Monday, January 18, 2010

"Under the Radar" People

I have not been to Haiti. But some of you know that I have traveled to the Dominican Republic with my church. The DR shares the island of Hispanola with Haiti. They are border countries in conflict, sharing a tiny island. The church that we serve and support in the DR is the church home of a Haitian pastor and a Haitian congregation. They are refugees who are in the DR illegally. They work to send money back home to their families in Haiti. Many of them have lost their families now. And still many do not even know yet if their families are okay or not.

When I was in the DR, the Haitian people really made an impression on me. They had such gentle spirits about them. It is probably a fair assessment to suggest that as many of them are in the DR illegally, and the tension between the peoples is very threatening, many Haitians are just trying to stay under the radar. I could feel this. I think I have always gravitated toward the "under the radar" people. And that goes for any race, in any place. One of my most memorable experiences in the DR was on our last day when our group made a short trip to the beach for some R&R before returning home to the states. I did a little souveneir shopping. There was a kind of outdoor flea market along the beach. One of the places I ventured into was being run by a Haitian man on that day. I wish that I could remember his name. He wanted me to purchase something, naturally...and so he quickly engaged me in conversation. I was not necessarily shy in letting him know that I would prefer to shop quietly and that I would only purchase something if I really desired to. He assured me that I would desire to. Of course.
Details escape me, but I recall talking to this man for a long time. I really wanted to tell him to leave me alone, but I never did. The less that I wanted to speak with him, the more I felt prompted to. Before long we were like old friends. As I was getting ready to leave his store (and yes I did purchase some things)... he stopped me and asked me why I was so nice to him. I'm sure I looked at him with a confused expression. But he stated again in his beautiful creole accent, "most people are just not very nice....why are you so nice?" My response was, "I love Jesus and I have no desire to not be nice to you." He asked me if I would come back later and talk to him some more. Sadly, I had to tell him that we were leaving in a few minutes. He was truly disappointed. Gosh, his name is on the tip of my tongue. I wish I could recall it. It started with an "E". I hope that "E" is curious about Jesus. Or better yet, I hope he knows Him well. Today I am wondering if he has lost his family.

Yesterday on facebook I saw a truly disturbing photo of a young dead child being tossed into a mass grave. Grotesque does not even begin to describe it. I will not be reposting it....because I am already struggling to try and get that image out of my head and I don't want to do that to anyone else. The photo however, was of the child in mid-air, almost upside down, with its stiff body unaware. The photo also revealed the other bodies in the grave......contorted and broken. Not even gently laid to rest. I cannot fathom the number of the dead that is being projected. For some reason my mind is trying to experience it, and I don't want to experience it. But my mind takes me to the shaking and jumping of the earth. The cracking and breaking of massive buildings, and the caving in of the very structures that are supposed to be the shelter from the storm. I can imagine a mother helpless to protect her children. And I can imagine the child spending horrific hours and days trapped, afraid. I can feel my own body going limp and unable to move from a lack of nourishment. I'm torn between wanting to live and wanting to die.

Haiti is a troubled nation. I have found a great deal of comfort in learning that there have been hundreds, and maybe even thousands of missionaries serving in Haiti (prior to earthquake)....and that many Haitians are Christians now. I read a story today about how one man preached to a crowd on Saturday, and the result was the baptism of 21 Haitians. I so deeply admire the people who love Jesus so much to venture into the least safe places in this world (least safe for Christians)... just to share the good news of the love, hope and promises of Christ Jesus. That is such an incredible sacrifice. So honorable. So beautiful. So hopeful. But it is exactly what Jesus has instructed us to spread His word to the nations. Even to the voo doo tribes in Haiti. I'm so thankful and inspired by everyone who has done that. What a glorious jewel in your crowns. I think, now, I am speechless.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Thank you for this post, Melissa. Thank you for putting a personal face on this tragedy. I can't even get my head around the destruction and the death and the loss, but your story about the store owner helped me think of these victims as people, not pictures. I can't even explain what I'm trying to say, but I think you did a very good job of explaining what is on your heart.