For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go to Haiti. It started when I was about 6 years old and we had a family from Haiti come to our church and talk about the different ways God is working there. The family had a daughter close to my age and we got to be good friends in the time we had together. Her name is Rose.
I don’ t know where her and her family are today but the memories we made at such a young age still resonate deep within. The stories of the things Rose and her family survived are some of the most prominent stories I remember from my childhood.
I can’t even begin to tell you all of the stories Rose’s family shared; of one of her brothers being raised from the dead, Rose being intentionally poisoned yet showing no symptoms of being the slightest bit ill, and of her father being told by an angel (I’m thinking via a dream but the memory is a little foggy) to shave his beard in the night and how he avoided prison and sure death by trusting and obeying. Just a few of such awesome stories that show God is still God even in the darkest of times.
Then there’s Eleanor, the founder of Christian Haitian Outreach, and the stories she shared of the children there; of missing limbs growing back, deaf children hearing, and story after story of happiness despite the poverty. I venture to say that while these children have next to nothing by the worlds standards they are indeed among some of the happiest you could ever meet. (Yes, she is safe as are all of the children in the orphanage. There was some structural damage to the building but all are safe.)
I remember being told that one of the worst things you could do to a Haitian child is to give him two pieces of candy. He’ll keep one for himself but then he’ll have to choose amongst his friends who to give the other piece.
And there’s the story of the kid who was given a radio and wanted to share it so he did … by turning it up full blast!
There is a special place in my heart for Haiti. There always has been and there always will be. The devastation wrought upon this little country by the Haiti Earthquake breaks me. I want to be there and to be helping so much it hurts. There are no words to express the pain in my heart for these people.
I have yet to actually make it to Haiti. I was signed up to go when I was 16 but not enough people signed up with me. Instead I went to Mexico. What I saw there is similar to Haiti’s story, though I think Haiti may be worse off. There is wealth to be found, very little of it. The majority of the people live in severe poverty with sewage and garbage running in the streets. Children digging for food in the trash alongside dogs. The beautiful scenery is marred by the small lean-tos built to house large families. Children walking around barefoot on rocks and through garbage. Children working to help take care of the family. Families so large that the older children are pushed out to fend for themselves. Those chosen by sponsors have it better. They get education and shoes and hot meals. But there are families where maybe only one child out of several gets chosen by a sponsor. That child is taken care of but what of the others?
I have been following the Tweets of @RAMhaiti all day today and just reading his minute by minute updates of the destruction brings me to tears. To not know where the people you love are. To not know what you’re going to wake up to in the morning. To not have water, electricity, or heat. To be sleeping outside for fear of buildings falling on you, literally. I don’t know where to go with those thoughts.
People in the US have become so accustomed to having everything just the way we want it that it’s a shock for most of us to see just how little the people of Haiti have materialistically. I think some of the shock is in regards to wondering how a place so close to the US geographically could be so far from the US in every other sense.
I have a feeling though that this earthquake will bring good along with the obvious destruction. While Haiti has gone from having nearly nothing to having even less, I believe their hearts and their spirits will be opened to God and that many will come to know God through this. One of the last tweets I read said something to the effect that “there are people all over saying that the world is ending and that they must find God”. Even with my heart breaking even more with every story or picture that comes out of Haiti, I find comfort in those words. People are coming to know God because of this devastation. He is the only way they will find the strength to go on.
Some facts on Haiti:
Covers only 1/3 of the island it shares with the Dominican Republic which makes it slightly smaller than the US state of Maryland. (27,560 sq km are land while 190 sq km are water)
1,771 km of coastline.
Poorest nation in Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty.
Over 9 million people call Haiti home; 9,035,536 to be exact.
Average age of a Haitian: 20.2 years.
Life expectancy: 60.78 years.
Roughly half of the population practices voodoo while 80% claim to be Roman Catholic.
108,000 people use land lines while another 3.2 million use cell phones … that leaves roughly 5.7 million people without that form of communication.
There are 14 airports but only 4 with paved runways.
4,160 km or roadway but over 3,000km are unpaved.
There are 2 TV broadcast stations and 1 cable station.
I can guarantee you that after reading these facts and others that I’m thanking God for the things I take for granted on a regular basis. Things like clean water, electricity, a job, a home, the numerous opportunities for education, and a vehicle.