Sometimes when a person gives to a group, community or even an entire country, he or she may take something as well.
Kelsie Troudt shared her story of traveling to Haiti for a missions trip with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Sunday, sharing her experiences and the realizations she had during the trip.
“It was life changing, honestly,” she said.
Troudt, 20, said she spent roughly a week outside of Port-Au-Prince, traveling around to various villages and communities in early June with Praying Pelican Missions ministries. In her time, she said she served in a vacation Bible school, as well as in planting mango trees in people's yards.
“That opened up the gates for us to talk about Christ,” she said.
Troudt said mango trees were specifically used as the plants provided a source of renewable fruit in people's lives as well as an opportunity to “plant fruit in their hearts.”
It was on one of these tree-planting expeditions that her team found an orphanage that Praying Pelican was unaware of, she said. The orphanage was running dangerously low on food and supplies. Not only was her team able to plant a mango tree, but they established a supply connection to the orphanage.
“Praying Pelican actually started a connection with them because we found them on one of our walks,” she said.
Troudt said it was her experiences with the orphans that made a big impact in her life.
“They have so little, but they're so happy,” she said, describing how the children would smile and sing songs as soon as a team would arrive.
She said the little ones' perspective has made her appreciate things many Americans take for granted, such as having a home and a family. Troudt said despite the belief the children were orphaned as a result of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the majority of them have been orphaned under more tragic circumstances.
“A lot of parents had kids but didn't want them,” she said. “It was shocking to me.”
Troudt said her time in Haiti also gave her a new appreciation for her faith. She said she attended religious services delivered in the Creole patois of the Caribbean nation, but could not understand the language of the pastor. Still, she said, her faith overcame the language barrier.
“I could understand just by his actions and the tone of his voice,” she said.
Troudt compared this moment to times she has read her Bible but did not fully understand what she had read.
“It really showed me: even if you can't understand it, it can still speak to you in a special way,” she said.
Troudt — who originally planned the solo trip for herself — said she is already working on a second trip within the next year or two, though this time she will not be alone.
“I'll be taking my mom,” she said.
Troudt said she may also be taking her sisters and has hopes to open the trip to other members of Good Shepherd.