"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." (Proverbs 31;8-9 NLT) Last week, I had the opportunity to spend 4 days in Haiti. Just like the last time I went to Haiti, I returned with a really unique perspective. Maybe it's better to say that I returned with a broken perspective. Let me explain what I am trying to process:
We met with Pastor Vincent in an effort to work with him on a program to feed kids in his school and other schools in his area. Pastor Vincent runs a church and schools in one of the worst slums in the world, Cite Soleil. Every day, he feeds 1500 kids in his school, to be sure they get one good meal a day. In this photo, we're standing on the roof of the school (think compound) looking out at the surrounding housing.
After touring our friends from another ministry around Pastor Vincent's church and school, we walked through Cite Soleil and came across these ladies making mud cookies. Mud cookies are like currency in Cite Soleil. They are used for trade, purchase and eating. They are made with mud, dirt, and whatever is on the ground, then mixed with water that has raw sewage running through it. To say these are unhealthy is a massive understatement. However, starving people in our hemisphere eat these, for the sensation of digesting food.
Upon returning home, Celia and I resumed our normal, crazy routine, which called for us to drive Davis to Houston for a lacrosse tournament the day after I returned. The location of the first game was at a really nice (to say the least), private school. I'm not knocking the school or private education, but when I walked into the restroom of their field house, I noticed the building was made from cinder blocks. It reminded me of the crumbling cinder block housing in Cite Soleil. It occurred to me that their field house restroom is much nicer than any of the homes I had seen in during my 4 days in Haiti. As I came out and looked around at the athletic facilites of this school (it could have been any one of hundreds of schools in our country), I wondered about the priorities of the American Church.
Later that day, on our drive back to Austin, we stopped at a brand new Buccee's in Bastrop. As I walked in, I couldn't get over the excess choices of food, candy, drinks and really whatever you do and don't need while you fill up your car. In contrast to what I had seen earlier in the week, it was stunning. Choices, flavors, anything you want, however you want it and when you want it in opposition to nothing, no idea when the next meal is coming, no means by which to earn food and no hope for the future.
So I'm still wondering, how much is enough? How many choices do we need? Is the poverty I saw in Haiti the responsibility of the American Church? Well, Haiti is our neighbor...right? I'm not claiming to have answers, but I am trying to process through the great discrepancies I have seen. At the moment, my only conclusion is something isn't right. We have resources and Haiti has great needs. To stand in their streets and to stand in our streets in the same week, is truly living with a foot in two different worlds.
"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25 NLT)