My Haiti story began January 1, 2011 when I went on my first 10 day mission trip to Haiti. Several days before my senior year college finals, my aunt called me up to see if I wanted to join her on the mission trip she would be leading in January. I told her I would think about it and run the idea by my parents. Well, all I could do was think about going to Haiti... The thought of being in Haiti over Christmas break consumed me. I thought about the research project I was working on, the social outings I would miss out on, and the fears I had about traveling to a third world country. However, something inside of my heart was screaming, "GO, GO, GO!!!" There was no way I could turn down this opportunity. My research project could wait. New Years Eve is slightly over-rated anyways...and what a great opportunity this would be to start the new year off on the right foot. I took a leap of faith and two days later I had my tickets booked for Haiti. Within three weeks, I had all my shots and vaccinations, collected suitcases full of donations, packed my bags, and was off on a journey that changed my life forever.
Haiti broke me from the inside-out. Everything I once knew or thought I knew about myself, my life, my faith, and my world became shifted.Bringing clean water into the slums of Cite Soliel; distributing food from Feed my Starving Children into tent cities; holding, feeding and loving up the babies that were dying of treatable and curable diseases; playing and singing with orphan children; and meeting inspirational Haitians with unmeasurable faith were experiences that humbled me to realizing how spiritually weak and broken I really was.
One journey to Haiti was not enough. Six months after my first mission trip, I packed up my bags for Haiti again. This time, however, I was planning on staying for a three week period I spent time getting to know the Healing Haiti mission staff, exploring the country, and immersing into new service opportunities, while also enjoying many of my favorite mission activities.
My calling to Haiti became more defined during the fall of 2011 when the Healing Haiti board asked me to look into nutrition supplements for the orphans sponsored by Healing Haiti. I began doing research on supplements, and went to Haiti on January 1, 2012 to do nutrition assessments on over 80 children. I took the heights, weights, and arm circumferences of all the children and plotted them on the World Health Organization growth charts to identify which children would benefit from additional nutrition support. Upon my return home from Haiti, I continued to monitor the growth status of the kids through communication with full-time missionaries. Again, I returned to Haiti on June 4-25, 2012 to lead a team of young adults to Haiti and to spend 2 weeks at Grace Village orphanage. While at Grace Village, I worked with the Haitian staff to help enhance meals at the Feeding Center and continued assessments on the children we serve. It was during these two weeks that my skills as a dietitian were greatly challenged due to a few new extreme cases of malnutrition, refeeding, and parasitic infections.