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Sunday, March 24, 2013

True humility. The hard way.

It's the morning of our last full day here in Haiti. Frankly, it's going to be easy to leave because of the work and the food. Allan says you know when it's time to leave because they're starting to serve the same food again, which was refried beans and buns. And yet, it's going to be hard because there is so much left to do. Joan is curious about the regulations for electricity and if to answer her, the power has winked off again this morning.

can you spot the spider?
Something is bothering my sinuses and I think I'm coming down with a cold. Today, we returned to the same spot as yesterday, and saw many more tarantulas. We had to walk there, because, again, the trucks would not start. As always, our system of bucket brigade is not without its glitches. Rhonda got hit in the head, as was I, by the empty buckets. 
But there was a moment of lightness and humor, when Ricardo caught one of the piglets. Mummy pig heard her baby squeal and let out a roar and chased Ricardo, snapping back at the end of her line. Ricardo dropped the piglet, who was okay, and mum returned to check her babies out. We're lucky that her line didn't break because should it have, Ricardo would've been chased around the yard by a very angry sow.

Someone has tied up several nanny goats around another mango tree, hoping they will eat the mango leaves, but they all look frightfully skinny. Though we filled up two truckloads of rubble, I did manage to take a lot of good pictures of the beautiful flowers around this yard. On the way home for lunch, we drove around a burned-out dump truck at an intersection. It had been stripped and abandoned, giving the whole area a warlike feel. The streets are dirt and gravel, rubble is piled everywhere and is guarded and hoarded.

Lunch today was rice and beans, fried chicken, spicy onion and pepper sauce, and a hot potato salad with corn and carrots. During the rest after lunch, I had to turn on the air conditioning as I began to pack. We've discovered were going to two home dedications, something I'm looking forward to. 
Of course, Allan brought his goofy teeth and scared one little girl who hugged me. He ended up giving the teeth to the boys to play with, and loads of good pictures were taken.

The first dedication was to

a man in a cowboy hat and Seattle T-shirt. Amanda presented the keys to him and he got to open his home for the first time. We gave him a few small gifts, Joan's donation was a doormat and a bandanna and Jackie some Canadian effects. Rhonda offered a sewing kit and candy, and Sharon, some facecloths. We prayed with the man, who seemed a little overwhelmed by it all.

On the way to the second house, we passed a voodoo priest's house. There was a small cross set in the cement mound with the rope and a stick attached to it, and some people say it indicates that the priest believes he's higher than Jesus. A group of young men standing nearby invited Wes to a ceremony, and I told him I would like to pray for him first. I'm concerned about witnessing such a thing, after all, to use a counterfeit analogy, bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit bills by handling and studying the real thing. But Wes is a student of cultures and wants to reach out and connect with his full number of followers.

We arrived at the other house, which sat on the very site of the earthquake-destroyed house. On the front porch an old woman rocked in a rocking chair. We've discovered the family is Catholic, and I told the lady I would pray for her pope, as I was touched when I read that Pope Francis' heart had been broken for the poor. Our gifts there were much the same as the previous house, with the exception of the solar shower instead of the doormat and yet they all didn't seem enough.

The little old lady lifted her hands and praised God, and I could tell by her bleary eyes she was indeed very grateful to have a home. It was truly moving experience. All this week we'd been grumbling and complaining that we weren't building a home for anyone, until it hit me right then, that this was the plan all along. This wasn't about us. We have to stop being selfish, and indeed my heart has been broken for the poor of Haiti. I am truly humbled that these people are so grateful for a small, one room shack with the tin roof. We came into this town with a high aspirations of doing good, but rather we have learned 'good' instead. I don't know how else to describe this. We weren't sent to Haiti to build rubble homes or to save a life or two, but we were sent here to learn true humility, and for me it's a hard and difficult lesson.

I looked at the rest of the day in a different light. We had a decent supper, and I wasn't hungry, and nor would I complain. Joan gave a tour of the women's quarters to the men and I walked upstairs to discover three large fish skewered on rebar, drying in the sun. I can't say yet what I'm going to take away from this journey. I need to absorb it all first. We celebrated communion together, Rhonda played a hymn on her harmonica, and we departed into the night, in a way reminiscent of the Disciples' Last Supper with Christ.

And yet like the disciples, our day wasn't over because as we were playing a game later, the truck with all the supplies finally arrived. We had to stop, change our clothes and unload it, and take showers again. It took us 40 min. to unload 50 bags of 42 kg each of cement, dozens of pieces of wood and rolls and rolls of chicken wire. How ironic that the supplies would come in after all I learned about this trip. My throat is sore, my head is full of cold and the day tomorrow will start early as we travel for 24 hours to return home. Tomorrow, I'll wrap this up with a unique trip to the airport and my thoughts on all the effort happening in Haiti.


Carol Schede said...

What a great blog, Barbara. I'm so enjoying your stories. I was particularly struck by the contrast in the pictures - the ugly and abject poverty coupled with the picture of the beautiful flowers. These people have nothing but the children still laugh and play with the funny teeth and enjoy their lives. Quite a lesson for all of us. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Phinney said...

Carol, so nice of you to drop by! Thank you. Yes, it's a valuable lesson for all of us, isn't it?