A Parishioner's Reflection on Haiti

(Linda Stillmaker is a member of St. Anthony's Parish in Renton, Wa.  We  recently traveled to Haiti for an immersion experience.)

Linda (center) in Port-au-Prince

On the 6th day of our trip, we traveled to St Anne of Hyacinth high in the mountains of Haiti. This was the day the Haitian people taught me the true meaning of how stripping away material things allows you to be closer to God. 

As we climbed the mountain on a rouged road, we saw the people’s way of life; living in humble dwellings, mostly one room structures, with a separate room used as their kitchen; feeding their families from the crops they grow, using their burro or horse, if they had one, to carry the crops down the steep mountain to sell and return with supplies.    I couldn't help thinking what a difficult life.

A man rides his horse through the market

As the day went on and I walked with and among the local people, I saw beyond a difficult life to what was their normal; mothers washing their children from a natural cistern; an older man climbing a coconut tree harvesting coconuts for us to taste the milk; a home in a beautiful setting of trees that has belonged to one of our host, Pharra’s family for several generations; children laughing, playing, attending school, as if they did not have a care in the world.   But mostly, I saw the Holy Spirit in their faces and I will be forever grateful for what the Haitian people have taught me about being resilient, having hope and truly living our faith.

A cistern near St. Anne of Hyacinth

Local men chopping coconuts for us to drink