When we told people we were going to Haiti we had a lot of questions but when we told people we were also going with high school students, we got even more questions. It still cracks me up how some adults view high school students as this "other" type of person they just don't understand, but we feel super comfortable with them. A lot of people wondered how their parents could let them go to Haiti and how scary that would be as a parent. I happen to think it's so cool for parents to encourage their children to go on trips like Haiti, experience and see the world outside of their comfort zone. It takes a lot of trust and courage as a parent.
To say that we learned a ton from the students we were with would be an understatement. Just observing them, hearing them process and seeing them come together as a group was beyond what we expected. This team of students stretched themselves, worked hard without complaining and took in each moment.
On the first day we were there we packed up the book bags for the English camp. I took a break here and there to grab some photos of the ways that the students were coming up with in order to streamline the process.
The students loved on the children of Haiti in such beautiful ways from hugs and kisses to full-out soccer games.
Some of our favorite memories are of watching the students try to learn the games that they Haitian children play. They come up with games with rocks, bottle caps and anything they can find. The guys in our group started playing magic trick games with the dirt. It was the funniest thing to watch!
The boys always warmed up right away to a game of soccer but the little girls would take a bit to come over to our girls and play. After a few minutes of lingering closer and closer to the high school girls they would drag them over to sit and start playing a game. Here's a game of duck-duck-goose. There's something about hearing the laughter of children and high school students mingled together that makes your heart stop to take it in.
Each of the students processed differently throughout the week with God revealing different and new things to them individually. It was amazing to see them open up to one another in ways that made them vulnerable. Talk about learning a lot from them in how you can share experiences with one another and be open to deep conversations that leave yourself all out there.
One of my favorite memories was seeing Kara get to meet her sponsored child. Kara went to Haiti last year and afterwards decided to sponsor a child, helping her to go school, have access to medical care, etc. We walked through the village, guided by some village teenagers, to find Kara's sponsored child. I made sure to capture it all and Kara's smile was so genuine. I could tell she was taken aback by it and see how this was touching her.
Kara also got to meet the teenager that her brother sponsors later in the week. It was a completely different interaction teenager-to-teenager but just as awesome.
We truly believe that high school students are our future and that investing in them is so important. This trip just solidified that thought process in us even more and showed us how the typical idea of a "teenager" does not apply to these students.
They are ready to take on the difficult things of this world and are willing to remove themselves from the comfortable parts of their lives to make an impact. Thank you to all of you who taught us so much and we know will continue to do so.