Bag of Toothbrushes

Those of you who know me, know that Haiti has been part of my life for over ten years now. My involvement has led to establishing a nonprofit, writing books, speaking/preaching gigs and dreaming up fundraisers to support projects.

You are also likely aware that things in Haiti are a mess. I’ve not traveled to LaGonave in over two years, and it’s been three years since we’ve been able to bring a team.

Over the past couple months, I’ve had two failed attempts to travel to Haiti. Both have been due to logistics that have fallen apart in the country. For this last attempt, we had a helicopter lined up that was flying teams to the island, so a relatively safe way to get out of Port-au-Prince and to LaGonave. Literally, thirty minutes before I was to board my flight from Miami to Haiti, things fell apart. Again. The helicopter flights were cancelled for some unknown reason.

Now I had kept this trip pretty low key, telling only family, the Haiti Alive Board, and a couple close friends. I can also tell you those three listed groups were quite concerned about my travel. Again. My plan was to slip in, see our projects, encourage the people, and slip out. Easy peasy.

The logistics in Haiti are difficult in the best of times and these are not the best of times. I really miss being able to see our friends and see what so many wonderful donors have made possible.

It’s hard to describe how much I want to get there, knowing I probably shouldn’t be going there.

Some may say, what’s the big deal? What difference does it make, not being able to travel to LaGonave? I’ve seen people that were connected to Haiti, get connected to other ministries. I can’t blame them, but that’s a loss for us. Each year we can’t bring teams is another separation from our advocates who see what we’re doing and who spread the word. Churches change leadership and they are constantly presented with new mission opportunities. They are doing good in the world, but it can mean a loss for us. All nonprofits deal with “donor fatigue” and the needs never seem to end in Haiti. Good people do good in other places, but it’s a loss for us.

I was emptying my bags. Again. At the bottom of my backpack was a bag of toothbrushes – given to me by my sister, who saw them at a rummage sale and bought them for us. At first, it made me sad, knowing they wouldn’t be used in mouths any time soon. But the toothbrushes led me to remember the other gifts we’d received.

My daughter-in-law and son bought ten soccer balls (more coveted than anything we bring) that I had packed to bring to the kids. Toothpaste that was packed, a gift from a local dentist. Cloth bags and ear buds were packed, gifts from a local marketing company. Cash was tucked away, given by supporters, that was headed to LaGonave to buy food for the elderly.

A bag of toothbrushes became my reminder of those who care.
And will continue to care regardless of if or when my feet touch Haitian soil.

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