By Annika Hubers
I went on my first international mission trip with Back2Back when I was 10. I served in Monterrey, Mexico with my church and had a great experience – so great that I continued to return to Monterrey every year. This year, I decided to participate in a five-month study program for high school girls, learning about social injustices from a biblical worldview. At the conclusion of this study, our group traveled to Haiti where Back2Back has been serving since the devastating 2010 earthquake.
I was very excited for this new experience, but also nervous because it was somewhat outside of my comfort zone. When we arrived in Port Au Prince, I noticed immediate differences between Monterrey and Haiti. Everything was bustling and busy. Drivers swerved through the streets, zooming around each other. There was garbage everywhere. During some parts of the drive, the streets were so littered with trash you could not see the ground hiding below.
There is very little economic development in Haiti. All of the buildings are tiny cement huts piled high with pieces of tin and broken tables. There are few stores. Instead, street vendors sell t-shirts, shoes, bags, dresses, pants – you name it. Most items are American in origin due to all of the donations during the earthquake.
Most Haitians have no steady source of clean water. On our fourth day of the trip, we drove to a memorial site located next to a community. The people came out to the walls of the memorial when we arrived. The children saw one of our team members holding a water bottle and began asking her for water. It was heartbreaking to think that they had very little water to drink, and what water they had was filthy.
Since Port-au-Prince is so close to the ocean, we would occasionally drive right alongside it. It was beautiful. It felt strange to be in mission trip mindset then drive next to what looked like a tropical vacation destination. I was looking out one window and saw such destruction, then turned to look out the other only to see the beautiful waters. In those moments I was reminded of how even in the midst of such hardship, God never abandons the people of Haiti. He is constant and faithful. His beauty and presence are still apparent there, and no earthquake can take that away.