Our last day in Haiti is bitter sweet as you can imagine. Thoughts of leaving these children behind crowd in your mind with watching them play and smile and steal your heart.
John Mutin has made a particular friend of a boy at the school. His name is a difficult Haitian name for us Americans, and I believe he is the same boy who captured Dr Sue Trzynka’s heart on her last trip. His name is Benissoin, or something like that, but Clark (a CBU nurse) apparently nicknamed him “Bennie”.
A year ago, Bennie first met John when he crawled up into his lap during the Sunday Eucharist. Bennie has no arms, and he found the welcoming arms and big lap of John Mutin to contentedly spend the rest of the service.
This year, on our last day, we gathered in the courtyard for the Feast of St Vincent, a yearly celebration at the school. The Feast Day always begins with a Eucharistic service, so all of the students and teachers of St Vincent’s, as well as their parents and other visitors, were seated in the courtyard. About ten minutes into the service I spotted Bennie coming through the crowd, stepping over me and the people next to me, headed for John who was seated at the end of the row. I think the other team members weren’t sure why this child was climbing through the row of seats, but I knew at once he had recognized John and was making his way to him.
John carried this child to receive Holy Communion, and spent most of the rest of the day watching out for him. He asked me soon after the service to listen to his heart, because he was worried something might be wrong. Bennie seemed quiet and sad, and John was worried he might be sick. All of our medical equipment was locked up in the clinic, so it was not easy to get a stethoscope, but Shruti (our medical student) managed to obtain hers and later told me that Bennie seemed fine to her, no obvious problems with his heart. After that, John asked me if Dr Jenn could look at Bennie. Dr Jenn is a doctor of manual therapy, and had worked expertly with many of the children all week, diagnosing their spine problems and instructing the St Vincent’s staff how to help the children with their mobility. I soon observed Bennie sitting with Dr Jenn as she examined his spine and his legs; she later talked to John about what she thought could be done to help him.
On the trip home, John told me he had talked to Dieumene about helping Bennie. Dieumene has no arms, has grown up at St Vincent’s and can do amazing things with her feet, including typing, writing, braiding hair, and generally anything I can do with my hands (actually I can’t braid hair very well). John hopes that Dieumene will teach Bennie how to manage all the things that she has learned. I am not very confident that Dieumene, a 20 year old girl, will make much time for a 6 year old boy, but I could see the pain in John’s face as he struggled with the reality of leaving Bennie behind. So much we want to do for these children, and yet we are limited by time, distance, resources. The grieving process was visible on John’s face all that day as he went from me to Dr Jenn and eventually to Dieumene, trying to help his boy.
When I get overwhelmed by these thoughts, I remember that God is in charge, not me. He holds these children in His arms. I can’t begin to understand why America has so many resources, and Haiti so few. Nor why an innocent child has to face the struggles Bennie does. When I read from Psalms, the verses seem to jump out at me as I think of Haiti’s people and the insufficient answers I have to Why? Why?
1Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; *
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
2 For they shall soon wither like the grass, *
and like the green grass fade away.
3 Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
4 Take delight in the Lord, *
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.
5 Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.
6 He will make your righteousness as clear as the light*
and your just dealing as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord *
and wait patiently for him.
8 Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, *
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
9 Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
10 For evildoers shall be cut off,*
but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.
11 In a little while the wicked shall be no more;*
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.
12 But the lowly shall possess the land;*
they will delight in abundance of peace.
13 The wicked plot against the righteous *
and gnash at them with their teeth.
14 The Lord laughs at the wicked,*
because he sees that their day will come.
15 the wicked draw their sword and bend their bow
to strike down the poor and needy,*
to slaughter those who are upright in their ways.
16 Their sword shall go through their own heart, *
and their bow shall be broken.
17 The little that the righteous has *
is better than great riches of the wicked.
18 For the power of the wicked shall be broken, *
but the Lord upholds the righteous.