The other day, a family member back home asked me if there were any flowers blooming in our yard here in Jamaica. It’s something hard to fathom, coming from the Pacific Northwest where everything is dead and gray right now, but the flowers here are always blooming. That’s one thing I love about the tropics. It never gets dreary. Here’s a glimpse of what’s growing in our yard:
When I think about the people of Haiti, I am reminded of their beauty both in spirit and in appearance. They are striking and hauntingly beautiful, particularly when they smile which is not their typical first glance impression. Most Haitians at first glance seem unapproachable and a bit irritable. It’s not that they look mean, just not inviting. However, after saying hello or making eye contact, this facade or assumption I had of their personality, quickly gave way to their true nature of warmth and joy.
They are very strong and physically fit people, being very active in their day to day routines and walking as their main form of transportation. However, the most distinctive and beautiful thing about Haitians in regards to their appearance is their eyes. Haitians have very large, engaging eyes and a lot is said through them. I often found myself drawn to the way they would look at us with such curiosity as I looked back with wonder. I wondered what many of them thought about us being there. Whether or not the sight of us, our clothes, our actions, or words that we used seem strange or even silly.
I was very surprised that most of the people we met in Terre Blanche had such an intentional desire to get to know us on a personal level. They wanted to build relationships with us, wanted to know about who we where and why we felt God had brought us there. We loved that they felt very comfortable with us asking questions to them about their lives and knew they wanted us to know more about them.
In Terre Blanche, as we walked around the village, people would come out of their thatched roof homes to greet us with joy, and children in groups of 10 or more would follow us asking us to take photos of them. Sadly, not of all Haiti is like this and it’s a true testimony of the miracles and wonders God is doing to instill hope in the people of this village and in many other parts of Haiti (where the people of Haiti are in partnership with aid workers).
Overall, life in Haiti is difficult. I’ve often complained here in the US about not having enough money to buy something that I want, or worried about what I don’t have, but the truth is, compared to majority of the people there, I am a very rich man and was humbled at what I witnessed.
The types of conditions that Haitians live in seem unfair, especially for how hard they work to survive on a day to day basis. It is extremely difficult to get access to clean water, most of the once fertile land (more about the land another day) has been washed away by floods (and continue to be damaged by floods), roads and buildings have been and are continuously devastated by storms, and the government is inadequately equipped or adept to deal with the massive needs of the people. Many do not have a lot of clothes or food, and then if something medically goes wrong, getting proper health care becomes a major issue (thank God for the clinic). But even facing all of this, I was inspired by their spirit and the countless stories of love and sacrifice they had for each other.
Before we went to Haiti, Pastor Delamy thanked us for the hope we would bring to Terre Blanche and the people of Haiti. Yet, when I was there, I learned about family members walking miles barefoot in 90 degree weather to bring love ones to the clinic, proud parents who try hard to feed their children and can’t, a woman around 80 years of age who walks 9 miles a day to conduct her business (and succeeds), and Haitian leaders who give everything of themselves (even facing dangerous situations) in the hopes that they can make a difference in the lives of their people.
If anything, I came away with hope from the people of Haiti, that even in the poorest country, life on a very rich scale takes place, where miracles abound, and a strong sense of God’s presence rests among the people. I guess a part of me is envious because their faith and trust in God seemed so real, being that their needs are great, whereas often times my prayers and requests to God of what I need seem so trifle.
Pastor Delamy thanked us at the end of our trip for loving his people, who he loves and thinks of as his children, and it reminded me how God as father loves us as children. Can I learn to trust and believe that God will provide for all my needs and quiet my worries and remember the hope and faith that the beautiful people of Terre Blanche have in Him?