Crista here. For those of you who don’t know, I went to Haiti for the month of January to oversee the production of our very first line of fair-trade children’s clothing! This morning I am finally setting aside some time to pour over my time in Haiti. I guess you could say I’ve been putting it off because I knew it would be an emotional experience and, let’s face it, I avoid the ugly cry at all costs.
It all starts with this notebook. The night before I left, my dear friend Hannah gave me my Christmas present. In it was this beauty and I knew exactly what I would be writing in it. I was so swamped with the holidays that I neglected to find something that would hold my thoughts, experiences, prayers, feelings, and dreams.
SUNDAY January 5, 2014
“Today was my first full day in Haiti this go around. It began unofficially at 5am to the sound of rats stirring in my room. After falling bad asleep, I woke again at 7:30 to the sound of church bells. I had just enough time to get ready and went to the common room. I was greeted by a new friend, Father Eddy. He was very friendly and sweet. He also works for Partners in Health with Paul Farmer. It was very exciting to talk about him and reminded me of my passions.” (If you don’t know who Paul Farmer is, I highly encourage you to read Mountains Beyond Mountains. His passion and dedication to the people of Haiti is unwavering and incredibly inspiring.)
After a rather lengthy church service, I found myself back in the common room with Father Eddy and my interpreter (and friend!) Marc- Endy, though Father Eddy’s english was a breath of fresh air! We shared a traditional Sunday lunch of squash soup together and discussed my time in Haiti. He ate quickly and told us that he needed to go visit a family whose house caught fire recently. Their youngest son was in the home at the time and was burned very badly. He was in the hospital undergoing treatment but I could tell the situation wasn’t hopeful. Father Eddy made his exit while Marc-Endy and I continued to talk about the family. I asked him if I knew the family and he told me that I did. It was Reesha’s family, a sweet boy who had been taken in by one of our own WeAreDAR girls! Though she lives in America and he in Haiti, she does her very best to make sure that he has the funds he needs for school, books, uniforms, and food. I asked Marc-Endy if we could also visit the family and he said of course and suggested that if I had any money to give that it would be very helpful at this time. (Marc-En rarely suggests such a thing.)
I remember walking towards the house and trying to prepare myself for what I was about to see and praying that the Lord would use me in any way he could. “The mother was very sad and I hugged her and held her for a moment. Reesha had tears on his face. I was amazed how moved he was because he could have only been 6 or 7 years old.” Though there were many people gathered around, there was a quietness in the air. We walked in the still standing house, the smell overwhelming. They were in the process of cleaning and gathering all the burned items. Vanya, the mother, looked as if she was so weak she might fall over.
“We then walked through the village and said hi to many people. We also stopped in on the baptist church where Marc-En usually goes. He jumped right in and started playing the bass. All of the children stared at me. Most of them smiled with excitement! But some remained serious. It is pretty crazy being the only white person for miles and miles. I often wonder what they really think of me. What they think of my smile, is it sincere, do they trust me? Do they think I pity them? A little girl I’ve never met ran right up to me and jumped in my arms exclaiming my name. How do they all know my name?! I will continue to pray over my protection- proclaiming the Lord’s goodness and mercy over this house and my life (and like Marc-En said, that the rats would respect me!). I am (by no surprise) having a hard time with the food. I continue to pray that I would be better- meals are a great place to share communion and if I refuse to eat, I refuse to take part in the greatest meal in life. This month we will need miracles. I pray the Lord sees and responds. That he would open doors I didn’t even know existed. It is very strange being alone. At times I love it, but at times it is very difficult. Nights are the hardest for me. Would the Lord be so kind as to give me peace and assurance. That I could calm down and relax and rest easy.”
I have had many people tell me how courageous it was to go to Haiti for a month on my own. I hope this bit of truth and insight allows others to see that it wasn’t always easy and I wasn’t always strong, but that the Lord was with me every step of the way and knowing that was more than enough for me.
Don’t worry, I have MANY more days to share, but as you can see, one day often felt like a lifetime!
Here’s to more stories soon!