Two days before my trip, I went to Scheel’s and bought a pair of Keens for my journey and then I came home and sat on my couch and cried. My shoulders shook and I didn’t know it was possible to have so much stuff in my head. I called my husband and I couldn’t get any words out except, “I’m going to Haiti,” and he rode his bike home in record time.
We went to the grocery store, and to the bank, and we went to dinner, and the tears wouldn’t stop running down my cheeks, even though I tried to hold them back.
I went to church on Sunday and they wrote down my name when it was time to pray, and the next day I zipped up my backpack and caught a flight to Haiti. I don’t know how we get outside our comfort zone without the prayers of people who love us.
In Haiti, two years after the earthquake that shook Haiti (and much of the rest of the world) to its core, I sat in a makeshift school, on the fringe of Tent City and someone asked the Pastor how the earthquake had broken Haiti. “Haiti was already broken,” the Pastor answered. “The earthquake just made it naked.”
And later, when I walked tiny walkways where 20,000 people still live between tiny patches of dirt, sectioned off by walls of fabric or cardboard; where all the air smelled like human waste and people call it “Rape City” under their breath; I felt like we’re all naked together and how in the world is this going on just two hours off the coast of Florida?
Together, we sat beneath the blue and white stripes of the tent that serves as a place of worship and I didn’t recognize the significance until Bret Raymond reminded us the story of the Exodus is a story of a people, immensely loved by God, living in tents between what was and what will be.
We stood with the rest when the music swelled in the heat that smothered. Men and women raised their arms and hands in worship and their voices drowned out the sounds of the generator that hummed to keep the fans running and lights burning. I don’t speak Creole, and the French I took in eighth grade hasn’t served me well. But I didn’t need to know the language to know “How Great Thou Art” right here in the middle of Tent City.
It’s been one week since my return, and now I know those tears I cried before I went to Haiti weren’t mine alone. Now I know, in the same way we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, we can also share His tears.
I don’t know what you’ve heard about Haiti. I don’t know what you’ve seen, or what you may have thought. But Haiti is beautiful. Haitians are beautiful. I would have to be blind to come away from Haiti without thinking it is absolutely stunning.
I saw Jesus everywhere I looked.
The people of Haiti are strong. They have suffered greatly. They carry tragedy in their hearts and there is no denying it. Denying it would be an insult. But God has His eye on Haiti. God walks the dirt floors there.
In the airport on that final day, Lamar Stockton looked at our weary team, overcome with emotion, and information, and anticipation of what it would be like to live our regular lives now that Haiti had made its way into our pores. Lamar has made this trip before, and he leaned forward and looked right at us all. “Don’t be ashamed,” he said, “of the house you live in, the food in your refrigerator, the nice things you have. God has you where you are for a reason. Don’t take that lightly.”
You and I? We have the resources to help at least one.
I went to Haiti with a team of bloggers, writing for Help One Now. Do you know Help One Now? You seriously need to put them on your radar. You need to know Chris Marlow. I don’t know how else to tell you other than to say that you should follow him, and pray for him, and cheer for him and for the amazing Help One Now team. I cannot tell you how proud I was to walk the roads of Haiti and watch people hug him and pat his shoulder and look him in the eye and say, “You keep coming back.”
There may not be a greater gift than to keep coming back.
Someone else you should know? Mike Rusch, Bret Raymond, and the team at Pure Charity. These men. This organization. Wow. Just, wow. Vision. Passion. Integrity. Humility. Pure Charity joined us in Haiti, and helped to make the trip possible. You know how sometimes you just know you’re witnessing greatness? Yes. That is Pure Charity. Follow them. Pray for them. Cheer for them. Open a Pure Charity account. They are the real deal.
Together, Help One Now, Pure Charity, and the the Help One Now bloggers are working on a project that will leave a legacy in Haiti. You’ll be able to help, and your help will have a lasting impact in Haiti, for good. We’ll tell you more in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, we covet your prayers.
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