It’s Monday morning. I’ve been in Christianville since early Friday morning. I really don’t have much to report. I didn’t sleep Thursday night since I had so much to do to try and get everything together to leave at 3am. I was beyond exhausted when I got here so when Jenn went to work I took a nap. I don’t exactly know what I expected before I arrived but whatever it was I’m not sure this is it. They were busy in the clinic on Friday but in general the area has been pretty quiet. Friday afternoon, I helped put together a few food kits, which where given out to senior citizens in the area, something they do here regularly, even before the quake. Beyond that, its been a pretty slow this weekend. One of the missionaries, Sandy, commented yesterday, this was the first chance since the quake, they’d had time to even think about slowing down.
Most of their buildings collapsed so most of the missionaries have rescued a few things from the former apartments and are now living out of their Guest House, just a few yards down the road. They each have their own room and bathroom but only one couple is actually sleeping indoors. Most of them sleep outside on mattresses on the front porch underneath a tarp, one sleeps in a small tent just outside the porch area, and one family sleeps outside, in their own front yard. They are still experiencing small aftershocks, sometimes several a day, and so most of them feel more comfortable sleeping outside at night. I’ve slept outside with them. Its actually been quite comfortable. Jenn said they’ll probably do it for another week or so and then will move to their individuals rooms inside. We’ve felt a number of small aftershocks since I’ve been here, little tremors that only last a few seconds. Its a little unnerving for me; I can only imagine how it must be wearing on their souls as this has become a way of life. Sleeping outside has to be getting exhausting too. Its been fine for me, but I’ve only done it for three nights now. Right now for them, it a choice. Once they feel more like things have settled, they will move back inside. I can’t help but think though of the hundreds of thousands of people who have no choice, who have no place to return to. In general, in Haiti, your house is your life’s savings. Any money you may have had was probably put into building your house. Even those with steady jobs have little to no cash reserve. Now many of those who had steady jobs no longer have them, so what does the future look like for them? I imagine it looks the same as it does for those who didn’t have money to start with. Sleeping on mattresses pulled out to the street under a tarp made of sheets, or in a tent in a field with others who may or may not be extended family.
I went to the Leogane market on Saturday with Jenn, Pat and Ed. They commented that it wasn’t as busy as usual but it was still busy. Fruits and veggies, and spices, and butchered animals abounded. Vendors with rice, and beans, and ground corn sold their wares at reasonable prices. On our way back we drove through more of the Leogane area. House after house, business after business was completely demolished. Building after building flattened building, the only words I could speak were “wow”, over and over again because, really, are no words adequate enough. Yet, in the midst of all the destruction, proof of life was all around. Cars passed, people came and went, children played. I have seen piles of cement blocks stacked in front of former buildings as people salvage building materials. I have seen families digging through the rubble to salvage what they can find to start life again. What can they do? What can anyone do? Life has to move on. You grieve what you’ve lost. You hurt and bleed. You question and even fear. And then slowly, one day at a time, one block at a time. one moment at a time you march forward. However slowly it may be, you march forward.
Here, in Christianville, life too goes on; a lawnmower hums, the washing machine runs, the house ladies chatter, birds chirp, and the baby of one of the missionary families coos. The smell of fresh baked bread wafts through the air.
Its still so hard to imagine what life in Haiti will look like in the future. While things here appear on the mend, there are still hundreds of thousands dead, missing and/or homeless. There are probably thousands and amputees that will now face life in a broken country with no provisions of that sort. Orphans roam the streets, the sick bleed, the hungry stand in line and everyone wonders what’s next. But the thing we have to hold to as Christians, as people who believe in the sovereignty and graciousness of a merciful God, is this; Haiti has not been forgotten. We have not been forgotten. The cries of God’s people have risen from the rubble and God has heard the prayers. It is God and God alone who can redeem and restore and I pray that as a community of believers, we will put our hope and our faith in that. It is not the UN, or the Haitian Government, or the US army, or any other army for that matter than can redeem and restore us. So let us hold fast to that. Let that breathe life back into a dying land, an impoverished people, a broken spirit.
Let that cast our gaze upward.