Today was our first day out and about in the city (for the part of the team that arrived on Wednesday). There's so much that I could mention - we had the opportunity to attend a sunrise church service, visit two schools that Healing Haiti works with, we welcomed the second team to Haiti mid-afternoon, and we had the chance to walk with, hold, and spend time with many of the beautiful children of Haiti. But the experience that hit me between the eyes came when we visited Gertrude's, a home for disabled children.
As we walked into the house, we were greeted by four beautiful infants and toddlers, before being led to a large room on the backside of the house, where close to twenty disabled children were being attended to by several amazing caretakers. The children ranged in age from around 3 to 15, and each had differing levels of challenges they faced. Some were in wheelchairs, though many were not. Many were able to communicate, though some could not.
If I'm being honest, my gut response was devastation. As it is, it can be easy to see the situation in Haiti as hopeless even for those who have a leg up in life. So to see a roomful of kids who don't have the resources available to them that we have in the States broke my heart. Initially, I didn't know how to respond. What do I say? What do I do?
I didn't have time to dwell on those questions because one little girl in a wheelchair quickly motioned for me to come to her. Once I reached her, she grabbed my hand and had me hold her close. As soon as I knelt beside her, another boy literally climbed onto my back and nestled his head into my neck. It was overwhelming, and yet it was a gift to me. Like the rest of the team, I knew our call was to show love to these kids. And yet I was struck by the fact that the children were the ones who first showed us love.
Due to multiple bottles of water and a bumpy truck ride, I found myself needing to use the bathroom shortly into our time there. When I entered the bathroom, my eyes were immediately drawn to a bucket of water that was clearly used in cleaning the bathroom. On the bucket was a big sticker that simply said, "Love Wins." I can say that I've never had God speak to me in a bathroom before, but this message could not have been clearer. The one universal language that has the power to bring redemption is love. We follow a God who is most clearly defined as love, and as people created in his image, we come most fully alive when we learn to love and to receive love.
Those two simple words served to remind me that even though I don't know a word of Creole, I can speak love back to these children. The moments that followed - pushing children in wheelchairs on a custom-made swing, being led by hand on a tour of the playground by a beautiful little girl who never said a single word, and sitting close to a boy who was struck by seizures almost every minute - were truly some of the most precious, God-breathed, love-filled moments of my life. The experience was indescribable, but it was the most tangible way God could've possibly reminded me that love wins.