I am now home from my 6-month internship in Haiti. As I write this, it feels a little surreal because it seems like just yesterday I was writing my initial fundraising letters. My time spent living and serving in Mole St. Nicolas, Haiti was without a doubt the most impactful and enriching experience of my life. I had the unbelievable honor of creating a dance studio within the community and developing a dance ministry. My ultimate goal for this ministry was to provide a space for youth in the community to escape to and to feel safe, valued, welcomed, celebrated, and to ultimately experience the love of Jesus Christ. As I now reflect on the past 6 months, I firmly believe that the dance studio was able to be that beloved “home away from home” for so many dancers, as it was for me as well.
Every afternoon, the dance studio was filled with sweaty bodies, loud music, laughter, and conversation, as youth from the community came for their dance classes and engaged in learning and creating new dances. My time was mostly spent with a dance group called Our Generation. This was a group of 17 teens from the community who auditioned to earn a spot in the group. These dancers would practice usually 7 hours each week and were always preparing for an upcoming performance in their community. My greatest joy in working with this group was seeing the growth that they experienced, as dancers, leaders, and people. In addition to this group, I had the privilege of teaching a few classes for children and teens in the community and one adult women’s dance class. As you can imagine, the adult women’s class was a HOOT!
Throughout my internship, I experienced multiple moments where I was overcome by gratitude. I can recall many instances where I felt God embracing me in peace and assuring my heart that I was doing exactly what He put me on earth to do. I am in awe of the ways that the Lord aligned my passions and giftings to open the door for this ministry. Prior to this internship, I knew that dance was special to me and had been such a significant piece of my life. In retrospect, I had no grasp of how God would continue to mold my relationship with dance to bring glory to Him. Movement truly is a universal language and I experienced this first-hand as God opened the door for me to connect on a profound level with my Haitian friends, not through words but through dance.
Whether in a dance studio class, village dance camp, informal orphanage dance party, or choreographed performance, I experienced and witnessed some of the purest joy there is! Dance has the unique ability to put joy and beauty back into the world. I believe that this was God’s reminder to me, and to all involved in this ministry, that He is still good and there is still joy even though the world can seem so dark. Specifically in Haiti, a place that many have regarded as hopeless, I believe that this reminder was powerful.
As you can imagine, my heart aches during this transition. It is hard to say goodbye to a season of life that has brought me such great fulfillment and purpose. However, there is much that I am excited for that comes with returning home and I do ultimately have great peace that this is the best next step. As for the dance ministry, it is going to continue, God willing!
Towards the end of my internship, my focus shifted to equipping individuals to lead in my absence. I was able to identify strong leaders within the Our Generation dance group and I am excited that three of these dancers are moving into the role of “dance studio teacher”. They will continue to provide classes for children in the community, as well as provide leadership within their own dance group. I wholeheartedly believe that dance is too important to this community for this ministry to end with my departure. I also trust that God is going to continue to move in significant ways through the new leaders. I will continue to visit as often as I’m able and support the ministry in every way that I can! I invite you to join me in praying for the ministry and for the sweet dancers.