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"Little by Little" by Maddie Johnson

Concordia University is a private non-profit Lutheran liberal arts university in Portland, Oregon.  In May, Dr. Barbara O'Malley Floyd, a Professor Emeritus of Nursing in Concordia's College of Health & Human Services Department, led a group of students on an 18 day-journey in Haiti and one of those weeks was at St. Gabriel's School in Fontaine. This was Concordia's third trip to Fontaine and Professor Floyd's fifth trip. She came for the very first time in 2012, when the school was still under construction. She, herself, has sponsored more than one student at St. Gabriel's School in Fontaine, Haiti. Madie Johnson, a Concordia nursing student, was also a member of last year's and this year's Concordia team. As a result of last year's trip she offered to sponsor a student at St. Gabriel's School. Below is a report of their experience, along with an outline of the goals and objectives of this year's trip, which included learning and serving in rural Haiti and maintaining the relationships and friendships made in past years. As you read, it becomes clear that this is but another example of people blessing the community of Fontaine and being blessed by that same community in return.

I remember waking up at the crack of dawn on the 12th of May with brimming excitement because I knew Pierre-Louis was on his way to pick us up! Our group, which included my self, Dr. Barbara Floyd, Claire Calhoun and Lashawna Bogh had been meeting months prior to our Haiti journey planning and discussing what we would be doing at St. Gabriel's. We brainstormed lesson plans, collected various prizes (water bottles, draw-string bags, sunglasses, etc.), and even typed and printed song lyrics to practice English. I have had the privilege of coming to Haiti with Dr. Floyd once before so I had a hunch that this trip would be everything and more than what I was expecting.

After my trip to Haiti with Dr. Floyd last summer, I immediately went to the Friends of Fontaine website and requested a sponsorship form. I was so amazed by my time at St. Gabriel's that I decided I could keep my connection with Fontaine by sponsoring one of the eager students. The reason I knew this trip would be nothing less than amazing was because I would have the chance to meet the student I sponsor. I not only got to meet him but also a few members of his family, which was a truly special experience. It was in that moment I knew the community of Fontaine was something very, very special. I remember in one of my high school theology classes learning what the word "Vocation" means.  I now thank Dr. Floyd (the amazing leader of this trip), my two awe-inspiring trips to St. Gabriel's and the entire FOF community, for showing me my vocation in this beautiful life. I now know that after nursing school, I will once again return to Haiti and work alongside and serve the beautiful and compassionate Haitian people.

"Piti, piti wazo fe nich li : little by little the bird builds it's nest"

With love,

Maddie Johnson

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