Haiti was a nation of illiterate, unemployed, impoverished people.
When I first arrived in September 2008, my camera flashed images of dusty tarps sheltering ladies from the sun as they sat on the sidewalk with mangoes for sale. I captured countless barefoot children in dirty side streets. I posted pictures of concrete homes and tin roofs. All expressions of a needy country.
I never thought that I would browse through those pictures and think about how GOOD people had it. And yet, this is reality.
What once was a country of need, has now becoming a country of utter desperation. What I once saw as struggle has now become bitter suffering. The homeless and hungry which represented a majority of the country is now joined by an even larger population of orphans and amputees. What once evoked feelings of sympathy and compassion have now completely broken my heart.
Could it possibly get any worse?
I still haven't been able to fully process the emotions, the questions, the burden that comes from the reality of this broken nation. I don't know if I ever will.
This week Laurens shared a verse in home church from the book of Lamentations. The verses were an expression of suffering and crying out to God. It reminded me that it's okay to express the emotions that we often try to hide.
So hence, my lament.
Of course, I can't avoid the good things that are happening.
Multi-million dollar donations are stacking up from Red Cross, World Vision and countless other humanitarian aid organizations. The US military have their compound established, and the UN soldiers are in full force. Missionaries, doctors, reporters, surgeons, paramedics, therapists, and trauma specialists (to name a few) are coming in by the cargo plane ready to take action. Helicopters encircle the skies carrying basic provisions and airlifting needy patients to hospitals. Even iTunes has caught on, offering songs to benefit Haiti through superstars like Rhianna, Bono and Taylor Swift.
And yet, the lingering visions grip me. The pile of cement that was once a government building. The tent city of bed sheets. The children still searching for parents. Amputees who have no where to go. Pain and loss in the eyes of my friends speak louder than words. We're spiraling downward, and it's hard to watch.
Lamentations 3: 16-32 (The Message)
He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud. I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. God is a lost cause." I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.
God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
Once again the Word of our God trumps any emotion or circumstance. The reminder of hope prevails. Even in the darkest night, the sun still rises at dawn. His love and peace remain even in the fiercest drought and storm. Though the mountains tremble and the oceans roar, His love is steadfast. In this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome.
May these promises be the stronghold.
May the testimonies of survivors be a promise of new beginnings.
And may we look back on this journey as see one set of footprints. He is carrying us through, one day at a time.