TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
February 22, 2005
The day was “sunshiny” with a delicate breeze. A group of us were returning from visiting a small undeveloped island, an island inhabited only by a few fishermen and their families who lived in grass and reed woven homes, families trying to eek out a living catching fish with their age old types of nets and fish traps. We were visiting the island for the purpose of future development planning and now we were returning to the main island in a sailboat. The ride was peaceful in the “taking on water”, but sea worthy, boat. The water was crystal clear, the day was perfect and I was thinking to myself, “Tomorrow I will be in the snow and cold of Michigan.” This was a thought that was almost hard to imagine! But it is tax time in the States and thus I needed to return to tackle that little chore.
As we approached the shore, we all prepared to disembark in the water. We sloshed our way to the shore, carrying our backpacks, along with our shoes and socks, making sure to keep them from getting wet. Two of us sat on an old dugout boat to brush the wet sand from our feet and put our socks and shoes back on for the walk down the trail that would lead us back to the vehicle that had brought us to this little adventure. As I sat there trying to brush the sand from between my toes and off from my feet, I noticed a weather-worn Haitian man heading to the water with half of a coconut shell. Without hesitation, he came and poured water over my feet to quickly rid them of the sand and then proceeded to my friend’s feet, where he repeated the same procedure. This was one of the many times in Haiti that I get flashbacks. My mind quickly races back to stories from the Bible or to events that I imagine are similar to those that took place in Bible days. This particular day, I could not help but think about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus did this selfless act and he did it without hesitation. And now today, I was again reminded of Jesus’ gentleness and kindness. This gentle Haitian man expected nothing in return, but was just performing a kind act, human-to-human. His simple act brought a lump to my throat and I tear to my eye. I am touched by the simple acts of kindness that I often see performed by the Haitian people that I have grown to love and respect. Oh to be like that!
As expected, the next day I was greeted by a cold brisk wind in my hometown in Michigan. What a difference one day can make! But God had a special surprise saved up for me. It was on this day that I would learn that I was to become a first time grandma! Wow! Just as I was nearing the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, God places this precious blessing into my life and the life of my daughter and her husband. Isn’t God good?
The short time that I had in the states passed quickly. Going back to Haiti would be different this time, as I was not prepared for the difficulty that my daughter and I faced when it came time to say goodbye. This time we were not only saying goodbye to each other but we were mourning the little events that we would not be able to share during her pregnancy. I would be miles away and not able to hear every little detail about the first doctor visit, the first sounds of the heartbeat and all the other exciting things that happen during a time like this. We shed some tears and both realized that missionaries all over the world have to struggle with separation issues such as this! I can’t say that I understand why. But thankfully, I can find a little comfort in the fact that God has placed wonderful friends in my life who have volunteered to be “surrogate mothers” to my daughter and “surrogate grandparents” to my grandchild during all the times I cannot be there for them in person. I am praying that God will make grant me the opportunity to be present at the birth of this precious child and to be able to spend some time with the new little family following the birth! God does know the desires of our heart!
I would quickly return to my duties in Haiti, as I entered the country with a mission team of 15 people who would be helping with the construction and dedication of a new church building in a village near LesCayes. Bulging from my suitcases were 22 towels, each embroidered with one of the names of the little boys and girls of the orphanage, a gift from the youth group of my home church. What a joy to give each child something that was uniquely their own!!! (See photo!) Most everything in the orphanage is considered community property and thus to have something that is just for you and you alone is a real treat for the kids! In addition to that joy, just having a TOWEL is a great treat, as many times one towel is shared among several children! Simple joys can be the best!
The excitement here in LesCayes is building because of the news that the sea container that shipped out of Michigan in November 2004 has FINALLY arrived and is ready for us to pick up the contents. We are eagerly awaiting the food supplies, the building materials, the computer equipment, the medical supplies and all the other blessings that have been sent our way from the generous people of the United States. Thank you for your generosity!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic
Until next time ………….