November 20, 2020 Posted by Addie Cunningham, Program Director Indiana Parkinson Foundation BlogGiving Tuesday

The Other Side of Giving

Have you ever had a time in your life that was so impactful that it is a defining moment that you will never forget? Well, that happened to me in 2012. A good friend of mine asked if I would go on a mission trip to Haiti with her. I had been on several mission trips, but at this time in my life it was a little different. Now I had two daughters and one of them a young toddler. I thought, “There is no way I can get away at this stage in my life for a trip overseas,” so I dismissed the idea. When I told my husband about the invitation, he said almost immediately, “You should go, I can handle the girls while you are gone.” After some time in prayer, I felt the Lord nudge me to go.

Like I said, I had been overseas on mission trips and experienced what poverty looks like in different areas of the world. When arriving in Haiti, I was blown away by the devastation and poor living conditions that these sweet people were living in. It broke my heart! The goal of our trip to Haiti was to provide a medical station in local villages to offer medical care and relief to the people. When we would arrive, there would be people lined up that looked miles long. My mission team was made up of doctors, nurses and a pharmacist who volunteered their time to serve in Haiti in this way. Then there was me and my friend who had no medical background but have a heart to serve others and share the true HOPE found in Jesus. My role was working with our pharmacist. She would teach me how to read the prescriptions and how to fill them. I was counting pills to give to the Haitians in need. We were not only there to care for them physically, but also spiritually. We would pray over them for healing and whatever else they may need prayer for.

The ironic part of my time in Haiti was that I was to go and serve and be a blessing to others, but what happened was quite the opposite. I hope and pray that I was a blessing to them, but the true blessing was them! So often we serve and we think we are there to bless others, but what ends up happening is through our obedience to follow the Lord wherever He leads, will result in a rich and full life filled with blessings. I found that despite the devastation, hunger, and poor living conditions, the people had overwhelming JOY. In America, we lose sight of the blessings around us and take for granted the privileges and amenities at our fingertips, so we miss the JOY!

Six months after my trip, I realized I left a piece of my heart in Haiti. I wanted to continue to give back and be a blessing. So our family prayed over a list of children’s names and picked Kestalina to sponsor. Our sponsorship provides an education and meals. Again we thought, “Let’s bless someone” and in return she has been a huge blessing in our life. Kestalina’s picture sits on our table because she is part of our family and we want her with us around the table. We pray for her and she serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and love. Kestalina shares letters and pictures so we can watch her grow. Our girls have sent her care packages, letters and family pictures. She is now 11, and we plan to take our girls to meet their Haitian sister in Christ very soon. My biggest take away from this experience is to NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF GIVING!

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