As a preface to day 1...
I spent the afternoon of Monday the 21st traveling. I arrived in Miami and met Cory ( a long time friend and missionary with http://mission-haiti.org/ ) and Fritz ( a friend who traveled with me to Cambodia to do a documentary on a survivor of sex trafficking... See his work at www.fritzphoto.com ). We had about an hour to catch up before we greeted a youth group from Washington (they put together a cool video from the trip.. found here )
While I was traveling I was listening to an audio book called "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell. There was a part of the book that rang really loud with me. He was saying that the Bible says that Christ is in all things... So, he was asking the question... What does that mean to you? Is he really in ALL things? And after processing that he said, maybe we need to rethink the idea of missions... As an interjection here... I was not on a missions trip per se. I was there to help my friend interview different groups to find out what is being done in the area, and I was there to learn about the Restavek system. However, I apply the whole idea of "American Missions" to a lot of other behaviors that Americans tend to take with them while in other countries.
So, Rob was saying that we tend to have this idea that we need to "take" Jesus to these other lands.... But what if we are supposed to just simply identify where Christ is, in the midst of the land that you are in? This became an over riding question for me... I don't want to claim to have it all figured out... I want to always be seeking... I want to ask, Where is Christ or truth, or nobleness, rightness, purity, loveliness, admiralty, or excellence in this place?
I have since carried this question with me in every area of life. I think that people who claim Christianity miss out on so much of what God has, because we won't entertain things that don't fit in our religious or cultural boxes.... But that is a whole other blog :-)
OK... So, I arrive in Miami, meet Cory and Fritz, meet the crew from Washington, one last meal at IHOP, a night of partial sleep on a hotel room floor and then onto Haiti... All while wondering what it was I was going to actually accomplish, and trying to find Christ in the midst of it all.
For each day I will post my notes that I took on that day and then expound... The notes are basic, simple and raw. In some ways I get more from them than in editing my expansions.
Find Christ in Haiti
The lady with the breakdown and my numbness
Haiti is a Hell Hole... How has the world forgotten it?
Pam asks me to interview two families on possible Restavek situations
Demon possessed girl at 3
As I flew into the Island, I was blown away. From an arial view it was gorgeous! But then you hit the ground. I thought to myself, this place is a hell hole. I have been to multiple parts of the globe and seen a lot of the worlds poverty and injustices, but this was ridiculous. Maybe part of the reason was because I, unbeknownst to myself, really went in kind of cocky, thinking, this is gonna be no big deal, but I was wrong. It was definitely the hardest trip, emotionally and physically, that I have been on. But it was also one of the most rewarding.
As we got off the airplane we were herded through what I think was customs, into a warehouse to pick up baggage and then out onto the street. We lucked out because the orphanage we were going to had a bus, for the 6 hour ride that lay ahead.
As we were getting on to the bus one of the ladies from the Washington group just broke down sobbing. I assume it was because of the abject poverty and disaster that lay all around us. As I watched her sobbing, I was struck at my numbness and wondered why I wasn't also affected similarly. I still don't really have an answer, but it was one of those questions which I don't think necessarily need an answer... Maybe it is just supposed to sit there.
The bus ride was pretty uneventful... More amazing scenery mixed with intense poverty, wreckage from the earthquake, people living in tents or houses with tarps for roofs, naked babies, people getting drinking water out of the ditches, etc...
Finally after a long ride we arrived in Petit Rivier were the orphanage was... There were enough beds for the people already there and the crew from Washington but Cory, Fritz and I set up tents outside and quickly set up what was to be our "space" for the week.
After a tour of the orphanage, finding where to pump our water, where to get rid of it (the outhouse) and where the showers were... I settled into a conversation with Pam ( Mission Haiti's director). She asked me if I would, while I was there, hike into the mountains to interview two families with possible Restavek situations. A Restavek is a child who is sold into slavery. The primary reason a family sells a child is because the family is not able to care for them. The usual transaction that takes place comes with a promise that if the child works (meaning is up before the family, goes to bed last, and does ALL the chores) then they will be provided food and allowed to go to school. There are some cases which this takes place, but mostly the child is neglected beyond belief.
She also told me that there is a girl who has been reported to be demon possessed and asked if Cory, Fritz and I would be willing to go and pray for her.... This request sort of through me. I agreed but I had no idea how that was supposed to go down. Fortunately or unfortunately this particular meeting never panned out.
At the end of day 1 my head was swimming. I laid down in my cot, meditated a bit, and then I was out....