Following graduation, new Monsignor Edward Pace High School alumni Brittani Garcia and Christy Piña, a Miami Lakes resident, could have relaxed and enjoyed being done with high school. Instead, they joined Pace theology teacher and Campus Minister Andres Novela on a 12-day mission to Môle-Saint-Nicolas in Haiti. The mission, which took place from June 18 through June 29, was done through Amor en Acción, the Archdiocese of Miami’s lay missionary group.
As Pace students, Garcia and Piña were heavily influenced by Novela, their leader in campus ministry. Novela routinely goes on missions to Haiti, speaks Creole proficiently, and makes a substantial effort to raise money in support for Pace’s Haitian sister schools throughout the year.
Once arriving at Môle-Saint-Nicolas on the northwestern coast of Haiti, the missionaries worked together with the young adults of Môle’s parish to run a camp for the parish’s children. Each missionary had a classroom with students that they shared with one of the young adults from Môle who spoke English. The youth leader would lecture to the children on each day’s lesson in Creole while the missionary prepared the day’s activity and assisted with the lecture.
“I would say the most important thing we did is just being present to the community,” said Garcia. “Andres and Raquel (co-leaders of the mission) would tell us that there would be mission groups that would go, drop off stuff, and leave.”
For the two recent graduates, the mission let them see everyday life in Môle and created lasting memories of Haiti and its people. Garcia and Piña both recall meeting Wilnes, a 12-year-old girl who had liver cancer but never stopped smiling and even sang a song in English about how much Jesus loves her after listening to music with the missionaries. According to Garcia, one boy named Jeffrey didn’t leave her side or let go of her hand for the entire camp.
Piña recalled how another boy named Wuso, who was a special-needs child, would arrive early to help take materials to different classes and collected a huge bag full of seashells and brought it to Garcia once he found out she liked shells.
On the mission’s final day, a camp talent show also acted as a going-away party for the missionaries, and each missionary was given a painting made by one of the youth leaders as a thank you.
“On our last day in Môle, they threw this party for us and Wuso picked me up from the steps and made me dance with him,” said Piña. “Normally, I wouldn’t have danced, but his eyes showed this sincere want for me to dance with him.”
After returning to Miami, both graduates stated that after their spiritually rewarding experience, they definitely plan on going on another mission.
“I knew that we were going to be helping the people of Haiti, but I didn’t expect for it to be the other way around,” said Garcia.