“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you haven’t seen this quote all over Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and the internet in general – that’s from Maya Angelou. It’s popular because it’s true, your presence (and how you use it) matters.
At CPR-3, if we need a VBS program or a wall painted or clothes for the masses, we could have sent you a link to a fundraiser for….a VBS curriculum and toys, some paint, or clothes. But instead, we sent YOU an application for a week in a country that your mind can’t fathom is just a-morning-on-American-Airlines away from your house.
We didn’t call in experts on Caribbean culture to implement a program. We asked YOU to give up some vacation for a place you didn’t know anything about before a quick read on Wikipedia as you put together your support letters.
If we needed your stuff, we’d have a campaign asking for your stuff.
We’ve created an environment for you to come stay in CPR-3’s guest house in Bercy, because we are asking for YOU.
Your presence truly matters. We stress this point, but only because it’s that important to us. Actually, it’s more important to the neighbors around us that you are partnered with. Your presence – if you use it for ‘stuff’, ‘the schedule’, or ‘events’ instead of people – can hurt just as much as it can help. Our neighbors want YOU. Our pastors want you to sit in their homes and talk to their wives. Our sponsored students want to grab your hand and introduce you to manman or gran sè, then play hand games as long as you can last. The moto shop and the family that runs it on the corner would love to play dominoes after school or show you how to make peanut butter by hand when the kids are in class.
Your intentions are great when you land and you’ve got your schedule for the most efficient way to use your time, your gifts to hand to friends, & your ideas of tasks to do every morning. Since time is money, you want to best use your presence to help and these are the ways that you do that – events, plans, tasks, DOING.
But, as Dano will tell you as you process what’s going on here, we are human BEINGS. And to our neighbors in Haiti, who see relationships as riches, your presence spent with them matters. Sitting, talking, laughing at how hard it is to talk, learning from them, praying with them in struggles, playing games that are way better for rural Haiti than ones who could bring in a box, holding hands, inventing your own sign language to communicate with them, and ignoring that nagging voice that American culture has ingrained in you saying that you’ve got to get up and DO something…this kind of presence matters.