Sometimes in Haiti I see things that just don’t fit into my molded view of life, God, theology, or understanding. It is hard to describe the feeling of not having any answer whatsoever as to why things are the way they are. I like it much better when I feel I can explain something, and still keep my view of God and my understanding of life intact. This was not the case on my most recent trip to Haiti, and I’m sure that it won’t be my last.
Our group had gone out prayer walking early in the morning throughout the mountainous village of Camp Coq. As we got more into the mountainous areas, I saw even more poverty and need than I had ever seen. We encountered homes that looked as if a hard sneeze might knock them down. And some of these homes were about the size of an outdoor shed and would often have a mom and 6- 8 children living in them. Another would have a paralyzed man lying on a wooden mat on a dirt floor. And hungry bellies filled most, if not all of these homes.
It was to one of these homes that we returned in the afternoon after we had taken a collection of money to purchase food for a few of these families that were living in such poverty. Our hearts broke with the compassion of Jesus and we all just wanted to do whatever we could do to somehow make a difference…even if it would only last but for a moment. So, we purchased large bags of rice, gathered many bags of clothing, snacks, and whatever else we could give them, threw them on our shoulders, and hiked up the mountain in hopes of temporarily alleviating some suffering in just a few families among the countless others that live in such conditions every day.
We know that there is a much greater need to develop sustainable resources that will help the Haitian people help themselves, which will have more of a lasting impact on their lives. And we hope that in moving there as missionaries that we will help develop some of those resources. But a person cannot help feeling the way we did as we were walking amidst these poverty stricken mountain homes – it just breaks your heart and it makes you want to do something now…not later. Even if it is just giving away whatever one has in their possession…however meager that may be.
And so we did just that. We gave away rice and beans to several families. We gave away clothes that had been donated to us, as well as some of our very own clothes (it all belongs to the Lord). We gave away little bags of trail mix to the children we saw that looked as if they hadn’t eaten a nutritious meal in days…even weeks. We gave away oversized bathrobes because a mother can use that for a soft place for her baby to sleep. We gave away whatever we had with us…including packs of saltine crackers
It was here in giving away packs of crackers that I saw something that just caused all of my understanding of life, God, theology, and understanding to fly out the window for a moment. As one of our team members handed out a pack of crackers to a little child, another older child tried taking the pack away, and in the process, the crackers got all broken and crumbled and then the bag ripped open and all the crumbled crackers fell in the dirt. Immediately, a few of the children were on their knees picking up these tiny little crumbs as well as the dirt that was mixed in, and shoving it into their mouths simply because that might have just been the only food that they would see that day.
As I watched this, my heart sank. I wanted to cry at first, but then I felt angry. “Why does it have to be like this?” I asked God silently within my heart. I probably did not wait long enough within that safe place of asking God, and I soon was just looking at it at face value…and I hated it. “Damn those crackers”, I said within myself. Because something had to be damned. I would not damn God because I must trust in the fact that He is in control…and in my heart of hearts I know that He is Good. But something had to be damned in that moment. I would not think to damn the children or the families for not being able to care for themselves or get a job or anything like that. I would not damn the missionaries for coming to Haiti to merely show the love of Jesus by reaching out to those in need…even if what we gave was just so meager in proportion to the need. But something was just so absolutely wrong in that moment that something had to be damned. So I chose the crackers. Damn those crackers for being so brittle that they broke apart and crumbled at the slightest force of pressure. Damn those crackers for being in a bag that tore open so easily and spilled to the ground. Damn those crackers for only coming 2 to a pack when there are countless millions that are starving and dying. Damn those crackers for being salted so that they satisfy but for a moment and then leave a person with a greater thirst. Damn those crackers…
Sometimes…there are no easy answers – Cody