Photos are below text.
“From the day we arrive on the planet, and blinking, step into the sun, there’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done, there’s far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found…”
Arriving in Port Au Prince was a true experience. As soon as we exited the airport, we were swarmed with men in red polos, all fighting for the attention of Pastor Lubin, all anxious to help with the luggage. A few men were selected to help, and we took a short (sweltering) walk to the van. Though out this walk, several things caught my eye. One in particular, was a sign that said “Bienvenue en Haiti”. Okay, so it wasn’t just the words, but the picture below it. A beautiful woman, sitting on a clear beautiful beach, on a lounge chair, with a giant sun hat on. I was confused. Why were they displaying this picture? Yes, it may seem like such a minute thing to remember, I mean, many people probably don’t even look at it. But I am here to tell you, that many people fear things that are not beautiful. Maybe that’s why this picture was there. After just being here for 2 days, I can tell you that this picture just depicted the stereotypical form of beauty, and, that Haiti is beautiful.
We begin the journey traveling through Port Au Prince. Many of the people still lived in makeshift tent communities since the earthquake. Women, men, of all ages—carrying gigantic sacks or baskets on their head, with perfected balance. Some, almost twice their size. I was completely amazed. When on the plane, a woman who looked around 75, hurled a huge piece of luggage, and carried it over her shoulder. When asked if she needed help, she replied simply with no. She was tough. She looked tough. But not in a scary, or mean way, tough as in, hardworking, determined. During the trip through Port Au Prince, I see this look on so many of the faces of the people that live here. Countless umbrellas, with vendors, a few smiles, but not many. I saw children oblivious to the poverty around them. Men bathing outside, in their shorts, with a bucket of water, and a sponge, a small team of Haitian boys and men play a soccer game outside, and lastly there was trash, covering the road, in the flowing water, everywhere. We stopped at a restaurant, and had conch, goat (yes goat, like the animal), fish, rice and beans, and cherry juice, which all were absolutely delicious. After filling up the tank, both ours, and the bus’s, we were on our way. And then the —silence. We stopped along the way to buy some mango’s from girls who were selling them along the street. They had to be about 15 and 16 years old. Again, amazing me, so much of a different lifestyle then I grew up in. It was different, a different culture. Not weird, not, not normal. Different. Eye opening. Truthfully, we shouldn’t fear what is different, because that is what holds us back from being fully alive. Fully true, fully living in God’s word and name. Fear only brings doubt, and doubt holds us back. And why do we need to be held back? Life is an adventure. A path that many people think should be perfect. But really, it’s the places we encounter, bumps, and curves that make us into the person that God intended us to be. This is the circle of life. To see “unfamiliar things” different cultures—connects the human race. Makes us one. And as Bob Marley puts it: “One Love”. In my heart and in my hands lies a tool, strong enough to overcome and persevere. It gives me strength to know that in the simple act of reaching out a hand, a difference can be made, no matter how small. What is this tool? This tool is hope.
In this place, beauty may not lie in the stereotypical image, but rather in so many other things. In the midst of poverty, beyond it, is true beauty. We, RFA-BEM Haiti bring beauty. The faces of the children in Chantal, are beautiful. That hardworking woman, who was on the plane, is beautiful. The people I meet and encounter this week, are beautiful. Family love is beautiful. Hope is beautiful, faith is beautiful. Fear holds us back from being able to see truly beautiful things. Ignoring things, and casting a blind eye, can stop us from learning some of life’s most valuable lessons and truths. And learning, that’s beautiful.
On one final note, I want to share a short story. While on our long bus ride through Port Au Prince, Steven took out his guitar, and started to play a few notes. A few songs. Then I heard a familiar tune. Well I see trees of green and, red roses too, I’ll watch them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. At first, this all seemed so contradictory. But like I said, beauty, it can be found everywhere. Truthfully the song was perfect.
“It’s the Circle of Life, and it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love…”
May 2012 Restavec Freedom Alliance, BEM Inc., Volunteer