under more and more barbed wire. The tiny cuts all over my arms and legs, caused by the pebbles in the mud and my tired, clumsy body, start to burn as I continue to sweat. Mud attaches to my clothes, water rinses some off, the heat dries the rest over and over again until my clothes and shoes are a whole new, heavy, stiff material and an orange-brown color. My focus and mind weaken as my body does, and doubt sinks in. Then, there it is! The last stretch! Just a couple of jumps over some fire, and one more drag through the mud and under barbed wire, then I am done. My finish line is in sight. My spirits lift. My feet move a little faster, my mind sharpens (it has to, I am about to jump over fire), and the doubt disappears. I am no longer in pain because I have hope. I can see the finish line, I can hear the people cheering me on, I get encouraging pats on the back from other runners, the end of my temporary suffering is in sight. With my energy reserves, I cross the finish line, pose for a picture, and grab my finisher’s beer…I mean…water and banana.
sights, sounds, and people. The people of Bayonnais are so kind and welcoming. I sang and danced with children who had so little, but were so happy and thankful for what they did have. One morning, we were guided up the mountain to a nearby village, Nicholas. We carried backpacks filled with school supplies, medicine, and dresses that Sardis member, Kathy Simpson made. As miles of dirt and rocks passed under my feet I thought about the children I saw with sores on their feet, and cuts on their hands, covered by the grey dirt that was now starting to stick to me. I thought about my mud runs, and how when I finish I get food and water, a medal, and pat on the back…how I wished that is what was waiting for me at the top of this mountain. As we walked higher into the Haitian mountains, we started to spot children in school uniforms coming from all directions for miles. Some were running past us, over rocks, down hills, and up hills. These were not their only obstacles on their journey to school. They were also fighting hunger and thirst, and the intense heat. Their finish line was school, the school that, driven by their strong desire for education, the community built themselves. When they got to school they did not get a pat on the back, or a medal, they did not even get a drink of water. I suddenly felt guilty for drinking almost my entire camelbak on the way up the mountain. When the children saw us approach the school, I saw their spirits lift. I knew that look in their eyes, it was the same look I get when I see the finish line at a mud run. They were seeing hope. Their pains eased, and their doubts disappeared. I suddenly realized, I did not have a medal or a pat on the back waiting for me, I had something better. I realized why I was in Haiti. I was there to bring hope. I was there to lift spirits. I was there to let the children know that they are loved, and everything is going to be okay. I was there to come back here and tell you their story.
I also invite you to also check out the website for Friends of OFCB to learn how you can become hope for the children in Haiti. http://friendsofofcb.org/v2/