My Haiti Story-Gabrielle Chapin
Hey ECM family its Gabrielle here! I'm so excited to share a bit of my experiences about Haiti and Elevating Christian Ministries with you!
I have always had a heart for Haiti but never thought I would go...that is until God opened doors and I took my first trip in February of 2018. As I said my goodbyes, I told founders, James & Sarah Cammilleri "I know everyone probably says this- but I'll be back for sure!" And that I did! My dream was more than fulfilled and I took my second trip later that year in October. I’ve fallen in love with the people and country of Haiti and I guarantee I’ll be back!
IMPACT // When I think of what impacted me the most- my mind wanders from the first village I drive through to little children running after our truck to the dirt road leading to Drouin. I don't think there's anything that didn't impact me. But if I had to choose, it's the shock and reality that people and a place like Haiti exists outside of my own world in the states. I remember the way the boys touched the white skin on my arms to see how it felt and how the girls ran their fingers through my hair followed by sweet little giggles. We spent a day in Boucantoni, Haiti and for most of my time there, a little girl followed closely behind me. She kept a very serious face on so I would turn to her and smile or make a funny face. Eventually she smiled and made a face back. Later on I noticed she wasn’t wearing any shoes- but I had a pair of Crocs I had been saving in my bag. And, they were the perfect size! I may not have changed her life, but changing the moment she was in was all that mattered. I grabbed her hand and brought her to one of the trucks and sat her in the seat. I pulled out the Crocs from my bag and placed them on her dusty little feet. Her face lit up! I saw pure joy take over her. It’s one of the sweet faces that I will never forget and one that will forever be close to my heart. She now has a pair of shoes and I now know that she’s a little more safe. I’m thankful for the ways God provides in the most perfect moments!
THE HARD STUFF // There's something special about wrestling with the hard things. It's hard and it sometimes hurts but yet something so beautiful comes out of it when you allow room for teaching. For me at least, I wrestled with questions of "why?" and "how?" but the more I wrestled with that- the more I realized I needed to start being intentional about fighting for the things that break my heart. Mentally I can throw around the idea of changing the poverty in the world- but until I start being intentional, fight, and to defend those I’m called to serve..the problem will still be there. Going into a third world country taught me that there’s a sense of responsibility I need to take and I need to do something about what I see. It starts with me. Haiti, through Elevating Christian Ministries, has taught me to do just that- to fight hunger and feed hope!
SEEING GOD // Let’s be honest....at times it’s kind of hard to see and feel God when in a third world country. Especially when it’s saturated in voodoo, poverty, and un-relatable hunger. You wonder where God is and if He’s blind to it. But He’s not. In fact, when I became expectant of Jesus- that’s when He stepped in and revealed Himself in amazing ways. I experienced Him through worship and prayer in a language I didn’t understand, I experienced Him in the incredible joy people had, I experienced Him in the pure beauty of creation itself. God shows Himself in mighty ways and sometimes that takes a bit of breaking and hard lessons but He’s there and He’s moving. I know that God is working in big ways in the country of Haiti because I’ve seen it first hand! It’s amazing to witness an incredible team use their gifts to change people one by one. And one by one hope is being restored and that’s all it takes to change a nation!
MY GIFT // Acknowledgement. Sometimes all people need is acknowledgement. To acknowledge their lifestyle. Their family. Their needs. Them. I never knew how important that was until going to Haiti. Often times I wandered around taking in my surroundings but failed to acknowledge the people around me. It’s incredible what happens when you simply take a second to look at someone with a smile, start a conversation, or give them a hug. Stoic faces turn in to big grins. Uneasy stares turn in to welcoming ones. To acknowledge someone is to recognize them and show them you care by meeting their needs the best you can. It’s not always easy but God led me to love on those exact people. To stoop down to their level instead of keeping my head up on my own. To let go of pride and be as the least of them. It’s genuinely wanting to see them and understand because after all, that’s why I’m there- to love.
COMING HOME // For some, culture shock hits hard when they arrive in another country. For me, culture shock hits me like a semi truck the second the plane touches ground back home in the states. And it’s brutal. It's heartbreaking, emotional, upsetting, and so many more emotions. I go through phases where I'm obsessed with talking about my trip and can't stop to grieving and not saying a word about it for days or weeks at a time. I'm one to take things to heart. I love hard...really hard and leaving things or people I love tears me apart. Leaving Haiti is never easy and I don't think it ever will be no matter how many times I come and go. Physically I'm here in the States but my heart is left 1,699 miles away. Even when I am home, my mind and heart are not at rest for Haiti. I find power in praying for the ministry and for the many who are involved in it. Patrick, Arland, Osner, Wesner, and Vanessa- I’m cheering you on and I am so grateful and proud of your leadership and commitment as you serve!
Haiti will always be a place that captures my heart and it aches to go back!
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.