“Heal my heart and make it clean
Open my eyes up to things unseen
Break my heart for what breaks yours…”
I have thought about my week in Haiti every day since my return. Spending time in the third world country, even a short amount of time, is not an experience that can be summed up in one word. Probably not even in two…
My students often ask me questions about my trip, and my response is not an answer to their question because, let’s face it, I don’t have the answer to their questions. The only words I can find are in the form of stories. And even those do it little justice.
I was the twelfth and final person to join a medical team journeying to Petit-Goâve. We were working for an organization called Aid for Haiti. Because I was the last addition to the group, my teammates referred to me as No. 12. I saw it as an endearing nickname, but one of our translators hated it. Anything associated with the earthquake, even a 12, which marked the date of the catastrophe, conjured up awful feelings for him. I hate that these people feel this way.
When our plane first touched down in the capital I was immediately aware of the chaos. For a person whose organization level borders on being classified as OCD, it was difficult, to say the least. Searching through mounds of luggage instead of seeing our personal items parade out on a conveyor belt in an orderly fashion, was not my idea of a great start to our trip. It merely foreshadowed the adventures to come.
As we left the airport terminal and began driving through the streets of Port-au-Prince the smell that greeted us is one I will not soon forget. The smell of decay. The lack of organization was reflected in sanitation, especially around the local market. There was food, trash, and things I prefer to remain naive to, all around us. Our guide, Michael, had us and our luggage neatly (which brought some sense of peace and, might I say control?, to our journey) packed into the back of his small Toyota truck. It was lined with a metal, grated fence like the ones used to transport one or two cows from the farm. Speaking of, the smell of cattle is not comparable to this.
It is hard to believe that this past Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake. There is still so much work to be done. It is obvious to me that the Lord is working there, in hearts mostly. He is calling people to join the work that has already begun. To work alongside those who are willing to commit to building relationships with the Haitians, to making disciples, and serving in a way that is much more difficult than just sending money. Being committed to people is not an easy job, but it is what we, as followers of a loving and sacrificial (now that’s commitment) God, have been called to do.
I am the person who was never interested in traveling to another country to serve. I’m also the person who didn’t like kids, and broke down in tears at the thought of addressing a crowd, regardless of its size. It’s amazing how things change. How people change. How I’m an elementary school teacher whose daily song and dance was never in my ideal plan for my life. The Lord has truly opened my eyes up to things unseen. It is a privilege to be able to go, to offer something that I have been blessed in abundance with. God is good. His love is abundant and it is very much so worth sharing with those who so desperately need it.
The lyrics from the Hillsong United song, Hosanna, are, excuses aside, what I strive for:
“Everything I am for your Kingdom’s cause, as I walk from earth into eternity.”