Local teen’s mission work in Haiti is life-changing

Local teen’s mission work in Haiti is life-changing
“I loved playing with and serving these sweet faces during our clinic days,” said Grayson Kennon.

When Grayson Kennon left Jacksonville on a church mission trip, she didn’t expect it to be a life-changing event. But for the Avondale teen, a church trip to Haiti provided the opportunity to help Haitian citizens improve their health.

“My trip to Haiti was a medical mission with Deermeadows Baptist Church. I spent a whole week there during the end of April,” said Kennon, 18. “It was an incredible experience.”

Her motivation for performing mission work was not only drawn from her church; it is also a family tradition. 

“Ever since the first time I watched my mom go when I was eight years old, I have always known that I wanted to go do mission work there,” she said.  “I have a heart for children, and seeing all my mom’s pictures from her trip made me want to go with her! I finally got the opportunity and it was everything I hoped it would be.”

The missionaries worked at schools and orphanages, distributing medicines to those with health issues, including one affliction most Americans may not think of as a risk.

“There were a lot of people who had extremely high blood pressure,” said Kennon. “To the point where our nurses were saying ‘How are you still out and walking around?’ That was the most common med I remember giving out.”

When first arriving in Haiti, Kennon’s group was unsure if it would be able to successfully bring precious medicines into the country. “When we got to the airport in Port-au-Prince, almost all of our meds were seized by security,” said Kennon. “The men who worked at the airport decided to search our bags and found our suitcases filled with medicine. They took one look at us and saw dollar signs; they knew they could sell them or use them for their families. We still had a good amount of topical and liquid meds, but all of our pills, which we had sorted into individual dosages in bags, were gone.”

The dilemma made Kennon’s group feel hopeless at first, but a hero soon stepped in to save the day. “Our friend, Eddie Lucate, who is from Haiti, somehow got the majority of them back. He was pretty incredible and was so humble about it,” she said.

Kennon’s favorite part of the trip was meeting the youngest Haitians. “I absolutely love the kids there. They are so sweet, and thankful, and curious. There was one day we were at the orphanage and we were feeding all the kids. It was amazing to see the older kids helping the little ones eat their lunch and sitting patiently for their turn. When they see you they get so excited, because they know you’re going to come spend time and play with them. It was incredible to see how much love they had for us.”

Kennon said her time in Haiti even affected her career aspirations. “Before this trip, I wanted to major in broadcast journalism. When we arrived in Haiti, being at the school on the first day changed my mind.  Now, I want to go somewhere abroad to be a teacher.”

“The most challenging part was leaving,” she said. “I felt like I could stay for another year and still have so much more I could help with.”

By Sarah Duggan
Resident Community News

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