The first thing to say is it has been an amazing experience. There have been some surprises along the way, but mostly it has been a real uplifting journey. Even the things I expected to see, still created some confusion.
This is truly a good place. The people are filled with pride, full of belief, and a sense of community so strong that it has me wondering about the lost connections we have in Canada. Do our collection of items, and conveniences take away from us having this rich life that I have been experiencing here?
The first day we arrived was an overload of information to take in. We stepped out of the plane and I was immediately hit with a battering of heat and humidity. Getting into the building for customs is a relief from the beating sun. It’s not long till the crowded room starts to fill with everyone’s body heat.
As stepped onto the street outside of the airport it was frantic array of people everywhere. Dr. Manno meets us there and brings some order to everything. Driving to Haut Limbe the street life is almost overwhelming. People are everywhere. Traffic was a hectic array of trucks, cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians all moving at different rates, bobbing and weaving in and out as they share the roads, sidewalks and beaches. Yes, vehicles also drive on the sidewalk. In what appears to be complete chaos I saw people sitting on to the backs of trucks, as calm as can be. They are standing roadside with everything busily moving around them as if it is nothing to notice as all. This is life, this is their normal.
As we drove away from Cap Hatian and towards the rural areas things slowdown. When we arrived at Dr. Manno’s we headed straight to the Sarepta project New Year’s Eve celebration without much pause. One thing that stood out to me was Madam Mark, the founder of the Sarepta project. It filled my heart to help feed the elderly people of the program. I had a real feeling this, right now is where God wanted me to be.
Then I heard this powerhouse of a women talk. The commanding glow of her eyes and her deep-rooted passion moved me. You could feel the pride she has for her community. Without knowing what she was saying, I could see her it flowing past the language barrier.
Later, I heard more of her story from Pastor Evan. Madam Mark was a widow raising her young children in the community of Haut Limbe. She began to notice elderly people fainting at church and even with the pressures of raising a family she saw a need in her community and did something about it. She gave and served by using what little she had to start a feeding program for the elderly at her church. Madam Mark changed my whole perspective. Instead of observing what differs I saw the people. Their character and just how rich in life so many here are.
Madame Mark reminded me of the story from Luke 21 1-4: “While Jesus was in the temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said. ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.’”
I arrived here with the idea of I would be helping and teaching, but so far, I have learned more than I could have imagined, and all this has come in the first 20 hours.