In a course of unexpected yet welcomed events, I am excited to say that I am preparing to head off to Haiti next week!
I found out about a mission trip to serve Haitian children in an orphanage, and my heart leaped outside of my chest at the thought of being able to serve and love them. I’m listening to my heart… I’ll be honest and say it had been quite a while since I had become so convicted to do something, and so I have relentlessly pursued this opportunity. It seems, though, that this has been in the works for a while.
In a certain sense, I’ve been doing mission work in the lab. Thanks to the Franciscan Institue for World Health, I have been privileged to work over 1,000 hours the past few years doing medicinal chemistry in pursuit of new treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis. These are strains that plagues third-world countries like Haiti, but are resistant to the medications that have all-but eradicated TB in first-world countries. Many are suffering and are terminally ill with these strains of TB. As I’ve spent time doing research I’ve become genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about the situation that our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis. I’ve seen so many pictures. I’ve watched so many videos. My heart has broken over and over again for the poor who seemingly have no way out. I never thought I’d actually make it down there or have an opportunity to see them face to face, serving them directly… but it has come.
It was a crazy course of events, but my spring break opened up and I found out about the mission trip to Haiti. I made a quick call to the mission leader and explained my situation and spoke of my desire to serve the people in Haiti. The next day I was in the Portiuncula chapel that has 24-hour eucharistic adoration on campus, praying with John 3:30 (…”He must increase, I must decrease”). As I walked out of the chapel, I looked at my cell phone and saw that I had just gotten a voicemail while I was praying. The mission leader told me that someone just recently had to drop from the trip, and a spot was open and that they would love to have me. Providence, not coincidence.
To put this in perspective, joining a mission team three weeks before it’s time to leave is crazy because of the amount of preparation and fundraising required (almost $2,000). I didn’t let that stop me. I made a few calls, put a few things on Facebook, and literally overnight—the first day—I received about half of the funding required for me to go. I am floored and overwhelmed. God is good and faithful, and sometimes doors just fly open.
Although there is much uncertainty in my life right now, I believe God wants me in Haiti this spring break. I think I have something to give, and likely something to receive. I just want to go love the children at this orphanage in Haiti. Many have lost their parents due to the devastating earthquake that hit the area in 2010, and my heart just goes out to them. My team and I will help provide food and vital medical supplies as well as aid in the construction of village projects, notably a medical clinic.
While this trip is not sponsored by or affiliated with Franciscan University’s Missions of Peace (be sure to check out the many trips they sponsor to equally amazing destinations), this Haiti mission trip will benefit a group called Mission Haiti, where many alumni of Franciscan University have worked as long-term volunteers and not just one-week missionaries over the years. Check out their amazing work, which preceded the devastating earthquake of 2010, and has intensified and become more needed since then:
I am so excited, and I look forward to updating you after my trip!
My name is Matt Stewart and I’m a chemistry student. I’m excited to be a student blogger representing the sciences at Franciscan University of Steubenville for this next academic year. Franciscan has provided some pretty incredible opportunities for me the past couple years. I am excited to see what God does with our work, and I look forward to sharing more and keeping you updated.