By Madison Shock
(Editor’s Note: When Nativity young adults first visited the site of a future Nativity Village in Despuzeau, Haiti, there was a young man off to the side, obviously outcast because he was hearing impaired. Madison approached him and when he responded by signing, she answered him in kind. They had a lively conversation in American Sign Language, which he had learned from Fr. Moises at Titanyen. The entire village gathered around and Jonael went from outcast to celebrity in a moment. He was respected from that point on as the only one in the village who could communicate with Americans. In 2017, Madison and Jonael had a reunion; he heard we were going to be at Good Shepherd Village and he traveled there to see Madison again.)
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Haiti and Jonael. It continues to be the single greatest moment of my life; meeting him. He is such a beautiful person and I feel so blessed every day that God brought him into my life. I do not know the impact I had on his life, but he changed mine. Jonael did not have a single soul to talk to in his village. He spent most of his time alone and had extremely limited human interaction because of this language barrier. If I was able to be a friend to him, if only for a few minutes, then that is the greatest honor I will ever know. I feel so extremely blessed to have had this opportunity. Haiti and Jonael will forever hold a special place in my heart and I am very much so looking forward to going back.