When I think about my experience with Wings of Hope, this verse always comes to my mind, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
One of the teachers at Wings asked me one summer while I was volunteering, “Sara, why are you so happy all the time?” After struggling for awhile to explain, I thought about it and realized I am so happy when I am in Haiti because the kids and staff at Wings are God’s perfect example of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and most of all, deep, deep love. They show love for their country, their neighbors, each other, and for us who have the opportunity to become a part of their extended family.
The family at Wings has faced almost every hardship, every disaster, and the kids refuse to sit back and let disabilities determine how fully they will live their lives. They live with almost nothing, yet they have shining optimism and they exhibit every one of Jesus’ most important characteristics.
And we, with our nice homes, and comfortable lives full of so many more wants then needs, tend to doubt so deeply. We claim that peace is not possible for our world, we forget that forgiveness for every single person is important, and that every person deserves to be loved no matter what they look like, where they are from, what they believe, or whoever we may judge them to be.
I am so utterly happy every moment I am with the Wings kids and the St. Joseph’s Family because they are the most shining, perfect examples of God’s hope for this world and every single one of God’s children. These kids renew my faith every time I think of them. I’ve seen them do more then you could ever believe. Each one helps where they can; Pierre, Erique and Raul washing dishes after every meal, Peterson hauling heavy buckets of dirty laundry water, David always trying to share any extra food he has with the other kids around him, Teddy using his own “Teddy language,” to let volunteers know who has or hasn’t eaten, Jozye always making sure he puts on movies for the girls who are stuck in their beds because they often can’t go out and watch TV with the other kids, and the list goes on and on.
I’ve seen the staff work harder and leap over more obstacles then you would ever think possible. They often walk miles to get to Wings, getting up at the crack of dawn to care for their own families and then they go work with kids that most of the community thinks are worthless. They have to come up with new ideas every day, like using clothes pins to make it easier for some of the kids to hold the crayons and color in art class. They put so much energy into finding new ways the kids can participate despite their physical limitations. Even when faced with seizures, and wheel chairs, and very little verbal communication, they make sure every child is loved and included in activities.
I’ve learned to be a better example of love, compassion, hard work, and gentleness because of the time I have spent with the St. Joseph’s family. Because of this family, I know that with God, every single person, no matter their disabilities, their nationality, or how much they do or don’t have, can change this world. Change is achievable, and I know in my heart, all that we do hope for is possible for this world.
Each year long-term volunteers dedicate a month or more of their time in service to the St. Joseph Family. Living alongside the staff and residents in one of the homes, they become authentic members of the family and immersed in Haitian culture. The story above comes from Sara, a long-term volunteer during the summer of 2014.