I recently returned from a trip to Haiti. What I saw left me speechless.
I knew God would break my heart on this trip. I knew He would wound me greatly so that I could care deeply, both here and abroad.
Here is an excerpt from one of the days there.
“What words can I use for today? How do I describe what I saw? How can I put a mental image into your head in a way that would accurately convey what I saw with my own eyes, what I smelled with my nose, what I felt with my own hands? There are no words. There are: Just. No. Words.
At least not within my vocabulary.
You know those commercials you see for starving children? The ones that are supposed to tug at your heart and purse strings simultaneously? The ones that show naked children with big eyes living in conditions that look unlivable? Those are real places, they are all over the world, and one of them is City Solei.
I am struggling to share the faces and people of this place in a way that honors them.
I could tell you about the open, flowing sewage; the lack of clothing and abundance of dirt. I could tell you that the smell of that place is something that you never want to experience. I could tell you that I held more than one child that was coughing and feverish, and so malnourished they probably won’t make it until they’re five. I could tell you of the men who stood idly by as children and women carried huge bucketful’s of water, on their heads. I could tell you about the little boy who ate dirt, and the girl who sat down in raw sewage.
I could tell you all of those things, and you might shake your head, or feel blessed for what you have, or feel the need to contribute to help these people. You would be moved to help them, but I do not know if I would be honoring them. I would only be telling you about the bad, without sharing the good.
And honoring them is what I really want to do. I don’t want you to just pity the poor. I want you to do something about it. What good do I do in shaming you? What lasting good will come from guilty feelings and check writing?
Let me honor them instead. Let me tell you how wonderful they are, and how God has made them, and loves them just as much as He loves you. I want to lift them up instead of putting them down.
Let me tell you about the multitude of beautiful, smiling faces that greeted me as I exited looked out of the bus. Of the thousand little fingers that grabbed at my ankles as I stepped down. Let me tell you about their outstretched arms yelling, “Hey You!”, and “Potum!” (Hold me!) How they all just want to be held and loved, just like you and me do.
Let me tell you about the homes that the women have tried to create with what little they have. How they manage some fish sauce on a little bread, or plantains. How they line up their buckets behind the water truck, thankful that they get free, clean water today. Let me tell you how when I smiled at the women first, they smiled back, full and free, knowing that I was now a friend.
Let me tell you about how in spite of the most horrendous living conditions you could ever imagine, these people have joy. Not the kind of joy that you are familiar with, but the kind of joy that comes from living another day and being content with that.
Let me tell you about a church and school called “Hope”, which is under construction on what used to be an 80 foot pile of trash.
Let me tell you about how the kids all sang, “God is good” at the top of their lungs, and danced better than me. Let me tell you about how once in a while, someone leaves the slum. They leave because someone believes in them and invests some time to teach them a trade or skill that will give them a path out.
Let me tell you about how at each water stop today, I was honored to meet them. I was honored that they would allow me to come into their city, their home, and hold their children, and walk their streets.
Let me tell you about how at each water stop today, I left a piece of my heart behind.”
How are you letting God break your heart this week?
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Are you willing to be changed for the better?