The other day, we had the occasion to have one of the neighor ladies help us prepare food for a leadership conference we were hosting. She was gathering supplies and was asked to help get some things out of our guesthouse kitchen. I saw her approach the guesthouse and I wanted to shout, "Wait! don't go in there!" Here is a woman who scrapes by every day, lives in a house made of sticks and mud that is falling apart, her naked kids playing with a broken bicycle rim in the yard for fun.
All I could think of was, don't let her go in! I felt embarrased and ashamed for what we have. What would she think? Electricity that is available all the time. Water comes out of the faucet any time you turn it on and never runs out. We have chairs and tables and a refrigerator. We have a large, clean kitchen with ample supplies. A fan runs in the corner to provide some relief from the heat. Our sitaution is meager compared to our US home, but a royal palace to the Haitians.
The day before we had visited several families that MH is assisting. It was one of those days where I just felt like 'OH Lord, there is NO end to this'. We delivered medicine to a young woman suffering from AIDS. We saw a five-year old girl with epilepsy who spends her days laying on a small table in the yard. We visited a granmother who is taking care of children and grandchildren in a house that could fall over if you touched it wrong. We visited a 'Mambo', a female witchdoctor, recently widowed, has three children, and is wondering if we can help. As we went, we were stopped on the road several times with pleas for help with school, with food, with sufficient shelter.
We have lived in Haiti now for over three years. We should be used to the poverty around us by now, things should be easier, right?
I've been realizing that it doesn't get any easier. We may get used to some of the inconveniences, but each day's challenges are ever-present. I may get used to the food choices, but there are still very hungry people asking for food each day. I can get used to the sporadic internet access and the faulty phone signal, but right outside our gate is waiting a mother who just wants her kids to go to school but has no means. I can get used to the loud rain when it falls on our tin roof, but tomorrow we will hear stories of people who were up all night because there is no where in the house to sleep without getting dripped on because the roof leaks so bad.
People are desperate, they want to be productive, they want jobs but there are none. The desperation also means that they will ask and keep asking for help because they genuinely need it. People see that MH does help families as God directs. But our help is temporary and we can't help everyone in need.
That's the tension between relief and development. And that's why it doesn't get any easier. Development takes time. That's hard! It's hard to hold out hope for the future when you are hungry right now. Better to teach a man to fish, right? But the fish is needed today too! So, patience, perseverance, trust, with the commitment to focus on development but provide relief where we can.
It doesn't get any easier. And I am grateful it doesn't. I don't ever want to be desensitized to people's problems. I think about how God has to see hardships all over the world, all the time. We all need to obediently seek His direction on how we can be a part of His plan and share that with those we come in contact with.
Jesus provides both relief and development. Relief that comes from casting our burdens on Him and development through transformation by the renewing of our minds.
This is little Wise-Betchara. Her parents brought her to the gate of MH to share their story. in July she was examined by a doctor in Hinche which is a community about 45 minutes from where Wise-Betchara lives with her family.
This adult woman is in constant pain from this growth under her arm. As she sat on a chair in her yard, her face revealed her suffering. She must keep her arm raised at all times to relieve some of the pain. Potentially, a simple medical procedure could change her life, but she will never have the means on her own to find out what can be done.
Mud crumbles, wood rots, tin rusts and leaks
There is a daily intentionality to open ourselves up to JESUS who provides relief and development.
Relief that comes from casting our burdens on Him and development through transformation by the renewing of our minds.
We miss you Ivy and Oliver and all other family and friends.