Growing up in a Christian home, I went to church all the time and learned all of the Bible stories. I did Wee College, went to a Christian school, and did all the right things. By the time I was thirteen years old, my older sister went on her first missions trip with our church. When she returned, I listened to all the stories and experiences, and I decided that the next summer I would be on the team. I was at school the year after my sister’s trip, sitting in my Social Studies class. My teacher, probably completely unbeknownst to her, started talking about the world. She went over each country in the Caribbean/Central America region, giving her two cents about each place. When it came to Haiti she simply said, “This is Haiti, and it is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.” From there she moved on, but it stuck with me. I needed to know why Haiti was so poor.
I went home from school that day and got on the computer to research Haiti, its history, and the many different organizations within the country. The summer after that year of school, when I was fourteen, I went on my church’s missions trip to Mexico and Los Angeles. I looked at it like an adventure and a chance to travel, but I knew from that trip that my heart was changed. When I returned, I kept researching every possible thing I could think of to research about Haiti. I knew that I was going to one day live there, and I dreamed about it for many years. Throughout the years, I kept going on missions trips with my church, wanting to gain as much experience and knowledge about missions and helping people as possible.
When I entered grade 12, I started talking with my friends Travis and Jessie about what the year after high school would look like. They really impressed on me the idea of going to Vanguard College, which is something I always knew I wanted to do. That year was a crucial one for me, helping out in my youth group and going on a youth missions trip. Together with my friend Jocelyne, I signed up for a one-year missions program at Vanguard. During my first year at Vanguard, I switched my program from the one-year certificate to the four-year degree. It was also at that point that I decided the exact time I would be able to go to Haiti, May 2010.
At this point, I knew it was time for me to start narrowing down organizations in Haiti to ones that I felt I could work with. I had it narrowed down to three, and from there decided that Mission of Hope was the one that I wanted to work with. Preparations to head there for May 2010 started and continued, even as the earthquake hit and there were so many uncertainties about me still being able to go. Somehow through all of the chaos that seemed to go on in my head and heart post-earthquake, I knew I would still be going to Haiti. I already had my tickets booked, after all, and I wanted it more than anything. The hardest thing to hear during this time were the questions about Haiti and the earthquake and if I was still going to be able to go there. Finally I was on my way, and the amount of uncertainties about my time in Haiti made me feel so overwhelmed, nervous, and unsure of if I even wanted to go. But I knew I had made it that far, and that there was no way I could back down.
Throughout the months before this, I somehow got an idea in my mind that I should work for UN. Looking back, I know it was some sort of cop out idea where I wouldn’t have to do the ministry that God had in store for me. I had been questioning whether God actually wanted me to work for the UN or not, and had been really seeking God and trying to figure it out. After being in Haiti for a few weeks and trying to seek God out relentlessly each day, I heard from God. He told me, in the clearest voice possible, that I would be back in Haiti. This was the absolute breaking point for my heart, and the point where I started to see the massive value in how my everyday life in Haiti would affect my future.
Leaving Haiti was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I was broken each day, crying more then I wasn’t crying, and wondering why I had to be apart from the place I had loved for more than six years. The last year at school was invaluable for me. I learned so much that I would have really missed out on had I not gone for the final year of my degree. The year in Canada gave me time to mentally and emotionally and physically and spiritually prepare myself for heading back to Haiti, as I wanted so desperately to do. Finally it became official, that for a time I would be heading to Haiti once I finished school.
And now here I am. I graduated a few days ago from Vanguard, I had a going away party, I said all of my good-byes, and now I am in Florida… I am here for just another day and a half, taking the time to relax and breathe with my friend before we both head into Haiti. The future is uncertain, but I feel content knowing that God gave me my desires and He knows my desires. And somehow right now that is enough for me.
Keep up with Brianna on her blog at http://briannainhaiti.blogspot.com/