The first thing I encountered were children of all ages staring at us with gaunt faces, bare feet, and tattered clothes. The ground under them was covered in trash. Suddenly, I remembered how clean the mission was. As we walked, we passed a crowded cemetery. The alley way we walked through led to an open area full of small, cement block homes that were about 8 ft. in length by 8 ft. in depth. Our room in the mission complex was bigger than their entire house! Some of the homes had wooden roofs and some were metal. A few houses had porches. Their windows were covered by rags and most of them had no running water or toilets. Of course, we had toilets and running water.
As we walked, women passed by with buckets on their heads. They were on their way to the local water supply, across a very busy road. As pigs and goats ran by, I spied bowls of dirty water used for washing clothes. I kept seeing small, empty, plastic blue pouches all over the ground. My translator told us that they were purified water pouches available if you had money. At our mission, we had huge jugs of purified water that I could go get any time I wanted. Tears welled up in my eyes as I imagined having to live like this on a daily basis. I suddenly felt guilty for pouring out some of my clean water earlier that day! Thank you Jesus for Mission of Hope Haiti and for teaching me what poverty really is.
As we continued, our translator approached some women for conversation. They were happy to oblige. The heat was intense and sweat was pouring down my back. The process was to write down the GPS coordinates (No street names here!), get to know people through general conversation, ask specific questions related to health, wellness and their spiritual condition, find their water source for drinking and bathing, and track the information. Then, we would distribute personal care items to them. Mission of Hope Haiti would then follow up. We visited seven to eight homes per day. Some people we met were goat herders and teachers who tried to help their neighbors with the little bit of money they had. Others were unemployed people who bartered or sold things they made out of trash to have food, water, and shelter. Some people we met were touched by voo-doo and some were criminals who preyed upon others to survive. Still, others we met were Christians who were content, but still had many issues that they needed prayer for. As Christ worked through the conversations with all types of people, seven prayed to receive Christ. Thank you Jesus that these people will one day see eternity in heaven with no pain and suffering and that all their needs will be met by the face of our almighty Father!
Jesus came in human form to experience life as we know it. He gave up the perfect atmosphere of heaven for us so that we could touch, feel, and see Him in a tangible way. His example shows me that I need to understand where people are coming from just as He did when he spoke to the woman at the well. (John 4) If I can’t understand where people are coming from, it’s hard to communicate truth to them in a way they can understand. So, my “stress” at the mission gave me a glimpse into their very different lives and helped me to relate. People in Haiti don’t need my pampered existence, they need Jesus. I want them to see Jesus in me, not my American culture. They need to see His love, His compassion, and His ability to meet them where they are through me. When people have Jesus in their lives, his message through them should be able to transcend all cultures. His message brings hope to endure, perseverance, and peace in the midst of chaos. Most of all it brings the promise of a better future. This is the tie that binds us all as brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Although our lives are very different, we can all share in the boundless love of Jesus Christ. Jesus brings everyone contentment in whatever state of existence they are in.
I thank God for the opportunity He gave me to meet his children in Haiti; those that have accepted Him and those that have not yet accepted Him. This experience was precious to me and to my daughter. I am thrilled that we shared it together.
I can now look at my life in a different way and hopefully I will complain less about the little “stresses” that I must endure on a day-to-day basis. Suddenly, the traffic in Atlanta isn’t so bad!
For more information on Mission of Hope Haiti please click here.