by Ryan and Sarah Hartman
Haiti is a striking place in a number of ways: its mountainous, coastal landscape is stunningly beautiful; its people have a deep and powerful sense of community; and life here is is simple.
On the other hand, there is a severe lack of opportunity, resources and, ultimately, purpose. One of our translators, James, explained how people can find it difficult to have a reason to smile. Many Haitians grow up without an education, and some of them never find a reason to work. Who’s to blame them? Even the ones who DO try are at the mercy of forces outside of their control. They could work tirelessly and graduate high school with a true desire and drive to attend college, but outside of generous donations there is no actual way of even coming close to affording it.
And with all of these large-scale systematic failures, what can a small group of uncomfortable, awkward Americans do in a week to make a positive impact? Sarah and I have asked ourselves this question on multiple occasions, and today we found a possible answer: We painted a house.
While that may sound underwhelming on its face, it opened up a world of opportunities and hope in the power of God. Luke 11:39-41 says: “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” This reminded us that while it’s great that we took this gray building and covered it with beautiful, lively colors… it was the hearts of the people inside the house and in the surrounding community that really mattered. God placed us at that home to open up conversations with the villagers. Sarah and I were blown away by the Watermark families, who boldly initiated conversations and gave all of their energy serving the community. What an incredible way to kick off the week.
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