I went to Haiti and it was beautiful. Haiti is beautiful. Haitians are beautiful. I would have to be blind to come away from Haiti without thinking it is absolutely stunning.
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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oh, deidra. wow. just wow.
Not Just Hands And Feet says
[…] need to talk to you about Haiti! It’s a break from the 31 Days series, and it’s over at (in)courage. Will you stop by and visit me there today? ShareTweet 1 Comment Filed Under: (in)courage, […]
Shelly Miller says
I’ve done it, everything you asked. And I loved following the Help One Now bloggers to Haiti and back. Each and every post I read inspired me. So thankful for what you are doing to leave a legacy and look forward to hearing more.
Thank you, Shelly. Thank you.
The images are stunning. I love the one with you and the kids. It sounds like you’ve been “wrecked” as Jeff Goins describes in his new book. Thank you for introducing me to these organizations. I’ll look them up, follow and pray.
Amen, Kacey. And, thank you.
Patricia (Pollywog Creek) says
“God has you where you are for a reason. Don’t take that lightly.”
And God had you in Haiti for reason…and I love seeing the joy on your face in that photo with the children.
I have been privileged to take supplies to a ministry just 20 minutes south of us that ministers to Haitians who were brought to South Florida following the earthquake. They don’t expect a handout. They are lovely, gracious people – always willing to help those who help them.
Thank you, Deidra – for doing this very hard thing – for loving God’s people in Haiti so well.
I can’t think of better words for sending us off, back into our lives. It’s been a lot to process, to be sure. But every time I think of Haiti, I keep coming back to hope.
Dana Butler says
Deidra… Your post moves my heart like I can’t describe with words. I spent a summer in Haiti – the summer of ’96. I was 15. We stayed at an orphanage, loved on the kids, did street evangelism, built a church building. It changed my life forever. It IS beautiful… and the people are beautiful. Precious. I’d give a lot to be able to go back there someday…. Seems impossible – life as a mom and wife and all of these other roles… it’d take a miracle to get me out of the states these days. But… I don’t know… I ache to touch God’s heart in that way again. Anyway…. thank you so much for writing your heart here today. Beautiful and precious and so deeply connected with HIS.
“Miracles.” I know Someone who’s good at those. 🙂
I’m a stay at home mom to a 5-year old and a 2-year-old who attended a mission trip information meeting at my church with every intention of going to Haiti for 6 days this summer. Haiti. Just a few hours away from my family. In the next time zone. Just six total days including the travel. And in that meeting the Lord called me to attend the 10-day mission trip to South Africa …halfway around the world. A2-hour plane ride, a 16-hour transatlantic plane ride, another hour plane ride and finally a 90 minute bus ride to our final destination of Pietermarirzburg, SA. Had you asked me before the meeting if I would ever go to Africa I would have told you it’s impossible, I have too many responsibilities here to go that far for that long. Is anything impossible for the Lord? 🙂
Deidra, I am a missionary living and working in rural Costa Rica. I am passionate about orphans and widows and trafficking victims and poor churches with no place to worship. My heart breaks with Christ’s for the poor and the oppressed where I live and all over the world. I read this post just after I had zipped off an e-mail to a friend with a missionary heart and asked her, how do we live, how do we keep feeding and eating and washing and wearing knowing what we know? How does it not suffocate us. Thank you for your words, for the words of Lamar Stockton today. They have brought me peace, hope, inspiration.
When I read the words you have written about Haiti I couldn’t help but feel the pain these wonderful people must be feeling, but when you said that you saw Jesus everywhere you looked I also felt the love that they feel, love that can only come from God, our source for love and for loving.
I have recently been blessed to be a part of the life an almost 3 year old little boy that my daughters boyfriend adopted from Haiti, he has been with us for about eight months now and he is so special and so loving!! He was living at Children of the Promise in Haiti following his mothers death. His father, despite his love for his son was unable to provide what he needed and out of his love allow him to be adopted into our lives. I think that says a lot about how much love there is in Haiti.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey, it helps me to understand even more about God’s love for us and that despite our circumstances we too can still see Jesus everywhere.
So many people in Haiti have to make so many difficult decisions. On a daily basis. It is heartbreaking. Sometimes the results are good, and often they are not. The prevalence of sex trafficking is high in Haiti, and there is still much work to be done. Blessings on that sweet, young boy in your life.
Amazing………..you just put into words, beautifully, how I feel about Haiti and its people. Worked and volunteered in Haiti during cholera epidemic. My heart is still there!
Thank you for you work in Haiti. It’s hard to leave Haiti without having your heart changed.
Sarah Bessey says
Beautiful, Deidra. You are one of my favourites, and this made me cry. So thankful that we did this together. xo
I still shake my head at the team, and the way I fell head over heels for each of you! A dream, indeed. Your words about Haiti have pierced my soul, Sarah Bessey. That, and I am now addicted to Downton Abbey. 🙂
nicole i says
“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.”
those were the wisest words…and a great reminder to those of us who can’t go…
Agreed. The wisest words.
Yes, God walks the dirt floors there. That’s why I still haven’t washed my shoes.
I still have the dust and the gravel in the bottom of my suitcase. Can’t bring myself to dump it out. Haiti stands on holy ground.
Lyla Willingham Lindquist says
Beautiful, my friend. The words, the reflection, the work, the land, the people, the you.
That’s all I’ve got. Beautiful.
Thank you, Lyla. My beautiful friend.
Bret Raymond says
Such an honor to meet you and share this experience together! Your words captured so much. Thanks, and come visit us in Arkansas. My neighbors tell me it’s just a 5 hour drive from your place to here!
Bret, meeting you and hearing your prophetic words was a highlight of the trip. I was humbled by your faith, and inspired by your life. Thank you for being there, and for giving so generously of yourself. You are the real deal, my friend. The real deal.
Sharon O says
My husband always said the haitians are beautiful, and when he returned with a little metal lamp they carried to the mountains for church, it was a small symbol that each of us has a little light, we can help shine for others. He also said the singing was amazing.
The singing IS amazing! And the Light of God shines bright in Haiti.
Megan Willome says
That comment about how Haiti was already broken and the earthquake made it naked? I’ve heard my father-in-law say something very similar.
I’m so, so glad you went.
Me too. So glad I went. Thanks for praying me through.
Love your post! I went to Haiti for a mission trip in ’97 with my daughter. They told us you leave part of your heart there, they are right! The people are truly amazing and I will never hear “I Surrender All” without remembering singing it in church in different languages! God, please heal Haiti with Your love!
And us, too, God. Heal us, too.
Beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing!!! As impossible as it seems w special needs I really hope our family can venture out one day! (Nothing is too difficult for Him right!)
Nothing at all…
Robin Dance says
Reading your words (everyone’s, here and “there”) made me feel like I walked this with you. I see Jesus, too :).
What an amazing team, huh? Rich words. Sacred moments. Serious impact. I’m so glad I got to walk the road, and to take you along in my heart.
Sandra Heska King says
God has you where you are for a reason–for such a time as this.
You and this team have pieced a piece of Haiti back together. Love you.
I hope so, Sandra. And…there are even bigger things ahead.
Sandra Heska King says
Will everyone just stop teasing already and tell us what’s going on?! 😀
Good things come to those who wait…
Diana Trautwein says
STUNNING, DEIDRA. Just incredibly beautiful, winsome, powerful. Thank you. And I will follow these friends. Praying for your legacy project and waiting to hear more.
I am SO excited about the Legacy Project! It is BIG. As in, God-sized. It will be a dream come true, and you know that is right up my alley!
Rachael @ heldbyHishand says
Thank you, Deidra. I am amazed at how God weaves each of our individual stories and heartbreaks into something so… stunning.
He has us uniquely positioned to do big things for Him, and for His people. We are so blessed to be invited along for the ride!
your words and actions speak deep into my heart…I will follow and read and allow the on going work there to speak to me…because i don’t want to “take it lightly”…thanks Deidra~blessings~
I don’t either, Ro. I don’t want to take it lightly.
The all look so happy despite the adversity they’ve been through and are still going through. They have found joy in their Savior. Thank you for capturing the beauty of it all..
We all laughed a lot in Haiti. It is a place of much joy, hope, and beauty.
Oh, D. May we sing “How Great Thou Art” under that big Texas sky come November? I can’t think of a better way to honor these beautiful people you write of–or your beautiful heart.
You know I thought of you, girlfriend. 🙂
Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth) says
It was such a privilege to experience this alongside you, friend. And I have twin emotions to you…sadness, rage, bewilderment. Since I didn’t have any time at all to process Haiti when I returned to my daughter in the hospital, I’m catching snippets of reality now that she’s home. Yes, we must do something. Something cool and lasting and beautiful.
I like the sound of that, Mary: “Something cool and lasting and beautiful.” Living Haiti with you was a gift.
Beth Williams says
Sounds like you had a good time, learned a lot & are better off for it. While I haven’t been on an overseas mission, I believe everyone should get involved in some sort of missions.
I have been to prison several times. It was with the Kairos team. They are based on the Emmaus walk weekends. We head up to a maximum security prison beginning Wednesday through Sunday night. We work out of a local church. The women stay at church all day and cook, have devotions. The men on the team go into the prison daily and talk with those on the walk. They hear talks & then have discussions about them.
A couple of significant events on the weekend–ALL prisoners even solitary confinment get 1 dozen cookies, usually chocolate chip. Each man, chosen by the chaplain to be on the team, gets a specially made birthday cake with his name on it. The closing ceremony where everyone on the team and others in the Emmaus community go into prison–is a time for the prisoners to reveal what the weekend means to them. Most are broken & can’t believe that people would care this much for them! A few have been saved.
Bravo for going & doing God’s work!
I’m familiar with Emmaus, but not Kairos. It sounds like a sweet ministry. Thanks for sharing your story here.
Sandra Heska King says
Beth? Is this “my” Beth?
“I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” I get all squirmy just thinking about going into a prison.
I’ve been thinking a lot about chronos and kairos time. Better to be living in God’s time rather than just “doing time.”
Thank you for this…
Sweet! Thanks for your post about Help One Now!
michelle ortega says
“naked”, “living in tents between what was and what will be.” Words of eternity, how and terrifying and marvelous in the same breath. Thank you for sharing your journey!
When Bret shared this perspective with us, we realized we were listening to a prophet. He wrote about this insight over at his blog, and I linked to it in the post above. I encourage you to click through and read his profoundly beautiful thoughts…
Lana Hope says
thank you for writing this. I live around so much poverty, and its hard for me not to become embittered.
Poverty can definitely leave a bitter taste in the mouth. I’m convinced we have the power and the resources to make a difference. Stay tuned…
I enjoyed reading this article and seeing all the beautiful pictures. I am so delighted you shared your pictures and your heart. My husband is Haitian and I have to agree Haitians are some beautiful people inside and outside. They are resilient people by nature. It is my husband and my desire to become more committed to making a difference in Haiti and establishing ministry there. Thank you, for sharing your experience it is very encouraging. God bless
God’s blessings to you, too, Regena.
Kristen Strong says
Thank you for putting Help One Now on my radar, Deidra.
Your words are bridges of hope for this beautiful country. Your words – YOU – are the gift that keeps on giving. I love you so!
I’m humbled that God put Help One Now and Pure Charity on my radar. These organizations are for real.
Your testimony and pictures remind me of the Scripture “When you do it until the least of these, my brethren, you do it unto Me.” Keep up the wonderful work! 🙂
In Haiti, I often felt like the least of these…
what a blessing you are…. thanks for sharing… amazing experience. I am excited in the anticipation of what comes from your experience.
I’m excited, too. God is on the move — in Haiti, and in our hearts.