As we rolled out as a team on the Healing Haiti, in my mind I knew one of the things I was supposed to do. The same thing I am supposed to do back home.
Love my neighbor as myself.
If this is what I am supposed to be doing back home, I have sadly misunderstood what that truly means after experiencing today. As we arrived at Soleil 17.
17, one of 3 stops in Cite Soleil. I had an inkling of what to expect because of previous blog posts. I could even picture it from some photos. None of those things can give a true feeling of what this is. You can't smell the odors of the streets. You can't feel the roughness of the streets, the jagged rocks cutting into your knees if you happen to kneel down so you can be eye to eye to love the least of these. You can't experience the hands of so many children longing to hold onto you as you leave the stop. You can't hear the voice of a young 12 year old pointing to his friend of the same age whose shoulder I have my arm around saying "you - papa" wanting me to take the boy home with him.
But Jesus IS here.
More than anywhere I have traveled (just the U.S.) He is here. As I stumbled along with a 5 gallon pail of water, I was surrounded by around 10 children that I had previously been playing some games in the street with. As we walked I thought I would try something I had never done back home. I yelled out to the children "Jezi renmen ou!" Jesus loves you in Hatian Creole. Immediately in unison every child said "Wi" (Yes) I tried it again "Jezi renmen ou!" the response, louder this time, was "Wi". Again. "Wi"
Jesus is here.
Later I came up to group of young men sitting along the curb. One called to me and we had a fairly short 'conversation', as I really only know probably less than 10 words in Creole. When we were done, a man who was sitting with them said "Hey You" - a common phrase among many of the young children. We made some small talk again and I thought I would engage him a little. I had just learned 'brother' from one of the water truck guys named Wilson. So I pointed at the line of men.
"Fre?", I inquired.
"Wi,...Wi! He smiled and spread his arm toward his brothers. I was somewhat elated as I had only been communicating with kids.
I continued "Se?" (sister)
"Non". I thought I would take it further; "Mama?" a face change, one of sadness, "non" was his reply. "Papa?, I asked. He shook his head and said "Non"....sadder still. I was almost out of talk when the Spirit whispered to me.
"Jezi?" (Jesus?) I said to the sad face.
The grown boys eyes watered as he smiled "Wi! Jezi!" and grabbed my hand hard. "Mesi, Mesi!" (Thank you)
Jesus is Here.
As I walked with children and mothers with buckets to homes that were smaller than most peoples bathrooms and seeing the floors muddied with water and dirt and other unrecognizable things, I thought of Jesus' hands healing the lepers. My Jesus, who was not afraid to touch them, but willing to embrace them with the truest love only He can posses. Walking back, I viewed our spread out team doing it's best to Love like Jesus would love if he was physically walking in these streets and alleys today. I welled up as I knew we were doing what He wants us to do.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
There were many more of these moments that told me of Jesus' presence within the poorest of cities, and I know there will be many more, This was really just day #1
Ke Bondye Beni'ou
God Bless You
Jeff Gjerde (James)
Healing Haiti Team Member