This is the first of 3 guest blog posts by Poverty Resolutions’ volunteer trip participant Lee Sampson, originally written in May 2014.
In general, I am a keen and interested observer of the people and things around me. I am a student of cultures and communications. As an American who had never before traveled to Haiti, my trip brought a swarm of new wonderful people and experiences.
My first full day of immersion into Haiti and labor brought heat, dust, and sweat. I was shocked at the difficult living conditions of the people of Carries.
My team walked up to the babies’ play area in the Mission of Grace orphanage and I experienced true Haitian love for the first time (of many more to come). There were a dozen small children and babies whose only desire was to freely give and receive love.
As we began planning our construction tasks for the day, I noticed a Haitian employee of the orphanage walking down the hill with a big armload of boxes. I ran up to him and offered to carry some, and he gladly handed over a box. As we finished the short walk to where he needed to put away the boxes, he turned to me with a big smile and said, “I love you,” and went back to his work.
I stopped for a minute, unsure how to respond to a statement I would have never expected to hear from a simple acquaintance. I assumed it was simply his lack of knowledge of English that required him to resort to “I love you,” rather than “thank you”; perhaps he only wanted to say something nice to thank me for helping, and those were the only English words he knew.
I continued to ponder his statement throughout my day of labor; we moved a truckload of treated lumber in preparation for construction of the new men’s transition center nearby. By nighttime I reached a conclusion: the Haitian said exactly what he meant to say. “I love you.” I love you for helping me; I love you for caring; I love you for being here. Not thank you, but I love you. A few words can make a vast difference. I continued to be blessed many more times throughout my next week in Haiti by the same three words.
Lee Sampson is a 55-year old grandfather and VP of a major global chemical company. He has been privileged to travel the world as part of his work, though, in his words, “I have never seen anything quite like Haiti.”