April 12, 2010

New Beginnings

I thought I was done, but I’m not. I’ve spent the last two weeks searching my mind for new topics and insights to write about, but thoughts of Haiti block all others from forming into something cohesive. It begs to be written about, not yet willing to let me move on. 

I don't particularly like Facebook, but have found it's THE place to feed my Haiti craving. Through photo albums of recent Haiti trips and friends' FB pages, I'm staying up to date with current happenings (and probably spending far too much time doing so.) Some of our Haitian friends are even on Facebook. I was just FB chatting with one of the dear, sweet translators we met. How cool is that? Technology is good indeed.

Yes, Haiti has seared my heart and mind and spirit. And for that I am intensely thankful. 

It was our last day at Camp Hope. We could stay only a few hours before we had to leave and start the seven hour drive back to Santo Domingo.

The day was cooler as overcast skies offered physical relief from the blazing sun. A gentle breeze provided respite from the waves of blowing dust of prior days. I walked into camp filled with sadness at the thought of saying goodbye to our new friends. Perhaps because of the physical relief from the weather, but on this day, more than any other, I noticed quiet and order and a distinct sense of peace about the place. Life in Camp Hope had a rhythm. Community leaders met, solving problems and making plans for the future. Children gathered in grade-level tents for school. Workers happily dug holes and trenches. Women washed clothes and sat together talking. A barber even set up shop under a scraggly tree.

It was also a day for high level officials. World Vision representatives were there checking things out as was the American man who owns the land that houses Camp Hope. He shared with us his vision for the camp—which includes building a school in the coming weeks, dealing with the coming rainy season and getting the residents more permanent housing.

Bobby Burnette, founder/director of Love a Child and owner of the land, meets with American Refugee Committee director extraordinaire, Leah E.
A plastic storage building arrived on site and caused a great deal of excitement. Bob, Doug and Gretchen set to work immediately to put it together. It was the only non-tent structure at the camp.
While life was far from perfect, I knew our friends in Camp Hope would be OK.

Jude and Junior were waiting for us, ready to get to work. While they led Sarah and I to a couple tents that needed mending, even they seemed to know the day was different. Jude, normally driving us with his calls of “Let’s go!” (translated: enough chatting, let’s get to work) softened his attitude and became a gracious host, showing us new things and introducing us to new people.

At one point Jude took Sarah and I to his tent to meet his tentmate, Nickenson. Nickenson is a young man of maybe twenty. Jude told us he’d lost his mother, father, brothers and sister in the earthquake. A six-person family now down to one young man. The four of us talked for a bit and prayed a little. As I prayed I started to cry for these two young men and for all the loss suffered in this country.

Jude looked at me, alarmed that he’d done something wrong. He seemed truly puzzled as to why I’d be sad. “I’m sorry,” he said.

Wiping away tears I said, “No, I’m sorry for all that you’ve been through.”

That’s the thing about the Haitians that we met. They didn’t look or act like people who’d suffered devastating losses. They didn’t wail with grief, wallow in self-pity or curse the injustice of it all. For the most part, they picked themselves up and persevered with what they had. Their faith remained strong. I saw people very much wanting to make a new beginning.  

So much love and loss, life and death, endings and beginnings in one place. And still they had hope.

Especially the children.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Luke 10:21

Next time I’ll share a wonderful story to share about the children and one of the most profound experiences of God's love I’ve ever had.


Analisa said...

Iam glad you keep writing about Haiti. It was a lifechanging event for you. This is how we know God is in it. After all the cameras from the media have left, the faithful will still encourage, pray and help.


Patti Shene said...

Wow, Kelli, your post was so inspiring. It makes me realize how much we have here and how ungrateful we can be compared to those who have so little, have lost so much, and yet remain thankful and cheerful.

Cheryl Barker said...

Can't imagine enduring so great a loss as the one young man you described. The only way I can envision it is that God must carry you at a time like that -- through each step, through each breath...

Sue J. said...

Our church friends just got back from Haiti a week ago. Very much the same kind of response as you and Dan have shared--lots of destruction, still, yet great hope amongst the people. They will return in July.

We have a lot of the wrong kinds of things to have the focus that these folks do, daily, of their eternal Hope. We just don't live that way day to day because there is stuff everywhere.

I'm sure this man's heart must ache for the physical loss of his family. Yet perhaps it is that Hope that burns inside that keeps everything in perspective--knowing God's peace is there when we see it.

I sense your wanting to understand these folks more and more, and we are all truly blessed as you share of their lives and stories.

Denise said...

Ahh...Laura from Wellspring thought I would enjoy your thoughts on Haiti and I have. My heart too has been seared by that island and the beautiful Haitian people I encountered.

I was there in March and long to go back.

I look forward to reading your posts and I will thank Laura for sending me your blog address.