Since I couldn’t blog when I was in Haiti, I decided to put a blog out for each day of our journey. This first blog is to explain the work God did in our hearts regarding the country of Haiti. When we first arrived in Port Au Prince, we checked into our hotel and all of us new parents were beside ourselves to get to the orphanage and meet our children. Instead, our guide from the adoption agency said, “We are going to take you on a driving tour of Port-Au-Prince first”. I’m not sure about the other parents, but I know I was thinking “Driving tour? I want to meet my children!”. But now it is so clear to me that this was God’s plan for us to really, really understand why we were called to Haiti.
The first thing that strikes you as you begin driving is the amount of earthquake damage that has not been touched 14 months after the earthquake. My cousin who lives in PAP had described this to me, but it was still pretty shocking to see that the government has left buildings in total shambles everywhere you look.
Next, you simply cannot wrap your mind around the number of people living in tents. It is estimated that 1 Million people still live in these tent cities. As we drove, the tents and the poverty just went on and on and on. Oppressive and overwhelming were the adjectives that kept coming to my mind. These people have no electicity, no running water, and they sleep on dirt floors. Some don't have tents, they just have sticks and tarps. When it rains, they have to stand up because they can't sleep or sit in the mud. We simply just can't fathom month after month and now into years of living like this.
The next thing that strikes you is the garbage. Everywhere you look it is garbage and filth. We found out there is no place to take the garbage so it just piles up – can you imagine the health issues? Along with the garbage it is shocking to see the wild pigs just rooting through the garbage right in the streets next to where people are living. There is also a significance to these wild pigs that I will tell you about later in this blog.
But what you just can’t take your eyes off is the people and the children. They are all so thin and desperate looking and you know they must feel hopeless. But in the midst of it all, you actually see smiles and waves and laughter. As you look closer, you also see hard working people trying to change their situation by literally selling anything they can find. And they are an enterprising people. If there was a large pot hole in the road, invariably there would be a tire repair stand right next to it. When we had to go to court, there was a man standing outside selling ties in case anyone needed a tie for court. There are bottles of perfume for sale but we found out you don’t buy the bottle – you buy a spray of perfume. Men have cell phones that you can pay them to make a phone call. They call that a Haitian pay phone. This is what made it so tragic to me that this government is doing nothing for its people to support private industry or meaningful work. They are literally starving in the streets, willing to work, and yet they have no hope or future.
On this driving tour, God did business with me and spoke so clearly to me it still gives me chills. We had gotten out of the van to take a picture of the cathedral that had been destroyed by the earthquake. A man with one leg (in this picture) wanted to have his picture taken with me so that Jim would give him a dollar. After Jim had taken the picture and given him money, people appeared out of nowhere to ask for money. Thin and bedraggled children with no shoes. Pregnant women pointing to their bellies and then to Jim’s money. And then an elderly woman walked up with a broken arm that had never been set but was hanging limp and twisted. Since we were being surrounded , we got back into the van. Another adoptive Mom, Mandy, was sitting in front of me and she began to quietly sob as we looked at this elderly woman and these starving children. I began sobbing too and suddenly I got it. Lord, I get it, I GET IT! “For whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for Me”. I was looking at the least of these. They were right here in front of me. We weren’t Americans and they weren’t Haitians. It didn’t matter if it was their government's fault. We are just all God’s people and the “least of these” were right in front of me - God was telling me this is who needs our love in order to show Him our love of Jesus Christ. These are a people that can’t go to a Prompt Care to set a broken bone, they can’t feed their children and must watch them starve to death before their eyes, they can’t go to school and get an education and even if they did, their situation would not change in this country. They must receive the help of the “Haves” of the world and that is us! In that moment, I knew that my husband and I would now forever have a ministry in our lives that is somehow connected to the people of Haiti and I am just waiting for God to tell us how to get started.
The second thing that God told me on that van ride to meet our children was that I will never, ever feel guilty about taking our daughters out of this country. When you hear the words “no hope”, I have now witnessed this. My daughters will be raised to love their country and will come back to help us in our ministry. But it was never more clear to me that an international adoption means saving a life. We learned that women are so desperate to fill their children’s empty bellies that they will feed them dirt. Some women will leave their babies in the ravines because they know the wild pigs will eat them. Some children will get sold as slaves or for voodoo rituals. Our daughters’ mother (who you will meet in another blog) and those mothers who have brought their children into an orphanage to be adopted ultimately love, love, love their children to give them this gift of life.
I know that the pictures and this blog are something that just don’t change a heart like the experience of meeting with God right in the streets of Haiti. So when Jim and I ask you to go on a mission trip, we hope you will go with us to understand what God has asked us to do. I am also hoping that others will open their hearts to adoption or at least sponsoring a child at our daughter’s orphanage (http://www.forhisgloryoutreach.org/). Just wait until I do my blog about the children at the orphanage… Be ready to fall in love!
This all happened in our first 4 hours in Haiti…….