dignity

I once had a friend tell me a story about a pastor he knew in Africa who was explaining to his congregation why my friends’ organization was going to partner with them. The pastor asked his congregation, “Describe to me how we get water.”

“We get our buckets.”

“We walk to the water pump.”

“We put water in our buckets.”

“We lift the water to our heads.”

“We walk it back home.”

“We take it down from our heads without spilling.”

Then the pastor asked, “What is the hardest part out of that for us?”

The congregation replied, “Ugh, lifting the water to our heads. It is very difficult and the water is heavy.”

“That is what our friends will be helping us with. They will be helping us lift the water to our heads, but we are responsible for the rest,” the pastor told them.

The reality is difficult circumstances bring about scenarios that are less than ideal for God’s people who were born into a life meant for dignity, safe from others who – knowingly or unknowingly – rob them of that God-given dignity.

As a body of believers, it is our responsibility to support, empower, encourage…and delve into God-given talents and gifts to discover solutions specific to countries, cultures, communities and individuals. It is complex. Very complex. But that complexity shouldn’t frighten us away from what could restore dignity that has been taken away through varying conditions revolving around the epicenter of poverty.

Be bold. Be stubborn. Fight for Kingdom restoration.

Sustainability is hard to mull over. There is a lot to consider, specifically how it is defined, by who it’s defined by, with what perspective and what it looks like in real situations. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been struck by just how many things I’ve been a part of, what I’ve seen and how God has directed my heart to fight with my friends who I love. God’s heart is for them to consistently feed their families. God’s heart is for them to send their kids to school.

I’ve heard sustainability is educating children so the cycle doesn’t continue with next generation.

I’ve heard sustainability is a ministry paying off debt to free up funds to run the ministry.

I’ve heard sustainability is income generating activities that will bring income into the ministry, so they are not dependent on external funding.

I’ve heard sustainability is a child learning how to make cheese, teaching his family, making it together, then selling it pay for his school fees.

I’ve heard sustainability is job creation so that parents and families do need to seek donations or give their children into the care of a local church housing a children’s home.

Plus a million versions I have not heard.

The reality is not every community or ministry that receives funding from foreign sources wants to maintain that funding until the end of time. Arguably, they do exist and I’ve met some of them who would prefer that route, but that would lead into a wholly different post concerning enabling, bad uses of funds and dependency.

We should want the best for those that we call friends, and anyone else in similar situations, who were not graced with the privilege of growing up where we did. Their political corruption, war, natural disasters, droughts and a myriad of other things are not of their own doing. They did not choose poverty. What we should fight for is dignity restored through their unique and beautiful gifting given by their Creator to use those talents in generating their own income and empowering their community to be a community of people that does not have to rely of foreign funding.

What IF we used the trillions of dollars given in ‘aid’ to actually research what businesses would benefit each community, what is marketable, what could effectively be exported if the market isn’t large enough within the community, build those businesses and create consistent income? What would our world look like if there were consistent jobs in communities that are shackled by poverty? What IF we actually listened to those international communities and supported their OWN vision within their cultural context? What IF we hung up our American perspective at the door and saw with different eyes? What IF we all actually worked together across denomination lines and pooled our resources to accomplish it? What IF it was actually believers supporting believers and we truly looked like a Kingdom community?

It seems unbelievable, but if we don’t work toward it, we’ll never see it happen.

Don’t become paralyzed by the need.

Don’t become paralyzed by the many years it will take to accomplish and the commitment it entails.

Create jobs. Keep families together. Maintain dignity.

And see Kingdom transformation throughout.

The community my friends’ organization was choosing to partner with in Africa did not want magical funding for eternity…they just needed a lift up. Because it was coming in partnership and because it was coming through relationship, the community was able to maintain their pride while they were doing the rest.

Probable solutions would take another million posts and a plethora of knowledge that I don’t have, but wisdom and discernment is everything…what I am currently reading is ‘Poverty of Nations’ by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus, who happen to be an economist and theologian who wrote it together. I would highly recommend reading along with me, you can catch up…I’m only on chapter 3 at the moment. I would also suggest finding organizations that speak your same language and fight for the things God has called us to fight for in our world. There are many people out there doing very good things to create jobs, export product and work toward sustainability.

 

reality

As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own. [Margaret Mead]

As I have been sent out into other cultures over the last fourteen years, there was a time that I proudly posted this quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead. I would go outside the United States borders, dip my toe into other cultures, fall in love with those cultures in a short amount of time and then return to the comfort of my base culture. Drinkable water from a faucet instead from a bottle, running water instead of the pump down the street, eclectic food instead of the same thing every day, laundry from a washing machine instead of hand washing it and toilet paper that went in toilets instead of trash cans. I even had a pre-trip meal plan and a post-trip meal plan dependent on where I was traveling at the time.

I would return stateside, and I most assuredly appreciated my base culture. But after a year and half of living outside those borders, now I find I am struggling with the ideals and reality of my base culture.

This will be ironic to some, since Haiti is so drastically different than the states. Reality in this majority world country is full of struggles under an incredibly high unemployment rate that leads families to strip themselves of their God-given dignity when they run out of options and give their child to the care of a children’s home providing clothes, health care, meals, clean water and education. There are a myriad of other issues with government accountability, infrastructure, clean water, health care and interference from well meaning people who are trying to do good but only hurt the populace more.

It is hard to put into words how God is molding me down here. I know I am being transformed spiritually, physically and emotionally. I am not a ‘super-Christian’ or a ‘better person’ for living here. Living here is a gift I gratefully accept. All I can really say to people is come and see, because it is not what you expect when you choose to really see past the surface. Haiti has changed the way I look at the world as I choose to see beyond their imposed stereotypes.

Haitians are not defined by trash. Decades of cultural acceptance is not going to be reversed by one visitor collecting trash. It is a cultural mindset, and that takes generations to reverse.

Haitians are not defined by their politics. Are some Haitians? Yes. As in all cultures there are good and bad politicians, as well as people who are consumed by it. Realistically, most Haitians do not feel the impact of the current political craziness. Do they want government? Yes, in most cases. But in Haiti, being a politician is a job, and some people will do a lot of bad things to gain a job…or keep it.

Haitians are not defined by rubble. The earthquake five years ago was tragic, a lot of people lost their lives, and more needs to be done, but most Haitians have a hard time talking about that painful memory. For some, telling the same story over and over again is not bringing healing, but reopening a gaping wound every time. Also, a half built building is not rubble. Buildings are always in progress in majority world countries, because people build with what money they have on hand. If they have money for a load of bricks, they build with those bricks and then save up for the next batch to build more.

Haitians are not defined by their country’s impoverished nation status. Do families struggle here? Absolutely. Does that struggle impact their daily life? Absolutely. But it does not define who God has created them to be. They are whole humans, created by God, with a purpose and calling. Poverty does not make them a lesser human than someone born into a wealthy country’s resources.

Haitians are not defined by donations. They do want sustainable, living wage incomes. The guilt from outsiders at ‘having so much’ verses what Haitians have, plus the ‘they are so happy’ mentality, does not create a strong economy. However, your sustainable purchased from businesses that are creating jobs here does help their economy. Haiti started exporting bananas again for the first time since 1955 last week. This is a monumental step for the families of those workers. Haitians are hard workers, but need support in creating a strong economy to give sustainable jobs to all. They want an education, but lack the resources to pay for it. Well-meaning donations that flood Haiti have typically taken away jobs…not create them.

Most Haitians ARE defined by their salvation in Jesus. Happiness comes from looking beyond this world into the one God will restore, making all things new. Worshipping and praying with them floods my soul with joy, hope and leads me deeper in relationship with my Lord. Realistically, we should all be defined by our salvation in Jesus. So, then, why do we stifle it?

IMG_0965I don’t stand on a soapbox with these observations as an entitled American who wants to push my thoughts, habits and perceptions on this culture. The reverse, actually, I am struggling most with my base culture as I learn more about the one I am placed within.

I am struggling with the culture of the United States. I don’t like it, and frankly, it feels like Disneyworld when I travel from Haiti. Are there things I enjoy and crave from the States? Of course, but mostly it seems bright and sparkly…and lacking community. It makes me question which place is real and which is not. The stateside mentality is all about speed, and more often than not it feels fake. In Russia’s tourist areas they put up pretty facades in front buildings they are renovating, so no one sees the actual construction. As if the construction would be an assault on our eyes. Not discounting pretty things, but I feel like we do this too often in our own lives. We put up facades on what we are struggling with, whereas others could learn from how God is leading us through our struggle.

Maybe that is why I feel led to vomit in this space by tossing my struggle out.

I honestly thought my worldview couldn’t be busted open more. I’ve been present and seen the realities of a lot of places over fourteen years. I’ve experienced a lot of cultures and have thousands of stories. I have a lot of international friends who have taught me so, so much. But what I have realized most is that I have so much to learn from other cultures.

This week, I thought of that Margaret Mead quote, and sadly, I am ashamed I put so much arrogance in it being true. We should not be motivated to leave ‘home,’ wherever that may be, simply so we love our base culture more. Some could argue I am scrutinizing too steadily and not loving my base culture enough, but we should be motivated to step outside our borders in an effort to dissolve borders between nations and learn about other cultures. Jesus follower or not, every single human should experience other cultures, and not to force our base culture on others. Democracy is not for everyone, and Coke and McDonald’s is not the unifier they appear to be.

For believers, you should be inspired to step outside your borders to meet believers from different cultures. I assure you, worshipping as one body of believers will rock you to your soul and your Kingdom perspective will be busted wide open.

As I struggle with what version of reality is real, what I do know is it is not about being the same…it is about embracing the differences and learning from each other. It’s amazing how God opens our eyes when our posture is genuine curiosity and building relationships.

poor

Poor.

Perspective.

These two words cannot ever be too far from each other when judging the economy of a country or culture. Emphasis on the word ‘judging.’

Disclaimer: these opinions have nothing to do with actual numbers. I suck at numbers and honestly do not understand them.

However, in the states, I think we too quickly jump to harsh conclusions about poverty. The poor are in your neighborhood, and they are outside of the borders of your country. Frankly, you have no idea what the poor look like at all. Poor is also relative to a lot of things, most of which being the perspective of where you grew up and the cultural misgivings you may have based on location and economy of that location.

“They don’t have stuffed animals! We must get some in the next container going to [insert majority world country here].”

“They still have a flip phone?!?! They must not have enough money for [iPhone or Glaxay latest models fit here].”

“They eat beans and rice all of the time, because they can’t afford anything else. We should send down some [insert American processed food item here].”

“This house we are building in [insert majority world country here] is not the best way and it has to have indoor plumbing, we should [insert American idea of building here].”

“This school is not being run effectively and it should be torn down and rebuilt. How can kids learn in this environment? We should [insert American idea of what school should be here].”

“The kids are not wearing shoes! How can they not have shoes?”

What each of these lacks is perspective on who and how people are poor in this world. Should every person in the world have a basic human right to clean water, clothes, housing, education, food, medical care and employment? Absolutely. However, the version we commonly convince ourselves of in the states has a different perspective on how each of those seven elements are addressed.

A culture with families that put food, education and housing ahead of toys for their children for hundreds of years does not make them poor. Truly, having toys that are going to mold and be continually dirty in their living environment is not realistic, and it most certainly does not make a parent bad at being a parent, quite the opposite. As well as, in Haiti their children love to play outdoors and have killer soccer skills. Seriously, these kids are soccer ninjas. We need to also consider what gifting a toy to a child looks like from the perspective of a parent in the majority world. Is it worth it to take away their dignity by providing something to their child that they have not provided or have lived without? With perspective we start seeing the incredible value in making the parent a hero in the mind of the child, not the visiting American who is only present for a small amount of time.

In the states, we consistently have different choices of food. I run up against issues with this living in Haiti. I crave Chinese and Mexican food ALL the time, and that is WITH having an ‘American staff’ menu when teams are not here. It does not make someone poor because they like eating rice and beans, or spaghetti for breakfast. It we apply a bit of perspective, we might actually ask the residents of that country if they would eat anything else if it was available. If they are anything like the Haitians I hang out with, they really DO love rice and beans…ALL the time.

In regards to housing, we can easily judge poverty by how a culture lives. I once heard a story of a group that wanted to provide better housing, so they raised the money and built an entire community of homes. There was a lot of pride put into that accomplished endeavor. A couple of years later, they came back and found that the community was basically using the homes as barns for their animals. They had placed the front door facing the wrong direction, and their culture believes that a door should be facing a certain direction for good karma. Perspective on the poor can be made clearer when asking genuine, truth seeking questions and actually listening. Living in a mud hut doesn’t make you poor when the entire culture lives in mud huts…it actually makes it normal in their perspective.

And while we have a constant need for more shoes to fulfill requests from our pastors, the kids have shoes; they just don’t like wearing them all the time to the point that some of the boys like playing soccer barefoot. Sometimes we place judgments on cursory surface observations without asking questions, when we do ask those questions and dig a bit deeper we find that a judgment on their poverty based on what we physically see may be a bit off.

“Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. ‘That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.’ They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them…’” [Mark 14:3-8 MSG]

In Haiti, a lot of visitors easily see the surface as ‘poor.’ Does Haiti have a lot of poor? Yes. But. Haiti has a lot of issues that pour into that and fixing one aspect of their poverty does not fix all aspects, and in some cases makes another aspect even worse. Based on American ideals, consider that the person who gets labeled as poor on the street does not have that opinion about themselves, but does know of someone who is worse off. There have been a lot of countries, organizations and people trying to ‘help’ Haiti’s poor for decade after decade. Of course, all done in their ideals and perspectives of what poor is and what is a basic human right. A basic human right does not include putting air conditioning in orphanages and making sure the lawn is the ideal perfection of green. In trying to help, many refuse to look at the perspective of the indigenous people, and most completely toss out letting them be empowered to make those decisions based on their own culture.

Many times I’ve wondered if no majority world citizen ever saw what the states physically looked like, would they still think it was the promised land? We know it’s not, but they’ve been made to think it is. I’ve gotten into this debate with many Haitians. Instead, would they be more content at seeing transformation in their own country?

Obviously, today’s word struck a chord with me. Many may brush it off as, ‘She is the crazy one who chooses to live in Haiti.’ Yes, yes I am. And I LOVE it. The world tries to solve the monetary problem of the poor, but what if the real problem isn’t monetary? Money will always be mismanaged, corrupt and lost in majority world countries. Money is not going to fix poverty. Donating enough rice to put rice growers out of business will also not fix poverty. Not seeing where relief ends and sustainability begins will perpetuate the expectation that everything should be provided, and that definitely does not fix poverty.

Jesus himself says the poor will always be among us and we can work ourselves into the ground trying to fix it, but when the core problem is sin of all kinds on both sides we have a responsibility to see each others’ perspective through a cultural lens and point out value in each other’s cultures. Well, I suppose that even depends on perspective, but I hope you hear a piece of God’s heart within these words as well because reconciling with God and allowing that to transform you will work towards the Kingdom God is building here. And friends, in that kingdom…poverty of all kinds is eradicated.

dare

Visit me. I dare you. Come and see how the majority world exists outside of the American bubble. Outside of the ritz and sparkle of an entire country hiding their problems, suffocating in shame and guilt, and spiritually dead in so many ways.

Come and see the beauty of a place that is dusty, hot…and spiritually alive.

But don’t bring your savior complex with you. You will not save Haiti. And frankly, those who have tried to save Haiti have just made situations so much worse. There is one thing Haiti needs…prayer. And that is an answer directly from one of our Pastors.

Leave your quick judgments at the door of the plane, because ‘orphan’ may not mean what you expect. Dignity has been taken away from parents who come to the heartbreaking decision they cannot take care of their kids. Also, from parents who live outside orphanages that have raised the standard of care so far above the surrounding village that there seems to be no other choice than to give a child to them to care for, which is so wrong it breaks my heart. Other kids truly have no one, and some have family that cannot take them into their home. But those judgments are not for us to make. God calls us to love and give grace equally.

Don’t bring your American fix-it in a day mentality. You will not fix anything here. But you can love here. It is accepted and appreciated. But only if you seek no recognition and nothing in return.

You do not bring God here. And I guarantee you will come across a Haitian believer whose belief in the One who saves will humble you to your knees as your inadequate adoration and need for the God who created you floods your soul. God has been alive and active here long before you come and far beyond when you leave.

Do not bring your American version of Christianity here. Come here to be renewed and restored to how God wants to live in you. Then allow yourself to be called into a new way of living in the States. Allow God to use Haiti to fill you and transform you.

Please leave your pity for poverty at home. There is beauty here at every turn and God seeks to restore dignity to the Haitian people. Pity does not allow dignity in the souls of God’s people. Curiosity and genuine questions learning about the people and culture restore dignity without pouring out all of the things you had leftover from a garage sale on this environment. That mentality has forced chicken and rice farmers, as well as future small business tailors out of business due to massive donations of chicken legs, rice and clothes. Physically you may feel you have ‘so much more’ than these ‘poor people,’ but in my humble opinion…we have so much less. Poor does not always mean broken.

The more and more I see believers come to this place and go home ignited with new purpose and fresh Holy Spirit awakening, it becomes more and more evident that the world is not going to change Haiti. American money will not save Haiti. Americans will not save Haiti. Instead, I firmly believe that Haiti will save America. And if the world chooses to pay attention…God will use Haiti to change the world.

Over and over again I see people come down here and go home restored, transformed and ignited. But you have to come and let Haiti be Haiti and open to God doing what God does.

I dare you to come allow God to change you in Haiti.

I dare you to let God use the abandoned and vulnerable of Haiti to ignite you.

I dare you to leave behind your American ideals and solutions and just come be with the people of Haiti as a fellow God created human.

I dare you to abandon your preconceived notions about what it is like here and instead find the unexpected.

I dare you to embrace the confusing, yet supernatural exchange that happens when Haiti comes alive through abandoned kids.

I dare you to truly see the beauty in Haiti through the kids I am honored to know and love.

I dare you.

basic needs, pt. deux

It is a given that out of the six of us blogging that I am going to have a different view from everyone else simply because I am the one living in Haiti now. I think the Rethink Church question we are posting today is meant to have us reflect on the things that distract us from the needs around us, which is amazing for a lot of Americans to think about since we are broken people who default to sinful choices in however that manifests for us individually. Rethink Church asks, ‘What are those temptations that rule you and make you turn away from those in need? In poverty, disease and hunger?’

I don’t have a lot of barriers between poverty, disease and hunger surrounding me right now. It is pretty much everywhere give or take a concrete block wall. There is no escape, and honestly, I embrace that because this is something God has been pulling me to be a part of for a very long time.

As a broken, sinful person, even though surrounded by those in need, distractions seep in and I’m responsible to notice those and make corrections to be the best I can be while being with those around me. When I am tired and we are going to the third village of the day…it’s not the kids’ fault that I am tired and grouchy. That’s on me and I cannot waste myself in those situations with the very real excuse of ‘I am tired.’

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. [1 Peter 2:11]

God brought me to 1 Peter this morning…still not sure why, but I found this and I love how it says foreigners and exiles. In New Testament times there was a disconnect between those that followed the God of Moses and those they considered foreigners and unclean through their laws. It was a rebellious life the followers of Jesus led, especially when they embraced foreigners and started proclaiming that Jesus was for everyone.

As Americans, most of the time there is criticism for being passionate about people outside our borders, or foreigners within who don’t speak ‘our’ language. It’s not popular to like Russians right now, people are always complaining about Spanish speakers within our borders and don’t even enter a conversation about the Middle East, right? Recognize the sin in those criticisms and repent, because God didn’t create borders. We did. God created a world that sin crept into, and his desire is for it to be reconciled. But we get in the way.

There are a lot of distractions in the States, especially when the social norm is to be okay with ignoring people in need. How many times have you ignored a homeless person? Or judged them for what they are doing because there are ‘resources’ available? Yes. There are a multitude of resources available, but the bottom line is we do not know their story. God knows their story, and he is the one who calls on us to help those in need. God doesn’t put parameters on who is in need and who isn’t. There isn’t a sliding scale that he uses. He says help them, and a good reference on that is Isaiah 58:6-7.

As believers, we should reflect on this as well:

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Peter 4:7-11]

In the moments you feel your human body is the excuse to turn away from the need in this world, know that the strength God provides will be filling and enough for those moments. Don’t allow distraction and sin to keep you from doing the work that God has called you to in whatever context that is for you. We are a part of a global church that is most beautiful when it reflects the heart of God. To him be the glory.

overview…haiti style

Our team with the Haitian workers at the work site.

January 12, 2010 was a horrifying day for Haiti.

The earthquake killed 300,000 people, left 250,000 children without one or both parents, and displaced 1.5 million out of its population of 10 million. As staggering as that all is…it was just one in a long list of natural disasters, political unrest and a myriad of justice issues that have long plagued the country.

Before that day, 80% of Haitians lived in poverty with 54% of that living in abject poverty. One percent of Haiti’s population owned half the wealth in the country, and the largest percentage lived on less than $1 a day. Haiti is one of the most ecologically devastated countries in the world. For decades they have cut down their trees to make cooking charcoal, leaving their hillsides controlled by soil erosion.

“Compassion is the fullest expression of the luminous force of intentional love and kindness. Humanity’s survival hinges on that one word…compassion is our sole hope. Compassion is at the heart of all religious and spiritual traditions. When we enter the heart of compassion, we enter the heart of God,” from Hidden in the Rubble by Gerard Straub.

The ‘girls’ room set up with our mosquito nets.

Armed with compassion and a yearning to enter deeper into the heart of God…plus 3 shovels, random tools, a wheelbarrow, bubbles, soccer balls and jump ropes…our team of 8 was based in Mellier, Haiti, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. All of the buildings in Mellier were reduced to rubble and many families are still in tents, or makeshift plywood buildings with tin roofs. We slept on cots, complete with mosquito nets…no electricity, save for the generator we had to run for about an hour to recharge power tool batteries. Bags of water hung from a branch and buckets of water ensured we rinsed off each day, after sweat poured out from 8 am to 6 pm steadily. This trip was not for the faint of heart…but…

…we were blessed. Phenomenal food on the table 3 times a day from our cook Dina. Bug spray. Haitians that wanted to talk with us, and enjoyed laughing with us. We all stayed healthy. We had clean water to drink. Amazing workers at the construction site. Laughter…lots and lots of laughter, and incredibly blessed by each other.

I asked one of our translators if all the teams he worked with were like us…his response was a definite ‘No!’ It will depend on the team member you ask, but I believe our team bonded so well because of our common bond of Jesus and belief that we were meant to be in Haiti…mixed with the lack of electricity. At night…we played cards by flashlight, and other times of the day we weren’t distracted by the constant connect we have in the States with phones, internet and going places.

The Methodist Church of Mellier.

Terry, one of our teammembers, sent this out to us today that I think gives a pretty great picture of the atmosphere surrounding our team, “Our last night in Mellier we played cards – snacked – laughed – and sang. A young Haitian girl standing in the shadows was invited into our circle. After eating and watching for a short time she fell asleep. The light of our lanterns may have drawn her from the darkness of the neighborhood. But it was the light of our Savior shinning through laughter, song, and love for one another that made her feel safe enough to sleep peacefully in our midst. That night I watched grace extended without hesitation or reservation.”

We worked during the day on the Methodist church that is being rebuilt. We pulled nails, moved wood and spent a lot of time moving gravel from outside the building to inside so the workers could mix concrete. There is a school on the property, as well, and when it was recess time we were talking, running around and having our hair played with until it was time for class again.

Etched in our memories is also the small orphanage we visited twice. It was a 30 minute walk to play with 25 kids that live there, 16 of who are ‘real’ orphans with no living parents. They were hungry to be held, we quickly found out! We played soccer, bubbles, pushed kids on the swing set, and giggled the entire time we stayed.

Joseph is on the left, Peterson is on the right.

Each night we would have devotion time with our translators Joseph and Peterson joining us. One night, devotions started at the dinner table and went until it was so dark all we saw of each other was shadows moving. God’s presence was thick all week, but on that night it was electric. We’d been talking about our observations of Haiti, and Joseph’s words marked my soul…

In Haiti, we have no hope for tomorrow. We have no idea where food for our families will come from. We are poor, so poor in Haiti. We struggle for an education, and then there are no jobs. We want the best for our families, but where do we find it? We know that it won’t get better for Haiti. But what we hold onto is eternal life with Jesus. In heaven there will be no more poor people, no more suffering, no more pain. When Haiti doesn’t have hope, we put our hope in life after this one.

That night as I walked out of our dining area Joseph’s words rung in my ears. I understand why he feels no hope for Haiti, especially when you look at the country’s history. But what rang in my heart was my hope for Haiti. A vision that the educated will stay in the county, and kids will grow up with a desire to see their country change…that their next generation will be different. When Haiti has no expectation for tomorrow we need to see it for them through our compassion, God’s love and willingness to not forget.