We arrived in Haiti full of anticipation, taking in each sight and sound. Off the plane smoke billowed in the distance. I thought for sure there was a house fire and instead learned they were burning trash. Upon moving through customs we experienced an aggressive baggage carousel where citizens literally peeled your bag from your hands, hopeful to earn a small tip as your bag carrier. I immediately felt an uneasiness come over me. Humanly, fear and judgement crept into my heart and I began to worry if we’d be safe here.
We made it outside and saw Pastor Rosinel, our Haitian partner, waiting for us. His arms outstretched wide and his smile even wider. The presence of Holy Spirit washed over me and I was free of my ugly frame of mind. My purpose on this mission came rushing back in as we piled into the van and headed to the guest house where we’d be staying.
It struck me on the ride there the vibrancy of my surroundings. Bold expressions of art and diverse vegetation. But more so, a people going about their Saturday, children in tow; not indifferent from how I spend my Saturdays with my own kids. The streets were a buzz. Moms and dads and boys and girls. On an unhurried Saturday.
The poverty is staggering. There’s no denying that. It is like nothing I have ever seen. An average worker makes less than $5 US daily. Debris lines the streets. Houses for a family of six are no bigger than my closet, a sheet hung in the place of a door. Clean water and electricity are luxuries out of reach for most. My eyes were wide open, each blink taking a mental photograph capturing what lies beneath: humanity and joy. In all the worldliness lied a truth I’d never so clearly known. Nearly everyone was smiling. Interacting. Doing life.
We arrived to our guest house in Demas, a district of Port au Prince. The house was gated, surrounded by tall walls topped with barbed wire. The accommodations were modest. A room for the men and a room for the women, each with three twin sized beds. The WiFi was not functioning, limiting our contact with home, and the water resembled an arctic environment verses that of the tropics. I share this to say God qualifies who He calls. He had prepared me, a girl whose idea of camping is checking into a swanky hotel, to serve Him. And to deal effectively with the ambiguity that came with being on mission with a full heart and peaceful mind.
After a day of travel we spent some time settling in and then ventured out onto the streets. We walked for over an hour on crumbling, unlevel ground. We struggled to find our way back and finally declared we were lost. It was then that God sent us Serge, a man of tall stature and gentle spirit. He spoke English and knew immediately upon meeting us we were American missionaries. He spoke fondly of trips to the US and the kindness he’d been shown on those travels. Serge, whose name means “shepherd”, returned that kindness and walked us all the way back (several miles) to the guest house.
The rest of the day we spent in fellowship as a team and breaking bread together. Andrew led us in our nightly devotional and we prepared our selves for the next day: church in the village.