TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
August 8, 2009
Unique lessons are learned in the environment in which you live. In Michigan, during thunderstorms, one knows not to stand in an open area when lightning is present. In Haiti, I’ve been told not to walk directly under a coconut tree. It seems experience has taught that a falling coconut can knock one out cold. In Michigan, cars are subject to rust due to the salt used on the winter roads. In Haiti, cars are subject to corrosion of its metal parts due to the salt air from the nearby ocean. Even coins will rust in Haiti! In Michigan, one applies lotion to heal cracked and dry skin resulting from winter temperatures. In Haiti, one applies lotion to soften dry skin from the perspiration and heat rashes caused by constant sun rays and high temperatures.
I have marveled at the tedious work put into drying out the nearby soccer field following a heavy rainstorm. The large pools of water, puddled on the field, must be cleared to allow the grass to dry before the afternoon soccer match. Several men will come and use carpet squares or large towels to soak up the water. They will then wring the water out of the carpets and towels into a bucket and then pour the collected water into a wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow is then pushed off the field, water sloshing over the sides, to a location on the perimeter of the soccer field where the water can be emptied and not flow back into the field. Other times, a shovel is used to scoop the water directly into a pail or wheelbarrow. Again, the water is removed from the field. To me it seems like an excessively time-consuming and an impossibly long job! But then I reflect on a stranger’s observation of the removal of snow in Michigan. We spend hours and hours shoveling snow from one place to another. We use all sort of methods – shovels, snow blowers and trucks. I guess the two weather-related phenomena are not all that different!
I am also learning about the similarities in people everywhere. People here struggle with jealousy, local gossip, hurt feelings, disappointments and broken promises. It seems that heartbreak, at the hands of other people, is universal.
I am not sure why the similarities that would exist never occurred to me prior to my arrival in Haiti. I had expected differences, but had not put a lot of thought into similarities. I suppose, in part, I was still in the “honeymoon” phase when I arrived. I guess I just figured that a world so different from my birth world would also result in an absence of interpersonal relationship problems and also no similarities in weather-related issues.
Over the years, I have found that I have made other incorrect assumptions. At one time, I assumed that as one got older, one became more perfect. After all, wouldn’t experience over the years have taught an older person to become better and better, until one reached almost perfection? I also thought that church workers were exempt from conflict within the workplace. Wouldn’t it only stand to reason that working so closely with Godly people would just naturally make it so? When I actually started working with each of these groups – the elderly & church workers – I was surprisingly disappointed by my misconception. Everywhere, in every circumstance, sinful nature of man rears its ugly head!
Maybe this is one of the reasons that I enjoy being around children. The youngest are still very innocent of the trappings of interpersonal relationships. A toddler will look up at you with an unbiased smile or will give an unsolicited hug of affection or will look past your imperfections and just have fun being with you!
I recently made some new little friends from the housetop of where I live. Many times I go to the roof to catch the cool evening breezes. It is a place where I can see many of the surrounding homes. One day, I noticed that, at a newly constructed home located at the base of the wall surrounding the church compound, there were two little girls who lived in the house below. Closer observation revealed that they were twins. They were “cute as buttons” and I estimated that they were about fifteen months old. It soon became a game that every time they would see me, they would squeal, break out it smiles and then start waving at me. If one was there, when I appeared, and the other was not, the one would leave to find the other so that they could both squeal at me together. We graduated from waving, to clapping, to dancing. The three of us had huge fun imitating each other. Not a word needed to be spoken. Soon the father and the mother learned of my encounters with my little friends. If the little girls were not around when I appeared, they rushed to find them for me, so that we could have our squealing and waving session. What a joy it was when the twins actually came to visit me on the housetop late one afternoon. I could actually see them up close and touch them and hold them and give them a kiss! One of them warmed up easily to me. The other one was more comfortable clinging to the skirts of her mother. Now when I see them by their house, we have even a closer bond. We have even advanced to blowing kisses! Aren’t little ones precious?!?!? I think God made them, in part, to chase away the imperfections and pettiness of adult relationships. In some ways, I think God wants us to be more like children. He wants us to be less judgmental. He wants us to be more accepting. He wants us to be more tolerant! He wants us to be more forgiving!
God, thank you for my little Haitian friends! Help me to learn the lessons well that are taught by these little beings!
And Jesus said …”suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such
is the Kingdom of Heaven!” Mark 10 vs. 14
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….