Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Words of Gratitude from Joan

Shelley, The experience of Haiti was an experience of a lifetime. I am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of an extraordinary team of individuals with hearts as big as the stars. I cried all the way from ATL to MSP. I was in the middle seat and the tears ran like a river down my face. I held back as much as I could but it was like a dam that had to be released. I cried more so for my inadequacies, seeing how strong the Haitians are, from the innocent little emaciated babies, to the 100+ elders, as they continue to survive and thrive in an environment so harsh, so limiting, yet they are there to warm are hearts with their beautiful brown eyes and gorgeous smiles. It's as if they are giving you their heart and soul, openly and freely. The beauty of you and Missy was so rewarding to watch you two in action. You are making a difference in so many peoples lives by creating the conditions for peoples needs to be met. And I think of Missy down there right now, still serving, still working, still making personal sacrifices of comfort to serve the most needy. The little angels of mercy that she will be holding and growing from. And I was thinking of Zack and Lait, so young and so brave to follow their heart. And Matt and Lori working in the trenches and dungeon conditions, being up close and personal in the pain and suffering these people had to endure. Freely giving of their time and talents, with tenacity and fortitude, enduring long arduous days in conditions one could only experience to really appreciate their sacrifice. With no complaints, just doing what they came to Haiti to do, to relieve the pain and suffering as much as they could. And Deb working right with them, giving of herself, learning as she went, with dedication and humbleness, a true trooper. And Missy's constant organizing and facilitating and dedication to get the tasks accomplished. And, Mary Beth. The joy she gave to the group, and the children, and all the people she touched with her loud booming voice and big smile, to her wacky, childlike innocence and seeing only the good in all, and her laughter that was contagious; was priceless. And Laura, how she shared her joy and hard work and dedication to serving all. Strong emotionally, mentally and physically. She saw what needed to be done and did it. She played such an integral part in partaking in the medical team and the "play" team. And beautiful Ali. As she worked tirelessly, with the basic of basic tools, doing what she could to improve the quality of life for so many. And Margaret, the young and dedicated heart that she has, her charismatic personality bringing joy to many. And Mike, a strong man of mind and character, being touched by the little angels, watching his heart become opened and exposed to a depth he newly discovered was like watching a flower bloom before your eyes. Missy is driven and focused on her passion to assist the Haitians and their plight, and give of herself in heart and soul. She is multi-talented in achieving what she sets out to accomplish. She will stop at no obstacle to get the job done. Ghandi's quote fits Missy perfectly, "be the change you want to see in the world". She is as good of an example of that as any I have personally seen. And she has and will continue to be a integral part in the change for the better in Haiti. Which also sums you up, my dear Shelley. You are creating the formation of a new Haiti. Centered on your compassion for the people of Haiti, birthed from the love you feel for the people, and the passion you have to formulate that change, and growing exponentially in heart, mind and spirit. And of course, the Haitian people that made this trip to Haiti an incredible eye opening experience. Fan Fan with his humor, help and guidance, Junior with his big heart and incredible driving skills that kept us safe throughout our travels, Jon, who worked behind the scenes a great deal of the time, making our stay at the house comfortable and dedicated to meeting all our needs as best he could (not to mention he is an incredible dancer!). And the newcomer, Brunat who had such compassion for the babies and the young children, helping in so many ways, so kind and gentle. I cannot express the gratitude I have in my heart for all you do Shelley in making this trip such a rewarding experience. You are a GREAT team leader and I would love to be on your team again some time in the future. I cry not in pity for the Haitians, though their living conditions are as sorry as they can get. The Haitians are incredibly strong and have continued to live lives that have value and meaning, in the most harshest of conditions. Amazing me how they can come to church or go dancing in clean, beautiful clothes, (especially the salsa dancers!), looking better than most Americans! And my tears are not only for the starving children that come surrounding us each day, for they are to be admired in their strength and endurance, and their giving of their hugs and kindness, or the orphans as they surround us with their love, nor the people at the water stops, they endure in the harshest of circumstances, yet somehow eek out a life, these are people to be admired, not given pity, for I cry for my lack of strength in so many ways when I have so much. How I was forced to look deep into who I am. I am humbled by this experience. I am filled with gratitude for the experience, and I know how and why you have grown to love Haiti. With a heart filled to the brink, I thank you, Love, Joan

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