Word of the day: Strong
I wish everyone I know could have seen life in Haiti this week, even for a day. Writing, the pictures, the stories to be brought back will not do justice to capture both the worst of the worst seen down here, nor truly show the goodness of God, His good works, His ability to bless and keep and do all things, His beauty and creative hand.... and how his heart must ache for the people of Haiti.
I was part of the breakfast making again... Eggs with onion and peppers, Jean boiled "sweet potatoes" (not like ours back home we'll be having at Thanksgiving) and plantains together, we always have fresh avocado (the ones here are HUGE compared to those at home and are really good), bananas, and bread. Karen shared a passage from a book she's reading about how in order for your light to shine the brightest, it may mean going into real darkness. The writer told a story of how she bought her daughter her first flashlight and when they got home and put the batteries in, turned it on, the girl looked at her mom and said, "let's go find some darkness". When you compare the light of a flashlight to that of the Holy Spirit at work and the light Christ instructed us to be, knowing there are some very dark places in this world, the flashlight in pitch blackness doesn't compare really. Karen is a blessing to us all and has such a compassionate heart. The love of God just beams out of the woman and I am so very blessed to call her friend.
As we were finishing up breakfast, the top-top came to pick us up. Top top= taxi but a truck like a chevy s-10, but toyota style with metal bars welded to the box, and a topper box bolted on top of that. There are benches across each side. We feel crammed and squished with 12 back there- I promise you some of the Haitian filled top tops of the same size hold 20 people or more. We met our water truck guys at the water station... with Rachael finding herself with the difficult task once again to tell these men who had known Alyn with all of her trips down here, that she had passed. I just pray that her heart would be wrapped in God for her pain and grief that she has set aside to finish out this calling. We continue to encounter Alyn's favorite child or many other things that were specific to her as the week has gone by. Perhaps with Rachael's love for the Haitians, and in turn their love for her and Alyn was exactly how God wanted to begin the grieving process for her.
Our first stop was a village with guards from the UN there. They monitor and patrol the streets, as more of a peacekeeping mission. They have been everywhere actually as the elections are coming up and seem to be rather passionate here. With the passion comes the threat of violence though. I can't do an adequate job describing politics here, however I can say it is very corrupt. As we delivered water, I planted myself on a rock with a whole bunch of chldren, playing a hand slapping game, as well as just loving up on them. The toddlers could be my favorite- they just climb up onto your lap and snuggle in. The line went through very quickly it seemed- I was rather oblivious to the goings on of the water trucks this time. I saw children bathing with the water though- dumping it on their heads. I am not sure how many white people these children had seen as I found myself somewhat of an experiment as the kids squeezed my fingers to see if they were white, pressed on the spots that were tan/ a little pink to see what would happen, lifted the back of my shirt or pulled it down to the side to see if I was white everywhere- including my scalp...
As we made our way to our second stop, we found ourselves with a flat on both wheels on the water truck. We switched which stop we went to- it is not possible to fix a tire with a full tank of water, so we just needed to get to a place to fix the tire. Our top top driver, Junior, put on some music and we found ourselves having a dance party in the back of a top top. I spent much more time on the water truck this time, holding the hose as well as directing the hose to each individual bucket. I found a little girl who needed help lifting her bucket onto her head, so instead of lifting it onto hers, I put it on mine, and followed her back to her home. I have watched some of the other women in our group do this the first day, and thought the perspective would be good. It was just a large stock pot, but man did it have the possibliity of cranking on a person's neck. Her family spoke a little English, so I was able to have a little conversation with them- with them saying over and over "we are so glad to see you". I tried a full 5 gallon bucket when I got back, but didn't make it the whole way- it wasn't a smooth bottomed bucket and it just hurt. FanFan and Maxim were always around to make sure we came back out from delivering the water. Walking anywhere, I'd feel safe with Maxim. Bucket after bucket was carried, and as the water truck was emptied out, the tire was fixed up so it was driveable, and we found ourselves with a water fight of sorts- the buckets came first as they trickled in at the end, but we all got soaked. What has amazed me is that the children feel so badly when we get hurt or wet or dirty or... though we are there to serve them. I had a little girl wringing out my shirt.
We went back to the water station, and were able to get the other water truck and make the thrid run of the day. It felt like this moment when we said, "Take THAT Satan! A flat can't deter or stop or frustrate or impact the work of God here! You have no place here, with this team, with God's work, or what we can do through Him." We filled up and found ourselves back at one of the same stops we had made on Tuesday. As we got out of the top top, we had some of the children remembering our names, ready with hugs and smiles. Many children clammored up into the back of the top top. And then with a "Hey You!", I joined them holding a toddler in my arms with hair that was turning light like blonde from malnourishment, with a runny nose, and I could feel his fever as I held him. In the back of the top top, there was an entire group of girls who were again, poking and prodding to see how white I really am. They started to pet my hair... and as I caught Junior's eye, I gave him my glasses, visor, and took my pony tail down and let the girls do what they would. I still have the little braids in the front of my hair along the edge of my hair line. I had a picture taken with the girls who did my hair, holding a now sleeping infant. I pray that little boy will make it. He still has weight, but the blonde shows he's lacking, and a runny nose and fever make a mother's heart ache.
I made supper for the team and all our water boys... Rach asked me if it was ok, and I looked at her and said this is just what I do. I have gone through my list of don'ts this week and have seemingly broken all of them since I went without make up yesterday as well. But my "this is what I do" was a way to minister to the team. Water truck days are not for the faint of heart, body, or mind. What those men do each day is hard work for very little return. I am hoping all will work to have the opportunity to cook for the famly at the holidays now- having a new appreciation for food really.
Strong came from several different things. The stong hand of God covering us with protection. The strength only God could have blessed this team with. Our armor, our fence has no cracks or places God can enter in. The women in each of those villages is exceptionally strong to carry the number of buckets they do. The Haitians are strong- we saw one man pulling a cart that we would see strapped onto a pack mule, another man with a literal CAR he was pulling behind him. Their resiliancy is indescribable. Strong came in the team having the courage to face all the things we encountered and yet continue to press on and do God's work. Strong courage to break out of what we don't do and focus on what God is teaching us here. Boundaries were broken for everyone it seems. Strong in heart, body and mind that aside from one person, we have been blessed with health each day- and the one person was able to bounce back in 24 hours. To God be the glory for what He has done in each of us, for us, around us, and in the people we've served this week.
As a final note, today, this day, I long for my babies. I have seen their faces everywhere with all the children we've come in contact with. 48 or so hours to holding them.... I miss my kids. God alone has made the ache less through the constant nightmares of the week. I thank you all for your prayers for this week.
Glory to God for all He is able to do.
Love to you all.