Chad calls me the queen of non-profits.
I work for my father and a Christian student leadership organization here in Orange County and I also work for Help One Now taking people to places like Haiti (link).
When someone asks me what I do for Help One Now I usually say something like this:
I connect authors, bloggers and storytellers with Help One Now for the purpose of activating them for long-term advocacy.
That’s a fancy way of saying I help arrange and plan those trips that allow people to see the boots-on-the ground good work of a good organization and then tell a good story about what they see.
But what happened this last week during my first time to this country was something I was not expecting at all.
In the van on the way to dinner on our last evening, our friend Mike asked both Amber and I the same question.
“You don’t have to answer now,” he began, “but how (if it has at all) has this trip affected your perspective on anything?”
I looked out the window at the people and the mopeds and all of the colors and sights that make up Port-au-Prince.
“And maybe it hasn’t,” he continued.
Amber, in her Alabama words that I can hear even now as I type this, talked to us about the global church and leadership and all the good things that we’d been learning from the Pastors this week.
She knew and she understood. She got it.
“I don’t know.” I said. “I’ll take you up on telling you later, okay?”
As I lay on the bunk later that night and listened to the fan (and prayed that not too many mosquitos would eat my legs) I thought about my “perspective” on poverty, the orphan crisis, and the global church. I thought about Haiti and about how much I still don’t understand, and maybe never will.
I understand how helping can hurt and I get the new models of orphan care and orphan prevention. My perspective didn’t really seem to change much because I felt like I was seeing something I had already thought about deeply.
But then I thought about Sarah and Mike seeing the school at Yahve Shamma for the first time, the same school that was dreamt about on the last trip of storytellers. I thought about the full-circle-ness of it all.
I realized that I want to see the children of Drouin go to secondary school and I want to see that little forgotten community thrive. I want them to drink clean water and farm their fields well and prosper from them.
I understood that I wanted to witness Ferrier Village ten and fifteen years from now and see those babies turn into adults who rescue more babies. I want to see an orphan care system there that does so well they don’t need outside help any longer.
I want to never have to say goodbye to Widia.
And I then I got it. (Or I got it as much as is possible in a six day trip).
Six days in Haiti had wrapped me up into my own elevator pitch. Six days in Haiti turned into a decade almost overnight.
I had been planning and planning this trip and I knew that I cared but I didn’t know how much until the very end. It was a place that was altogether more brilliant and intense than I would ever imagined and I had never expected that the long-term advocacy that I was dreaming about for others had actually grabbed me around my heart in the form of little hands and wide smiles.
I’ll never claim to truly understand Haiti, but even so I want to. And I can’t imagine living a life where I never came back. I feel like I am the one who has been “connected.” I am someone who is activated and advocating. I am someone now who wants to see it flourish and grow over the long haul. I am the one who’s perspective has been changed because now it isn’t simply working for a non-profit, it is getting to watch the future of a nation change little by little.
And it is beautiful.