People want transparency, but sometimes I wonder just how much they can handle. How much of the truth am I supposed to tell, and what needs to be left alone? Social media is notorious for romanticizing lives and only revealing our highlight reels. So, what’s my truth?
For starters, this is hard. I don’t always want to be here. I do love God as much as it seems, but my prayer life fluctuates from strong to non-existent. I’m not a super-Christian, but I am madly in love with Jesus. He’s given me more purpose and shown me more love than anyone I’ve known on this earth. Yet, living alone in Haiti can be unbearably lonely. I’ve been here for years now and the longer I stay, the harder it is to connect with people back home. They just don’t know what to say, which is understandable. I basically live on the moon compared to what they’re used to. When I flew here the last time, I told God I only had six months left in me.
“You have to do something,” I prayed. “Bring someone into my life that can help with this. It’s too big for just me.”
I don’t like to think I was giving Him an ultimatum. I was just telling him how much strength I had left. He said cast your cares on him, right? I was casting; hopefully he was hearing.
This trip started off normal enough. I cleaned my house when I got back and played with the children. We had an Uno tournament inside the church one afternoon. When evening came the next day, we all took a walk together. We were about 100 yards outside my front gate when we came upon a crowd of people. Everyone was upset and crying. A lady approached me and started frantically explaining what happened. I tried to keep up while she was speaking in Creole, but it was difficult because she was talking so fast. A neighbor of mine had been taking a bath outside with her daughter, a little girl in my program, when she got into a fight with a man. In a blind rage, he came after her with a machete and before anyone could stop him, he cut her left arm completely off, cut half way through the other, and slashed her back and inner thighs. All of this happened in front of the woman’s ten year old daughter.
I immediately went home, got my vehicle, and headed to the hospital. I was planning to pray for her and pay for the medical care she needed. When I walked in, a Haitian nurse was standing at the front door.
“Where is the woman who was attacked?”
She opened the door to an examining room and laying on the table was this poor woman’s mutilated body. She was dead. There was blood everywhere.
For a long time I just stared at her in silence. I don’t know why, but all I could think at that moment was that blood doesn’t look the same as it does in movies. It’s a watery red color on TV, but in real life it’s more like a dark, sticky syrup. I think sometimes you see things and just go numb; at least I do.
I left and found the girl. I made sure she had a place to stay. I bought food and told her uncle I would help with the cost of a funeral.
I remember waking up the next day and looking in the mirror thinking, “What kind of woman am I that I can deal with such a crisis and be completely void of all emotion? Did God know this would eventually happen to me?”
Two days later, we were hit by a category four hurricane. I spent three days trapped in a small concrete room with four men and one other girl. My hair and clothes were wet the entire time. Anytime I needed to use the bathroom, I had to run outside through the rain and wind to get to a toilet. I was never scared during the storm, but maybe I would have been if I had known what was happening a few miles away from me.
On the second day of the storm, our security wall collapsed. A massive river of flood water ran straight through my property taking out everything in its path. While the men were out in the church watching it all, I laid in my bed and stared at my ceiling. All I could think about was how we had just finished construction. All that money that had been donated was gone, washed away in one stupid storm.
A few days later, the sun finally started to peak through the clouds. As people began emerging from their homes, we quickly learned that over a 1,000 people had died in the towns west of us. Entire cities were under water.
For a moment, I was defeated. My house was wrecked, my yard was a swamp, and my wall was in pieces on the ground. This is what I get? I tell God I’m barely hanging on and He sends a hurricane? If there’s no strength in me, how am I supposed to fix this?
I begged my pastor to send help, but at the time no one could come. I stomped my feet and cried to my aunt.
“It’s not fair. I can’t do this alone!”
After I was finished whining, I looked outside and saw a cluster of tiny brown eyes staring at me. My children were giggling and playing hopscotch in the church. They had left home and walked through the mud and water to get to me. From the looks of things, they were not planning to give up.
“Alright Lord,” I said. “If no man is coming to fix this, then you’re going to have to strengthen your daughter.”
That was almost two months ago.
Now the wall is almost finished. After that, we’ll start our feeding programs five days a week. I’m offering after-school tutoring classes to the children in my area. They learn mostly reading, writing, and math in school, so my classes will teach health and hygiene, science, English, and of course Bible studies. As previously planned, we’re going to start building guest homes for people who want to come and volunteer their time.
I still have no idea why he picked me to do all of this. Surely there was someone better suited for the job, someone who would have complained a lot less. But it was his choice and as long as he doesn’t give up on me, I won’t give up on him.
“Oh God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings.”
“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli. I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones. I will teach all your children and they will enjoy great peace.”