Haiti, went to build, returned have only tore down.

let me being this entry by saying THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to those of you who sent me on this trip. your donations and those who purchased the lithograph really enabled me to go on this trip with little worry about finances, and helped to be able to financially invest in others to go on this trip as well. you are greatly appreciated by many.

the trip was altering. i don't want to say exciting or emotionally exhilarating because i think those, much like camp highs, fade with time. this was a change of a mindset. of learning to stretch myself in ways i had not been in years. this is a change that will not fade in mere days, but an educational installment that will challenge the way i see the world for the rest of my life.

before we left i had an irksome intuition. i felt that this trip would not be what i thought it was going to be. i felt that i was going to have to decide whether to DO or to BE. not clear on what that was going to entail i set out for miami to catch my flight.

upon arrival we were informed that in fact port a prince was not the safest places in the world right now for foriegners so instead of concentrating on the local orphanage we were going to fly to jacmel. a city right over the mountain range in sight. once in jacmel we took an hour and a half walk up the side of the mountain to a small farming community called mano.

mano is unlike many US cities in that it has no running water, no electricity, no air conditioning, no modern convenience, and it has a deep sense of community. this is where it began for me. the realization that i was selfish and egocentric hit me within minutes of arriving because my idea of 'comfort' was no where in sight. actually no where within several miles.

sleeping was the difficult part as the temperatures at night were closer to 90 degrees, and the mosquito's claimed me for their own, regardless of the multiple layers of toxic bug spray. the food was different, as i was introduced to this amazing vegetable called breadfruit. it looked just like a cantaloupe but tasted when baked like a potato. when it was boiled you could dip the breadfruit out with a spoon and had the consistency of mashed potatoes.

our goal in jacmel was not to DO for the people, but BE with the people. in my mind i wanted to do, i wanted action. i wanted to build something. to create. feeling that i had to prove to these people that we cared, and if i couldn't build or create than my trip was purposeless. i was wrong.

in haiti one of the most valued principle in their culture is community. they were unconcerned with most tasks we deam as imperative. the lasting effect they desired from my trip was not building four walls in some school, but building a relationship. they were not asking me to help them construct their road, but a friendship.

the majority of people in mano had never seen a white person before. on many occasions people would come up and touch my hair to see what the texture was. once a little girl licked her finger and tried to rub off my tattoo. for them i was more than just a foreigner, i was american.

america doesn't have the greatest reputation around the world. folklore, foreign governments, and misinformation play a deep role in founding others beliefs about our nation. even if the rumors they have heard are false, that is all they know of the country and since that is all they know they believe it.

i built more than a road, i tore down walls. by just BEING, and not DOING i was able to develop relationships with everyone from a carpenter to a voodoo doctor. i had the opportunity to clear up misconceptions and stereotypes through spending hours working, playing, and eating along side these amazing human beings. it wasn't the action the people desired, it was the attention.

even though i felt alot of their values were opposite of mine their sense of community was overwhelming and convicting. why do i always feel like i have to be doing something for people. to cultivate relationships are more important and more essential. to have the ties of family are invaluable. these are the first lesson of this trip i walked away from.

i went to haiti to build, i ended up tearing down.
myself, my ethoncentrism, and walls.

...more to come. a lot more.

Comments

Vanze said…
Woah cool....dangit! That sounds so exciting and cool...I'm happy that you liked it...haha yeah those thoughts that you HAVE TO DO anything for them is human...but they just want you to BE with them. A friend of mine was in Africa for 15 months and he said the same...ppl just want to talk and make new relationships...they are even very satisfied how they leave.This is VERY out of all reason for us since we think they want to have money and physical help. Stupid western way of thinking! lol
Yeah,....glad to see that it was an incredible experience for you. :)
hehe I liked the part of the story with the girl who tried to make away your tattoo....makes me smile.

God bless you Stephen!
Have a wonderful day.
Looking forward for more....
Love,
Vanessa
Ashleigh said…
Wow, that sounds amazing Stephen :)
I'd love to be able to sit down with you sometime and just talk to you, but unfortunately, I'm just a girl in New Zealand and you are a big rockstar in America, and rockstar timetables dont cater for conversations with "fangirls", how unstereotypical they are. Despite all that though, you have a beautiful mind and I wish you the best with continuing to share it with the world. Thank you for making your music.. It has helped me, and it has helped a lot of my friends.
Lots of love from a pathetic little fangirl on the other side of this huge planet.. all the best in everything you do. God bless.
Ashleigh
Janelle said…
That is truely awesome that you went. My French class is very interested in Haiti, because of a priest from there that came to talk to us a few years ago. Since then, we've done what we can to help out, which is mostly sending money. We've had a few fundraisers, & we all love to see what the money helps to build & how we're helping people. I think my class & my teacher would be very interested in hearing about your experience, so if you don't mind, I'd like to share it with them.

Much love,
Janelle
Kaila said…
All I have to say is amazing.
I am the type who hates being out of their comfort zone. It takes strength doing what you did. I hope one day when I get older I can do something for people.

I can't wait to hear the rest.
isaac said…
Awesome, just awesome. Continue to write, please, and some pictures would be great as well.

I'm definitely looking forward to my summer missions trip... thanks for the inspiration.

-isaac
Kevin said…
I enjoyed reading your thoughts of our trip. I've been anxious to hear what other people are thinking upon returning to our everyday lives. I've written a little but haven't put much on my blog yet. I'll send you the link though when it's done so that you can read it if you'd like. As you know, God has altered my life in a huge way from this experience. And I really liked the way in your writing you described how it effected you. That's so right on.
Anonymous said…
kaila, sweetheart!

"I hope one day when I get older I can do something for people."

girl, it sounds like you're ready to start doing something NOW! you've already got a tender heart toward other people, and it's not about doing something big, like leaving the country; it's about extending love and mercy and compassion to people in the little things throughout your day. those things take courage and strength too, but as you do them you'll find your comfort zone growing and expanding.

dream big, sister. dream very very big. it starts with the little things, then one day you realize you're living a dream bigger than you ever could have imagined, and you're learning from others every single day. it's so true that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Meggios said…
I thank God for allowing you to go on this trip. The beautiful things about these trips, is that you don't have to worry about what you're wearing or what you look like or any of the stupid things that we (as westerners) worry about, but it is all about building relationships & truly seeing yourself from the perspective of others. We as americans are sooooo concerned about materialism & images, yet we never really look deep into the hearts of those around us. I think its awesome that God took you to Haiti to see in reality of what this world is about & even what different cultures value. Sometimes when we are being ourselves & not trying to impress others, are we the most happiest and content with ourselves & those around us. Hope to hear more soon!!!
Hero's Cousin said…
stephen, thank you so much for writing this. i don't know you but have been reading your blog for a while now. i am going to ecuador next week with some people from my church. i think a primary part of our trip will be...to simply *be*...and to simply love through the being. like you, i tend to focus on the tangible, the practical, and the measurable. however, the crucial is rarely described in those terms. thank you for helping me to recognize this (and before my trip, even!). keep writing. -nikki
James said…
Esteban. You're amazing.
Anonymous said…
Stephen, you found out exactly what a missions trip should be all about. What life should be all about. BEING.

I'm glad you learned a lot while you were over there; and I'm glad you made it back safe.

God Bless.
Anonymous said…
Stephen, you found out what a missions trip is really all about. What LIFE is really all about. BEING.

I'm glad you learned a lot while you were over there; and I'm glad you made it back safe.

God Bless.
ryan luther said…
hey man, i'm glad you got to experience something like this. seeing how people in these countries live can really change your entire view of life. i'm going to uganda in 07 and i want you to come with me. check yo email!!
Anonymous said…
Hey,

POST PICS! I'm glad that you learnt a great deal on the trip. Keep us posted on more.

Rach
berty and gerty said…
Hi Stephen,
sounds like such a fantastic experience! this is so scary leaving a comment on a celebrities blogsite but we managed to do it on frank ritchies who is a big celebrity here in new zealand =D and he replied on our blogsite hint hint :P nah but we really really do like your blogs thanks for them. rock on!
sum1 said…
cool... sound like an awsome experience, mabye in like two or three years(i'm only 15) i'll go do, i mean be ;-), something like that too. that is if i can somehow get togeter a few thousand $$$ from somewhere. haha!! I am in fact an MK, i live in the UAE, very very rich country and here, just like the "western world" it's has gone all materialisticlike... at least the rich people have, but when you visit poor people they value you just being there way more than anything you give them,and no matter how poor they are they will always give you food, lots of it, even if you don't want it. Some times it feels bad to acept things from people who have so little... but not accepting it is prety offensive to them. :-o oh dear this is getting a bit long now... amazing how much i can write in such a short time as long as it's not an english essay... :-/ i gotta get back to work on that essay again... oh it's dinner time ^^ i'm hungry... wow 1:30 al ready!! :-O
Kat said…
That is absolutely amazing. You are a kind and amazing soul, Stephen.

Kat
Anonymous said…
I went to Haiti when I was 14 years old. I was in the exact opposite geographical location as you, but the effect was astounding. Now 22 years old the experience I had in Haiti has literally shaped my life. I'm a senior international affairs student who's taken every opportunity provided to research Haiti and its culture, people, politics and everything in between. I'm so excited whenever I hear of someone else "discovering" the warmth and beauty that is the Haitian people and country. - Emily Grace
ShiroNeko said…
Stephen, you are truly amazing, God bless you.
ShiroNeko said…
Stephen, you are truly amazing,
God bless you.

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