Haiti Changed Me

Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized

Last week, a group of 63 people (me included) travelled to Cap Haitian, Haiti on a mission trip to partner with the Haitian people through sustainable development. Sustainable development promotes sharing knowledge and things that will last rather than giving them handouts. I participated in youth leadership development classes/presentations, and activities with everyone. Health education and Bible study were also offered.  I didn’t think that this experience would touch me as much as it did. Haiti changed me, and here’s 5 reasons why:

  1. They know what is best for them
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Photo captured by yours truly during Youth Leadership Presentation

In the past, I would often talk about people who come to Haiti and bring Haitians their worn out clothes or stuffs, and I would talk about how that is not helping. In my head though, I would think that the people take it because they do not know what is best for themselves. I was wrong. Hearing a 10-year-old tell me how handouts don’t really do much for the country because they are just temporary blew my mind. He proceeded to talk about the importance of education in Haiti and how he is willing to learn more so he can become a doctor down the road. Haitians do not want handouts. They want to be educated to be able to help themselves. I have heard these statements over and over from children and from adults all throughout the trip and it really changed my perspective of thinking that they don’t know best. They do.

2. They are not poor

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Photo captured by yours truly featuring Brittany, Matthew, Brandi and the kids

Our theme verse was Joshua 1:9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Haitians embody this verse so well. I have heard women tell me of their daily lives while always adding at the end that God is good. When I think of all the time I got discouraged by little things, I felt ashamed. Haitians have so much faith. So much Love for the Lord, and more importantly so much joy in His promises. They were always ready to learn, sing, to be happy, and to have a good time which kept me going no matter how tired I could have been. They live the Gospel out loud and showed me a representation of who God truly is every single day I spent with them. I have met 10-year-old children who knew so much about what the country needs and about life in general. They are so intelligent. So Strong. So resilient. So loving. So joyous. And So Faithful to God. I have learned way more from them than they probably learned from me and I am grateful.

3. I have gained a family 

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Photo Captured by Jordan Walker

 

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Photo captured by Rachel featuring me, Heather, Erica, Nara and her sister, Losandy and her friend.

Being able to share this experience with my Haitian people and with a team who is so fueled by an incredible love for God made all the difference. I have learned something from each and every one of my team member. I admire their passion for service and their love for the Haitian people. You would think that 63 people on a team would be total chaos, but not at all. I admire each and every single one of their hearts for the Lord and this would not have been the same without them.

4. My Country is Beautiful. 

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Photo Captured by Tour guide on iPhone

I had the chance to visit the “Citadelle” while I was there and was it an experience! A masterpiece of engineering built by ex-slaves still standing to this day. Can I reiterate how intelligent and strong Haitians are? It was so empowering walking up there. For all the time that I have felt that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t strong enough or smart enough or capable enough. I was reminded of where I come from, of whom my ancestors are and of what they were capable of. I was reminded that I am their great (x100) daughter and I am not doing this for myself.

5. God confirmed my Role in all of this

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Photo captured by yours truly featuring Kate Fletcher

We walked to a prayer mountain to pray. The view was beautiful and while I stared at it, I could not stop crying. All I could hear and see was God’s love for the Haitians and God’s love for this very place. While sitting up there, all I could say in my head was: thank you for showing me. Thank you for showing me. I saw that analogy of a group of people stuck somewhere, unable to free themselves or to move forward. Then God blesses one of them, then two, then three etc. so that they are able to go out in the world to come back and help their brothers and sisters, but most of them don’t come back. Yet God keeps trying over and over. I felt that I was one of these people who God blessed in order to do something positive for the country that birthed me. I don’t remember what I prayed for, must have been all the tears, but I did feel lighter and more hopeful when I walked down that mountain.

 

I hope this motivates you into visiting Haiti or partnering with the people of Haiti. For more information about sustainable development please visit projectsforhaiti.org

Love,

Lori

 

All photos are mine unless stated otherwise. 

 

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Wynwood through my Eyes (Lens)

Through My Lens, Travel

I live for colorful walls/places, beautiful artsy cities, and living art so as soon as I found out about the Miami art district, I have wanted to go there. I recently visited  and I was not disappointed.

The streets were filled with more people than I thought, the warm air smelled of food, occasional cigarette smoke, and something new. You know like when you just bought new clothes or new shoes. It was pretty hot, 92 degrees Fahrenheit; But it’s Florida, I am used to it, and who cares!   Colors! Colors everywhere! art galleries, fashion boutiques, food, beautiful stores, and so on. I walked around for a while, rested, then walked some more. I took a lot of pictures of course and was completely amazed by the art and even the people there. There is something about walking on the streets and just “vibing” to the beauty around.

I mean look at these colorful walls!

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yes to colors!

 

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And to beautiful patterned walls!

I don’t know who the artists are, but in my head we are best friends or even family because so much talent! I hope they are all getting the recognition they deserve somewhere as beautiful as their art. I usually see God everywhere, especially in the gifts He gave humans and I can say I saw as much in Wynwood.

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There also were quotes everywhere along with little sayings here and there where you’d least expect it… on the floors and walls. Here are some of my favorite.

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Always

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.

I also spotted some lovers’ locks by a store and my mother mentioned that bridge that used to be full of locks somewhere in France.

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Locks

 

Here are a couple more pictures. I hope they’ll make you smile!

 

I will certainly go back for one of these tours that they usually have at night or before real life kicks in to remind me that I am not as care free as I thought. Feel free to join me!! We can be exploring buddies!

Until then,

Love

Lori

5 Things I did in Puerto Rico and Loved

Travel

For Spring break a couple of weeks ago, I visited San Juan Puerto Rico and it was amazing! I loved the colors, the people, the culture there, and the welcoming atmosphere. If you haven’t visited yet, I recommend it. Just in case you are planning to visit and are looking for things to do, here are five things I did while I was there and think everyone should do too.

1) Visit Old San Juan

If you are into photography like I am, there are tons of amazing photo or photo shoot opportunities!! Old San Juan is just beautiful. The magical and colorful streets, the people, the smell of food being cooked, the colors of the different art pieces give it that small town vibe. We took the time to walk around more than once and every time there was something new to discover. From good restaurants to bars and shopping places, Old San Juan is a very touristic   place. The food there is a little pricey, but you are on vacation right? Plus, the food is really good so for a one-time thing, it might be worth it.

 

2) Visit Castillo San Felipe Del Morro 

Located in The Old San Juan area, this castle was constructed in the 16th century and was designed to protect the entrance of the San Juan Bay from enemies coming from the sea. There is a lot of history into this monument. It was amazing to me to see how grandiose this place is! The entrance is just gorgeous with miles and miles of green area. Coming there, I remember saying:” It’s like I have died. And woke up in heaven just now.” That’s how beautiful the scenery was. Inside the castle, you can see where they stored  gunpowder, secret passages and so on. There is also an amazing view of the sea up there. Even if you are not into history or historical backgrounds you should visit! Even if it’s for the breathtaking views. Not far from this castle, there is also the Castillo de San Cristobal which is a bit smaller than the previously mentioned above. ( More pictures soon)

 

This is part of the area surrounding the castle

3) Visit El Yunque Rainforest

This Rainforest is not far from San Juan.  The drive may be a bit dangerous as you are driving into the mountains at about 2000 ft of altitude and over. It was also fun driving up there amongst the beautiful trees. Besides from just the forest, this place has hiking trails and viewing towers with breathtaking views. I talked about the view from the castle earlier, but that one is nothing compared to the view from the towers at El Yunque. Also, there are waterfalls there and a lake in which you can swim. They even have a picnic area! So even if you are not into hiking, you can always relax by the waterfalls or at the picnic area. We hiked for hours, but the soreness was worth it because the views were out of this earth! I will upload pictures later on.

 

4) Visit Cueva del Indio

The Indian Caves are located in Arecibo which is about an hour and a half from San Juan.  You might have to rent a car, but it’s totally worth it. Not a lot of people know about it so it won’t be as crowded with tourists as the other places ( you’re welcome). You are charged about 3-4 dollars for parking  and 2-3 dollars per person to walk in. Our host told us about this place and we were amazed by the beauty of it. If you are not into hiking and physical activities this might not be for you. We hiked to the top of the rocky hill and the view… The view!!! Okay! I’ll stop lol. We climbed down the caves which were pretty scary as we had to hold on to rocks and such. Like I said, this might not be for people who are afraid of heights. You also have to walk across exposed limestone to get to the caves and they are sharp so you need to be careful not to fall. The caves were pretty nice. There were bats inside; sleeping of course since it was daytime. The sea was raging on one side of the caves but inside was pretty calm although there was water there too. There are drawings on the walls of the cave. The mountains there are shaped like a bird which is pretty cool. In the first picture below you can see the head of the bird. More pictures will be posted later on.

 

Can you see the head of the bird?

  

 5) Visit a Puerto Rican dancing bar/restaurant

I must say, I am usually the stay at home reading a book person who wouldn’t necessary have the idea to go dancing, but I am glad I did! I love to dance but I am not as good as I would want to when it comes to latin dances. I have Hispanic and latina friends who have taught me before and I am so grateful for them, but I still can’t say that I am an expert. When our host suggested that we go out, I was a little reluctant, but my friend and I wanted to go dancing for the longest so we obliged. We went to the “Boricua” which is a dancing bar in San Juan. I must say Puerto Ricans are such beautiful and warm people! I mean just wonderful! I love them! We played pool ( my first time ever and I did pretty bad of course! But people were cheering me on so that made up for it lol) and danced until we were tired. There also was a beautiful singer that  night with an amazing voice. We had such a great time that we were reluctant to leave. If I wasn’t starving I would have protested when we left at 2 AM.

I also went to the beach but that’s another story. 😉

Until next time!

Love,

Lori

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You can tell who was winning right? lol, I am on the right side.( Photo courtesy of Andreas)