Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I pray that God looks over this child of His...

March 16, 2011

I woke up this morning around 6:30 to get some exercise to start the day. Shannon Maixner and I headed out and ran up the only paved road close by 10 times. As usual, Shannon pushed me beyond my expectations in the morning.

After wonderful breakfast of eggs and pancakes, we all piled into the back of the pick-up truck and headed to Mother Theresa’s House. Our backpacks were filled with water and we all carried some power bars along with some sweetener for the water. After about a 10 minute – very bumpy – ride, we arrived outside the gate. Once inside, we saw long lines of mostly women with young children waiting for food. We walked along the long line of people into the place for the young children either orphaned or sick still in cribs.

We walked into the upstairs where the orphaned kids were located. Jeff Gacek, our leader told Jeff Murphy and me to come downstairs where the sick children were located. As I walked into the room, there looked like a young girl in a dress crying terribly. I immediately went over to pick her up and discovered why she was crying – she was wet. It had been some time since I changed a diaper, but I jumped right in.. doing my best to tie a cloth diaper with strings. After this experience, I discovered that I was looking after a young boy. They must put dresses on all of the children. I believe that he was at least two years old

I spent the next two hours with him. I carried him for awhile as I explored the facilities and watched the moms and the workers in the building. We peeked inside the classrooms and watched the children in their neatly dressed yellow uniforms go to school inside the complex. We ended up playing with a bucket in the cool shade. He laughed so hard when he threw the bucket at me; I loved seeing him smile and laugh uncontrollably. We ended up going upstairs with the rest of the children right before lunch. He had some good street sense as he tucked away his cracker when other kids came to take it. We had a lot of fun together and I pray that God looks over this child of his and helps him.

Since the kids need their naps, we departed for Gertrude’s Orphanage. Gertrude’s has a mix of kids in school and kids that have special needs. One of the young girls took my hand and brought me all of the way around the house to the front to the swing set. I strapped her in and swung with her for at least 45 minutes. Other kids came and went and she just kept on swinging. Sammie took over for me and swung her for at least another 20 minutes until lunchtime. During lunch I fed a special needs girl a large bowl of rice and meat. She at very slowly, but we eventually made it through the entire bowl. I could not believe that she finished the whole thing!

We went back to Mother Theresa’s to play with the kids after their nap. I found an orphan girl crying for somebody to hold her. We hung out for the next couple of hours. We got along very well because her disposition was similar to mine – quiet and content. I prayed for this little girl that the time we had together would somehow make her day a little better.

It was difficult to see all of these young children alone in the cribs. Many of them in need of medical help and most importantly love. With so many children and so few workers, I think that it is difficult to give each child the love that they deserve and need. The simple fact that places like Mother Theresas’ and Gertrudes’ makes me feel good that there is hope and people with the compassion to care for the least.

Written by Alex Sexson

Try to imagine bringing happiness...

As I sit here hardly able to hear a thing anyone is saying because it is raining so hard and it is so loud, I can't think about anything but how all the people living in the tents survive.

Today we went to three different tent cities to deliver water, and all of them unique in their own way. We shared words tonight, just one word, on how we would describe today, any why that word.

Wow - because that is what I keep saying every time I turn around and see something, all I can say is WOW.

Overwhelming - its so hard to take it all in and process the way of life here.

Shocking -its what I pictured it would be, but thought what I thought it would be, could not really be that way, but it is.

Hold - the kids are filled with love to just be in your arms, or hold your hand.

Smile - just a smile seems to make them feel so special.

Desperation - the children and the women fighting for themselves to get the water they need for their family, not knowing when they will get any again.

Family – every time I come here I get closer and closer to the ones I share my days with when I’m here. They are so loyal and protective of me that I feel they are my brothers.

This day was a blessed filled day for our group. I experienced things I never thought imaginable. My heart has been so broken by the way I never imagine one could live. The children that run around with almost nothing, or nothing to wear, only wanting you to recognize them with a smile or a touch…then they feel loved.

Try to imagine bringing happiness to someone’s heart with only a smile, touch, hold or a hug, when what we consider being or living blessed, would take much more to bring happiness.

Amy Hunn
Healing Haiti Team Member

Beautiful Haiti

While we have traveled around all week in the back of pick-up truck, my eyes have been wide open. I've tried to take it all in, to open my heart and allow God to show me something... and He has. I have seen garbage strewn everywhere (literally everywhere). I have felt roads barely drivable for even the most extreme off-road vehicle (my back is still sore). I have smelled the kind of sewage that burns your nostrils when you breathe it in, and it runs through the streets. (this is the stuff Kristin stepped in a couple days back--see blog entry entitled Blessed) In the midst of all of this, people live!

And you may be asking, why did he title this entry "Beautiful Haiti"? What is beautiful about Haiti? This place is in an unbelievable setting, nestled between picturesque mountains and the green-blue hues of the Caribbean Sea. Last night we took a drive up one of these mountains, and from the top you begin to see the "Jewel of the Caribbean"... Haiti! From up on the mountain, you cannot see any garbage, or smell any sewage. The road was still a little bumpy, but it was worth it! It was truly a breathtaking panorama! I did not pass up the opportunity to get a quick snapshot with my wife!

BUT... the thing that is most beautiful about Haiti, is it's people, especially the children!! Their Dark weathered skin, calloused feet, and deep brown eyes draw you in... And with a simple, bon' jure (good morning), smiles emerge that could light up anyone's day. The sound of kids voices yelling the only english they know, "HEY YOU" has become a term of endearment for us all. The faith, the joy, and the way they find sufficiency in God is just plain good to see. We should all be better off to trust God like this! This place, Haiti, is beautiful. But more importantly it is filled with the most beautiful people I have ever seen! Glory to God!

--Kenny Bristol
Healing Haiti Team Member

Let the Music Begin...

Well yesterday we started our music tour. To begin, Jeff brought us to a school in Cite Soleil (where we delivered water). Type Cite Soleil into Wikipedia to learn more about the area. We set up on the third floor of this school open air to all the surroundings, turned it up loud and just started playing. They brought about 300 kids up and we crammed into the space we had. The sweat was pouring, the kids were energetic and we began to see the passion and love that many in Haiti have for God.The glory of God revealed to us.

We then headed to one little house of a more rural area and crammed into the bedroom of Jude Jean Paul, a young man who has been a quadriplegic since he was 7.He is now 17. So as a couple of the girls rubbed lotion on his arms and legs, we sat and played music for him. It sounded so beautiful in his room, inspiring, and the Spirit of God moving! Before we left we laid our hands on Jude Jean Paul and through tear filled eyes we prayed. We prayed for healing, we prayed for God to show Himself and then we quietly left so his mother could continue to care for him. So simple, so good, and again the glory of God revealed.

Somewhere along the way we stopped at Saint Christophe, a mass burial site from the earthquake. (See the blog below)…
Then we made a stop at Grace Village, where Healing Haiti is building an orphanage, stay tuned on that as well…

We wrapped up our day at Guillaume’s orphanage. Again we set up our whole rig on a little platform surrounded by the area where the kids play. While we set up, the girls played head and shoulders, knees and toes with the kids. It’s so fun to see the kids in utter delight.
We began to play and this group of kids loved to sing and worship the Lord. As Jeremy began the song Agnus Dei, it became clear that they knew this song.
Arms raised, voices singing LOUD and at times drowning out the volume of our system, these kids lead us in worship. Then as the sun began setting upon our day and we were wrapping up, God again revealed Himself to us. Julie with her camera captured this moment perfectly. God just shining down upon Haiti!!

We've had some difficulty connecting to the internet today... so be patient and we'll get more stuff up as soon as we can.

St. Christophe Mass Graves

We stopped at the mass graves from the earth quake that rocked Port Au Prince on January 12, 2010 – about 15 months ago. It is estimated that half of the victims recovered from the earthquake are buried here. 300,000 are estimated to have perished that day.

After the earthquake family members wrapped their deceased loved ones in sheets and set them on the curb. The bodies were loaded by frontend loaders in garbage trucks and dumped in the massive pit.

On January 12th of this year they had a memorial service at St. Christophe’s mass grave. Hundreds of crosses were placed in the ground to represent the thousands upon thousands buried. Now, just a few months later, dozens of the crosses had fallen over. Palm trees surrounded the grave for the memorial service, but they were left neglected and were now withered and laying on the ground. My heart broke as God revealed his sorrow and pain for those who grieve each mother, father, sister, brother, husband, daughter, son that was lost that tragic day. I raged with anger as I felt the injustice for the way these lives were memorialized. Mass graves. Fallen crosses.

I bent over to “replant” a fallen cross. I wanted to restore the symbol that represents the immeasurable love God feels for each life. The soil was like cement, so I dug with my fingernails to loosen the soil. My fellow teammate Kenny picked up the cross as I dug and together we restored the cross. One by one, each fallen cross was restored.
-Karen Moen
Healing Haiti Team Member

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The simple pleasures are the most significant

Day 1: As we approached Haiti, a voice from the flight deck of the sold out 767 announced that we were going to hold for a few minutes. He continued to explain that the Port au Prince airport has only a single runway, thus prone to backup and delay. This would become the first tangible evidence I would experience of a country so badly in ruins and so completely impoverished and underdeveloped that it defies my ability to adequately describe it.

As we were cleared for landing and began to descend, the country immediately struck me with surprise. It’s beauty from 30,000, 20,000 and 10,000 feet unmatched. An island in the middle of a beautiful blue ocean, the color of which doesn’t exist in a deck of crayons. If it were, the Crayon would be labeled “Caribbean Blue” – the same one we’ve all seen in photos of exquisite beaches and resorts that so define this part of the world. The beauty of the visual from altitude belied what I knew we were about to experience.

As we entered final approach, the reality of Haiti began to emerge from the natural beauty of its macro environment. The last mile brought the surrounding areas and neighborhoods into clear vision and perspective. This was a vision of buildings that appeared more like ruins than inhabitable structures. An innocent question from my daughter “Daddy, what is all that junk?” followed immediately by her recognition “unless those are neighborhoods….” As the wheels touched down, I looked past Shannon’s position by the window to see a jet sitting in a field. Apparently it’s final resting place. The grass and weeds grew around it, accepting the jet as a permanent fixture of the land.

As we deplaned we began a long wait in the Haitian equivalent of a concourse – a hallway with sealed windows on either side, and underperforming air conditioning units operating along the wall. Like the plane awaiting clearance to land, we were again in a holding pattern due to an underdeveloped infrastructure. The 767 spit its 300 passenger content into this concourse, a concourse with one exit option - a single down escalator that descended to a flock of people awaiting transportation to the next stop in entering the country. As the flock cleared, more passengers were allowed to descend the escalator. And again, and again….

As we finally descended the escalator to ground level the stale humid concourse air gave way to a comfortable afternoon. Slight breeze and mid 80‘s. A brief wait and the 9 of us were boarding an open air bus on the tarmac, not 50 yards from a wingover turboprop that was running up its engine for taxi out. The bus took us to the customs and baggage claim area; a metal building sitting a few hundred yards down the tarmac.

The undefined waiting lines lead to multiple Haitian customs agent. As Shannon and I reached our agent he took the passports. Without ever raising his eyes from his desk or the documents, he stamped them and returned them to the two of us. The human equivalent of an automated machine; signing, folding, tearing, stamping, collating and returning. We were in the country.

The baggage claim was a primitive alpha male competition. The lighting in the metal building so poor that the bag tags were essentially indiscernible. After frenzied baggage retrieval by all of us, the likes of which make LaGuardia or JFK appear civil by contrast, we assembled our team. The claim area so small that the area in which we assembled was essentially the area in which we stacked the bags –approximately 3 feet off the turnstile. The 9 of us then attempted to proceed as a single unit to the customs desk. A task at which we were only partially succesfull due to the non-stop pushing and jockeying for position. As we gave our declarations tag to the final customs official, he brushed us past his checkpoint. A handful of declarations documents in his hand, not a one of which I can only assume he ever so much as glanced at, as he certainly didn’t with ours.

By now we were beginning to receive much assistance from the red hats. A group of airport “volunteers” that grab your baggage cart and insist on pushing it to your awaiting vehicle. This is where the madness hit epic proportion. The red hats all screaming at each other in loud voices and speaking in Creole. Their conversation unintelligible to any of us, but clearly the only means of getting things accomplished in this uncontrolled environment. It reminded me of the videos I’ve seen of the old days in the pits of the New York Stock Exchange. Long before the days of automated trading, back in the day when the guy with the biggest courage and loudest voice made the deals – this was the exit scene at the airport. A cacophony of sound and rapid movement. As a red hat pushed me out of the way and placed himself into the operator’s position on my cart, my job became simple - keep my eye on Shannon at all times.

As we worked our way to the awaiting vehicles, the clear lack of transportation law began to become evident. We piled our luggage – all 40 pieces into a compact pickup truck with a topper. A Tap-Tap. The Tap Tap, once full, provided only two open seats at the back. These two seats, sideways facing, sat directly above the bumper. The job for these two guys … hold the rest of the stuff in the Tap Tap as we proceeded to the house. As fate would have it, I was one of these two guys. The rest of the group piled into the bed of an open air pickup truck to lead the way to the house.

Within a ¼ mile of the airport, we began to see the abject poverty of this country. Tent cities lining either side of the road. The road resembling a detonated mine field. The bumps and jars incredible. As with the Red Hats, the law on the road was the same - he with the biggest courage goes first and makes his way. An insane mixture of people on dirt bikes and trucks of all varieties. All with windows down, air conditioning an apparent unnecessary and unaffordable luxury, even for those driving vehicles.

The other guy on the bumper seat was Jeff, the Executive Director of our mission organization “Healing Haiti”. As we left the airport I asked him why the country hadn’t been able to capitalize on its perfectly beautiful Caribbean location. Why hadn’t it carved out a position as a leading tourist destination, as a means of capturing economic vitality? He explained to me a short history of the country – the success of the country in the 70’s at creating a vibrant tourism industry, the US blockade of the island nation in the 80’s - an attempt to drive out the country’s dictator that ultimately killed the country’s budding tourism commerce, the progress made again in the late 90’s and early 00’s, and Mother Nature’s sucker punch that dropped the country to its knees in 2010.

The path to the house was littered with debris. By US standards, the roads were impassable. The further we traveled from the airport, the closer the poverty encroached on the roads. Buildings that were foundationally corrupted, sitting at odd, Escher-like angles, clearly unsafe for human habitation and long since vacated. Tent cities everywhere. Our convoy of two small pickup trucks providing cause for the people within these communities to look up, observe and greet us. Some watching expressionless but most smiling, waving and shouting Creole greetings that I hope to be able to understand by the time I leave here.

The guesthouse will undoubtedly serve as an oasis from the madness all around it. As we arrived here, I used the opportunity to unplug. To try to digest the sheer squalor that I had witnessed in the last 30 minutes. To try to absorb the absolute lack of infrastructure and control that I had witnessed for the last 2 hours. This, without question, is a country fighting to survive. Trying to hold on, trying to keep from sliding off the map. And unfortunately the fighter appears to have both hands tied behind his back – able only to absorb the blows that Mother Nature and its own government have thrown against it. The guesthouse provided a perfect first stop – I was at my saturation point and I’d only been in country for 2 hours.

After an enjoyable guest house dinner prepared by Haitian staff, the group decided to take an unplanned trip into a tent city. Not a trip BY a tent city, a trip INTO a tent city - the tent city a mere 3 or 4 block walk from the house. With a local Haitian guide we journeyed in. Entirely ill at ease, I felt like an equal part spectacle and carnival observer. I felt guilty for descending on these people to witness their world. And as we progressed through the city, the horror of their existence became all the greater. 12 to 18 inches separated most of these tents on either side of a narrow, jagged trail. Hundreds of tents crowd this small city block, that looks at one time to have been a city park. It was early evening and the tents were dark inside – it was nearly impossible to see into the tents, and I didn’t want to try to focus. The squalor was beyond explanation. I walked around a man sitting with a sewing needle of some type, trying to repair his daughter’s broken sandal. Most sat seemingly without purpose, observing the activity around them, most notably our arrival.

As we reached a clearing I saw a boy with two badly under-developed legs. He was sitting in a wheel chair with a tarp roof overhead, presumably with his family. I am confident that he is only able to move to new locations with the help of others, the ground far too rocky and uneven to navigate alone in a wheel chair. But, as I pushed past my own discomfort, I noticed something unexplainable. This boy was smiling. The biggest most beautiful smile I had seen all day. His eyes were lit with joy – this child, with everything to be sad and miserable about, seemed genuinely happy.

We proceeded further into the city, my senses and consciousness on complete overload. I looked in bewilderment at the environment in which I was walking. It seemed surreal – surely this cant be reality in the 21st century. I stood there, watching, observing, processing – trying to come to terms with what I was experiencing. My heart breaking as I saw the abject poverty around us. Our white faces in far less contrast to the environment around us than our clean clothes and cell phone cameras. It was as if too much information was being fed to a computer – I simply couldn’t respond.

A small group of our team jumped into a soccer game and the kids, once they understood our intentions, were delighted. The soccer ball was a completely deflated ball of some nature. It didn’t bounce. The game was played out on a 10 by 20 slab of concrete. But it didn’t matter. This was the pinnacle of entertainment, the center of youth activity in this tent city.

The boys and girls flocked to us, wanting their photos taken and wanting to be lifted and held. One little boy asked me to take his photo. I did, and showed to him – to which he pointed to himself with a question, as if to say “is that me”? I assured him it was him and he beamed with delight. I took another photo of the boy, but others had gathered just as I snapped the photo. Boys and girls alike, thinking they had been included in the photo of the single boy peered to look at my cell phone camera. All with the same inquiry – “is this me”? It was a photo of one single boy, but a crowd of 8 boys and girls all wanted to know if it was them. I stood there in absolute disbelief – my head spinning - these children don’t know what they look like. They don’t know what they look like. How can that be? How is that possible? I knew I would find poverty, but I had no anticipation of this. I need to put even the most seemingly basic assumptions aside.

Next, a woman of probably 20 years asked me to take her photo. When I did she giggled with delight at the site of her picture. It was beginning to hit me – these most simple pleasures that we take so much for granted, are luxuries of the highest order to these people with not a single worldly asset.

Of all the days that I’ve been proud of my daughter, today was the greatest. She and I stood at the edge of the makeshift soccer game. I suddenly noticed my little girl holding a beautiful, quiet 5 or 6 year old girl. I asked her – how did that happen? She said “another girl from our team set her down because she could no longer hold two kids, and this little girl wanted to be picked up, so I did”. There she stood, loving this total stranger. This total stranger content and happy, and appreciating the loving touch of my very own daughter. A daughter that has enjoyed the loving touch of her family since she was a baby, now holding and carrying this little girl until it became too dark to stay any longer. I simply stared in admiration as she went about her work of loving this girl. I have an amazing and beautiful daughter; one who’s exterior is surpassed by an even more lovely heart.

She seemed so much older than 14 standing in the tent city. And I am growing increasingly certain that she is leading me on this journey – not vice versa. As my daughter was standing there holding this little girl, a little boy walked up to me, arms up in the air like my son at the same age. I lifted him and rejoiced at his smile. My discomfort was starting to crash down – thanks to my daughter’s strength and conviction.

Like the soccer game, the photos, the touch of a human being, the caring of another soul – in this environment devoid of all worldly comforts, the simple pleasures are the most significant. If I leave with only one thing I learn from these beautiful people, please God, let it be that.

Jeff Murphy
Healing Haiti Team Member

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Blessing of the Gifts

We had the honor of presenting goats to 3 widowed Hatian women yesterday, one of the women had an injured leg from the earthquake.  The team had been looking forward to being able to bless someone with the gift of a goat.  In Haiti goats are valuable for their milk and reproduction.  In the Hatian culture, expressing thanks for a gift is not as expressive, as we are in the US.  They will quietly say "merci" (thank you).  God had a surprise for the team - after presenting the goats, team members were brought to tears as the women came to each team member and gave them a hug and a kiss expressing their thanks for this gift of a goat. We who had come to show Jesus' love to these women were the ones blessed by the outward expression of their thankfulness, that God had answered their prayers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whose Joy?

This is Gina.  Eleven-year old Isaac stole my heart today.  It all began during one of our stops at Guiliame's Orphanage in Cite Soleil.  We were greeted by many curious and smiling children when we walked into the well-shaded courtyard. We were there to play games with them and provide a fun experience for the children.  Everyone enjoyed games of pin the tail on the donkey, blowing bubbles, batting balloons, bean bag toss, and throwing balls.  Christi,  Lisa and I blindfolded the children and steered them toward the wall with the chalk-drawn tailless donkeys.  The boys in my line were amazing at this game and their accuracy of pinning the tail in just the right place was mind-boggling!  It took me only 2 boys to realize they were coaching one another in French Creole, to go up, right, more right, down a little.  Yes!  After an hour or so of games, we sat down for some quiet time of coloring and drawing pictures.  I felt a hand slip into mine and I looked down at big brown eyes. Isaac Thomas and I sat down to draw.  He spelled his name for me and I spelled mine.  Then he motioned for me to draw.  As Isaac sat quietly, I drew his portrait and captured his beautiful face.  He just beamed!  I was there to bring happiness and fun to his day, but the happiness and joy that he brought to my day far surpassed what I did for Isaac.

No Cheating!
Isaac Thomas
Before we left the children sang and we all joined in clapping.   Their beautiful voices sang praises to Jesus.      Thank you, dear children, for showing the love and joy of God!
See our beanie babies!
-Gina Lasher

Healing Haiti Team Member

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweetly Broken

Ednure Louis.  You don't know him, but God does.  And he had a plan to use that little two year old boy to change my life forever.  As we entered Mother Theresa's orphanage, the sounds of children and crying babies echoed through the open corridor.  Sick and dying  babies.  Children who've been left by their parents because they cannot care for them on their own. 

We entered the downstairs area where the sick babies are.  It was like taking a step back in time.  A dark room with concrete walls filled with rows upon rows of small iron cribs.  IV's hanging from anywhere they could find a spot.  Sisters in the traditional habits.  And more sick babies than I had ever seen at one time.  This is where I thought I would spend much of my time that morning, but God had a different plan. 

I immediately passed through that room just to see what the upstairs looked like.  The rooms where the non-sick older children stayed.  And there he was.  Ednure Louis.  Sitting on the cold concrete floor.  He instinctively reached up as I crouched down to pick him up.  He sat contently as I held him.  I offered him to Lisa, but he didn't want to go, and before I knew it he was sleeping soundly on my shoulder.  I swayed back and forth trying to offer a little comfort, and before I knew what was happening the tears were streaming down my cheeks.  God's living waters were pouring out of me wishing I could do more than just hold these children for a few short hours.  I was being emptied of me so that I could be refreshed again with God's Holy Spirit. 

Many times I thought of putting Ednure Louis in a crib to tend to another crying child, but something inside me told me to hang on... to hang on tight.  And so I did.  And as I prayed over Ednure Louis gently breathing in and out on my shoulder, wondering whose child I was caring for and why he was there, a peace began to fill my heart.  We sat on the bench, gently swaying, breathing in, breathing out.  And like the day before, I found myself in a bubble of peace amongst all the chaos.  God was using this little boy to remind me that He is in control and will be my only source of peace and strength. 

As Ednure Louis and I sat quietly, visiting hours for parents ended.  A young gentleman who had come to visit his child moved my legs off the bench and set his tiny child down in front of me....  "please take care of and love on my child while I'm gone" were his unspoken words.  I can only imagine the heartache of a parent leaving their child behind every day knowing they can't care for them.  And so I sat there with Ednure Louis on my left shoulder and this little girl on my right shoulder.  We sat there sharing this very moment that God had prepared, predestined, for the three of us, and I was humbled.

I cared for children of all kinds this day... sick and dying babies, mentally handicapped children, and children whose parents simply cannot care for them on their own.  I held a 7 month old baby who could not have weighed more than 5 pounds and could not hold her head up because she was too weak.  Her crying ceased, and she fell asleep in my arms.  I played with and prayed over a 1 year old little girl whose wrist was no larger than a grown man's thumb, but whose spirit was larger than my entire team combined.  Despite her circumstances, the Holy Spirit shined brightly through this little girl's eyes.   I loved on a two year old girl whose hair was gray from malnourishment.  She clung to me and tears streamed down her tiny little cheeks when I put her back in the crib... time to go... she was losing that ever so powerful human touch... that sense of love that God pours through us into those children and my heart ached once more.

I had gone to serve those children, but in the end, God used them to serve me.  I walked out of Mother Teresa's that day having had my heart split wide open but immediately mended back together, stronger than ever before.  I walked out of there with the image of those children, God's little angels, imprinted on my heart.  God held my hand as I walked out the door... sweetly broken.

-Christi Ebert
Healing Haiti Team Member

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Living Waters

Today we had the privilege of serving the people of Cite Soleil, delivering over 10,000 gallons of water... 5 gallons at a time.  The sights of garbage, shanties, bright colors of clothing and fruit in the market, and unclothed children... the smells of delicious foods intermingled with burning garbage and sewage... the feeling of dust in our eyes... the sounds of idle chatter and children laughing... all consumed us simultaneously as we pulled in.  The horn on the water truck beeped letting everyone know we were there, and people came in droves.  Men, women, and children... all carrying their precious buckets.  Those buckets were like gold as this would be the only clean water they might get in days.

Bucket Line From Atop the Water Truck


As the adults and older children lined up behind the truck, the younger children surrounded us, automatically reaching up to hold our hands, looking up at us with their big brown eyes, and smiling at each of us when we smiled down at them.  It's amazing how a simple "Bon Jour" can conjure up the biggest smile in children and adults alike.  How powerful a simple touch can be.  I spent twenty minutes sitting and gently tickling a small child.  Imagine a child, in the midst of that chaos, sitting still for twenty minutes.  God was using me to deliver His love to that young child without a spoken word.

We served three different areas, each unique in their own way, but with the same loving and compassionate people.  God had a plan for each of us today.  Jeff experience a moment of sorrow as he watched a child walk away with an empty bucket when the water ran out.  Sue experienced joy as she interacted with the happy children.  Lisa experienced love as she watched the rest of us display Jesus' love all day long.  Gina and Allison experienced their gifts of giving as they played with all those children with the dark hair and big brown eyes.  And I, at one of the stops, as I held that hose filling the water buckets through all 3,500 gallons, experienced Jesus.  I literally felt his presence flowing through that hose... his living waters flowing into those buckets... into the lives of those Haitian people.  And I was reminded of the story of the Samaritan women from John 4.  Jesus says, 

If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.  Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I pray that throughout the rest of this week, and the rest of our lives, God's living water continue to flow through each and every one of us and through the lives of all the people we have the honor of serving.

-Christi Ebert
Healing Haiti Team Member