My heart cannot believe I have been in Haiti for four days now. It feels like just yesterday that I boarded that plane in Minneapolis bound for Haiti and then in the same breath it feels like I have been here for a very long time.
The Haitian culture becomes more beautiful with each day.
There is something so lovely about being around people who are simply joyful for life. They are not only full of joy, but are also full of kindness and generosity. They want to be with you, to learn about you, and to thank you. My friend, Jim, who is part of Praying Pelican Missions told me this, but I did the smile and nod and we’ll see kind of posture, but I told him that it took less than 24 hours for me to fall in love with this country. He was right – they are so real and so wonderful that it is almost impossible to not fall in love with Haiti.
Yesterday was an incredibly busy day. In the morning we headed back up to the church in the mountains and began helping with construction efforts. Let me tell you – the physical labor that we all did that morning was perhaps some of the most draining physical labor I’ve ever done.
We hauled concrete blocks, some still damp, down the side of that mountain in an assembly line. At first it felt like no big deal, but after even mere minutes my arms were already starting to get fatigued and worn. Block after block came and I couldn’t figure how to even grip them so I didn’t drop them as I knew dropping them would result in broken toes. So I started to balance them on my arms. And in doing that today I have woken up with forearms with large bruises all over and scratches up to my shoulders. There are bruises on my hips from when I tried to balance them there.
I tell you this because those marks humble me.
I worked at this task for maybe an hour. Sixty minutes. And my body became worn.
The Haitian men that worked never stopped, never complained, and always laughed. They were so thankful for the work – as the money from our offerings on Sunday went to hiring men from the community and providing work. This intense physical work that made me want to stop after minutes was an incredible gift for them. So this morning, those bruises on my arm serve as a reminder to me to be grateful for work. And to work with joy.
And it amazes me how much of that wall was completed in one day. They just worked, didn’t argue, there was no red tape – they just got the wall built. I can learn from that attitude.
Then in the afternoon the team worked on more kids ministry type projects. The kids are really starting to warm up to everyone and have claimed favorites. My little girls come up running and saying Rah-shell, Rah-shell. They love to play with my hair – by the time I leave the work site I probably will have gone through at least a dozen different styles.
But the highlight for me and for the team and those fabulous kids was when we loaded them all in a bus and drove down the mountain to a flat mango grove and field where the kids could run and play soccer. Riding in that bus with them was amazing.
Their joy could not be contained. They screamed and cheered and chanted and smiled and hugged us the whole way down. And then, then when the bus stopped they just ran and ran and ran and ran.
It was so beautiful.
I don’t want to lose sight of these most beautiful and most simple things in life. The gift of work. The freedom to run. The fellowship of being together. The gifts of hugs. Or holding hands. Or looking one in the eye and smiling. These things matter. More than all of the stuff. Oh my goodness, if I have learned anything, these things matter way more than the stuff.
Perspective changes in Haiti.
Mine will never be the same.
Today, the exhaustion I feel is beautiful – it reminds me of real and joyful living.
Today the team is going back up the mountain to do more work on the site. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers. It is very easy to get worn or dehydrated quickly here. I have to drink an incredible amount of water just to stay even. And then the team is going to do a repeat of the kids ministry this afternoon. I, on the other hand, will be joining the amazing Haitian women who prepare all of our meals. They’ve invited me into their kitchen and I will be working side by side with them learning about their lives and helping them cook. I could not be more humbled or joyful about this opportunity.
And, just for fun, yesterday I was able to ride a motorbike in Torbeck. Let me tell you – it was pure joy. I was taken down to the black pebble beach and we drove along the beach as the waves crashed ashore. I told my driver Bebay (I have to get the spelling right) that I would never forget this moment for the rest of my life. Life is amazing.
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