Jose and I decided to go to Port-au-Prince today. There was a group leaving and we had to charter a plane. After dropping off the group – Jose took me around to some of the places he had been. Watching his body language – I could tell there were moments where he remembered too much.
I asked a few times for the truck to stop. I wanted to take a few moments in certain places to just simply stop and pray. I don’t want to be a sight-seeing tourist. I prayed for today to not be about me and what I saw. I am not a victim and I don’t want to write as though I am one. I told Jose before we began this journey – I’m not going to write anything about today. Everyone is expecting me to – so I don’t want to do it. He told me – don’t decide what you will or won’t do before you even experience the day. Let God guide your thoughts and your heart. So here I am…..writing.
But before I write anymore let me say this: There is nothing I can write here that you haven’t read somewhere else. There isn’t a new photo you haven’t already seen. There is little I have to offer you as any sort of news. You’re not going to read this and feel like you’ve walked away with some great find. All I can tell you is what I saw – amid the rubble.
My mind could not wrap around all that was before me. So I didn’t force it to. Instead – God gave me moments throughout the day where His whispers were like a gentle breeze – calming and comforting. He spoke to me – when there were no words. He held my hand – when I covered my eyes. He gave me peace – when my heart began to shatter. He gave me hope – when there was none to be found.
I’ve been praying every day for God to give me His eyes. Today He did.
Amid the rubble – through His eyes – I saw…Sorrow.
I have friends who live in Petionville and all our groups used to stay at the Villa St. Louis before it became UN headquarters. I wanted to go there first. While the streets were clear of the bodies Jose had seen nearly 2 months ago – there were a few places where new ones lie. We arrived in Petionville just as one complex dug out their 2nd story inhabitants. We joined in the tears of their loved ones and their sorrow pierced our hearts.
Anytime there is a tragedy – I always wonder – what were the people doing in that moment? On one of the places we stopped to pray at- my eyes drifted to a hamper full of dirty clothes. It was semi-buried.Were they thinking they’d just do a load of laundry that next day? Were they studying for school or laughing with friends when the roof caved in? Were they putting their baby down for his nap when the walls fell out? What must have gone through their minds as the noise of buildings collapsed all around them – and on them.
I saw beautiful homes – homes of the rich – crumbled before us. They were homes that no doubt people paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for. They probably saved all year to add those special luxurious touches. That marble tile that covered their floors and walls – it’s now exposed to the open air. Whatever earthly treasures and possessions they held – it’s now covered in gray dust and concrete debris. Their whole life’s savings – in ruins before them.
Though very hard to process – God showed me a glimpse of what is still happening here every day.
We all have moved on – while they still dig on.
But how many pictures can you take of flattened buildings, crumbled homes, and rubble every where? Apparently 323. That’s what my camera says anyways. As my mind could not comprehend the big picture – God began to whisper to me. He didn’t need for me to widen the lens – but focus it on what was right in front of me.
Amid the rubble – through His eyes – I saw…Love.
It began in the eyes of a little boy in a red shirt. His smile was bright as he was standing outside of his new tarp home. Before he locked eyes with me – I watched him flying his little kite made of plastic strings. Unaware of what was around him or perhaps inspite of it – his laughter filled my heart where sorrow had started to set up camp.
The little boy in the red shirt led to two other cute kids and then the leader of their small tent zone. He explained that USAID gave a few tarps and that’s it. There’s no food. There’s no water. They live right across from the palace. “Everyone comes to take pictures of the palace – they stand right outside our tarp-homes – but no one sees us though we are in plain sight”. He has 50 families in his tent zone. There is a committee of 3 people who “govern” that zone.
I was impressed number one that they’ve already established some type of government within the tent cities. I was also impressed how he could tell me the story of every family who lived there. What I wasn’t impressed by was the fact that the Red Cross has 50 million dollars and I don’t see those red crosses anywhere but at the airport. The families explained to me how hungry they were – how thieves come into their tents and steal what little they have. The whole reason they have tent zones with committees I’m told – is so that everyone can watch out for everyone else.
The one thing they kept saying over and over again- God protected them.
What? You have nothing.
We have everything right here – all of my family survived – said an old little lady sitting on a bucket outside her tarp home.
The old lady showed me her tarp home. She has a blanket on the ground. “When it rains – it soaks my blanket. But there is nothing I can do. I have no where to go. Everything I own is right here,” she told me. She let me take a picture of her home. I asked her if I could take HER picture. She said when someone stops the hunger in her home – then her photo can be taken.
We prayed for God to lead our hearts today. We prayed for God to give us HIS eyes. The leader’s words – “no one sees us – though we’re in plain sight” – really hit me hard. We prayed with the leader and told him we don’t have a lot – but we will see what we can do to help their zone. Jose goes back and forth to PAP every other week to pick up groups. He can check in with them and make sure the food is being given out correctly. With those 50 families are 145 children. We are using our personal ministry money to help this zone. We don’t have enough to feed them every day but we will do what we can – knowing God will provide as He always does. Why? Because God gave me His eyes and whispered to focus on what is right in front of me – and in that moment – it was little boy in a bright red shirt.
Amid the rubble – through His eyes – I saw…Hope.
People were rebuilding. This is a picture of where a fallen school was. Everyone in the building died. I’m told around 200 children. They completely cleared it out. They will start rebuilding in April. Though there are tears….there is hope.
And we think we have a bad economy! We have no room to complain! Yet – Market is full of people. The apples are mounds and mounds high. People ARE buying. The paintings are back out for sale. People ARE trying to live again.
For the first time since I can remember – I see trucks actually cleaning the streets. Streets that were dirty way before the quake. There are trucks all over Port-au-Prince hauling away trash and debris.
The police are out in full force. I see American and Haitian troops EVERYWHERE. There is law and order here. Not the show – but you know what I mean! 🙂 These are all the theives they caught today. We talked to the policeman and he said when they steal they make the lie on the road so everyone can see them. Later they will be taken to jail.
Amid the rubble – through His eyes – I saw…Life.
Though many churches have fallen – God’s word still breathes. It’s alive throughout every hillside. It rings loud even in the lowest of valleys. Everywhere we drove today – even though it’s Saturday – people were singing praises. We could hear the preachers on their megaphones. Every 15-20 minutes we passed by a church service in progress or getting ready to begin.
I thought I would leave here angry and with questions. The questions still remain but God has given me new life. He gave me His eyes today so that I could see. He gave me arms so that I could reach out to someone. He gave me His heart so that I could love on a few hungry children. He gave me a chance to be His Face….so that others could see Him.
AND – If they can give God glory – when that’s literally all they have to give – then at the very least – we can do the same.