Saturday, April 20, 2013

Confessions of a Healing Haiti Newbie

Hello, Gary again.

Tonight I am afraid it is time for me to fess up.
I will have to admit that I had serious misgivings
 about making this trip. I will explain.

I was first contacted about this trip by my cousin Claudia.
I accepted because Claudia is one those people that simply
loves everyone in the world and wants nothing more than to
help everyone that needs it. It is a modest goal, but she
is sincerely trying to accomplish it. I felt if she was involved in
this it had to be great work.

A few weeks before our departure we had a team meeting.
Being approximately a thousand miles away I decided to
call in instead of driving to Tom and Shelly's house in the
Twin Cities. During the call they went over the agenda for
 the week. It consisted of one day working a water truck
bringing water into Cite Soliel, one of the most dangerous
places on the planet I am told. This appealed to me and in
fact was a great experience. The rest consisted of visits to
hospitals, orphanages and schools. They didn't really say
what they were going to do there, or I couldn't hear it over the
laughter, they were so excited about going they couldn't control
themselves, so I wondered what they wanted to accomplish.
When they were done I asked what I felt was a very important
strategic question ( that way they would know I was some
kind of great planner, anyone who knows me would get a real
charge out of that). I asked; "Are we going to look for opportunities
for projects to help rebuild Haiti, my thought was we needed to get
some value out of the visits. I was told that was really not their
intent but if they did see something they would pass it on to others
that handled that kind of thing. I was immediately deflated. I had
thought we would go there, work hard, and make real changes
in Haiti. Instead it sounded like we were going to do what many
would call touchy feely, feel good things that meant more to those
doing them than to those receiving them. I even shared this with a
co-worker who has been on a couple of mission trips to Haiti where
they did things like build playgrounds. I told him how disappointed
I was and that I regretted agreeing to go. He just looked at me
and said; "Why don't you wait to see how you feel after you have
made the trip. These turned out to be words of wisdom.

If you have read my blogs from the last two days you will already
see clearly how wrong I was, shamefully so. I will not go over
everything from those days but I will try to explain the depth of
my error. First off, it is exhausting work. The schedule is as full as
can be tolerated. I have two full days left, and though I don't want
them to end, I am already so tired I know it will be a hard push to
finish. The exhaustion comes from, the work itself, the heat and
humidity of Haiti and as I learned the constant rush of emotions
constantly flowing over you. But none of this is really to the point
of my shame. The point of my shame is my belief that touchy
feely things are mostly fluff intended to make the doers feel better
about themselves. One of my beliefs that was the basis for the former
is that the people we were going to see would not get anything
substantial from us, and if they did it would be so fleeting it could
even do more harm than good because as soon as we left they
would be right back to the misery they lived in. I felt it could make
them even more miserable than they were before. Now lets take a look at reality.

Here is what really happened. Each place we went I found the
people overwhelmed with gratitude and full of love for us.
It was clear the result was not at all fleeting. The difference
made would stay with them and give them hope and more than
a little light in their lives. When we walked into a hospital room
with lotion to rub on bed ridden patients they all eagerly placed
themselves in a position that made it clear the anticipation of
what we were going to do was high. If they weren't so sick, I
would have said they were excited. I began with the intention of simply
rubbing in the lotion as quickly as I could and moving on to the next.
I was not at all enthused about rubbing on a strange man and many
were in diapers. But as I worked God worked a small miracle in me.
It quickly became obvious that the lotion was bringing great relief but
more importantly their longing for loving human touch was bringing
relief to their lonely soul. The next thing I knew, I was in full massage
mode working as hard as I could to bring as much relief as possible to
both their bodies and their souls. I even made a point to bring relief to
any rashes they might have. But that wasn't the miracle.
The miracle is what it did for my soul. I found myself full of love
for these men and boys to the point where I didn't want to leave until
I was sure we had done all we could. Thank you Lord. This was just
the beginning. When we visited the schools and orphanages I found
the children would rush to greet us and jump into our arms. (I want
to make it clear this is not from any willful neglect on the caregivers.
The staffs at these places are truly dedicated loving people.
Many giving all they have from their hearts and souls as well
as financially to bring a better life to these children. It is simply
an overwhelming task.) It was obvious the children looked forward
to our coming with great anticipation. They were absolutely full of joy,
even squealing with delight. The amazing part is they are the ones
that brought the joy to us and filled us with their joy. I made the
comment to members of our team that only someone made of
stone would not be profoundly moved. The idea that the effect
would be somehow fleeting, or even more absurdly as I now know,
make them feel worse when we left, was completely smashed,
and as before God worked his small miracle in me and enlarged
my soul. I could go on like this for another twenty pages and still
not get even remotely close to the depth of the feeling running
through me, so all I will say now is the value of this work is so great
it defies measurement. Why, because God is infinite, his love is
infinite and so must be the result of any work he puts us to.

May God forgive my doubt.