My Burden and My Blessing
Laurie Kelly was part of a Faith Adventure to Haiti in May 2015. Responding to God’s call to go was just the beginning of her journey as she fell in love with the people and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to make a difference in their lives and in her own. Read her story below.
Laurie Kelly at the Glory Glory Center, May 2015
In order, to understand my response to my Haiti Faith Adventure it is important to understand my journey.
I have always had a desire to go on a mission trip, however it seemed never the right time. That changed this past December when I attended a silent retreat. The retreat was on Mary and her response to God. Mary was receptive, responsive and accepting of God’s will for her life. During that retreat I had an urgent work issue and had to look at my emails for a brief moment. It was at that moment that the email regarding the Haiti Faith Adventure popped into my email box. This was definitely not a coincidence, but a call from God. Would I be receptive, responsive and willing? The decision to go was simple and so off to Haiti I decided to go!
Being in Haiti was an amazing experience. The people of Haiti are proud, quiet and reserved. There is a joy but also an underlying sadness that is felt, but not spoken. I was overwhelmed by the level of poverty and lack of modern conveniences. Things that we take for granted here in the U.S., like running water, hot showers, electricity, personal cars, and trash collectors. Yes, I said trash collectors! There is trash everywhere and no formal sanitation program. I was overwhelmed by how fortunate I was to have been born in the United States where we do not even think twice about such things.
Before leaving for Haiti I had randomly downloaded several Mike Erre sermons. I did not know the topics, but chose them based on the titles. One title was “The Cost of Yes.” This sermon ended up being the bookend to my trip. On our five hour bus trip back to Port-au-Prince, I listened to this sermon which happened to be about Mary and what it cost her to say “yes” to God. Saying “yes” did not mean it was going to be an easy road, without burden, without pain, without challenges, without fear; however her “yes” helped to save millions. My “yes” to God’s call was like a grain of sand compared to Mary’s, but it was significant to me. My “yes” now comes with the burden of knowledge of needs and suffering and a responsibility to do something about them.
While in Haiti my mind began to think of ways to help lighten the people’s load, make their lives easier and help heal the hurt. At dinner one a night in a casual conversation with Pastor Sam, I asked him what he needed. At first I think he was overwhelmed with the thought, as there is so much need in providing for 52 orphaned children and the house moms that care for them.
However, as our conversation continued he mentioned several things. Cisterns for water for the orphanage had been donated, but now they needed to be installed. He desired a bus to be able to take the children of Glory Glory Center out into the surrounding community, as they are somewhat trapped between the orphanage and school. We also discussed the need for security lights around the orphanage grounds and indoor lighting so the children can do their homework at night.
After returning home, my mind was burdened with the needs of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. What was I called to do and how could I help? The lights kept coming up and I just happened to have a friend, Steve Espinosa, who is in lighting. Steve was incredible, and he found and donated inexpensive portable solar lights. In addition, we were able to find solar outdoor lighting that would provide some of the security that concerned Sam. All of these were recently sent to Sam with the Student Ministries team that went to Haiti in June.
Responding to God’s prompting was never a question. The drive to help is ingrained in me by the Holy Spirit. Doing something even as small as getting lights and clothing for the children of Glory Glory Center was the minimum requirement the Lord expected of me. My journey continues as I respond to his calling to do more. One word that continues to resonate with me since our last day in Haiti is “gratitude”. Grateful that I live in a country where I am free to worship Him. Grateful that I have the resources, education and family and friends who support me. The challenge God has put before me is how does that gratitude show up in my life and how is it demonstrated on a daily basis. I am forever changed by the people of Haiti. They are my burden and my blessing.