Why in the World Would We Go (back) to Haiti
Culture shock? You bet. For the first few hours after we arrived at GLA, I was a bit like a zombie. It’s a little embarrassing, really. I thought I’d be tougher and cooler than that, but the combination of sleep deprivation and being a newbie to Haiti took its toll on me that day. Thankfully by the next morning, I was adjusting well and ready to roll. Brennon and I began our routine for the next few days – we grabbed some coffee (Haitian coffee is the bomb) and headed our separate ways. I grabbed my mug and went upstairs to start my day working with my assigned kids. Brennon would join John and his sidekick Gus, a funny little wiener dog, and they would head up to Fort Jacques for a day of work. Manly manual labor stuff….. and no dirty diapers to change.
Fort Jacques is a community a few miles up and across the mountain that will be home to the future GLA facility. I got the opportunity to visit Fort Jacques a couple of times during our stay. It’s difficult to describe the beauty and atmosphere there with mere words. In a nutshell: a few acres surrounded by a magnificent handmade mason fence, sitting atop a high mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince. Lush green pine trees at the top of the property and a bountiful garden at its base. Sandstone oozing out of every inch of the land – all the stone for the fence and buildings being constructed has come from the property itself. Very self-sufficient. The view, oh my, the view. On a clear night, when no clouds have rolled in below the property, the view of Port-au-Prince is stunning. The flickering of lights below from the city is a quiet reminder that in the valley are millions of people. Now mind you, for a city nestled in a valley that holds so many people, the nighttime glow of light representing homes and activity is fairly dim.
As I stood there on that mountainside with my husband, a few feet away from an occasionally mooing cow (because it’s Haiti…I have no idea yet as to why there’s a cow there), with a gentle breeze blowing, the flickering of the city lights below mesmerized me. The realization of why the lights were so dim weighed heavily inside me. Just a few miles away were thousands and thousands of people living in tent cities, where they have lived and fought for survival for more than a year since the earth so violently shook. Gazing down upon that city, my heart further broke for the Haitian people.
Then my focus came back to the land I was standing on. As I looked around the property, I imagined what it would one day be like. This very land will, Lord willing, be a temporary home to many Haitian children. A place of respite from such intense suffering. A place where bellies will not swell from hunger. A place where medicine will readily be available. A place where each child has a warm bed that is protected from nature’s elements. A place where not only will sweet little bodies be fed, but minds and hearts will, too. Love. So much love will live on this mountain. Smiles. Laughter. Hope for the future. Broken hearts will be comforted. Each child that enters through the gate will soon learn that he/she has value. Not forgotten, not forsaken. That no matter what circumstances brought him/her here, that child is loved and treasured by God. Here on this mountain, so close to the stars, children will learn who Jesus is.
Oh, how I don’t want to miss being a part of such a beautiful thing. Standing on a mountain in a foreign land, so far from all my usual comforts and familiarities, I felt strangely..…peacefully…..at home.