Harmony in Haiti

I have often said, “Music is my second passion, after Jesus Christ, of course!” When I consecrated my life, I knew I was giving everything to God -music included – but over the years I have discovered more and more how God wants me to use music to help others reach Him. Throughout my twelve years of consecrated life in Regnum Christi, I have had many chances to use my God-given musical gifts for the mission of evangelization.

Last week, I was blessed with yet another opportunity to reach hearts through music. I wasn’t on a stage singing my heart out or in a chapel leading a congregation as a cantor. No, I was in Haiti!

On May 31, thirteen recent graduates from Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and three chaperones travelled to Haiti for a mission trip of a lifetime. We were greeted in the airport by Paola Trevino, national director of Mission Youth. The next day, Paola took us to the Arc Tent City, where we were immediately greeted by children who recognized the Mission Youth uniforms and wanted to play! As some of the kids played soccer and jumped rope, others gathered around me for my first chance to offer my musical gifts. How? A sing-along and hand-clapping games! Later that week we taught an English class to the students of the Arc Tent City school, where the song Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes was a featured lesson.

A major highlight of the trip was our time spent at the Missionaries of Charity Children’s Home, which houses malnourished or ill children, as well as orphans. My favorite room was the one full of babies. As soon as we walked in each day, they would stand up in their cribs and start crying for attention, just wanting to be held. I quickly discovered that I can only hold one at a time, but I wanted to do something to make the others happy. So, naturally, I started singing to them. As I got further into Amazing Grace, I noticed one little baby, whom I quickly nicknamed “Diva,” stand up in her crib, sway back and forth, and sing along (in baby language, of course). It was adorable!

One of my favorite moments at the Children’s Home was a hot and sunny afternoon when several volunteers were sitting outside near the playground area holding babies. I started singing a song, and then everyone else started joining in. Before I knew it, we were singing three-part harmony to songs like Lean on Me, DoReMi, and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough! The best part was that most of us had either just met or never met, and music was uniting us. The delight of music and the deep joy that comes from loving and giving of ourselves to make others happy were evident by the smiles on every face, including the babies. Thank you, God, for the gift of music! And, thank you for this moment (and many others) of harmony in Haiti!

“Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and the permissible delights of the soul.” — Johann Sebastian Bach

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

“Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation—as poet, writer, sculptor, architect, musician, actor and so on—feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole.” — Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists

“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.” — Maria von Trapp

 

 

About Jill Swallow

Jill Swallow resides near Cincinnati, Ohio, where she is a spiritual guide for young women, a retreat leader, and the coordinator of her consecrated community’s youth work. She has written and recorded several songs, which you can find on www.rcmusicnow.com or i-tunes (search “consecrated women of Regnum Christi”).
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