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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hidden Treasures

Yesterday as I was packing for Haiti I found a camera card. I'd passed over it many times when moving between Haiti and the states and between different houses here in California. This time I decided to pop it in my camera to take a look at what was on it. To my complete delight, I found over two hundred pictures that I had never looked at. Something happened a few weeks after I took those pictures that caused me to forget all about the earthquake. 

This is Beauty: Women who love their children, serve kids, and do their jobs amidst abundant laughter and prayer. Each day, at 12 pm, these ladies meet in an upper room to pray for those they love and their country. These happy ladies cook and clean at the boys' home (the boys do chores, as well, and do their own fair share of cooking). They are feisty, love Jesus, and KNOW how to cook. Madam Michle, on the far left, has cooked at the boys' home since it started almost 8 years ago. These boys are her boys.

My Haitian Mama. Carole (pronounced Ca-wole) exudes joy. Her personality is bigger than life, as is her infectious laugh. Whenever we have a time of feeding our neighbors in the ravine, Carole is the one who cooks for them. My favorite part of these times is watching her shake her booty and joining in with her.  The beating of the drums and voices joined in song to our Lord in a hot, sweaty outdoor words can explain the utter joy that I feel. Carole's presence is the icing on the cake. I think she just can't help herself and her booty and arms start a-shakin'.

Next to Carole is Monis. I regretfully don't have an individual picture of her to share. She used to cook at the guesthouse where I live and now is a nanny for the littlest girls at the girls home. When I was sick or had a hard day she always knew without me telling her and lent a listening ear. I learned much of my Creole by listening to her and practicing with her.

She may be little, and we do call her Ti Mommy (little Mommy), but this woman is a force to be reckoned with. She always displays concern and care for me, so I totally feel loved by her, but when she is concerned about something or someone, you better watch out because she will get all up your in face.

Little sassafras, Estaline. In two days I'll get to kiss this sweet face and hold this sweet chub.

Can you understand just a bit why I am so thrilled to get on that plane tomorrow?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No to fixing...

 In thinking about my upcoming trip, I decided to send out the following email to my team members. This subject has been weighing on my heart heavily in recent months. I don't pretend to have it all figured out. These are just my raw thoughts and experiences. I'd love to hear your thoughts, readers, on this subject...

Often times when we go to the third world, whether we realize it or not, we may be going with an attitude of pity for the nation we are visiting. Please pray and check your heart and make sure before you get there and when you arrive that this is not your attitude.  Let me tell you right now: you will learn that Haitians are not to be pitied. They have their share of problems, yes, but in the United States we have our problems as well. Their problems are just different than ours. You will learn that they are blessing you more than you are blessing them. This can hurt our pride, I know, but that's just Jesus
making us humble! We cannot save Haiti in one week and we are not called to do that and God doesn't need us to. I've seen this attitude in others, which has made me realize I have had this attitude, and
I've needed to repent of it.

Secondly, how can we truly help Haiti? Is it by giving them food from the US, supplies from the US, and turning them into another US? I vehemently exclaim, "No!" Since last year's earthquake this has turned into a bigger problem than it already was. So much rice and other food was brought into Haiti from the US and other countries (referred to as"food dumping") after the earthquake that rice grown and sold in Haiti was more expensive to purchase. Thus, rice growers lost their livelihood and less money was poured into Haiti's economy. There are hundreds of missionary organizations and NGO's staffed by foreigners in Haiti. Yet, Haiti is still in poverty. Why is this? I believe and have seen that much of this is due to us foreigners wanting to give, with unknowingly focusing on a relief approach, rather than development. So, while you are there, in addition to pouring out Christ's love on people, focus on how you can develop and impart what you know and your skills into the Haitians, rather than how you can "fix" Haiti. Get to know the Haitian staff. It is easy to stay in your comfort zone and be relational with the American staff, but I can promise you that you will be blessed and have a very different trip if you are intentional about meeting these people and learning from them.

Along these lines, please encourage those you know who want to give to Haiti through you to send money- either with you, or through Child Hope's website. I know, people often want to know that a specific item that they have personally picked out is making it to a specific child or cause. They may even want a picture of the child holding their new underwear that was picked out especially for them by someone in the states. Encourage them that their money will be put to better use so
supplies and needs can be bought in Haiti and in turn boost Haiti'seconomy. Haiti has underwear, shoes, hygiene products, and tools, not to worry!

While Kaitlyn was in Haiti, she and I, along with a few other of the staff and housemates, read a thought-provoking and extremely relevant book called When Helping Hurts.  If you want more information on what I am writing about, I suggest reading this book. Also, the following blog (with links below), written by missionaries in Haiti, is amazing and speaks along these lines.

"The widespread devastation caused by the earthquake was only possible as a result of economic injustice. Haiti has long been subjected to external interventions such as unjust international trade
policies,onerous debt payments on debt acquired by the Duvalier dictatorships, military interventions and paternalistic charity that have perpetuated the nation’s structural poverty. Beginning in the 1980’s, structural adjustment policies imposed on Haiti by international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF and food dumping by the United States weakened national agricultural production and exacerbated the poverty in rural Haiti, resulting in mass urban migration that made Port-Au-Prince especially vulnerable to this earthquake."

Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope this didn't sound like a lecture. Rather, I hope this encourages you to think deeper about your time in Haiti and how to serve the poor wherever you are.