My son's god parents flew their 13 year old triplets (yes, I said triplets!), my son and another friend to Haiti yesterday. The dad's family is from there. He returns once every couple of years to give back to his native land by supporting an orphanage with basketball shoes,supplies and funding.
Of course, my son was excited about the trip...in theory. But as the date inched closer, I could see apprehension behind his teenage bravado.
At best, he was uncertain about taking this trip and at worse, he was scared out of his 13 year old über privileged mind.
No wifi, no video games,sleeping on cots at the orphanage and electricity outages all the time?!! "What in the what am I about to get myself into?" was etched behind his eyes as we discussed his upcoming trip.
I asked him...
Well, I actually forced him to read a book about the history of Haiti, to further understand the strength, resilience and pride of this beautiful culture. To re-enforce the understanding that these kids don't want nor deserve his pity. They deserve for him to treat them as he would want to be treated... With warmth, respect and compassion.
I reminded him that our ancestors happened to get off the same slave ship, just a little north of Haiti, in these Americas, but by the grace of God go you or I. There is no separation.
I cautioned him not to think of this trip as a missionary trip. I offered that he consider this as an opportunity to meet himself, in the eyes of his brothers and sisters.
These precious children need what we all need... To be seen, to be heard, to be validated. That the God that lives within them is the same God that dwells in him. There is nothing to fear because there is no separation.
I'm grateful for this trip. What he may not be able to fully grasp at such a young age is that this experience is saving him as much as it is helping the orphaned children. It is a dose of humanity that we all desperately need especially in times where compassion and service is overshadowed by bragging and excess. To whom much is given...
Furthermore, I implored him to learn one phrase in French that would support him if he was ever in doubt on how to connect to the kids. Figure out how to say one of Ice Cube's lyrics in the song 'Today Was A Good Day',
"I'm asking y'all, which park you playing basketball?" Cause when in doubt just play!
You see, there is truly is no separation from south central LA, the suburbs of Houston and Haiti... If only we ALL could internalize this concept, we could change the world!
Be well, baby! Seek God in every face you see.
You will be forever changed for the better from this experience and I will too through you!
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