Today we had the opportunity to go to a church that is not far from the guesthouse where we are staying. The devastation here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Directly outside the guesthouse gates are piles of rubble and the remains of businesses and homes. People are basically living in these tent structures made from whatever kind of tarp material they could find. It is mind blowing to think that entire families are living in an area that is smaller than my bedroom at home.
I’m not really sure what kind of mental image I had of the church we went to today, but i definitely did not expect to see what I saw when we pulled up. It was basically a 3 sided cinder block building. The back “wall” was made from what appeared to be an old car dealership banner. When we arrived there were about 30 children and 1 teacher. Within an hour and a half, at least 300 children were packed into this probably 400square foot building! It was like the children were multiplying each time we looked out into the crowd. As you can imagine with that many children in such a small space the noise level was out of control and it was pretty chaotic. In spite of all this, we were encouraged to hear these children sing songs in French creole about Jesus that we knew the English words to. I was reminded that our God is God of the nations. It was awesome to sing praises in different languages to the same God and know that He hears the praises of His people no matter what language we are singing to Him in. It was also encouraging to see that these children knew who Jesus is. In asking them questions through the translator, it seems that many of them know the Gospel. In a place where it seems hopeless and the devastation is great, it is neat to see that God is at work and these children are having opportunities to hear the Gospel.
In talking with the pastor, we learned that most of these children lost at least one parent in the earthquake, but many of them lost both parents. More days than not, most of them get nothing to eat. In spite of this, they are still so happy–laughing, smiling and so anxious to love on us. I’m not sure that there was ever a point when each person on our team didn’t have at least 3 Haitian children clinging to them. At one point I had 3 on my lap, 2 playing with my hair and another holding one of my hands. In everything that happened today, I was especially challenged by their joy. Their joy despite their circumstances is unreal. I can’t imagine even being able to put a smile on my face living in their conditions and experiencing such loss and yet they do. The way that the Believers here live brings light to Paul saying in Philippians that he has learned to be content in all circumstances. This is definitely convicting to me when I look at my life and seem to have everything. I pray that the things that I am seeing here will be on my mind often once I return home and that my joy will not be situational.
Written by Cari Ward