Note: H.E.L.P. founder Chris Marlow is leading a team on a pilgrimage trip to Haiti the week of November 2-9. Thomas E. Ward, one of the members of this mission team, will be sharing his experiences here on the H.E.L.P. Blog. You can also follow along Jacob Vanhorn‘s updates on Soma Austin Community Church blog.

I’m so thankful for what I’ve experienced on this trip.

And, honestly, thankful doesn’t even begin to describe it. In fact, it feels like a ridiculous understatement. I’m wildly grateful that God has allowed me to travel to Haiti. I feel so blessed. Entering into Haiti’s story has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

I will never be the same.

Not only is this trip transforming my life, but it’s also providing me with an opportunity to see and celebrate what H.E.L.P.’s been doing on the ground since the earth shook so violently. And all I can say is that H.E.L.P., together with its local partners, is accomplishing extraordinary things in Haiti.

Each day is another reminder that I’m traveling with an organization that represents the very best of what it means for God’s people to be on mission together in the developing world.

I loved H.E.L.P. before I left for Haiti, but now that I’m in Haiti witnessing all that H.E.L.P.’s doing to bring hope to the Haitian people, I love H.E.L.P. even more.

As I’ve already said in my earlier post, H.E.L.P.’s pilgrimages are intense, jam-packed. But they’re intense in the best possible way. For me, this particular pilgrimage has been a high-impact learning journey. I’ve seen both sides of Haiti, from the urban landscape of Port-au-Prince to the rural, mountainous terrain of Kenscoff.

Overall, it’s been amazing—and heartbreaking.

Haiti’s one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the most impoverished. It’s a very unsettling paradox, beauty and brokenness side by side. And yet even in the midst of these two extremes, the Haitian people display a remarkable resilience, quietly rebuilding their lives after surviving a devastating natural disaster that left tens of thousands of Haitians dead and hundreds of thousands more homeless.

In fact, since I’ve been here, I’ve repeatedly found myself thinking that Haiti’s greatest asset, her most potential-laden resource, is her people. They are a rebuke to my complacency, a much-needed corrective to my consumptive lifestyle, and a sobering reminder that life is not measured by how much you own but by how much you do with what you’ve been given.