By Lois McTaggart

For the last three years we’ve been taking supplies to the Dominican and Haiti. We now have a huge family that welcome us with open arms and hearts. We pack our stuff into our carry-on and the rest of our luggage is for the people there. When we get there we are remembered – “Canada, Canada, our family.” Huge smiles, hugs, kisses. We have two pastors who deliver stuff into Haiti and the interior for us, the rest we hand deliver with a snack and drinks. Our friend Nora Tychowski writes up notes in Spanish to put in the pastors’ bags so security doesn’t take them.

These people may be poor but if you take the time to listen they are the great teachers. Even to observe you will learn how they have it right and we have got it wrong. I’ve chatted with Dr. Markham about his time in Haiti and how the people there have nothing yet they are grateful for life and they work together.

In tough times, we see a lot of greed. We want more, we want bigger, we want better than others. Worse, we want others to be as miserable as we are and we find it hard to be joyous in others’ fortunes. We work ourselves to death to pay off huge homes, expensive vehicles and want more – yet we still aren’t happy. Why? We don’t have time for friends, family, fun and when we do we don’t feel like it because we are always stressed.

Why can’t we be grateful, why can’t we work together, why can’t we wish well onto others and really mean it? Why do we want others to fail so we can say “I told you so?” Why can’t we wish others the best in life, stand together in thick and thin? That is what they do and the little they have they are willing to share. The love and gratefulness renews our tainted souls. They show us that if we have love and kindness, the basics are all we need and all the rest is just wonderful gifts.

If you have trouble seeing the good or the beauty close your eyes and see with your heart. Not to be happy is not to be grateful. Remember a rich person is not the one who has the most – but needs the least. We are all searching for love. We must have an open heart and mind and not be judgmental and we can learn from others – no one is beneath us.

There is a lot of negativity here in the village. People need to start helping each other out. Most of us hate our work. In the Dominican a girl is stuck in the bathrooms for 10-12 hour days just cleaning toilets, yet she is singing as she is working while we work eight hours and in better conditions and we can’t even exchange a smile with another person. They may not have much but their souls are full of love, happiness, song, gratefulness, family and friends. Their sincere smiles, sincere hugs, refuel my empty tank. These people havechanged my life forever.

Many of us look for life’s lessons and here is one of true happiness and fulfillment.
Gratitude is a cleansing agent for our soul. It moves us away from what we don’t have to what we do have. We can change outcomes with our attitude.

We now have a huge family that gets bigger as one of the men that we see each year has a new baby boy. With the language barrier, we thought he said that he told his family to wait until next year for the christening when we were back so we could be part of it. We were amazed as we never met the rest of his family. He sent a note with us so Nora could read it and she told us, no, he wanted me to be god mother to his child. That is amazing. Nora said she could feel the love over the phone.

It may seem strange to us as we don’t get to really experience true untainted love very often. These people radiate it. So let’s try radiating some love in this valley. If people who have virtually nothing can do it, then why can’t we? We have a lot more than others and we need to be grateful for life, the mountains, home, food, friends and family.