Some complain that Thanksgiving is getting lost in the commercialization of Christmas.  We have become programed to be thankful for “gifts” of the commercial variety. The Haitians have a lot to teach us about being thankful for what matters. What can’t really be bought…but still has to be paid for.

Almost without exception people return from a trip to Haiti saying “I have so much stuff that I don’t need.” That thought is usually secondary to realizing, and being stunned by, how appreciative our Haitian brothers and sisters are of opportunity. The opportunity to learn to read. The opportunity to educate their children. The opportunity to work, earn money and become independent.

Laura Martin, our partner at Ties That Matter, expressed it so well in her latest newsletter  The people of Haiti are industrious and given a hand and a partner they can make things change.

After our October trip my pastor, Ernie Hess, commented on how impassioned the people were when we met with them. Not to pass out clothes or stuff, but to ask about their needs for education, economic development and healthcare. In a meeting with the Community Healthcare Workers they wanted to tell us about the illnesses they treated, how badly their children needed Medika Mamba to treat severe malnutrition and to ask about when they might expect further training to help pregnant women deliver healthy babies.

When we can control our desire to give them stuff we learn anew what it means to sit down and have a real conversation with people. Know them. Know their families and their deepest fears and concerns.  Partner with them so that they can direct their own future.

At our core God has truly made us all the same. We want to be known, we want to provide for our families, educate our children and be productive citizens. The gift of relationship deserves our true thanks. All of us.

Our relationships in the partnership, with our Haitian brothers and sisters and with our generous supporters who make all this happen.  God has truly given us the greatest gift…each other.