To Haiti and Back

This past weekend I returned from spending a week in Haiti, participating in a medical missions trip with my church family from Grace Chapel. We had an amazing week that will forever change my life and I want to share some of my experiences with my friends and family who have been so supportive during this experience.

I just spent about 30 minutes trying to write a note that expressed the little that I know about the history of Haiti, the political problems, the economic problems, the health problems. But that’s not what I really want to say. You can look up Haiti in Wikipedia if you want to know more, and I think that you should because what has happened in Haiti is important, including how the United States is largely responsible for the current situation there.

The fact is that people die young in Haiti. The average Haitian family lives on $1US per day. Children are starving and mothers are dying in childbirth. The government is corrupt, they have been devastated by multiple hurricanes, the northern part of the island has been stripped bare and crops will not grow. Clean water is scarce. There is a massive epidemic of HIV and AIDS with an estimate that 19,000 children may be infected. The superstitions, curses, and fear related to the practice of Voodoo have a chokehold on the island. Haiti is literally starving both physically and spiritually.

But the people of Haiti are beautiful and resilient. I was struck by the broad smiles and waves that we received as we drove through the crowded streets of the villages, lurched down the rough dirt roads, and passed by the humble, one-room, tin-roofed homes that dot the rural countryside. The men and women continue to rise early with the crowing of the roosters (which I can testify happens every morning at about 4 a.m.), load their donkeys, and go to market. The children continue to put on their colored uniforms and walk to school during the occasional and often sporadic times that their parents have money to pay for it. The people continue to gather for worship on Sunday, fall to their knees, and call out to God in the most desperate and passionate way that I have ever witnessed.

We traveled to 7 orphanages during our stay, and saw anywhere from 500 to 700 children. When some of these orphaned children were originally found they were living with animals and eating dirt to survive. We provided medical care to 5 of the 7 orphanages, treating intestinal worms, scabies, fungal infections, ringworm, colds, flu, ear infections, eye infections, and open sores. I hope that by holding the children’s hands, looking into their eyes, and asking them their names that we may have somehow treated fear, loneliness, and isolation. These children receive medical treatment maybe once every year or two and only when medical missions teams come through their villages.

I am still haunted by the feeling of driving away from these orphanages, knowing that it would soon grow dark, and the children would go to bed on their small thin mattresses, with only each other for company. I wonder if they remember their parents. I wonder if they will remember me like I remember them.

It was difficult to travel from the 3rd world to the 1st world in one day. To go from seeing grinding poverty on the streets of Port-au-Prince to seeing Brooks Brothers shirts on sale 3 for $399 at the Fort Lauderdale airport. To know that for the price of my monthly cable bill I could send 3 orphaned Haitian children to school for one month. Before I left on this trip friends who had gone before told me that I would be forever changed by Haiti and I was. I am. Thank God.

Off to Haiti…

There will be a bit of a blogging break at Women In His Image as I am heading to Haiti tomorrow for a medical missions trip with members of my Grace Chapel family. I am so grateful for this opportunity to get back to public health nursing and serve the people of Haiti. Please pray for safe travel and that we would be generous and humble servants of Christ during our time there. See you soon!

Notes from Psalms of Ascent – Week 6

This 6-week study of the Psalms of Ascent came to an end for us this past Monday. I don’t know about you, but I always want my Beth Moore studies to go on a lot longer!

This week we finished up Psalm 132, where we are reminded that God answers us when we call on Him. Does anyone need that reminder today? The LORD has made a promise that is non-negotiable, and this promise was His Son. We are heirs of this promise if we follow the word of God — we too will be kings and priests! (Revelation 1:5-6) God has made a covenant with His people and He sticks to His promises. Our part of the covenant is to walk in God’s world on God’s terms, receiving salvation in Christ and then putting His word into practice in carrying out our daily lives. The LORD has chosen us, He desires us, He is pursuing us.

The three short verses of Psalm 133 speak volumes about the blessed unity of man. The unity of brother with brother is compared with the first blessing of Aaron as a priest of God, when the oil poured on Aaron’s head symbolized the uniting of all of Israel with the LORD. The second metaphor speaks of two of the tallest mountains in Israel, one in the north and one in the south, and the symbolic unity of these two portions of the country when pilgrims from the diaspora would unite together in Jerusalem for the three great feasts. The LORD desires unity for His people — the blessing of life forevermore through His Son.

The final Psalm of Ascent, Psalm 134, concludes this group of psalms very appropriately with words full of praise for the LORD. In three verses, the Hebrew word “YHWH” (or Yahweh, translated as LORD in all capitals in the English Bible) is repeated five times. As the great feasts ended in Jerusalem, and the people of Israel gathered up their families for the long journey back home, they left the great city with these words on their lips: “Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD! May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!” (ESV)

I hope that you have enjoyed taking this journey with us. May you continue to have a passionate and ever-growing desire for God’s word and learning how to walk in God’s world on God’s terms.

Study Guide answers (pages 172 and 173 of your study book):

  1. survey; road
  2. Let go; loads; loosen
  3. next step
  4. destination; worth the trip

A Change is Gonna Come

Credits to Callie Shell of Time for these beautiful photos. See the rest of her photos from the Obama campaign here.

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A man and his wife

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According to Callie: “These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, ‘Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King’s words can be true for them.’ Jan. 21, 2008.”