The Bethel Mennonite team is from Wayland, IA. They are serving in Pignon, Haiti. This blog is written by Keegan Van Maanen. This is Keegan’s third trip to Haiti.

Monday July 1, 2013

A subtle glow from the laptop screen reflects off my face as I try to find the words that will sum up the events of the past week. Unfortunately, I am struck with a case of spiritual conflict. For no poem, song, or novel could do justice to the pictures that are forever ingrained in my mind. Being as this is my third trip to Pignon, Haiti, you might think that I have become used to seeing such poverty and brokenness. However, I can assure you that no mortal being of any spiritual capacity would be able to keep their composure after viewing such oppression. And as the end of our trip approaches, I continually ask myself how I will deal with these images of suffering when I return to “The Land Of Plenty”.

We awoke to the smell of fresh fruit and sizzling pancakes, only to find that our breakfast would be followed by a brief power outage. The utilities in Haiti are not as reliable as those in the United States. But this was a minor setback compared to our late start that followed. We waited for our guide for well over an hour before heading out to the deaf school. When we arrived, Zeke took off to Bohoc to purchase goats to deliver to needy families in Savenette. My first impression of the deaf school was a welcoming one, as the hearing impaired children welcomed us into their classroom with sign language and white smiles. Seeing the children pray with such passion using only their hands was an impacting experience to say the least. We left the school and returned to the dorms for lunch. After a delicious meal of rice and tuna salad, our group divided. Some members went to see a local farm, while the rest of us went to witness the rewards of Ebens’ feeding program. Although this program is attempting to aid a noble cause, it was difficult to watch only the neediest of people receive meals, while other hungry Haitians watched from a distance. As we were leaving, a drunken man stumbled from the crowd. Although he was clearly struggling with some addictive behaviors, the locals did not seem to show any empathy. They laughed and scoffed as he fumbled down the barren market street. It was saddening to see their lack of compassion, and I instantly recalled that it was men like this that Jesus chose to befriend. We headed back to the dorm, and after a relaxing break, we drove out into the countryside of Savenette to deliver the goats to poverty stricken families. This was the highlight of the day for many of the group members, because they got to witness the shear joy and thankfulness of the receiving. The mothers cried with appreciation, and hugged and kissed each and every member of our group. Blessing literally fell from the sky in the form of rain, as we drove back to the dorm for an evening of fellowship and preparation to leave the next morning. After a delicious meal in honor of the cooks, we began to pack away our belongings, and give what we did not need to MH4H. We would leave at 7:00 AM on Tuesday, many of us unsure when, if ever, we would see our Haitian brothers and sisters again on this earth.

So as I think about all the events you have read about over this past week, it is nearly impossible to record my mental processes. But I do know that I have been blessed more in a mere 6 days, than I have blessed others in my entire lifetime. The United States may be seen as the pinnacle example of wealth and blessings, but behind the doors of our 4-car garages, you will find a people that are poor in spirit and in love.  The children of God here in Haiti are beautiful examples of a people that are crying out for healing and redemption. I see the reflection of Jesus’ love every time I see a widowed elder or a hungry orphan. So as I return to the comfort of my air-conditioned palace, I will pray for the many souls across the world that are suffering and searching for hope. I will reflect the unfailing love of Christ in my day-to-day encounters. I will long for an ever-deepening relationship with the God who was, and is, and is to come. And I will look forward to the day that I will see my fellow brothers and sisters again.

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