Today I would like to thank my guest blogger, my daughter Kaitlyn. Here is a moving account she wrote for one of her college courses. Enjoy.

Take a look at the classroom we are sitting in. I’d bet that everyone’s homes are bigger than this room, right? Imagine living in a room half this size with 6 or 7 other people. This is a reality for people in Haiti, a country size of Maryland that is home to 9 million. 

Today I’ll be talking about Alexandra, a girl I sponsor in Haiti, and how meeting her and the people of Haiti has profoundly influenced my life. 

The way of life in Haiti is one of gratitude. The people are happy just to talk with you, to braid hair, and to laugh. Despite the lack of a common language, kids crowd around you; they are just happy to sit and have you hug them. At church and at meals, everyone just seems to slow down- it it less about a goal or destination, and more about enjoying those around you and just being grateful for the time to talk and share. 

Haitians have every reason to be in distress and have an attitude of discontentment, but instead, they are an example of a collective attitude of gratitude and thankfulness in spite of, rather than in line with, their circumstances. The Haitian belief system is one of faith and attitude. 

One of the most touching experiences I had was when the Haitians prayed for us at the end of our trip. We are Americans; we make at least 100 times what they do in a year. And yet, the Haitian people want to pray for us- why? Their level of faith and attitude 
goes beyond materialistic need. I can’t tell you how many times I've prayed only when I needed help on a test, or when I've wanted new clothes, a new car, or just something new and shiny. 

Yet, the Haitian people pray with a faith that goes beyond materialistic needs and really is not grounded in personal wants or desires, but is grounded in what I believe the Christian faith should be grounded in: love; a love for people. The fact that a person who barely has food would pray for me really shook up my own faith and beliefs. 

Meeting Alexandra, a 14 year old girl who had one pair of shoes and yet seemed to love God and be so strong in her faith, was an experience that really turned my world upside down.

Just as Alexandra attends school in Haiti to grasp a chance for a better life, we are all in this classroom for a reason and for a chance. Many of us are looking for a raise in income; many of us to support our families or future families. Some of us just hope to better ourselves and really gain a new perspective on life. 

But after returning from Haiti and seeing the way Alexandra lived, and the way others in Haiti lived, I was confronted with a question: What am I pursuing in life? Seeing 20 year-olds who were still in 6th grade, meeting adults who could not read, finding out that only 45% of Haitian children get to go to school - that really shook up my perspective on education. 

Was I going so that I could make more money and have a career? Even now I struggle with this question. 

I did not sponsor Alexandra until after I left Haiti, although I did meet her and her sisters there. I remember specifically having dinner with my family one night, and telling them I wanted to sponsor a child. My sister Heidi told me that she had found out Alexandra did not have a sponsor, and she had cried and been heart-broken for days, thinking that the girl who she had met and laughed with in Haiti didn't even have food to eat. 

How do you walk away from these people who you forge a connection with, knowing that they go home with empty stomachs to a tent made out of a tarp and sticks? 

You can see how such an experience caused me to really, really struggle with grasping the meaning and significance of this life. I don’t say these things to depress you or make you feel guilty about the abundance we have here; I still treat myself to iced coffees and enjoy having my own apartment. But I do hope these things make you uncomfortable, because discomfort can really inspire change. 

And I say these things to explain to you how meeting Alexandra and visiting Haiti radically changed my own perception on the significance of this life. 

The outlook that Alex and people of Haiti have is powerful enough to have changed my own perception and understanding of gratitude and faith during tough times, and uncovering the significance of our lives. I encourage you to look around at your life in the same way we just looked at this room. 

What does $35 a month mean to you? Is it your coffee bill, or your movie night? To thousands of children in places like Haiti, $35 is an education and a better chance at life. 

I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in Haiti. And I promise you that your meager $35 a month will radically change the world of a child forever, and may even 

radically change your life as well.

Kaitlyn Furcinitti


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