Thursday, October 6, 2011

From the Depths of Despair . . . Hope

Today we travelled outside of Port-au-Prince up the side of a mountain. Our first stop came as a surprise to many of us. There was a large cross on a hillside draped in fabric. Below was a large area of small black and white rocks which had obviously been brought in from somewhere else. On these rocks were many wooden crosses, some of them standing, but most of them lying down.

It turns out this was a mass grave, filled with thousands of victims from the earthquake on January 12, 2010. The official number is 10,000, but it is probably many more. The magnitude of this loss is almost too much to bear. How do these people get beyond this? These are the depths of despair.

We then went on to Titanyen, a village where Healing Haiti "sponsors" several elderly people.
These people have little or no family to take care of them. We brought them basic items such as vitamins, ibuprofen and sardines. Some of them cannot walk, one of them is blind and his eyes hurt. Yet they were very positive and quick to praise God. When we arrived at one woman's house, she wasn't home. She went up the mountain to pray. She is 72 years old but looked 90. When she got home, she insisted that we stay outside while she cleaned her house. Such dignity. While a team member handed the blind man our offerings, our intepreter repeated her instructions, as well as his responses. As she held the item in his hand, she said, "These are vitamins. You should take one a day." He says, "God bless you." "This is pain reliever." "The Lord is great." "These are shorts for you to wear." "God is good." Every item and explanation was met with an exclamation of how wonderful God is. I began to see a "lifting" from the depths.

Next we went to an orphanage. If we weren't literally climbing the mountain, we were figuratively lifting ourselves from the depths. As we climbed out of the trucks, the orphans ran to grab our hands. They were so excited to see us, I felt like royalty. I could get used to this. Some of the kids brought team members out to the playground to play soccer and jump rope. My awesome team members brought many activities for the kids to do. Some colored, some made bracelets. There were puzzles, origami, you name it. I read books with some of the children. Or I should say, they read books to me. Their inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge was awe inspiring. These are children living in an orphanage where up until a few years ago were sleeping on the concrete floor. Yet they were so filled with joy. I wanted to bottle it up and take it home with me.

As we drove back to the guesthouse, the realization dawned: there is always hope. At the mass grave, there was a young man who, though he lost loved ones, chooses to give his life to God, and be his feet and hands to help the living. In Titanyen, there is a blind man that asked, "I know I will die soon, but could you pray for my health?" At the orphanage, there were hugs all around as we left. Several books left behind, with the promise of more to come. This is not despair. We have been lifted up. Now there is only hope.

Jennifer Dietz
Healing Haiti Team Member

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