The poverty is greater than my words can articulate. It is greater than the story behind a thousand pictures. It is deeper than the stirring in my soul could ever describe. I just finished spending 9 days in several different villages/cities in Haiti, and they all shared this same common theme. But as my eyes turned from their makeshift homes and the chaos of what they call the “market”, and turned to meet a lot of their eyes, I saw joy and hope. Yes–JOY and HOPE. How is this possible? How can people who have so little have a reason to have joy and hope? How are they able to see beyond their present circumstances, let alone smile about it?
The truth of the matter is, they have no option but to acknowledge their blessings as the love of Christ. They have had to actually exercise the faith that we speak of (I’m not saying that none of us have gone through difficult circumstances–we have–I’m really just referring to seeing Christ clearly, without so much “clutter”). They’ve seen God come through. They recognize provision after provision because they honestly can’t attribute it to anything else. And us, although we consider ourselves blessed (and we definitely are), we have to sift through our own accomplishments and victories and hard work and our piles and piles of THINGS to even see God’s hand. We have life handed to us on a silver platter, and then we live as if it’s something that WE have done to deserve it. But we could have just as easily been born a little further south, and our life would be very different.
What I saw was that there are many people who, despite how much they have or don’t have, they still rejoice in their blessings. I met people who I will consider lifelong friends there who I have learned more from in 9 days than I ever would have imagined. I have new friends who I would love to learn so much more from. We went to try to bless others and to share the love of Christ with them, but the reality was that we were the ones who were blessed, and we saw the love of Christ demonstrated. I’ll never forget the way they worshipped. Erik Reed said it perfectly when he said that they worship like they have everything, while often we worship like we have nothing. Maybe the truth is that they are the ones who have “everything”, while a lot of the things that we have are very temporary. They have all they need (although a little more shelter, food, and clothing would probably be a good thing), and they aren’t too busy or covered up to recognize it. This is not meant to be a knock on Americans. I was so happy to walk through my middle-class door on Saturday evening. I was so glad to take a shower and not be sweating before I could even get dried off. I was thrilled to be able to do my laundry, go to Publix, and use a real toilet. This is the place that God has me, and this is the life that He has for me. I just want to make sure that I remember to be thankful for it, and to leave a little time, energy, money, and love to share with the people who have invested so much in my heart and soul over the past week. They deserve the love.
I’ll have to write more about specific things we experienced while in Haiti. I honestly am not sure even where to start. What an amazing, eye-opening, love-provoking week. Thank you to those who prayed for our team. We have several stories that would prove that your prayers for protection and health and opportunity were answered. We loved, and we were loved on. We met some of the most wonderful men, women, and children we could ever hope to share a little sliver of life with. What a treasure that I will not soon forget.