The ups and downs of post-crisis Haiti... Saturday, Feb 13

We have completed our second day of fasting. The fast goes from 6AM to 6PM, so when I say we completed it, I mean we just ate dinner. Tonight was MRE night. MREs, or "Meals Ready to Eat," are the pre-packaged, calorie-intensive meals that soldiers eat when they are out in the bush. We have accumulated about three dozen MREs of various dishes in the depot, so each of us descended into the depot and went "shopping." Anticipation and excitement ran high. However, the actual taste of the meals was a letdown for just about everyone. We all decided that Brooke's enchilada appeared to be the best of a bunch of bad meals.

But, hey, any of those meals is better than going hungry!

After dinner we all ate raspberry jello that Erta and I prepared last night. She had never eaten jello before, and it was really funny watching her. She examined it with a quizzical look on her face. She couldn't equate the quivering jello with anything else she has ever eaten. Then when she put in her mouth, she couldn't figure out how to chew it. She ended up not finishing her portion. She said it was strange and not quite sweet enough. So don't invest in a jello cafe in Haiti. :-)

I was in the Ben's this morning at 6:00 for fasting and praying. The official part of the day ended at about 12:30 again. Those were a sweet 6.5 hours. I enjoyed time to myself for a while. Then at about 7:00, Haitian families started filing in and getting spots. I found myself in between about three families, and that made me happy. There were lots of kids. One little girl I had been playing with on Friday found me immediately. Her name is Wuzline (pronounced wuzz-LEEN). She wanted to sit on my lap and hold my hand. Then her brother found me, and then another girl named Isyanna and her sister Geneveau. It seems like if you are a man and you don't mind showing attention to the kids, they will basically pile on you. I totally fell for little Isyanna, who is 9 years old. You can tell by the way she carries herself that she is smart and determined. She loves to dance, and she is a natural percussionist. She drummed on my Bible during some of the more lively Haitian songs.

As we were closing at 12:30, Marval and Fritz led us into a time of freeform intercession. I was standing there with a handful of kids around me. When we started praying, they leaned against me, Isyanna and her sister Geneveau on my left and right sides. I took this as a golden opportunity to pray for some Haitian kids. We are interceding for the future of the country, and here it was, gathering tightly around. I started laying my hands on their heads and praying for them, kid by kid. Boys and girls I hadn't previously interacted with started leaning in like puppies who nudge you when they want to be petted. I choked up when Isyanna and Geneveau buried their heads against my waist. They seemed so thirsty for affection and prayer. I ended up with about seven or eight kids leaning against me so hard that sometimes I had to catch myself lest I fall backward. I made the rounds, blessing and praying for each kid, mostly in English and a little in Creole so they would know they were being prayed for. I kept returning in my mind to Jesus saying, "Let the children come to me..."

This was a spontaneous outpouring of divine affection. I don't know how I ended up in the middle of it, but I definitely did not want to be anywhere else!

Other things I was involved in today... I went with Brooke and Ashley to visit a sick girl who lives around the corner. She and her family are squatting on the property behind the guest house. That house fell down, and the previous residents took off. Now this family has settled there, sleeping in the driveway and probably under parts of the house that are partially collapsed.

Dana, Ashley, and I started our rounds of praying individually for MDL kids. There are eight of us staff members, and we divided into two teams of four (Cindy is on our team too, but she wasn't with us today). Each team has about 25 kids to pray for. We prayed for a few kids, but the last one took a while. This kid (who I will keep anonymous) was emotionally down, and with some probing, past hurts came out. They include the death of the birth mother, rejection by the stepmother, being forced to beg on the streets, physical abuse, and who knows what else. These stories are commonplace here. Still, this kid got to me. The sadness in this child's face was so deep and mournful that it has been hard to get out of my mind. We prayed a couple of times and entrusted the child to God. In the coming days, I plan to re-engage with additional counseling. There is an ocean of suffering in Haiti, and it was here long before the earthquake.

So there you have it -- the ups and downs of this day, which is pretty much just another day in post-crisis Haiti. The joy is extreme, and the grief is extreme.

Tomorrow the fast concludes. We are having a church service in the Ben's at 9:00, which I am very happy about. I loved church in the Ben's last time we did it! I will be ready to preach at least a little sermonette, probably on Isa 58. And we will be hosting a camera crew from France (Stephanie and Stephan, believe it or not) who are filming for a show that is like our 60 Minutes. They are doing a story on religious organizations who are working in Haiti. They will be following us around a good part of the day, and I can't wait. Stephanie seems open to hearing about spiritual things, so I for one plan to speak very plainly about the gospel.

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