The first full day in Haiti is always enlightening. The best part is sharing a worship experience with our Haitian partners. Seeing and hearing our Haitian brothers and sisters belt out Matt Redman's worship songs in Creole and in English is pretty amazing and awe-inspiring. The men, women and children are dressed in their Sunday best with brightly colored ribbons in their hair. Although I attend a fairly casual church now, I'm reminded of my days as a little girl growing up in our Southern Baptist church, wherein my sister and I were always dressed to match, with black patent shoes and frilly socks. It's always, for me, a glimpse of what heaven will be like. It's a foreshadowing of Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hand. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvations belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’” As we sang “The Heart of Worship” in two languages, I knew we were experiencing the heart of God. I just wept.
After the dual language church service, we spent several hours unloading the medical supplies and equipment that we carried in. For these trips, all of the checked baggage contains the medical supplies for the next few months, as well as all of the mission supplies the teams will be using. In a few hours, we set up a full dental clinic, restocked a medical clinic and pharmacy, and sorted supplies we would be using for lessons in the school, a men's health day, and "make it-take it" workshops for the men.
After going back to the guesthouse for another delicious Haitian meal (that I could neither say the name nor discern the ingredients), we headed into the local village to hand out some toiletries (like soap) and pray with families. This is my third trip to Haiti. I remember being shocked at the poverty in the villages the first time, and the second time. I thought I would handle it better this time. I didn't. Many of the homes consist of four posts wrapped in tarp or scraps of metal and leaves with a tin roof. These "homes" were created by relief teams after the earthquake in 2010. The Samaritan's Purse logo is still visible on the tarps. As we walked from home to home, swarms of children grabbed our hands and wanted to walk alongside us. Their smiles are contagious. Some families invited us in, and we realized there are no beds or places to sit. Folks literally sleep on the ground. Many of the tiny structures are home to a mother, a father and 6-7 children. Coming from my Charlotte, NC, home where my children don't even share a room, it's hard to fathom and convicting to see. Perspective.
We moved like a swarm between structures – our small teams, our translator, and the droves of children. Our presence was a novelty to the Haitian people, and they flocked to see us. One particular little boy caught my eye. He had on an orange t-shirt with the logo from my employer, Carolinas HealthCare System. I must say, the shirt had seen better days, but he was very proud to have his picture taken wearing it. I wondered how that shirt ended up on that boy in this country. I later learned that it had actually been brought by our mission organization as a donation many years before. Little did we know that an "extra" t-shirt at a community event in Charlotte (that would likely be worn once by the kids here) would be the single body covering for a child in Haiti for years. Perspective.
At each home, a member of our team introduced us and asked if we could pray for them. Many of them consistently asked that we pray for the money for them to educate their children. They want a better life for their children than they can provide, but, there are no public school options in this area. It takes money to send the children to school. And they don't have it. Again, I thought about the decision process we had just completed back home, determining if one of our children should stay in our public middle school versus moving to a smaller private school for a "better fit" for her education. We are so blessed to have such choices to make. Perspective.
At the third house, my daughter piped up and said she wanted to lead the interaction. I stood back in awe and watched my 13-year-old daughter introduce our team, embrace this family and their children and then pray over their household. I honestly don't remember everything she prayed for (because I was too distracted crying), but I remember being shocked by the depth and passion of her prayer. I saw a young lady, filled with the Holy Spirit, pouring out her heart over this family. I then remembered the "knock down, drag out" argument we had experienced the week before over a run-on sentence in one of her English papers. I had been asked to proof the paper, but my critique was not well-received. She had collapsed into a crying puddle on the floor. My husband had even gotten out of bed to "referee" our interaction! (It was not a shining parental moment for me, I might add!) Could this be the same child? Indeed, it was. And, I was reminded that my job as a parent is to "train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). She's not old yet, but she is getting it. These Haitian parents want the same things for their children as well. Perspective.
May I be reminded of who God is creating in these Haitian children and my own child as well.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!