When I was little my dad worked as a policeman, fireman, and pastor-man! 😀 I always thought it was so cool because we knew the latest and greatest that was happening in our town. We didn’t have to follow the fire trucks or police sirens– we already knew where they were going.
One of my favorite foods was spam & cheese. It might as well have been steak for all I knew. We didn’t always have the money to purchase a full load of groceries but I never knew it. If we didn’t have spam it didn’t really matter. My favorite thing to eat was ketchup-sandwiches. Hey – don’t knock it until you try it!
Windy Hollow had one of the best breakfast buffets you’ve ever been to. There were many times our family of 7 (my parents, 4 kids and my foster brother Sonny) would go there to what I thought was a feast. I thought if we were good at church that was our big reward. Little did I know that when we went there it was often because we were actually broke. The owner would somehow just “know” and offer our family a free meal.
You see though our family was struggling…..I never knew. I didn’t know that I didn’t know. When the AC went out in the station wagon dad would tell us to stick our hands outside the window and watch how they made waves in the wind. He would put the seats down in the back and put a tabletop in there. My friends and I would lie in the back while dad took sharp curves and we’d slide all over the place. It was better than any slip-n-slide you could buy.
We didn’t have a pool but we had the water-hose… that was much more fun because you could aim it anywhere! Nothing like doing jump & jacks with water sprayed right at your face!
I really never knew how poor we were until I got older. I thought dad was just a busy body and loved to work 3 jobs as a way to reach more people for Christ. I didn’t realize my clothes were hand-me downs often from other families. I didn’t realize that our Christmas tree had less underneath it than others homes.
You see in my world – my needs were met. I thought all my wants were met too – but maybe I’m wrong? I think I just didn’t know there was more out there to want.
When I go and speak at churches and share about Haiti – it’s always met by parents who say – “My child really needs to go to Haiti to see how good he has it” or something similar to that effect.
Jose & I married in May 2001 and moved to Haiti shortly after. We loved living with the people I grew up with. I couldn’t help it – there was a part of me that wanted them to just have more. I just wanted to give them laptops and cd players. I wanted them to have the things that I knew they could never own on their own.
We made a lot of mistakes in the way we gave things away and we created a system that was broken at best. When we moved to the Mole we decided that we would give nothing away on the streets – but instead give it to the church for them to give away. This way everything would come from the Church. Let them say THANK YOU JESUS – not THANK YOU JODY.
In our efforts not to create another broken system – we have spent the last 4 years doing just that – letting God get the glory – after all – He was the one who provided for it anyways.
Several years ago we had a team in and they were using their Iphone for taking pictures. The fishing villages had never seen that before. It’s so fun to show them their picture after the photo is snapped. So many of them don’t own mirrors. It’s so neat when they look at themselves – and you see that smile come across their face.
While waiting for the boat to take us back to Mole – one of the travelers let the kids watch him play Angry Birds. You could tell the adults were totally mesmerized just as much as the kids. When those little piggies would get hit – it was like a touchdown for a football game.
It seemed really harmless and quite entertaining at the time. But it wasn’t long until we were doing a census about what their biggest needs were. This is a village that has to walk 3 hours one-way to get water. Listed within their top 4 needs was an Iphone.
OH NO!! We inadvertently created a “want” in a culture who had no clue what an Iphone was before we came along. Not that technology is a bad thing. That’s not what I’m saying. Not that they don’t deserve that and everything else. I’m not saying that. Not that taking pictures and flipping it over so they can see themselves is a bad thing. That’s not what I’m saying either. What I’m saying is we created a jealousy – a feeling of lacking – in a culture that would have never otherwise known the difference.
I often feel like because my children live in Haiti that I should provide more for them because they ultimately have less than the kids in the states. There’s no Chucky Cheese, no Toys R Us, no dance recitals, football games, or music classes. There’s no hitting the movie theater, hitting the mall, or going to the park to play on the playground.
Yet though they have much less than others – do they even know it? They’ve never played organized sports in the states but they also have no frame of reference to know what that even is. They aren’t complaining about it because they don’t know that lots of other little boys play on baseball teams. I (as the parent) want it for them. I want my girls to be in dance class. I want for my kids to have the latest and the greatest. I don’t want them to miss out on cool things because I chose to raise them in Haiti. I want them to have more – – than they actually want for themselves. (Does that make sense?)
Do they know the difference between spam and steak? Do the twins not love to dip their fingers in ketchup and lick it off?
I can’t help but think that if one day my kids think they have less – and feel entitled to more – it’s because I (the parent) unknowingly helped shape that for them.
I watch fishing villages that have absolutely nothing – the kind of nothing that brings tears at the mere thought of how they live. Yet they are closer – happier – more satisfied –more grateful – than those of us who have so much. They don’t know – that they don’t know.
When I grew up – I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I didn’t know because my parents created the kind of environment where I felt like we were the kings of the castles when we couldn’t even afford to be the servants. They took making lemonade out of lemons – to a whole other level.
Sometimes I wonder in the world of “I want – and I want it now” – did we inadvertently change the environment within our home – opening up a world of “want” – that otherwise would have never happened …..or at least taken longer to develop?
When we talk about our teenagers having this sense of entitlement (that we think a mission trip to a 3rd world country might fix) – I wonder if somehow this attitude isn’t a reflection of a seed we accidentally planted.
I don’t have the right answers- half the time I don’t even have the right questions. I’m constantly learning from mistakes made with the best intentions. I’m not trying to cause a debate about anything but simply sharing some thoughts that God’s laid on my heart as I deal with raising my children in Haiti.
I certainly want to bless others – including my children – as God blesses us. There is no one more generous than our Heavenly Father and I want to be just like Him.
But in a world of want – where does the line fall between being blessed – and buying nothing but the best?
Categories: Mission Stories