Two Decorah residents have gotten a chance to revisit Haiti, 18 months after a severe earthquake hit that country.
Cheri and Taylor Lane took an eight day trip to volunteer at an orphanage in Bon Ripos, Haiti—their second mission trip to the orphanage.
The first time they visited the Ruuska Orphanage, just five months after the earthquake, it took several days for them to process the situation, says Cheri. All four members of the Lane family—Cheri, Greg, Parker and Taylor—went on the first trip. There was quite a bit of culture shock during the first days, she says. They also wondered "Why did we come down here?"
That's because life for the Haitians was difficult even before the earthquake, with centuries of poverty and corruption. But then the Lanes were able to see things through the eyes of the Haitians. Cheri says she now considers many of them as friends.
So when they returned to the orphanage this summer, they pitched in to do whatever needed to be done—cooking, cleaning, construction, or just being with the kids.
The experience "expanded the way we think," she says. Cheri says mission trip convinced her that there are questions that only God can figure out. She says she now spends time trying to discern what she is being called to do.
"We were changed more than anything we could contribute," she concludes. She says she and her family members complain less now and try to be more compassionate, more patient, and more flexible.
As for the orphanage, Lane says it has placed over one thousand kids in adoptions in the past 20 years. Despite the challenges of poverty and earthquake recovery, the work continues at the orphanage. Cheri Lane says she's committed to returning to Haiti for a third trip—and wants to organize a large group of Decorah residents to go with her.