The following is a reflection by Darla Burch, a member of the team visiting Gonaives, Haiti, on January 18-25. This was Darla’s second trip to Haiti and first with MH4H.
Sitting beneath the small tree-like, crudely nailed trusses, in the over-crowded, dirt-floored, tarp-covered sanctuary in Gonaives, Haiti, I am suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and I begin to cry. Tears of appreciation, tears of compassion, tears of love for these beautiful and strong people begin pouring from my eyes and I find it difficult to make them stop.
For those of you who know me, tears are not a foreign activity, but I’d have not one single occasion to cry on this trip, until this moment. Two precious and spunky what looked like 2 and 3 year-old children, Pascal and Regina, are sitting on my sweat-soaked lap vying for my attention and interest while numbers of cohorts swarm to the laps of the other “blondes” or “non-Haitians” in our group. All decked out in their very finest, pastel-colored attire with plenty of frills and lace, these precious people welcome us to join them in praising the God we share. How very humbly blessed I feel at this moment.
When my tears finally subside and Pascal’s look of confusion relaxes, I am able to join back in with the loud and fully expressive voices of those around me singing “Come and Go with Me to My Father’s House” both in English and Creole. I am truly touched by the beauty and dignity of so many amazing Haitian’s I’ve met and attempted to converse with over the previous 4 days! They seem to carry themselves with a pride and self-respect that I rarely see in my country. Considering the effort it takes to sustain life here in Haiti, it is no wonder! It must take incredible ingenuity and resiliency to provide enough food to eat, let alone meet other wellness needs to survive here! We have been given far more than probably 98% of them will ever get to eat, a comfortable place to sleep, and a bounty of resources that we wish to find some way to share with them. At this moment, we are being given to, maybe not in quantifiable objects, but in a richness of being with one another that is a rare gift.
This is only a moment in the myriad of wonderful moments that has colored my time here in Haiti. Although I’ve attempt to capture those with my over 2500 photos, I am not able to contain the conversations, the smells, the sounds and the meaningful interactions which go beyond that which you can see. Sitting on the wall at the side of the home in which we stay, sorting rice with Tou Pom, Silentor’s beautiful sister who so graciously cooks, serves, cleans, and washes for us, or doing a hand jive with scores of children wherever we see them at schools, the church site, or in Woodsey’s country village, digging holes through bare-feet hardened dirt with a hardworking child volunteer for the primitive fence posts surrounding the church, or hearing Silentor’s story amid a millions stars from the house rooftop, are just a few more of those life-full moments. I am impacted by the generosity and kindness of a people who need so much but give even more. How can I give to them? In what way can I offer the gifts the Lord has given me to make a difference to even one? Today, all I can give is myself, my time, my heart, a few bucks, and the measly little token items which we have brought to share. I am yet wrestling with how I might play a small role in helping them further provide for themselves and continue to maintain their resilience, pride and self-respect which so reflects who they are. At this moment, I feel so thankful for the beautiful and precious people who have touched me here in Haiti!