When talking about Haiti, Lufkin resident Kassidy Eberlan recalls the weeks spent without electricity and air conditioning, the early morning sunrise, and visiting the orphanage where she met a young child named Kevin.
“I literally got out of the van, looked down, and he was reaching for me,” she recalled. “He just laid his head on my shoulder, and he did not want to get down. The entire time I was there he just had the biggest smile on his face. He told our interpreter at the end of our visit, ‘My heart is so happy.’”
Summer 2015, Eberlan first stepped foot in Haiti fullfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a missionary in a land stricken with poverty. She described the people as humble and grateful as she learned about their culture and way of life during her first trip. Not only sharing her testimony of God during the visit, Eberlan, along with tens of others, traveled through Haiti assisting and teaching communities how to install Sawyer water filters into hundreds of homes to provide clean water.
“It’s just something I was really passionate about and something I really wanted to do,” Eberlan said. “God was telling me that I needed to go and that is where I was supposed to be. When I got there I just fell in love with everybody and everything there.”
When the opportunity arose for another mission trip this summer to install more water filters, Eberlan didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity to once again visit the place she came to love last summer.
Arriving in Mellier, Haiti on June 17, Eberlan and her group, led by trip advisor Bob Ford, began their
days with the early morning sunrise at 4:30 a.m., breakfast at seven, and then off they would go to teach villagers how to install the water filters.
“We help them install it, but we don’t do the process. We don’t do the work for them. They have to show us they know how to clean them, put them together, and how to take care of them,” she said. “We can’t do it for them. Like we say, ‘Helping hurts sometimes.’ We like for them to learn stuff to do on their own; it builds self-reliance.”
Over 400 water filters were installed in homes at no charge during the next three weeks as the missionaries worked hard to make sure residents had access to clean water, Eberlan said. The water filters will last up to 10 years or one million gallons of water. She added that after her group left more missionaries would return to insure the water filters continued to work.
“I have this saying, ‘Water is life.’ You can’t live without water, and you can do so much with water. You cook with it, you bathe with it. Water is so essential to everything you do,” she said. “When I see the people get the filters and drink the water it really makes me happy. You just have to sit back and watch the little things in life. Just seeing someone drink a cup of water makes me so happy because it’s clean.”
At the end of the day after the work was complete, Eberlan said missionaries and natives gathered to listen to music and spend time together even though French and Creole were the only languages spoken by the natives.
“Even though they can’t understand us you could still tell they felt God’s presence,” she said.
Eberlan plans to visit Haiti again next year to install more water filters in different villages across the island with hopes to complete a long-term mission trip in the future. She hopes to start more programs, like a food program or scholarships for students.
“I try to tell people as much as I can how amazing Haiti is, and hopefully that will get other people going because they definitely need a ton of help,” she said. “I know I’ve only been twice but it’s really special to me.”
Eberlan advises those interested in serving a mission trip in Haiti to prepare for hot weather but to also start preparing for multiple trips back to the island.
“When we go there, there is this man we see every time, and he’ll tell you this won’t be your last time in Haiti,” she said. “Every single person that comes to Haiti falls in love and they come back. So prepare to come back because you just won’t be able to go just once – that’s for sure.”
For more information on the next trip to Haiti March 2017 contact Ford at (936) 465-1187 or Eberlan at (936) 414-9818.