| 2018 |

Eyes of Hope

Written by: Alivia Johnston (Student Sponsor and Mission Trip Participant)

Seven years ago, my mom and I were moved by the powerful thought that for only $35 a month, we could be a small part of allowing a kid to pursue one of the greatest blessings in Haiti: education. A blessing that less than 5% of the population receives. At the time, I was 13 years old so we chose a boy named Daved who was the same age as me with the thought that we would graduate high school the same year. To remind our own family of the commitment we made, we placed our Haitian brother’s picture in the kitchen next to mine and my two brothers. Throughout the years, we continued to financially contribute to his education and our family returned to Mission of Hope on various mission trip teams always making it a priority to meet and talk with Daved, reminding him of our continual love and support for him.

In June of 2018, we returned to Haiti once again. Our conversation with Daved was different than previous ones had been. He was more excited and he genuinely seemed happier. He quickly told us that he would be graduating from Mission of Hope High School in two weeks! As having just graduated high school myself, I knew that this was an extremely exciting time. Seeing his face light up as he talked about graduating moved me to tears because to him, graduation wasn’t just an “exciting time,” it was one of the most important moments of his life.

As an American, it was expected that I graduate from high school. But spending time in Haiti and talking with Daved helped me appreciate what a huge accomplishment it is for him and what an incredible blessing it was for me to never have to worry about receiving an education. Without hesitation, I looked at my mom and back at Daved and said, “We will be there!” I wanted to physically be present to cheer for my brother on his special day—to show him that we were so proud of him and all the hard work he had put in to make it to this point.

So, two shorts week later we packed our bags once again to be a part of the celebration of Daved. June 23, 2018 is a day that I will never forget. In Haitian style, the church was packed and the music was full of life and joy. Tears flowed once again as we saw him confidently walk up to receive his diploma. Watching Daved, my heart began to stir because I saw a kid who had experienced more devastation and hardship than most of us ever will, overflowing with pride and hope. Daved is proud that he faithfully worked towards his studies and he is hopeful of the Lord’s plan for his future. At the end of the three hour ceremony, we laughed as the whole class not only threw their caps but their robes too!

After the ceremony was over and lots of hugs were exchanged, he proudly introduced us to his mom and family. We continued the celebration with a meal together and of course cake! While sitting around the table, his mom locked eyes with my mom and through a translator said, “I don’t know how to thank you enough” and gave each of us the biggest and longest hug I have ever received. My mom smiled and said, “We did this together because we are family and we are one in the bond of Christ.”

Because of Daved’s mom’s love for him and our commitment to Mission of Hope, we were able to help provide the only thing that she could not provide her son—the opportunity to go to school. The gratitude that Daved’s mom had was incredibly genuine. Daved smiled as he pulled out a Christmas gift bag and handed it to me saying, “This is for you.” Inside the bag was a beautiful gold frame with the verse: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Just like God would have it, that same verse was my theme verse on my graduation day.

An American given more than she deserves or a Haitian given very little, Daved and I both have the same hope for our future because of the promise God gives us in His Word. That day, I witnessed a better life for Daved unfolding. I pray the hope that I saw in his eyes will never be clouded by the trials he faces. While it hurts my heart to know that I may not see Daved again soon, and I definitely don’t know what his future holds, I do know that he will always be my Haitian brother and an almighty God holds his future—that is what gives me hope. Daved showed me the power that education holds in transforming a life and the incredible blessing it is to be a small part of walking through that journey with someone.

Through child sponsorship, we invested in the life transformation of a future leader of a country that we have grown to love. Throughout this experience I learned that education is not only a major blessing—education is freedom. We cannot dare to hope for a change in a broken nation if we don’t invest in the sole thing that will give them basic skills they need to succeed. The Lord has a perfect plan for this country, and we are called to be active agents in making that plan become a reality. Join me and find a Haitian student and commit to walk alongside them and their family. Together we can bring hope to everyone in Haiti.