought I was actually speaking in Chinese! It soon became a wide spread craze as every child in the village passed me they all went wide eyed and danced around me saying, Ching chang chong! Soon they forgot my real name and just called me Ching Chang Chong. The school kids followed me and every time I pretended to speak they would chant in unison followed by giggles. I couldn’t have asked for anything more hilarious. I promptly signed the bed which is custom there and proudly inscribed the name Ching Chang Chong. I can’t keep the computer long in the airport so I was asked to write this. Coming home soon! Signing off, Ching Chang Chong
Meghan Wilson: Although I am excited to be back in America I am really going to miss all the people and places we experienced while in Haiti. It has honestly been one of the best experiences I have ever had. It opened my eyes to a whole new culture I barely knew existed. I don’t think anyone can really understand Haiti until they visit. Although they are in a tough situation the people seem so positive and happy and were so much fun to be around. Although I am going to miss the kids in Seguin it is great to see that we positively affected their lives. This has been an awesome trip and I have learned so much from it, as well as learned to appreciate life more. I wish the best for all our friends in Port Au Prince and Seguin.
Stephanie Daum: Deciding to go to Haiti was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can only hope that the impact it has made on me will last a lifetime. I don’t think anyone can realize how blessed they are until they visit a place like Haiti. Talking about what we missed from home it became obvious that we take everything for granted, especially a simple luxury like clean water. Most importantly, the people of Haiti have showed me that it is possible to stay positive in very harsh conditions.
Leah Vicini: Haiti Round Two. Wow. As the plane was leaving all I could think of was all the good memories I have had. In a year I have seen tent cities vanish and little boys’ English improve. I can only hope to go back soon. Every time I am blessed with everything in Haiti. There is no other place where you can instantly be welcomed with open arms and smiles. No matter where you are in life you can find a place in Haiti. I have received more than I could have ever given and I am eternally grateful. Until the next time I go back I will cherish everyone I met who touched my heart in many ways than I can’t describe. There is something special about Haiti that can never be taken away.