Monday, November 12, 2012

No Exit

The day began with a strange sense of being in the comfort zone. How quickly one can acclimate. As we walked across the lot of pits and gravel at the Haitian Truck stop (a bathroom, a counter and a tiny food set up) we were marveling at how our senses have changed. When we were at the water well on Tuesday we were apprehensive and reluctant to take a step forward without our leader going first. And today we are walking confident and laughing with our new Haitian friends. Feeling comfortable and competent. All the team members sprang in action the second their foot hit the ground from the top top. Laughter and love filled the air.
However, the afternoon was a different story. The pleasure of comfort zone was shattered as we entered the gates of the Home for Sick and Dying Adults. This time when the feet hit the ground it was with a slowness that could only represent hesitation. The team lingered around the top top as if it were a safe haven to shelter us from the unknown. Our only comfort lying in the companionship of these 14 people that 5 days ago were strangers but somehow today seemed to cross over to friends. When Amy returned from Mother superior’s office we sauntered towards our destination ; women upstairs and men downstairs. The women move in a single file line to the steps and the men step into a large room with rows of beds that held a man lying on each one. Nick’s rapid creole question lead to a bunch of hands in the air as each of our teammates took a deep breath and a slight step backwards. As Jack reached for the lotion bottle many of the Haitian men began taking off their shirts. Karl paused for a moment as he considered his options. Looking around at the other two men who bagan rubbing the lotion on the men’s chests he realized there was no exit for him. He stepped forward receiving some lotion from the bottle in the palm of his hand. He took the giant leap out of his comfort zone and gave the man the lotion. Within minutes the tension of the room eased and the power of connection filled the space.
Meanwhile the women were entering the room upstairs. No creole was needed. The first team member entered the room and an elderly woman put up her arm for lotion. One by one the team members moved towards a bed and a woman. Meak voices spoke “Bonswa” as the eyes said the rest. Lotion bottles moving around the room and olive oil being massaged into the hair occurred in near silence. The only sounds were the occasional murmur from a team member or a patient to attempt greeting and the quiet hum of Junior’s guitar. Just about the time that we were settling into the akwardness of our work Brunet’s beautiful voice filled the air and the room came to life. The ladies singing joyfully with great innocence temporarily leaving behind the broken heartedness of their conditions. Even the women who were terribly sick mouthed the words. The women of the team moved from room to room connecting with the universal language of music and the universal love of touch. The image of our glory days in Heaven when people will sing praise to Our Lord painted the room as the songs were sung in Creole and English. I sat on my knees on the floor massaging a woman’s foot who was terminally ill with a throat condition, most likely cancer, I couldn’t help but imagine how Jesus must have looked cleaning the feet of the disciples. This is the example He modeled for us but so rarely do we get to live it in this raw of an experience. The defenses of the men downstairs melted away allowing them to see the scars marking the beauty of a life lived, even in it’s pain. As the team filtered out of the doors the court yard light up like the sunshine peering through the cloudy sky. The enery of making a difference obvious in each team member’s expression. Each person spoke of the transforming effect this experience has on each of them. To be part of true connection despite language barriers and cultural differences with simple human touch filled the soul of many team mates. The ride back to the guest house was complete with the comfort of gratitude and honor to be able to worship using one of God’s greatest commands “Love one another”.