I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and was asked why I go to Haiti? The honest answer is there is no one reason why. It’s a lot of things that make up an experience that for me is life changing and indeed nurturing. I always return feeling both physically and emotionally drained and this trip was no exception. But I always come back from the trip with a new found closeness with my faith too. It’s like after receiving communion, but for me it last far longer and is much more intense. As my friend Susan says, “It’s a God thing” and for me it’s a tangible feeling of wonder and fulfillment that can best be felt through one’s heart and soul. It seems to lose both meaning and depth when attempting to express it in words.
It’s the sureness I felt that there is indeed a God while I was standing on the rubble of Saint Vincent’s and coming to the realization that under my very feet are six children’s bodies. After the first wave of sadness hit me, I cried out in my mind “Oh my God!”, then it hit me……you are such a fool, our God has already taken their souls and they are being hugged by Jesus and are running and jumping and laughing as they so richly deserve. There is no doubt in my heart that crippled, orphaned, handicapped children have taught me the very meaning and depth of faith and have shown me the power of the Holy Spirit in there loving smiles. If they aren’t in God’s embrace, then I can quit right here and now because there is no hope for me to ever make it to heaven. With that I was standing there and was filled with hope. I had a new hope for a brighter future that the hundreds of handicapped children in Haiti may finally have a school without stairs, but rather one with ramps, elevators and even bathrooms to handle wheel chairs. We can come together, and with God’s help, make a school that can actually help the children learn to overcome their handicaps. They have the faith and love in abundance, they just need the chance. With God’s help and ours, we can make a difference in their lives.
The amazing thing for me is the children. They are the same as they were before the earthquake. They can still melt your heart with a smile and are full of love, caring and compassion. They share everything with each other. There is almost no evidence of me and mine there. If you give a child a cookie, they will say thank you even before taking it, they break it in half and call a friend over to share it. A tennis ball will be cherished by a boy for days. I actually watched one boy wash himself in the morning then wash the ball, so that it stayed new and clean and yes he dried the ball with the towel before he dried himself.
We experienced more of the true Haiti this trip, no air conditioning or ice and no electricity after midnight. My heart goes out to all the people that live in the tent city. It is so hot in there I can’t imagine being there day in and day out. The saddest thing for me is it may very well be years before they can have housing that is affordable and better. Yet they are happy and go on with their life and their faith as strong as ever. I can’t help but wonder how different it might be if we were in USA?
We saw a body lying on the street and the people just kept on doing their own thing. No one seemed to notice. This troubled me, but later I came to the realization that there were over 300,000 bodies lying in the streets after the earth quake. That is a mind-boggling! Yes, we experienced a short week of what it is like being Haitian, but we are now in our homes with all of our loved ones. We are enjoying the AC and in my kitchen I can feed multiple families. Why do I feel that the people in Haiti living in the tent city have a deeper and better understanding of faith and God’s love and hope? Those that have nothing teach me I have everything and more. THANKS BE TO GOD.
sent in by John Mutin