Some reflections on leaving Haiti

Today we are leaving Haiti. I wish I had an extra day just to blog more stories. I will try to do that over the next couple of days. I am not even sure how to describe this trip. Everything around here was still pretty raw when I got here. Life was just starting to return to some semblance of normalcy when Tom, Nancy, Rod, and I arrived. I came with a duffle full of MREs and emergency water bags, not knowing whether there would be food at the orphanage. The grocery store opened the day before we arrived. It was an amazing thing to have free access to food.

I remember that when there were just a few of us in the house and there were ongoing attempts to break into orphanage buildings, it felt pretty dicey. It is slightly more relaxed now, although just the other night one of our guards fired his shotgun to chase off two men who were hanging around the boys' home. It is said that the real security challenges might spike when the rains start in earnest. There has been rain the last two nights. Rain falling on Haitians who are living with nothing but bedsheets over their heads means increased disease and desperation, and that can translate into increased violence. But so far the Haitians have been amazingly peaceful. Captain Mike Anderson of the 82nd Airborne told me that he worked hurricane Katrina and now this, and he has been very impressed at the behavior of the Haitian people. And let's keep in mind that virtually all the imprisoned criminals in Port-au-Prince escaped on the day of the quake, suddenly free to do whatever they wanted to.

The Haitians remain delightful despite being subjected to some of the most pervasive suffering anywhere on the planet. They are quick to laugh. They will show you hospitality by sharing their last bowl of rice with you. They worship and pray with an infectious enthusiasm. They are deeply grateful. They live in community with one another. There are many things to learn from the Haitians.

Yesterday I preached at our church service in the Ben's. The theme of the message was that we have shared our lives with the Haitians (1 Thess 2:6). God's way is to knit people together as one. Now the Haitians' hopes are our hopes, their pain is our pain, their dreams are our dreams, and their prayers are our prayers. Amen.

I have really bonded with the people here. I am not just leaving behind a "missions experience." I am leaving behind friends and an accepting community. It feels like departing from a visit with relatives.

Please continue to pray for Haiti. The people here are not sure the country will ever recover. In a very real sense, we are holding up their arms for them and infusing them with faith.

I will write more in the coming days. This trip has been so rich that I cannot begin to communicate all that has happened. Every day contained at least one miracle. That is good, because the suffering is so deep. I know that I, for one, will never be the same. This has not been an easy trip, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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