As I prepare to return stateside for a brief respite with family during Christmas and a Ministry Training Retreat in January, I felt that this is an appropriate time to reflect on my first 100 days with Clean Water for Haiti. Moreover; the season of Thanksgiving, the time of reflection, gratitude, and appreciation was a special time of fellowship for all of us that serve here in Haiti, and also lends itself to my looking back on “bagay la” the things that have made an impact on my life here; as well as the feeling of stewardship in the hearts of both the staff of Clean Water for Haiti and the communities in which we serve.
Our Missionary Fellowship Meetings and social activities are most often the only times that we have that is separate from each of our individual missions. On more than one occasion I have realized that some of the stresses or questions or uneasiness I have felt, has also been felt by most, if not all of us, at one point. This is also the time where I can learn about other missions and God’s purpose for them in Haiti. Our fellowship is a huge means of support, as our personal life experiences blend and complement each other, and is most certainly an example of God supplying us with everything that we need, a blessing if ever there was one.
If I had but one opportunity to define what stewardship looks like here in Haiti it would definitely include Yonese, our housekeeper. For me, she has become my comforter, my sunshine, and my partner in much laughter and smiles. She silently moves among us, taking care of our needs before we even know it is needed. It is the small things that make her so endearing to me, like secretly washing my clothes and hanging them, cleaning my sink of coffee cups, or bringing me things from the market that she knows I would enjoy. I also love her faith as her beautiful singing to “Bondye” and “Jezi” (God and Jesus) drifts through my windows as she whistles while she works. She gives more than she has to give and I am reminded of the story that Jesus tells us about the widow, that even in her poverty, she gave all that she had. Yonese does not have to do these extra things for all of us, she is not obligated, she does them because she loves … purely and with no expectations. Yes, Yonese, is one of my blessings.
I have grown to think of this place as home; a home where I am considered family, a home where I share the enjoyment of children who have grown quite close to my heart (the Aunt Peg in me), and a home where God comes through my door and I can be still and know and lay my head in comfort on His chest. I have grown in friendship with Chris and Leslie and in the sharing of their dedication and commitment to our ministry here. One of my favorite times of the day is in the sharing of giving thanks to God. First, at the break of dawn, the whole gang, us, the children, and the staff, will all join hands in prayer and scripture reading. The Haitian tradition is that all prayer is spoken out loud, and I am thrilled to hear their concerns and supplications raised up individually and in unison. It is the time of day that I most look forward to. Second, when we sit together at the dinner table, I love hearing Alex and Olivia bless the food. Sometimes it is quite difficult for me not to burst out laughing as Alex thanks everybody he has come into contact with throughout the day, also thanking God for everything they did (like Evens fixing the truck) and giving thanks for the “delicious fish” that I prepared. Yes, the Rolling Family, especially Alex and Olivia, and this place I call home, are many of my blessings.
Life in Haiti, is simple on one hand, and difficult and quite complicated on the other. There is beauty and there is dust. There is a refreshing Caribbean breeze in the morning and a calm and cool blowing off the mountains in the evening – all in the midst of a sweltering and often times unbearable heat. I have learned to love the beauty in the simple things in God’s creation, and in the simple ways in which he reveals his love for me; a smile from the staff and our friendly exchange of “Bon Jou” (Good Day) at 6:00 am when our day starts, or the laughter as I try to speak in Creole – these are all moments from God when I know He is smiling down on our efforts here.
God’s blessings can also be found in the simplistic beauty of the villages in which we have done installations. There is a humble pride in their eyes as they welcome me into their homes. Not unlike a time when I would welcome people into my home; just as I loved people to visit, so do many of these Haitian women. Even in the meager there is gratitude and I have experienced and understand more fully when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” There is a Haitian Proverb that pretty much covers every circumstance, condition, or activity, whether that be work or leisure. The one that has the most meaning for me as I visit with the people in these communities is, “Bondye di ou: te pa ou, m’a fe pa m’.” God says to you: Do your part, I’ll do mine. What a blessing it is to live that one truth and to see it in action. We give hope for a better life by providing a resource for clean water and this is served with a smile and a reflection of God’s love for these people; this is my part and God will take care of the rest.