Five jobs. That’s what our leader, Jeff, told us we would be doing today. “When we go out with the water truck, there are five different jobs you will be doing.” Filling buckets with the water hose, moving the buckets under the water hose and out of the way, keeping the line of people and buckets moving, carrying water to people’s homes, and making ourselves accessible to the kids. Five jobs – each one important, each one meaningful, each one refreshing in it’s own unique way. With God’s strength and a lot of teamwork, we were able to perform those jobs at the end of three different roads in Cite Soleil today.
Although I knew Cite Soleil is the poorest slum in the Western hemisphere and I had seen pictures of the water truck stops before, I was not prepared for what I experienced. It was unlike anything I’d ever done, seen, smelled, heard, or felt before. Our senses were overwhelmed and overstimulated. Today we have been left nearly speechless and unable to fully process all we have experienced in this culture that is so different from ours.
Having those five jobs to do gave us a purpose in this unfamiliar environment. Filling the endless line of buckets with water was fulfilling. Watching the crowds of people desperate for free water was chaotic. Taking the heavy buckets of water through the narrow path of tin shacks was eye-opening. Being the love and playmates the children yearned for was heartwarming.
After the water truck was empty at each stop, Jeff took us for a walk to and along the beach. All I can say is “wow”! The beaches in Cite Soleil are unlike any beaches I know. As Jeff explained to us, the water truck drives as far as it can on the paved road before stopping to deliver water. Beyond the water stop is where the poorest people in Haiti live. The further from the end of the road you go, the closer to the beach you get, the poorer the people are. They are farther away from access to water, food, and services. Unlike most countries where beachfront property is considered quite valuable and where wealthy people own homes, beachfront property in Haiti is the least desirable and where the poorest of the poor live.
On our walk to the waterfront each time, we were accompanied by a small cluster of children surrounding each one of us. Amidst the endless piles of garbage, the overwhelming smells, the scene of small one room homes made with tin walls and roofs, and some children’s bare feet walking on seashells and glass was the sound of children singing “God is so good, is so good, is so good, is so good” over and over. Hearing that song from the two little girls in my arms and on my back seemed like such a contrast to what one would think they would feel considering the destitute conditions surrounding us.
During our debrief at the end of the day, Jeff asked if we sensed God’s presence today. I immediately thought of the girls I carried to the beach today. They were filled with God’s love, His hope, His Spirit. Maybe this is what Jeff was talking about when he said we need to empty ourselves completely so we can let God fill us – just like the water buckets today when we dumped any small amount of old, dirty water remaining in the bucket so we could fill it with the fresh, clean water. If we dump the remainder of our old sinful selves out and let His clean Holy Spirit fill us, maybe then we too could sing with the children without questioning: “God is so good, is so good, is so good, is so good…”
Healing Haiti Team Member
Healing Haiti Team Member