When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, this was His reply:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Matthew 22:37-39
Love. Above all else that we are called to do as Christians, we are called to love. Even though I’ve known that for the majority of my life, it took a trip 1,500 miles away from my home to learn the biggest lesson in love I’ve ever received.
When I started my trip in Haiti, I thought I was going to be a blessing to these kids, but it turns out that they blessed my life far more than any of us could have ever imagined. They had a lot more to teach me than I could teach them. I’m not talking about the mini Creole lessons we got each day – although they were quite fun – I’m talking about their capacity for love.
It would be easy to focus on our differences – the color of our skin, the language we speak, the completely different worlds we call home – but despite all of those things, we are all made by the same God. We were all created to be in community with each other; to comfort, support, and encourage each other; to love each other.
This was especially evident in the children’s home we visited. Since the home has a guest house specifically designed to house missionaries like us, those kids saw “blanc’s” – as they dubbed us – all the time. In their minds, the only reason we were there was to sit and love on them.
They didn’t care about our differences. They didn’t care about where we were from or where we were going. They didn’t really even seem to care that it was difficult to communicate to us. They just wanted our love. That’s what the children of Haiti taught me – love doesn’t care about the color of your skin or the language you speak – love is universal.
I have always had a heart for kids. I have helped with or taught Sunday school for more than half my life, as soon as I had a real income I started sponsoring a child through Compassion (and soon after that a second child), and the moment I realized that Taylor was the one, he was surrounded by children. Needless to say, when I decided to go on a mission trip I knew that interacting with the kids would be my favorite part. What I didn’t know was how much I’d come to love them in such a short time or how much I’d miss their beautiful smiling faces a week later when I was back on US soil.
You may notice that I didn’t say when I was home. They say that home is where the heart is, and if that’s true I now have two homes – one in Wheeling, West Virginia and one in the mountains of Haiti. I didn’t realize while I was there that each time they’d smile at me, reach for my hand, or just come sit with me, I was slowly giving each one of them a little piece of my heart. I didn’t realize those pieces weren’t still with me until I sat down to write this post, and even though there are tears streaming down my face as I’m typing, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I look forward to my next visit with all my heart, and until then I will remember them in my prayers, in my dreams, and in pictures like these:
(Photo credit: Kaitlyn Hickey)