Friday, April 19, 2013

Confessions of a Healing Haiti Newbie

Hello, Gary again.

Tonight I am afraid it is time for me to fess up. I will have to admit that I had serious misgivings about making this trip. I will explain.

I was first contacted about this trip by my cousin Claudia. I accepted because Claudia is one those people that simply loves everyone in the world and wants nothing more than to help everyone that needs it. It is a modest goal, but she is sincerely trying to accomplish it. I felt if she was involved in this it had to be great work.

A few weeks before our departure we had a team meeting. Being approximately a thousand miles away I decided to call in instead of driving to Tom and Shelly's house in the Twin Cities. During the call they went over the agenda for the week. It consisted of one day working a water truck bringing water into Cite Soliel, one of the most dangerous places on the planet I am told. This appealed to me and in fact was a great experience. The rest consisted of visits to hospitals, orphanages and schools. They didn't really say what they were going to do there, or I couldn't hear it over the laughter, they were so excited about going they couldn't control themselves, so I wondered what they wanted to accomplish. When they were done I asked what I felt was a very important strategic question ( that way they would know I was some kind of great planner, anyone who knows me would get a real charge out of that). I asked; "Are we going to look for opportunities for projects to help rebuild Haiti, my thought was we needed to get some value out of the visits. I was told that was really not their intent but if they did see something they would pass it on to others that handled that kind of thing. I was immediately deflated. I had thought we would go there, work hard, and make real changes in Haiti. Instead it sounded like we were going to do what many would call touchy feely, feel good things that meant more to those doing them than to those receiving them. I even shared this with a co-worker who has been on a couple of mission trips to Haiti where they did things like build playgrounds. I told him how disappointed I was and that I regretted agreeing to go. He just looked at me and said; "Why don't you wait to see how you feel after you have made the trip. These turned out to be words of wisdom.

If you have read my blogs from the last two days you will already see clearly how wrong I was, shamefully so. I will not go over everything from those days but I will try to explain the depth of my error. First off, it is exhausting work. The schedule is as full as can be tolerated. I have two full days left, and though I don't want them to end, I am already so tired I know it will be a hard push to finish. The exhaustion comes from, the work itself, the heat and humidity of Haiti and as I learned the constant rush of emotions constantly flowing over you. But none of this is really to the point of my shame. The point of my shame is my belief that touchy feely things are mostly fluff intended to make the doers feel better about themselves. One of my beliefs that was the basis for the former is that the people we were going to see would not get anything substantial from us, and if they did it would be so fleeting it could even do more harm than good because as soon as we left they would be right back to the misery they lived in. I felt it could make them even more miserable than they were before. Now lets take a look at reality.

Here is what really happened. Each place we went I found the people overwhelmed with gratitude and full of love for us. It was clear the result was not at all fleeting. The difference made would stay with them and give them hope and more than a little light in their lives. When we walked into a hospital room with lotion to rub on bed ridden patients they all eagerly placed themselves in a position that made it clear the anticipation of what we were going to do was high. If they weren't so sick, I would have said they were excited. I began with the intention of simply rubbing in the lotion as quickly as I could and moving on to the next. I was not at all enthused about rubbing on a strange man and many were in diapers. But as I worked God worked a small miracle in me. It quickly became obvious that the lotion was bringing great relief but more importantly their longing for loving human touch was bringing relief to their lonely soul. The next thing I knew, I was in full massage mode working as hard as I could to bring as much relief as possible to both their bodies and their souls. I even made a point of getting as far under the diapers as I could to bring relief to any rashes they might have. But that wasn't the miracle. The miracle is what it did for my soul. I found myself full of love for these men and boys to the point where I didn't want to leave until I was sure we had done all we could. Thank you Lord. This was just the beginning. When we visited the schools and orphanages I found the children would rush to greet us and jump into our arms. (I want to make it clear this is not from any willful neglect on the caregivers. The staffs at these places are truly dedicated loving people. Many giving all they have from their hearts and souls as well as financially to bring a better life to these children. It is simply an overwhelming task.) It was obvious the children looked forward to our coming with great anticipation. They were absolutely full of joy, even squealing with delight. The amazing part is they are the ones that brought the joy to us and filled us with their joy. I made the comment to members of our team that only someone made of stone would not be profoundly moved. The idea that the effect would be somehow fleeting, or even more absurdly as I now know, make them feel worse when we left, was completely smashed, and as before God worked his small miracle in me and enlarged my soul. I could go on like this for another twenty pages and still not get even remotely close to the depth of the feeling running through me, so all I will say now is the value of this work is so great it defies measurement. Why, because God is infinite, his love is infinite and so must be the result of any work he puts us to.

May God forgive my doubt.

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