February 15, 2011

Hope in a Hopeless World

Today on Valentine's Day most of my heart is with my sweeties here at home, but part of it is where I left it last year—in Haiti.

We all know the story of the earthquake…the worst natural disaster to cripple any single country…At least a quarter million Haitians died…Entire families were killed in moments…Over a million people became homeless. 

We remember how the world responded with compassion and pledged donations. Relief workers flooded the country. Medical treatment, food and necessities were given to those most in need. Hope started to spring out of the  dusty, shaken earth.

But today, a year later, little has changed in Haiti. Only a small percentage of the earthquake debris has been removed. 1.5 million Haitians still live in tents. Basics like food, water and medical care are in short supply. The government is a mess. Donated supplies are held up in red tape. Peace is tenuous. Even a never-before-experienced cholera epidemic has ravaged the fragile population.

Haiti is broken. Many say it's so broken that lasting change is hopeless.

Last month marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake and little was said of it. What was continuing front page news a year ago has been forgotten. Excitement and emotions have settled down. Our thought are on Tucson, Eqypt, Washington DC, Hollywood and what's in our own backyards. Far from the quagmire of Haiti.

The need remains overwhelming. But many charitable groups still work faithfully in Haiti—away from the spotlight—delivering food, clean water, medical care and education. Their efforts unreported and their successes rarely front page stories.

At the end of the month I'm going back to Haiti and the area our mission groups worked last year. Reception from others toward this year's trip has been less enthusiastic. Some people ask, "Why?" Others say, "It's too dangerous" and "it won't do any good." Much is left unspoken.

So, why am I going back?
Because last year when I went to Haiti, weeks after the earthquake, the trip changed me. I didn't experience Haiti "the country"—devastated and hopeless. I experienced Haiti "the people"—struck down but now destroyed. Shattered but persevering. Filled with sorrow, but choosing joy. Praising God, not cursing Him.

We worked and laughed and prayed together. We played soccer and colored and worshipped together.  Through incredible brokenness God revealed His unbreakable Spirit. He opened my heart and eyes to the people in Haiti. God seemed to do this with everyone who went there.

Yes, the big picture of Haiti is dismal and discouraging. But look closer and you'll see the faces of men and women, sons and daughter. Real people with names and dignity and hope for the future. People not that different from you and me. Jesus asked us to be His hands and feet: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

God showed me the "least of these" in Haiti.

In ten days a group of 15 of us will travel to Haiti to work, once again, with the Foundation for Peace. (Click the link to read about the wonderful things FFP has been doing ever since the earthquake.)

We'll work away from the devastation of Port-au-Prince in Fond Parisien, near the Dominican border. We'll start building a school on land donated by the local government. We'll visit Camp Hope (where our mission teams worked last year). We'll conduct vacation Bible schools for the children. We'll deliver aqua-tabs for cholera prevention. We'll worship, recreate and build relationships. Most of all we'll experience the abundant blessings our almighty and awesome God. 

With the unrest surrounding Haiti, I wasn't sure that this trip would happen. But now things look good and I'm finally allowing myself to get excited

Fundraising has been a big part of all our family's mission trips. This time I got creative and have been offering digital photography and computer training which has been a lot of fun. (I'll keep this up throughout the year, so if you're local and need help, let me know.) I've also received a few donations. But, I haven't reached my goal yet. If you feel led to donate to this trip I certainly appreciate it. Click the button to make a donation.

God is bigger than earthquakes, bigger than disease, bigger than poverty and bigger than our expectations. He doesn't need us to do the work for Him, but He wants to involve us in the process.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'" (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Here's the school at Camp Hope in Fond Parisien that money from our church helped to build.


Peggy said...

All I have left is my prayers and blessings for all of as you go forth doing God's work.
Know that you will all be in my prayers while you are there and for safe jurney to and back home again.
May God's joy shine in your hearts as you minister to those less fortunate.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Terri Tiffany said...

I thought the same as you. When a year came, little was said. My husband went there exactly a year before the quake and it was so needy then-- I can imagine how worse it is now, We forget the needs of many and move on to the next--that's the way of the world. We help then move on forgetting that maybe that initial help wasn't enough. I'll remember to pray for you.

Cheryl Barker said...

I think it's wonderful that you're going back, Kelli. I pray that you will renew some of the special relationships you made a year ago and be just the encouragement that someone is desperately needing right now. God bless!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I've been reading Henri Nouwen's "Out of Solitude." In it he talks about "cure and care." Here's a portion of what he has to say...

"What we see, and like to see, is cure and change. But what we do not see and do not want to see is care: the participation in the pain, the solidarity in suffering, the sharing in the experience of brokenness. And still, cure without care is as dehumanizing as a gift given with a cold heart. ...

The temptation is that we use our expertise to keep a safe distance from that which really matters and forget that, in the long run, cure without care is more harmful than helpful. Let us therefore first ask ourselves what care really means and then see how care can become the basis of community."

I cannot go to Haiti with you this year; not even sure if I would feel called to do so in the future. But I can support you in a small way to make sure that your "care" is invested into that needy corner of the word, which will plant a seed or two of along the lines of cure.

Thank you for being part of the Great Commission in that place. I will endeavor to do the same where I'm at in this season.

Blessings as you go.

And peace... ~elaine

Sassy Granny ... said...

It boggles the mind how little Haiti has changed with so great an outpouring of love, resources, attention & prayer. That said, we know the Lord has a plan there. It blesses my socks off to know He commissions you for a time such as this.

Prayers, blessings & hugs,

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Kelli - Denise's blog looks beautiful!!!! Woo Hoo! Very excited for her. And God was so good to bring you both together!!!

Rejoicing in Him,


I am so glad to hear that you get to go back to Haiti, Kelli. If your experience is like my, when I have gone back . . . it is a completely different trip . . . but the same God who does amazing things in and through you.

You go with my prayers.


Sue J. said...

"Follow You into the homes of the broken;
Follow You into the world;
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God;
Follow You into the world

Use my hands, use my feet
To make Your kingdom come...."

Bring that huge heart that you have for Him and follow where He leads you. Praying for your safe journey and looking forward to the new stories you will share upon your return.

And love on those kids just a bit!