My Haiti Story - Kristina Cammilleri-Smith

I was apprehensive to say the very least about taking a trip to Haiti. I have been watching from the sidelines while my brother Jamie and his wife Sarah, have jumped feet first into ministering to this poverty stricken third world country.  Elevating Christian Ministries was founded by James and Sarah Cammilleri, my brother and sister. I am immensely proud of them. I sometimes envy their commitment and fearless approach to ministry, but in all honesty, I did not want to go to Haiti.

My family planned a trip for January 2019. My parents and siblings would all be going and I was encouraged that this would be the perfect time to see and experience the fruit of ECM alongside the people dearest to me. But I was afraid, and began to pray that God would make it clear that I wasn't supposed to go! I tormented myself by thinking of every bad thing that could happen to me. I would leave my husband and children at home-aren’t they my ministry? I kept asking God. Why do I need to go? What difference will it make if Im there or not? Surely God’s plans can unfold even if I decide not to go. 

Fear. It had a hold on me. 

A few months ago I sat at the Mack Brock concert in Rochester, NY.  My mind continually went to the planned trip to Haiti. Then I heard Mack speak these words: “Fear comes when we imagine a situation without God.” That’s all I heard. Maybe it’s not the exact quote, but the words stung and penetrated my heart. 

In that moment the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Kristina, don’t you believe that I am going to Haiti with you?” Tears. Floods of tears. Then, surrender.  And again fear, then, surrender. I played this game with myself and the Holy Spirit until I boarded the plane to Haiti. 

As the plane descended, and I watched the tiny mountainous region become life size, tears filled my eyes and I began to pray for the people of Haiti. “What do you have for me to do here, Lord?” was all my heart could muster. 

The impact began the moment I stepped off the plane in Port Au Prince. The long ride to Gonaives; people scattered along the side of the road waiting for their transportation to arrive. Children running down the street with their friends, laughing. Tiny homes with large families gathered around the back yard fire. Road side food carts with people trying to earn a living.   I immediately felt the human connection. These were just people living their lives. People like you and I who are in desperate need of a Savior. Sometimes we get caught up in the posters and pictures of third world countries and we miss the fact that these are our fellow humans.  Their physical needs may differ from us in the US, but we are the same.  All at once in that bumpy ride and chaos of travel in Haiti, I reconciled in my heart that I was there to stand in the stead of my Jesus, and share the love of our Savior by meeting some of their physical needs, but ultimately to just be love. Just be love. Just be Jesus.

 
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The greatest lesson I took from Haiti is that yes, there is poverty and hunger (in fact it is a hunger and poverty that we Americans will never be able to understand) yet, in every face I looked at, and every set of eyes I connected with, told me a story. 

I didn’t see sadness. I saw hope, and I dare even say that I observed joy in many of the faces. The precious little brown skinned babies with piercing black eyes were full of hope. Hope that has come through being loved by Jesus. Just as Jesus knows our every need, He sees and knows theirs as well. He comforts them in the same way He comforts us. His Word is power. His name is above every name, and with each Haitian Pastor and missionary that sets foot on Haitian soil, the name of Jesus continues to be lifted high.    

I was encouraged.  My mind wandered at times to what it must feel like for them at night. (Nightfall is sometimes a personally fearful time for me) Some sleep on the cold ground. Are they afraid? In pain from sores and hungry bellies? Yet every time I allowed myself to wander to these thoughts, God immediately reminded me that even the Son of God was afraid and hungry. That we are all afraid at times. But God who is rich in mercy, LOVES us. Every one of us. He hears their cries just as He hears mine, and that my friend, is a joy unspeakable. He is no respecter of persons, and I am completely humbled and grateful for this lesson in love. 

As we traveled to each tiny village, the lesson was the same. We are to love because He first loved us. Just be Jesus. Just be love. 

Since returning home I find myself day dreaming about the Haitian people. (And the food! I need the pickliz in my life!) And, like many who have gone before me, I have fallen in love with Haiti and her people.  I will certainly return and I want to bring everyone I know back with me. I want them to experience Haiti through the eyes of Christ.  Not a desolate nation, but a country of people rich in culture, rich in hope, and rich in the love of Jesus. A people who are in need of a Savior, just like you and I. I want to feed every one of those babies, and I want to bring rice and beans to every one of those beautiful Mama’s so they can feed their children.  So as God leads, I am committed to follow. 

 
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I am thankful to be a part of ECM, as I stand behind their mission one hundred percent, knowing that they have devoted time and resources to further the Kingdom of God by bringing hope and sustainability to the people of Haiti.  I am not sure what door God is going to open for me next, but I can boldly proclaim that God did in fact keep his promise, and did not abandon me while I was in Haiti. He is with them just as he is with me. He has promised to never leave us, and I pray that I will not soon forget the power of Christ that is in us, his children. 

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:18-20‬ ‭

- Kristina Cammilleri-Smith -
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Consider Joining us in Haiti!

We have learned that saying "Yes" can change your life.  Spend your days serving in local villages across Haiti and your evenings with a team reflecting on what your next steps may be. Serve alongside a team and experience what it means to elevate those around you through giving. For a full listing of 2019 trips, click the button below.