A team from BridgeWay Church visited Haiti last month- Robin, Cailin & Landon Chenault, Melissa & Gabbi Perez, Marta, Dana & Carly Mcvicker, Diana DeLuna and Sandy Rogers. Our guest blogger this week is Cailin Chenault; she will share about her experience. Cailin is a sophomore homeschool student with a passion for mission work.
Haiti. There is no one word or characteristic to describe it; it can not be adequately or accurately represented in a single blog post, or even a hundred blog posts. It is massive. It is crazy. It is downright scary sometimes, as you are made completely vulnerable in the face of a radically different culture and people group. It also happens to be entirely disruptive; it flips your perspective, your worldview, everything you’ve ever known after living an uninterrupted life in America. As I like to say, Haiti slaps you in the face over and over again, with a lot of different things.
But today, I just want to focus on one way that it figuratively “slaps” you in the face. It’s something that has hit me every time I visit.
It slaps you with a magnificent display of God’s goodness and faithfulness, and how He works in terrible situations.
It’s inevitable that when you travel to Haiti, you will be hit with the reality of the poverty there. The poorest country in the hemisphere, you see humanity at what some would call it’s worst. People live in shacks on the side of the street, surrounded by heaps and piles of trash. Children wander the streets nearly naked and hungry.
I’ll never forget the moment the poverty became personal for me. We visit different orphanages, also called villages, and spend time with the kids there. That’s what we do when we go down there. Last year, at one of the villages, I met a little girl. She was tiny, probably no older than 5. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t smile. You could tell by looking in her eyes that this one girl had experienced pain that no grown person, much less a child, should ever have to endure. The grip of her hand and her dead eyes broke my heart in ways I didn’t even know it could be broken. And I realized it was real. The poverty and the pain, they were real; they had a face. They couldn’t be ignored at that point.
This year, I saw her again. We visited her village on the second day for several hours. I showed her our picture from last year, and she beamed! She grabbed my hand, and clung to me the whole time. She smiled, and she had learned how to laugh. She talked about Jesus, and led me around, and we took many, many pictures. She was a completely different child! I have rarely seen God’s goodness and faithfulness displayed any more beautifully than in the now light-filled eyes of that little girl.
Pain is real. Poverty is real. And in Haiti, it is quite obvious and apparent. It even becomes really, really personal. But what is even more real, what is even more personal, and what is so clearly visible in that beautiful country, is God’s ability to use all that for His glory. To turn the messiness and awfulness of our lives into something beautiful. In light of Easter, which we celebrated when we went there, we see that there is always darkness before the light has the opportunity to shine. But it always does, and when I went there, it was in the form of her sweet smile.
We so often have the drive to “fix” things. Whether it’s going down to Haiti, or trying to sort out our own messy lives, we want to “fix” things. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But Haiti has made me realize it is really not our job, or our purpose, to fix things. We aren’t supposed to make things perfect. Instead, we’re supposed to invite God into the imperfection, and let Him work, as He always does. As demonstrated in the poverty-stricken landscape of Haiti, He is good. He is the light through the darkness.