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The Joy and Simplicity of Haiti
Thirty missionaries from the Detroit metro area go on mission to Port-Au-Prince

Haiti Missionaries from Detroit
Mission Youth missionaires from Detroit area in Haiti

“Haiti becomes a part of life, and the people become family.”

These are the words of RC consecrated woman Jenna Coughlin describing her group’s recent experience in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

Thirty missionaries, mostly from the Detroit metro area, joined Jenna, Fr. Aaron Smith LC, Brother Kramer Cameron LC, and consecrated woman April Pickett on a July 2014 mission trip. As with all the Mission Youth organized trips to Haiti, the group worked alongside the Missionaries of Charity (MOC) sisters who have a continuing presence in the country.

At the beginning of the mission, the missionaries helped at a camp for about 200 little girls. Jenna said they were able to break the “the language barrier” with “lots of love and laughter.” 

On the first Sunday, the missionaries celebrated Mass with the campers, as well as another hundred or so little boys and families from the area surrounding the MOC Children’s Home (an
April Pickett and a friend
RC consecrated April Pickett and a friend in Haiti
orphanage). The missionaries gathered some of the babies from the Children´s Home to attend.

“It´s really impressive how well-behaved the children are in Mass, and how they sing with all their hearts and souls!” said Jenna.

Afterwards, the missionaries assisted at the orphanage, providing loving comfort for some of the sick little ones.

Fr. Aaron had the opportunity to baptize one of those sick babies, named Therese, and some of the missionaries served as her Godparents. Later in the week, there was a “heart-wrenching” moment as the missionaries witnessed her tiny body, wrapped in white cloth, taken out after Therese passed away.

More challenging experiences were ahead as the missionaries helped at the Wound Clinic. Local people come to have major wounds, often infected, cleaned, treated and bound.  After some quick lessons in treating the wounds, the missionaries did their best to look beyond the “gruesome” work to see the faces of the people who trusted them to receive the help they needed.

One of the most powerful experiences for the missionaries was working in the MOC Home for the Dying, a place where those with terminal illnesses are cared for.

“It is a place of peace, gratitude and everyone lives with their eyes
Br. Kramer Cameron LC and missionary Mitch
Br. Kramer Cameron LC and missionary Mitch Lasceski
set on heaven,” said Jenna. “It really seems more like a tribute to life than a place of death. All are treated with utmost respect and care, and it doesn´t matter if the people are Catholic or not.”

During some of their downtime, the missionaries had the opportunity to learn more about the Missionaries of Charity. One of the sisters, who is originally from Detroit, let the visitors question her.  They learned she had been a member of the Missionaries of Charity for 33 years, and served 10 years in Haiti.  She told them about her memories working with Mother Teresa. 

When asked, "Does what we do here really make a difference?" the MOC sister smiled and replied, "Jesus said, ´WHATEVER you do to the least of my brothers, you did to me.´ So each moment, every little thing you do, if it´s done for Jesus and with love, makes the difference. And can you really change Haiti? Every time you change (the diapers for) that baby, you change Haiti."

Also during their time in Haiti, they had the opportunity to tour the capitol city.  They got to see what is left of the Cathedral destroyed during the 2010 earthquake.
Claire Lasceski shares some love and laughter with a child
Claire Lasceski shares some love and laughter with a Haitian child.
They took a moment of prayer and silence, remembering the archbishop and seminarians who, along with so many others, were killed that day.

On the last day of camp, they organized a parade of the children to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The missionaries wished they did not have to leave. Saying farewell to these little ones was the hardest part.

Fr. Aaron tried to prepare them for the departure with a final Mass on the rooftop where they were staying. He told the missionaries they were called to go back home and bring their experiences to a world that does not have as much material need, but plenty of spiritual need. Then the group spent some time in Eucharistic Adoration underneath the stars.

They would later share with each other their reflections on their experience, discussing how they planned to leave behind their worries and anxieties over the “petty things.” They expressed their desire to bring with them the “joy
Celebrating Mass in Haiti
Fr. Aaron Smith LC celebrates Mass with the missionaires.
and simplicity” of the Haitian people, especially the children, and to be grateful to God for His gifts given during this special week, and throughout their lives.



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