TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
March 25, 2007
In a country such as Haiti, it is fun to watch how inventive one can be. When there is something that you need, but you have no way to get it, creative juices start to flow. Such was the case with a couple of torn pieces of clothing. I had one particular ankle length dress. It was not the most beautiful dress that I had ever owned, but it was made of a lightweight fabric that was just perfect for the climate here. When the hem became torn because the dress was drying on some exposed re-rod on the roof of the building, I decided to shorten the dress to mid-calf. That conversion lasted about two months, until the dress tore in the wind once again. This time, I shortened it to knee length and made two little skirts out of the cut off material. The skirts fit a cute little three year old, who was so proud to have a jeep (skirt) made out of Mama Nora’s dress that she would not take it off when it was time to go to bed. A colorful skirt found a similar destiny. Caught in the jaws of our dog, the skirt was no longer fit for me to wear, but paring away the torn fabric, I was able to salvage yet another skirt for one of the girls of the orphanage. She proudly wore it to church. In a land where clothes are a luxury, I felt proud that my mom had taken the time to teach me to sew and that I had diligently taken sewing classes in 4H. Little did I know that years later, in a foreign land, I would put my crude skills to good use!
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I left for the United States in mid-February, bringing with me a young lady in need of surgery due to a traumatic childbirth that resulted in the death of her baby and severe damage to her body. A generous doctor in Michigan, who had trained in Ethiopia for just such cases, donated his services for the needed surgery. Other donors joined in with financial gifts to cover the remaining costs of the treatment. Still others gave of their time to make all of this health care possible!
The grateful smile on this young lady’s face, even though she struggled with after-surgery pain, was reward enough. I admired her bravery and courage. She had come to the states with two small handbags and a small French New Testament. More often than not, I would catch her reading that little Bible. In spite of the fact that she only has a third grade education, I could plainly see what her greatest treasure was. She obviously found comfort in her God through her Bible. She showed no fear when she traveled to a strange country, not knowing the language nor the people with whom she would be living. She arrived to an unfamiliar form of weather – a huge snow storm that stranded us in Chicago, wearing only sandals and shirt sleeves. It was fun to see her laugh when people came in from the cold. Everyone’s breath was showing from the cold. It must have looked to her like they were all on fire, exhaling billowing clouds of smoke from their mouths.
Now, we are praying as she spends a few more weeks in the states until her recovery is complete enough for her to return to her home in Les Cayes. What a privilege it has been to be a small part of this great life-changing adventure!
After spending time with family & friends and taking care of some business affairs, it was time for yet another adventure. The little girl that I had brought to Michigan in October of 2006 for surgery was ready to go home to her mama in Les Cayes. In five short months, this little one had grown a head of hair, began walking, and had added many English words to her vocabulary. This little 17 month had stolen the hearts of her host family. It was now time to say goodbye and to return her to a mama that she did not remember.
During the 15 hour day of travel from Michigan to Les Cayes, this little gal was an angel of a traveler. She either contently slept on the plane or sat in her seat and enjoyed eating and watching the other passengers! Not one delay came our way. We actually disembarked from three different planes only to arrive in time to immediately board the next one. God was surely watching over us!
Reuniting with her family was a difficult event. She had no recollection of any of them and preferred to stay with me. After leaving her with her family, I stood out in the yard of the mama’s home waiting for her cries to cease. They did not. I left with a heavy heart and slept a fitful night!
It has been wonderful to see this event come full circle. One sick baby brought to me by her mother…Visa applications successfully approved…Travel to free medical care in the states…The meeting of a wonderful host family…My brother being the one to do her surgery…A successful recovery…And the return of the baby to her family! What I did not plan for, however, was the way that I would react to the torrent of emotions that I would feel. I knew it would be difficult to see the tears of the host family. I knew it would be heart wrenching to see the baby not recognizing her own family. But the most challenging part of all was the hard reality of seeing what poor conditions the baby was returning to. Even though I had seen her home before, the poverty seemed more glaring after knowing what luxuries had been afforded this little one while she was in the states. Thank goodness that we have a God who has a plan! I can leave her in His hands, understanding that He knows best!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….