some of you may remember her from one of my first blogs about the prosthetics lab.. but if you don't, stevensya is a precious little 2 year old girl, who made me fall in love with the of prosthetics and the way it gives hope and life. here she is again, for leg #2, as she just outgrew her last leg! my favorite parts,... when she points at her old leg as she's walking, and when she checks out her new leg at the end of the clip. another great part of the day... not caught on film though, was when she picked up her old leg and handed it to the prosthetist. yep, she liked the new one, alright! so precious! and what a bright little child!
Welcome to Haiti.
In any given day here, I feel my heart ecstatic, hopeful, then pulled and turned and beating and breaking, and then usually, but not always, hopeful again.
For some reason, I usually tend to write about the happy things going on in my job and at the mission. This is easy, because every single day, there are amazing things to write about, and at the end of the day when I start to write, those are the things my heart can handle, and NEEDS to be reminded of.
I have a story that I want to tell you today, to invite you into this crazy place I live in.
This past Friday was an incredible day. We had the most incredible prosthetist here all week, who not only was an excellent prosthetist, he was also a believer and cared about the patient’s so much. As Friday around noon rolled around, all three patients were walking and LOVING their legs. If you’ve been here before, it was Rose, Mona, and Lila. Many of you have met them if you came with me to their tent city. I love these women more than I could explain, so I won’t try. Anyway, they all had legs before, but their legs weren’t working out for them, and they could never walk well with them. So, to see them doing so well, with NO PAIN ANYWHERE, you can imagine how happy my heart was. And how happy they were!! It’s been about 8 months since the earthquake, and they FINALLY have a leg that will work for them. We pile into the car, as they express their gratitude to the “Grand PooPa,” what all my friends call all the visiting prosthetists (inside joke from one of the first prosthetist’s we had), and we drove towards their tent city. Smiling, them laughing at me because I “dezod,” (misbehave) so much, etc etc. My heart felt glad.
When we get to the tent city, we help all three women get back to their tents with all their stuff. After visiting with some past patients and friends, we started walking back to the car, and instantaneously, dusty wind started pelting my legs and face, and every way you looked, tents were being challenged by this ferocious wind. After about 10 seconds, I literally couldn’t open my eyes, because there was so much dirt in the air, and when we finally got in the car, I saw a few tents that had fallen down. My heart felt torn. I knew a storm was coming. Do I go get a few of our patient’s and bring them back to the mission? Do I get back out and go sit with them in their tents? I was with the prosthetist and two of my friends, and before I knew it, the driver was peeling out of the tent city as fast as he could. I knew it was probably the right decision, as we live about an hour and a half away from there, and we had no resources with us to help. There was a mission down the road from them that is even bigger than Mission of Hope. I prayed they would be able to help.
So there I was, sitting in my privilege, in an air conditioned van, going back to a home that I know will never be washed away by the wind and rain. My stomach hurt the whole way back to the mission, as we passed through horrendous rains, power lines that had fallen, and trees that were blocking the road. After 5 minutes of driving, I called Rose, 50, and asked her what was happening, and if she was okay. In a panic voice, she was screaming, “Diana!!!! What am I supposed to do!!! All the tents are going down!!!!” Rose has one leg, arthritis in her good leg, and cannot move very fast. She is helpless. I told her to pray, and that I would pray with her. I felt guilty that this is all I could offer, and guilty that I was driving away, safe and sound. Privileged.
I prayed silently much of the way back, and when we got back to the mission, I made more calls to check on my friends.
By the time we got home, almost every single one of the 1,000 tents in this tent city was DOWN. Blown away. Everybody was in the school building, the only concrete building on the site. A few of them told me they had their legs with them (which made me proud; they are not supposed to get wet!), but all the rest of their stuff was in the mud, under their fallen tents.
One more time, they will
They had nothing, but a few articles of clothing, a cot for a bed, and a few things that were special to them. But most likely, they are all destroyed in the rain.
That night, when I was talking to them on the phone, as they were crammed together like sardines in this school building just to stay safe, every single one of them asked me,
“Diana!! Did you make it home safe?? I was so worried about you! I heard there was lots of rain and trees falling along the way!!”
They were blinded to all of their fears and the destruction they were seeing, and they cared about ME. I’m still not sure how to process that. I didn’t even stay to try to help them. But they didn’t even see that. They just wanted me home and safe. As I write this and ponder it some more, I truly believe these women were Jesus to me in this moment, speaking to me. As much as us white privileged people tend to think we are supposed to “save Haiti,” we can’t. And it’s not our job. Why? Because we need saving too. I need my Father to rescue me again and again, from sadness caused by stories like these, but mostly from the fact that I forget that I need a Savior, too. It is so easy to feel like with our money, with our education, and with our American obsession with safety, we don’t need Jesus! Jesus save me from my oftentimes cold heart, one that thinks it doesn’t need you much of the time. Jesus, thank you for caring for me, and using my friends to show me that.
Truth is, though my friends are materially poor, their hearts know and long for Jesus in a way that I hope my heart one day can. Jesus, make my heart more like theirs. Amen.
i think this last week was maybe my favorite week in haiti yet.
why, you ask because THREE CORDS started up! with the help of my amazing friends here: christy florida, abby lynch, and diana weibe, we were able to paint the room next to the prosthetics lab, decorate it, and get it nice and ready for the women to come to work this week. and they did! and here's the thing: they LOVE it. i think these women would come to make these beautiful creations even if they weren't getting paid, because it is so fun for them to get to work with their hands. we as humans were made to create, and be creative, just as our God is. it is just so fun to watch these women pick out their colors and put so much heart into each little project they begin.
THREE CORDS is the name of the company, named because our main product, a braided headband, has three cords, but mostly because of the verse in the Ecclesiates that says "a cord of three strands is not easily broken...blessed is the man who when he falls down, he has somebody to pick him up." we talk a lot about how this is what our relationship with God and our community should look like. with God and our fellowship of believers, we cannot be broken... instead, God is making us new every day. these women are truly tasting redemption as they regain the confidence that they have worth in Christ. in haiti, when you are an amputee, you are led to believe that you are no longer whole. you are seen basically as a vegetable, who is unable to do anything except beg on the side of the road. Before this, most had not left their respective tent city ONE TIME. they were always in their tents, with absolutely nothing to do. they couldn't even dream that they would ever be hired for anything, as there are thousands upon thousands of two legged people that can't even get a job because haiti has no economy. now, if you can imagine, these women are SO thankful for this opportunity to work, to sit with a group of women on a regular basis who have similar circumstances as them, so they can encourage each other. i wish you could see them sing and pray and laugh as they work. it is truly amazing!
here are some pictures of the beautiful craft lab and the beautiful women that work in it! the last picture is me walking in a tent city visiting some of my friends.
I don't have much time to write, but there's a few things I wanted to share with you as I am so excited about them!
First, some of you may know, but when prosthetic patients are here, I have been helping them make a little cash on the side by teaching them to make braided hair bands and selling them for them to short term missions teams. It has gone so well, and they are so popular each week, that I have been approved to start a little business with some of the amputees that live close by! They will come a few times a week every week (not just when they need prosthetic care), and will begin getting a consistent salary! This upcoming week, we are painting the room right by the prosthetics lab to make it beautiful and welcoming, and we hope to get it started right after that! Here's a picture of some of the amputees working a few weeks back:
Now to the little girl. Now, I know I've said this before, but last week was my all time favorite patient EVER. Her name is Solandine, and she is 5 years old. She reminds me a lot of myself as a little girl, because she is so shy and hardly ever talks (I had to repeat Kindergarten because I didn't talk! Haha). Anyways, she came for the week with her dad, and I loved loved loved loving on her all week.
Solandine is a tough child, that God clearly SAVED from the earthquake. She was under her house for 5 DAYS, all by herself. For the first three days, she cried out for her daddy, but her dad could not find a rescue team or tools to help him try to get her out. The fourth day, Solandine stopped making a sound. He thought she was dead. The fifth day, he finally found a team to move the rubble, so he could find the body of his child. When they started tapping with hammers, Solandine in her quiet little voice called out, "Daddy, don't hit too hard; I'm still here!" Can you imagine this moment if this was your child?? It brings tears to my eyes each time I think about that. Here is this precious precious child, before, during, and after her prosthetic fitting.
In other, much less exciting news, Jay and I finally get to move into our own place this week! When we moved to Mission of Hope, we first lived with another family for a few days, then in a tent for a few weeks, then to another staff member's apartment who was gone for a while. But now, I am so excited to have our own space, paint it colors that make it feel like home, and decorate it with beautiful Haitian art! I will try to take before and after pictures for you all. :)
Thanks for reading. and for loving and praying for us. <3