A Photo Essay of Thoman, Haiti

A Photo Essay of Thoman, Haiti

"Through these pictures we see community, education, love and joy."

Written by Noah Sipes. Photos by Jonas Stewart.

In July 2016, Jonas Stewart traveled to Thoman, Haiti for one week. Thoman is a village in the southeastern mountains of Haiti with a population of about 5,000. He was there on a mission trip planned through But God Ministries. He was accompanied by his parents, members of the church, and a group from Mississippi. In this time, his group worked with the local hope center and added children to the sponsor program. His time was well spent and he plans to go back. In only one week, he managed to capture a glimpse of this beautiful country and those who inhabit it. Here are a few of his photos taken with a digital camera.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, each picture tells it's own story. The Haitian lifestyle is very different from our own, and through these pictures we see community, education, love and joy.

Jonas is a great friend of mine, and a talented photographer. As I looked through his pictures, I was overcome with many thoughts. At first, I was only impressed at how great they were. Then, I realized I had previously known nothing about Haiti. I listened to his stories of all the people he met and things he learned. He taught me a few words to speak in Creole Even still, I knew nothing other than what I heard and saw from a person who had actually been there.

It is very easy to become involved with missions. Whether it is supporting a missionary or being a missionary, anyone can do something.

For more information on how to you can get involved with But God Ministries, please visit their website.

Cover Image Credit: Jonas Stewart

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My First 24 Hours In A Different Language

Learning to embrace the language barrier

"Oh, you're coming to Brazil without knowing any Portuguese?" An overly generous lady on the plane looked at me concerned after watching me struggle to order my food on our 10-hour flight.

"Yes," I replied, feeling my own voice lack confidence in my answer. Was I ready to go to a country where I didn't know a single word of the language they spoke? How would I communicate with someone if something went wrong and no English speakers were around?

The remainder of my flight, my thoughts were swirling with the possibilities and the fears of going to a country that I had little-to-no background knowledge of. I had convinced myself the week prior that, for once, I did not want to know everything about the place I was going, if anything at all. I wanted to surprise myself and for me, that meant avoiding all research. Beyond the fact that Brazilians spoke Portuguese and I should pack some shorts and sunscreen, I was going on my trip with a completely unaware of what I was getting myself into.

After my plane ride, I was not so sure that I had made the right decision in not doing my research and learning at least the basic phrases in Portuguese. Getting off of the plane, the lady I had been sitting next to on the plane pointed me in the direction I needed to go for customs instead of allowing me to wander aimlessly around the airport.

After making it through customs seemingly being the only English speaker in my immediate area, I was overjoyed to see my aunt's familiar face. After taking four years of Spanish in high school, I thought that I would have a general idea as to what the words meant, but the street signs affirmed that would not be the case.

My first day consisted of exploring Beco de Batman and eating at a local restaurant, La Da Venda. Despite the fact that I was by my aunt's side the entire time, I couldn't help but feel increasingly uncomfortable with each question I was asked. I had no idea when I was being asked what to drink or when it was time to order my food. In fact, the only two phrases I had learned at this point were 'hello' and 'thank you.'

Luckily, the restaurant we went to offered a menu in English, which I later found would not be a common commodity. As I once again muddled my way through ordering, I wondered what the people around me were saying. The large family to my right and the couple huddled in the corner to my left.

As the day continued, we found ourselves at a pub on the corner of the street. The people surrounding us were laughing and genuinely enjoying the "football" game they were watching. Yet somehow, despite not knowing a single word they were saying, I felt as though I was a part of the community. They had no idea that I was a foreigner and did not understand just exactly what was going on, but we all just coexisted.

The language barrier may make things a little more difficult, and your message is not always going to come across as you want it to, but humans are social beings regardless of what language you speak, and we can all appreciate time in the sunshine, sitting on the corner, enjoying our company.

Cover Image Credit: Alexis Collins

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My Foolproof Flight Checklist For Every Time I Step On A Plane

Flight travel tips and tricks for any vacation.

These last couple years, especially since going to college, I have been on airplanes going places more frequently and I have picked up a few key items I always have with me along with some travel day tips and tricks.

Check the weather

My first step before I begin to pack is to check the weather of the location I intend on traveling to. This will help you sort out the types of apparel you may need.

Make a list

Personally, I am a list person. Once I write it down it down it almost guarantees I won't forget it. It also helps me stay organized with all of the this I think I will need and that way I can pack my carry on properly to ensure everything will fit.

Bring an empty water bottle

Staying hydrated is essential to your everyday living and when you're embarking on a long travel day it can be forgotten. Therefore I always bring along an empty water bottle so that I can be reminded to drink water. It will also help reduce future costs of over prices drinks in the airport or perhaps your destination.

Bring noise canceling headphones

These are my holy grails for any flight. Headphones are a must to let yourself stay distracted on planes. Yet I would highly encourage you to invest in noise canceling headphones, they are a real game changer. They block out the annoying sounds of your flights. I often will even put my headphones on without any sound just to block out the noises so I can sleep.

Wear your biggest jacket

I always try to wear my biggest articles of clothing on the plane so that I have more room in my carry on. This usually means I will throw on my sweatshirt and an outer layer jacket. Wearing a big comfy jacket is also used in more than one way because you can use them as a jacket or pillow on the flight as well.

Cover Image Credit: Briann George

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