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.