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Grateful for God’s Gifts
U. S. A. | WHO WE ARE | NEWS
Good Girl Comeback founder discusses the impact of their mission to Haiti

Good Girl Comeback in Haiti
“They came to realize that, to be truly fulfilled and happy, all you need is God’s love,” said Chelsea Gheesling, founder of Good Girl Comeback.



“How many times have I complained that I don’t want to go to confession?”

This is the question Chelsea Gheesling asked herself as she watched Fr. Aaron Smith LC give the sacrament of healing to four dying women in Haiti.

“It was so beautiful to see how grateful they were,” she said. “It made me think how we take the sacraments for granted.  We should see the sacraments the way they do.“

Chelsea and a group from her Michigan-based Good Girl Comeback (GGCB) program took a mission trip to Port-a-Prince, Haiti, from Aug. 2-9, 2013.  (Click here for the previous article about the trip on this website.) The group included young women ages 16 to 20, and four parent chaperones, four members of the local community who joined the group for the trip, as well as Fr. Aaron and Regnum Christi consecrated women April Pickett and Jana Crea.

“We started out the week feeling sorry for the Haitian people, but we ended up looking up to them and admiring them,” said Chelsea.  “They are caring and kind.  We forget to be like that in the US.  The people there are happier than we are in our big houses with all our wealth.”

A Schedule of Service

The group was kept busy by the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, whose centers they worked at while on the mission trip.  In the morning, the girls would wake up at 6 pm and celebrate Mass with Fr. Aaron at the simple, small hotel where they were staying.  They then participated in a “morning of reflection” led by one of the consecrated women, and afterwards, would help serve at one of the centers.  The three centers they worked at included the children’s hospital, the food center and the House of the Dying.

Chelsea said the Missionaries’ children’s
Chelsea Gheesling with a Haitian child
Chelsea Gheesling with a Haitian child.
hospital also functions as an orphanage because parents often don’t return to get their children once they bring them there because they cannot adequately care for them.  The GGCB group helped there with whatever was needed, feeding the children, changing diapers, playing with them, and holding the babies.  Chelsea said much help is needed since the sisters do mostly medical work, and there are usually only enough Haitian employees to have one woman per hospital room.  This is not even taking into account caring for the orphans on the second floor.

“While we were there, the sisters’ told us to tend to whatever was the first need we would see,” said Chelsea.

The Poorest of the Poor

The group also helped with the rush of daily recipients at the Missionaries’ food center.  They served about 200 different families each day, who receive a coffee-can-sized amount each of rice, pasta, beans and some olive oil.  This monthly food allotment goes to approximately 3,200 families who qualify for the Missionaries’ aid.

So many people in Haiti are in need of assistance, and the Missionaries have only so many resources, Chelsea explained.  “They have to closely guard their mission to serve the poorest of the poor,” she said.

She said the sisters made quite an impression on the young women in her group.

“One of the sisters gave us her testimony and vocation story and let us ask her questions,” said Chelsea. “We asked how she deals with seeing such poverty day after day.  She said that in Haiti the people really value each other, their children, their families.  They value life.”

The sister told them she used to work in the city of Miami, Florida, where she saw countless homeless people sleeping in the streets.  She explained that in Haiti, few people sleep in the streets because someone always takes them in.

Growing in God’s Love

The young women from GGCB were not only inspired by the nuns, but by their own experiences of service.  “To see the growth of the girls during this trip was beautiful,” said Chelsea. “They came to realize that, to be truly fulfilled and happy, all you need is God’s love.”

During the evening the girls would participate in a special reflection called “Light in the Darkness” asking Fr. Aaron questions about their faith and any other topic they could think of. “They would spend hours,” said Chelsea.

“It was a blessing to get to spend so much time with a priest like Fr. Aaron,” she said.  She remembered watching him, perspiring in full vestments while saying Mass twice a day in the heat, and listening to confessions for several hours, while exhibiting joy and without complaining.

Chelsea herself said she was deeply affected by her own experience.  Two incidents
Hunger for love
Seeing the Haitian orphans, Chelsea's cousin was grateful to God and the adoptive parents who took her in.
stand out in her mind.  One took place in the House of the Dying, when she saw Father Aaron administering the sacraments.

“I was most nervous to go there, but it was also the most moving.  There these people could die with dignity.  It was clean.  They were fed and comforted, given medicine.”

She said while she was working there, she felt great peace.  “I experienced what it was like to be Jesus for someone else – to be His hands and feet.”

Chelsea said the nuns told them to do whatever they could to comfort the dying women, rubbing lotion on them or painting fingernails.  Chelsea said the girls would also play with the children whose mothers were dying.

Another experience she remembers took place at the children’s hospital, when she was standing near the door and listening to a sister speaking Creole with a mother.  The woman started wailing.  When the sister came back inside, Chelsea asked her what had happened.  The sister said that the woman’s daughter was well enough to go home.

“You would think that would have made this mother happy,” said Chelsea.  “But she knew her child had a better life at the hospital.”

One of the young women in the GGCB group was Chelsea’s cousin, who herself had been an orphan in Russia.  “Seeing the children in the Haitian orphanage, it made her grateful to God and her adoptive parents who took her in,” said Chelsea.

Bearing God’s Gifts

The GGCB members came to Haiti not just to volunteer their services, but to offer what they could to help in an economy that has not rebounded much since the devastating earthquake three years ago. They brought with them about 200 pounds of donations for the children’s hospital, including clothing, diapers, formula, teething toys and other items.

Chelsea and her group learned some 30,000 people still live in the tent city, temporary housing that basically has become permanent.  She explained that the Haitian government offers about 500 dollars (worth about $5000 in US money) to families to leave the tent city, but that will last them only 6 or 7 months.  And there are few if any jobs to be had.

The GGCB group met one woman named Holly, also from the state of Michigan, who is trying to do what she can to help boost the local economy.  She makes use of a most plentiful resource – the local refuse that fills the city streets.  With paper and other similar materials, she teaches those who are willing to create bracelets and necklaces coated with a resin.  She then takes the product back to the US to sell, and sends the money back to the Haitian people who made the jewelry.

“We bought a lot of the jewelry to bring
GGCB bringing donations to Haiti
GGCB brought with them about 200 pounds of donations for the children’s hospital.
home to sell,” said Chelsea.  “Let us know on our Facebook page if you would like to buy some!”  Visitors to the site can also see more pictures of their Haitian mission trip.

Click here if you would like to hear Chelsea’s interview about the Haiti mission with Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria radio.

For more information on participating in a Mission Youth mission to Haiti, or other locations, go to http://www.demisiones.org.





PUBLICATION DATE: 2013-09-03


 
 


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