Tony D. - Carrefour reflection letter:
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
I needed some time to allow myself a way to arrive at ‘how’ to explain with words how simply shaken my soul has been since taking my trip to Carrefour, Haiti. Upon arriving back in New York, this reflection letter has been on my mind quite often. It’s so staggering that I could not type the words to begin this letter.
It felt as though all of my memories and experiences were locked up like a special piece of jade in a concealed drawer that only I could find. I imagined that if I held it or hid it, it would remain precious. I was cautious not to share it because maybe my family or friends could not understand just how amazing to me my experiences are. Needless to say, I soon began to understand that all of this was meant to be opened and shared. Maybe God and Charlie allowed me to go to Carrefour for a reason. Maybe these gem- like experiences were in fact meant to be shared. I needed to trust that Jesus was indeed ‘driving’ this equation. I met Him there daily through the eyes of the children, their mothers, volunteers, priests, brothers and sisters in such a way that could not have happened in my plain life at home. If I had not gone on this trip none of this would be real right now. Truth be told, I still don’t know if I have the proper words to tell you how shaken my soul is right now.
All of our daily experiences – building homes & latrines, interacting with these amazing volunteers, hearing the daily accounts of the nurses, brothers etc. took my soul and shook it in a good way. These interactions definitely took me away from my comfort zone and put me in a place where there are beautiful hearts that are filled with love and caring for the Carrefour children and the people in such a way that I have never seen before. Jesus presence was felt from the moment we took the bus ride from Port au Prince airport to the mission in Carrefour. This was real poverty and I thought as we passed all the people and their dismal surroundings along the streets that maybe for a brief period ‘We’ - all 51 one of us collectively - can make a difference. I thought dear God this city, this entire country has been resilient and in their own way have survived all that’s been tossed upon them.
What helped me and my shaken soul more than anything was attending mass every morning in the small chapel, hearing the meaningful scriptures and very appropriate on point homily that followed. Absolutely priceless. What a perfect way to start the day – being closer to God and sharing it with some local children and their parents too. It helped me try to reflect and understand the magnitude of how and why all of these volunteers continually gave of themselves so happily and effortlessly. It seemed so natural. I questioned ‘why’ I had not done this trip sooner and ’why’ I was not moved to try and help the people more. My soul was shaken to the core as I witnessed the outpouring of God’s love for all of the Orphanage children especially exemplified by the brothers, sisters and the younger adults in the group when they played with the children. These moments were really life-changing, soul gripping and emotionally filled. Imagine this – I came on my first ever mission trip not knowing what to expect and just try to help. I witnessed the advance of God’s kindness and generosity by all of these volunteers via their hard work and helping hands that accomplished the food distribution of 27 tons of food to the local needy in one afternoon in Carrefour. Yes, God’s kindness grabbed me there. He was fully present moment after moment. It was apparent in the beautiful eyes looking up at you and saying ‘Thank You’ even though no words were spoken. Just seeing some of those happy faces of the elderly women after receiving a month’s supply of food even though they waited in line for a long while and most still had to carry that heavy bag likely an hour or two to travel back to their village.
This trip has impacted my perspective on life as I listened to the laughter of children chasing each other in a field near the school as some of the other kids played soccer. I felt Jesus very closely when I was allowed to be in a procession from the mission to the grave site of an orphan child – Daniel. He passed away awhile back and they wanted to honor him by having a procession to his unmarked hilltop gravesite followed by prayers and a blessing. Even though I never met him, I had to attend and in some extremely small way to try to honor his life. It seems crazy but I cannot stop thinking about him – even to this day. I wonder about his daily life at the orphanage. Did he know how much all of the people loved him?
I will never forget the time I spent there, the people I worked with, walked alongside and chatted with daily. They changed me for the better. For all of this, a huge ‘Thank You’ but this does not even begin to address the gratitude I feel for these amazing folks whom effortlessly exemplified God’s work and to Charlie for allowing me to be part of this trip.