Feb. 18, 2011
The Last Day from our Haiti Team
It’s not really our last day, but tomorrow will be more of a wrap-up day. Today was our last day going out to a few different villages to pray and love on the children. The day before had been such a great experience getting to see a community coming together and being built up, so I was excited for the chance to see a few other Haitian villages.
One of the best things we did in preparation for this trip was to read a book called When Helping Hurts. It spoke of the ways we have come into communities to “help” but often end up causing much more “hurt.” One of the easiest ways we do this is when we go into villages and start giving things to them for free. As I have learned about this, I have really started to understand ways that are so much more beneficial in helping these people. Instead of doing things for them, I wanted to enable them to help themselves. Thankfully Mission of Hope Haiti is of the very same mindset.
As we arrived at the first village this morning we were immediately greeted by children who had no school to go to. They grabbed our hands and walked us through the village. They told us their name, who their siblings were and how old they were, and then…. they would ask us in Creole for different things. At first I wasn’t sure what they were saying, and then I realized “give me money” was not Creole, but English. I cringed at the words, and shrugged my shoulders no. Next came the requests for my water, my sunglasses, then my watch, my chapstick, and finally my email address. It wasn’t just one child. It was one right after the other, right after the other.
First they’d grab my hand and smile up at me. Then they’d ask for my name. Next they would ask me to take a picture, and then the requests came. It was like clockwork. Always the same thing, I can honestly say I don’t remember any children that at one point did not ask for something. Other requests for education sponsorship, and laptops came later. Slowly my heart started to close and harden.
The child were precious and beautiful and without a doubt in great need, but the deep sense of manipulation was more then I could bear. My flesh was screaming out that I refused to be a part of this. I resented being viewed as a “source of income” just because of my citizenship. I wondered what good I was able to do for them, if any. I couldn’t fault them for trying. I almost felt like they had to ask, because what if I had said yes? I just hoped that one day they would come to understand asking was not the way.
But then I am reminded of the second day we were here at church. A young boy sat next to me after church and didn’t want to leave my side. He was friendly and constant, never leaving my side. Finally, he asked me for my pen… for school. My heart broke, and in my moment of weakness I thought, “well, surely I can give him my pen.” But the minute I gave it to him, he asked for another pen. The problem was, I knew no amount of pens were going to make his circumstances better. The pen wasn’t the problem.
Yet, there have been many times that I’ve asked the Lord for certain things in my life: a job, a relationship, a pair of shoes. Things that in that moment seem like the answer, and even honoring to the Lord. Things that at times the Lord has even provided for me, but I learned the hard way. These things did not make my life any better. In fact, some of these things resulted in circumstances far from what I expected. Through this process I’ve grown in my ability to trust the Lord and that He knows best. Trust the Lord that his plans are better then mine. But how often I still find myself asking for that pen for school.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the circumstances of today. My heart breaks for the people of Haiti, yet in the same breath I am so excited for the opportunities of change in this country. You can sense it in the air that they do not wish to remain in this place. That they wish to make a difference and that beauty can rise from these ashes.
Yet, I struggle with seeing the people grasping for these answers in different ways. Many of these ways are all they know how to do. But I don’t want to leave this country hardened. Before I even left for Haiti I felt the Lord tugging on my heart and asking me to allow him to use this to change me. It is days like today that I want to close shop and move on.
Just the night before I read in Hebrews 2:12-14, “See to it, brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
It’s not the “mission trip” story I want to share, but it is the story the Lord is writing as He challenges me to love those around me, whether in Haiti or in Dallas right where they are at, and not to allow sin’s deceitfulness to harden my heart.
- Larissa Vogelaar