Maverick Miles & Musings
Haiti IMPACT Trip 2013
“Are you excited about this Haiti trip?” Missy asked me before I left.
It felt odd to say I was excited… but I was certainly looking forward to it. Every time it’s a bit different, and this was my 3rd time going with Frank McKinney, Hope to Haiti and Maverick #35 Doug Doebler (who does an incredible job organizing it).
This year felt different, in that there seemed to be a new air of calmness and stability at the airport. More so than last year and significantly more so than the first year (right after the earthquake). It’s as if the country has fallen back into its rhythm a bit more.
Our first stop was at a new orphanage where we had a good amount of time to spend with the kids. (Doug will be giving you a full recap so I’ll stick to some of my observations and insights.)
Keeping Your Inner Child Alive
One of my favorite parts of last year’s trip was watching Frank climb to the top of our bus so he could toss a basketball 20/30 ft in the air to a horde of children eager to catch it. There were a few who got bonked on the head but it was all part of the fun. This time, we knew just what to do. I climbed up on the top of our bus along with Maverick #106 Ben Roy, and we started throwing out all sorts of footballs, bouncy balls, etc. from the toys we brought.
The kids went crazy!
Frank and I had a conversation about this and it was one of the topics in our evening reflection about keeping the inner child alive.
He believes (and I agree) that once you let your inner child go dormant or die, you lose that creative spark. Frank believes he can look into the eyes of an audience or a person and recognize when that little boy or girl isn’t in there anymore. I think “adults” get so tied up in being grown ups – that its easy to lose the playful, fun side. This is definitely a part of the entire ethos of Maverick: keeping that inner child alive and going strong!
For me, the time in the orphanage was another reminder of just how universal and simple things are across the world in any type of situation. These kids just want to play, laugh and have a good time! They want to be loved, hugged and acknowledged. One of the things I love about our group is how we jump full bore into anything. I think many of the groups that come to visit mean well but are older and more ‘adult-like’. Not an issue for the types of individuals we bring out!
We played with the kids for 2+ hrs. Frisbee, soccer, catch with the football, all sorts of stuff. I lost myself in that play and enjoyed having fun!
Even though I went full out in the playing-with-the-kids part, I realized I wasn’t stretching that much out of my comfort zone. Playing for me is easy. That’s my nature and I love it, but I wanted to experience something even deeper. The first night at our reflection one of the attendees mentioned how he cried when one of the orphans put his head on his shoulder. I do my fair share of high-fiving and stuff but never really engage in deep, meaningful, one-on-one time. The next day I thought about how I could open myself up more.
We trekked out to the opening of a new village that Caring House and Mavericks had contributed to. The villagers welcomed us with big hugs and warm greetings. There were 50 new concrete houses standing along with a community center. Everybody dispersed and did their own thing for awhile. There was music playing… and that was my opening.
There was a grandmother dancing by herself in complete joy, just relishing in the moment. I’m not a dancer but also know that the less I care the better I dance (or I keep telling myself that anyway). I grabbed her hand and looked into her eyes and started dancing the best I could. We did a few twirls and then I simply watched her and tried to follow some of her steps. Usually I would be looking around to see if anybody was watching and I might even do something a little bit goofy or silly but this was just for me and her. I didn’t care who watched or what else was going on. It was really a sublime moment and I loved it!
Later one of our translators told us she was doing the wedding dance with me – so I think she was having some fun with me!
The day continued with a few more fun things including an ax throwing contest Frank made up. We had to take this dull, worn out ax and try to stick it into a tree. I don’t think the villagers had ever seen anything like this…or it taking 25 tries to get one to stick. The person who did stick it could send anyone they wanted down to the bottom of this 40 foot fit they were digging for the latrines. I was amazed when I wasn’t picked!
Next year if we do Haiti again, we’re looking at the possibility of spending the night in an actual village – so stay tuned.
Are you interested in learning more about Maverick IMPACT Trips? Want to know how you can still get involved in lending a helping hand to Haiti? Contact Maverick Member Doug Doubler at firstname.lastname@example.org.