The sand was pristine. The water crystal blue. The sun warm and inviting. And the breeze danced through the leaves of the palm branches with whispers from heaven. It could have been on a postcard.

It was my happy place.

I recently took a cruise with my family to the Western Caribbean with ports of call in Labadee, Haiti and Ochos Rio, Jamaica. I had been looking forward to it for months. It’s no secret that I despise cold weather and it was perfectly timed after a long harsh Winter. I couldn’t wait to go.

The airline we travelled with required that we pay for our luggage. I was irritated by that because who takes a trip without a suitcase? It just seemed like a way to take advantage of those fortunate enough to travel. So I tried to find ways to minimize our baggage. Then I was irritated that my family didn’t have enough space in just two suitcases for our week-long trip and I would end up paying for another suitcase to haul all our stuff.

Fine. Whatever. It was a small price to pay to have enough room for all my shoes to match all my cute dresses. Besides, did I mention the pristine beach calling my name? I was at a point where I would have paid almost anything for time on the beach.

After a long day of travelling and dragging my heavy suitcase behind me, I was so glad to finally be on the ship. Our vacation had begun! We spent two days lounging by the pool, eating too much, and being entertained by world class performers before we even made it to the beach.

Oh…but it was so worth the wait! The temperature of the water was perfect! And it wasn’t crowded. My children played happily at my feet all day. Together. Without squabbling. At all.

That in itself was worth the trip!

My cares melted away and seemed to be tossed among the waves. Ahhh….


And then I noticed something. Can you see it too? There on the hillside across the bay. Several tiny little structures clinging to the side of the hill. Those are houses. Houses where the rich people of the island live. You know, the ones who have running water. Truly. Those are the elite of the island. Those tiny shacks of a home are considered the place to live because they have running water. I am unsure if they have electricity.

Suddenly paying a small fee to haul my family’s 6 suitcases full of shoes, dresses, jewelry, snorkel gear, books, hair product, plush beach towels, kindles (three of them!), cell phone chargers, perfume, soap, night gowns, formal wear…suddenly all of it made me feel very small and very humble.

Haiti, according to my daughter, is the 2nd poorest country in the world behind Ethiopia. Ethiopia! Isn’t that the place where images of starving children that haunt my mind come from? And here I was enjoying a BBQ buffet with iced lemonade in the lap of it’s first cousin.

I gained perspective from this picture. I gained humility and a better appreciation for the things I have been blessed with. My home not only has running water, but electricity and insulation. We have 2 steady incomes and healthy children. We have 2 cars that we own outright and a company vehicle. I am sure that those people living in a small house on a hill in Haiti would look at my life and wish for a small fraction of my possessions.

Or, maybe not. Maybe my family’s 6 suitcases seems as ridiculous to them as it really is.


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Bethany Donham

Bethany E. Donham is married to her high school sweetheart and the mother of two beautiful teenage girls. She is a full time Minister to Preschoolers and Families, but has a passion for guiding others to see the world with a Biblical perspective through her writing.

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