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Monday, March 12, 2012

Of Mangos and Men: Day One in Haiti


I had forgotten how fun flying was. I haven’t been since I was nine (to Disney World, as is every child’s dream), and today was one of those days that just made me feel like a kid again. I mean, here we are—seven miles in the air, in a several ton tin can, praying to God that the laws of physics know what they’re doing and that we don’t come crashing down to the ground. Thankfully, they held up.


Something of which I had never been cognizant was the fact that clouds have shadows. Sounds weird and specific and obvious, I know, but you can see a lot from way up there. The curvature of the Earth, the way land is somehow divided into perfect squares, and, as mentioned before, you can even look down on the clouds. You see how far stretching the storm is; you can observe what land is covered in shadow; you see just how small a raincloud is compared to the rest of the sky. That’s the kind of perspective that we need to have this week as we serve in Haiti. We can see how far the nationals have come, and we  also have a good idea of how far they have yet to go. But one thing we as Christians have that no other people have is knowing that the storm will eventually end. We may not end poverty in Haiti; we may not make all water clean for the children to drink; and we certainly won’t convert the entire nation to Christianity. But we can know that what we’re doing matters, and that the end of the storm for this beautiful country will come one day.


But enough with the metaphors—let’s get down to the details of the day. After arriving in the Port-au-Prince airport, we were bum-rushed by “workers” who wanted to “help” us with our baggage—just so, after the fact, they could say, “Tip? Thank you.” We had to shoo away the desperate masses, which, as a Christian, was incredibly hard. But it was something that had to be done. It’s just sad that so many people in Haiti have come to this—they see an American and think, “This is my one chance for money today.”


We were escorted by a local chauffer (who actually earned his pay) through the bustling and dilapidated streets of Haiti’s capital city. It was a sight to behold, and an eye-opening look at the poverty.


One sees photos like this all the time of Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. What I had failed to realize, though, was that photo opportunities like this awaited me on literally every corner. It is nigh impossible to find a place in Port-au-Prince that does not look like this. Believe me when I say that one doesn’t have to try to make the city look like the disaster area it is. That being said, Haiti is absolutely beautiful. The living conditions that so many must go on with are what is so pitiful.


Haiti is also full of hope, however. The above, if you’re not familiar with Creole, means simply, “Thank you, Jesus.” Many other vehicles—some functioning, others not so much—proudly displayed quotes from Psalms and Exodus and various other books. This one, however, stuck out the most. It’s not a cry out for help; it’s a simple thankfulness, even in a time of what could be so much despair. If nothing else, it was uplifting to me—if these people haven’t given up hope, after everything they’ve been through, than what excuse do I have?


Especially when, comparatively speaking at least, we are living as royalty. Already, the teams have been treated to an amazing and authentic Haitian dinner (grapefruit juice and spicy coleslaw and cake, oh my!) and taken a dip in the pool (which may or may not serve as our collective bathwater for this week). Also, a mango almost fell on my head! I love mangos!  But tomorrow we begin what we really came here for: building and repairing two homes, and, afterwards, we will come back to this amazing oasis and do it all over again. This week is going to rock.


-Zack Brewer for the team

1 comment:

Courtney said...

I knew Zack wrote this post as soon as I saw the title haha. Sounds like a great trip so far; I can't wait to read the next posts!