Over the past 3 years I’ve watched Diana grow in her faith and in the kind of person that she is. I’ve watched her do things that I never thought she could do. I’ve listened to her talk and write about her students, about the Haitian people, about the living conditions, the food, the beauty of this country, the insects and most aspects of life here. When she would come home at Christmas or for summer break she would tell me stories about Haiti and usually end by saying “oh I want you to meet these people, I wish you could see it”. There were times when I really wanted to go but the timing never seemed right and money was always a factor. I often wondered in the back of my mind if I would ever really go. In September, shortly after another tearful goodbye to Diana as she went back to the country that she loves, my Mom encouraged me that I needed to go to Haiti for a little while and see it and spend some time with Diana. I decided that I agreed. So I made plans to come for 12 days in November.
I came to Haiti to visit my dear friend. What I never expected was to have my heart broken. I never expected that I would actually like it here. I never expected to have thoughts and feelings so foreign to me that I don’t know what to do with them.
Yesterday I went to an orphanage in a nearby village. There were lots of children, all different ages and they wanted to be held, and hugged, and played with and SEEN.
They wanted someone to SEE them.
And I sat there holding a few of them and I looked around, looked at their faces and I just wanted to take them all home. And I can’t even write words that can express what I felt. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a mommy or daddy to take care of me, I don’t know what it’s like to be thirsty and hungry. I don’t know what it’s like to not go to school and learn. I don’t know what it’s like not to have clean clothes or a proper bed.
A few days ago I traveled to visit two families that live in tents in the mountains. Diana brought them shoes that were sent from Canada. The joy that they had when they tried on those shoes was the best! The kids were the sweetest and they latched onto me and held my hand and I could have stayed there all day. I watched them interact with Diana; they know her face, her voice, her smile. She visits them each week and she cares for them and there is a deep part of my soul that wishes that I could know them the way she does, the kind of knowing that comes from being present, not just here today, gone tomorrow.
Last night Diana took me down to the Church of Hope for one of their evening worship services. I watched and listened to the people praise. I’ve never seen worship like this, so desperate for God’s presence, for Him to change the country, for Him to provide, so thankful for His love. I saw a demon being cast out of a woman; she could not even say the name of Jesus before. His name is powerful!
With God's help and direction, The Mission of Hope is changing this country.
I find that interwoven amongst the incredible needs in Haiti is much beauty and laughter and joy and possibility.
So I find myself in a new place, one I’ve never been before. And I’m not sure where to go from here. I’m not sure how to come back home to Canada knowing all of these things in my heart and having seen them with my own eyes, in real life, not just on the television or computer screen. They aren't just distant faces in some distant place, they are beautiful people with names and eyes that stare into your soul, and they have sat on my lap and held my hand and touched my skin because it's a weird colour. And having been here I see that I cannot leave without being deeply effected and I don't yet know what it means for me but I know that I'm thankful.
I'm thankful that for some reason, deciding to stop putting it off, I came. I'm thankful that I have love to give and arms strong enough to hold these little ones. I'm thankful that God loves me despite my ignorance and despite all the attention I give to "petty problems". I'm thankful that God works here and there and in the theres I know nothing of. And I'm thankful to have known the best kind of love; the kind that is behind me, in front of me, beside me, above me, below me and inside my heart.
Thank you Jesus for your love that is available to every person no matter where they're from or what they've done.
And so if you're like I was and you never really thought about going somewhere like Haiti or you're putting it off for some other time....
If you have love, give it.
And I can tell you, now that I'm here, that you won't leave the same.
May you be inconvenienced with the thought and desire to go somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere that needs you and what you have to give, even if you go only for a short while, just go.
I am being reminded that the world is a big place and it's full of things that will break our hearts, things that we don't understand, and it's full of things that will make us laugh, things that fill us up with so much joy that we overflow.
And I think it would be a shame if we let this life pass us by without feeling it all.
Here's to living life being FULLY ALIVE,