TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
October 7, 2005
At times, people working in missions find themselves getting weary. I am no exception! As of yet, I am not weary from the work, but rather, I am weary from the constant stream of people asking me for money and/or goods. Most requests come from people who do not know me as a person. They know me as a missionary. Some know where I live. Most think that because I am from the states and because I am white that I must be rich and able to provide what they are in need of. Each person comes to me with their own story of need, needs that for the most part are genuine. For some it is the simple need for a pair of shoes or for a towel. For some, the needs are for larger things like tuition for the school year or money for repairs to a home damaged by a hurricane. No matter whether the request is small or large, I must be ready to give an answer to each person that approaches me on the street or comes unexpectedly to my door. At times, I wish I could be the fairy godmother of Haiti and grant everyone their wish. At other times, I wish that people would not look at me as their fairy godmother because I am neither rich nor am I able to grant their every wish. In a land where people are very poor and jobs are very scarce, people are sometimes forced to swallow their pride and ask for help in some of the most demeaning ways. I had been taught from a young age that if people are able-bodied, they must work for what they receive, rather than assuming there will be someone else available to provide for their needs. I would have considered it rude to beg from someone that I did not even know. And I would very cautiously approach people that I DO KNOW to ask for goods or money. Most of us have learned that a friendship or relationship can be in jeopardy, if a loan or favor is never re-paid. The desperateness that faces many of the Haitian people seems to have resulted in behaviors that would not exist if jobs were available, their bellies were full and their pockets were lined with enough money to care for their families. I am not sure that I will ever figure out when or when not to give, when I am being a crutch or when I am being a blessing. It is a dilemma to anyone living among the poor. It is definitely a matter for prayer! Only God knows the hearts of those doing the asking and those doing the giving!
As I prepared to make a visit back to the states a most pleasant and surprising thing happened to me. A young man appeared at my door. I did not recognize him and he spoke very little English. Leon was in the room with me and was able to translate for me. Leon explained that this young man was wondering if I had received the email that he had sent me. Since I did not recognize him, I had to assume that he was getting me confused with someone else. I learned that one of the ladies from an earlier mission trip had sent money to Haiti, through me, to pay for this young man’s education for the past school year. He had come to my door to say “Thank you!” I waited for him to go on to say “And can you help me again this year?” But to my surprise he did not. He simply had come to say “Thank you!” I was so touched! It was the first time that anyone had ever returned JUST to say “Thank you!” It did my heart good to have met this young man! Immediately, I gained a respect for him and for the example he had set for his fellow Haitians.
My sense of weariness did, however, carry on through to my return to the states. Although my purpose for coming to the states was threefold (my grandson’s birth, my marriage to Leon, and speaking engagements regarding the needs of Haiti), I soon discovered that God had a fourth reason for my return. His reason was that of encouragement for my heart and soul. Through the many kind words of family, friends and ministry supporters I have been able to know that I can return to Haiti refreshed and renewed. God knew I needed the break and that I needed the reassurance that Haiti is still the place that He wants me. Discouragement can quickly set in when it has been awhile since a mission team has visited the ministry and brought their words of encouragement with them. Discouragement sets in when hopes for a Fiancé Visa does not materialize in the expected time frame. Discouragement tried to seep its way in following the death of Pastor Israel. It was God who brought encouragement with people who were willing to help carry on with the ministry! God brought encouragement with the recent installation of Dr. Paul Touloute!
Please remember to pray for all those who face discouragement in their lives. Do not just pray for missionaries, but also for the college student, the widow, the person serving in the military, the single parent, those facing health issues, etc. Ponder who in your life needs an encouraging word! Make that phone call! Write that note! Have that “let’s talk!” lunch. I experienced first-hand what encouragement those simple gestures brought to me! I thank God for what encouragement can do for some one else! I thank God for what it can do for YOU! We are indeed His instruments!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic
Until next time …