As I process what I just saw in Haiti after being there for the fourth time, I am amazed at what I keep learning.
CLEAN: Most of us look at Haiti and we say it is a dirty place and it is. But when we think of the dirtiness, we think of the trash in the streets, things left everywhere, the dilapidated houses, etc... But what you don't realize until you are in Haiti is the cleanliness that we experience everyday that we take for granted: soap to wash your hands, being able to use an actual toilet and have toilet paper, refrigerated meats, washing machines, vacuums, mops, air filters and so much more.
HEAT: What I never realized until this trip is how much we live in luxury. Everything we do is for our own comfort. From the moment you step out of the Airplane your realize, the heat is real. The heat means that you sweat 24 hours a day, making you feel dirty all day long. At the end of the day you think, "I will take a shower and feel clean." But when you shower, which for most people is with a rag and a 5 gallon bucket, you continue to sweat while you wash. So that clean fresh feeling of an american shower followed by a thermostat adjusted to your liking will just never exist. Then I think how would we respond to this if experienced on a daily basis, if we couldn't make our house, office, car that perfect 70 degrees?
SMELLS: When I went to put Zoey to bed, I noticed that her stuffed animals smelled like her babysitter's house, where she stayed while we were gone. Smells just permeate things. Here they are air fresheners and dryer sheets. In Haiti there it is constantly a new smell of something rotting or burning. These smells are only in the air, though just like Zoey's stuffed animals, these smells permeated everything you owned. Within a few days, even the clean clothes you had not worn yet and were washed here in the America with perfumes and dryer sheets smelled like Haiti.
TEA: As I stand here and pull the tea out of my cabinet and spoon it into my cup, I think about how I am doing this for my own enjoyment and pleasure. I can wake up, turn a knob, fill a pot with water, heat it and enjoy. This morning I was disappointed after brewing my tea when I opened my fridge and the milk, that had been sitting in my fridge for the 2 weeks I was gone, had spoiled. Sadly but truthfully, I literally had the thought, "well the tea is useless now!" Things like milk in our fridge, running water, electricity, stoves, and lights are just a few of many things we take for granted here. They are just simple expectations to life for us. In Haiti they have to walk to some water source, which most of the time is s brown creek or river from rain run off which is not safe to drink from. Then they fill buckets and carry them back to their houses. Then, if they are blessed, they have Clorox bleach tabs to put in their water to purify it. So their option is not enjoyment, it is whatever it takes to survive. But me... I was disappointed about not having milk in my tea.
PRAYER: This then causes me to think about what I worry about in life, because it usually is not something that is a necessity to life, such as access to clean water. Is it debt due to the lifestyle I chose? Is it God I need you to overlook for my stupidity and clean up my mess? Is it I wish I had more so that I could go do more things I have always wanted to do. Bring me something better because I don't want to be content with what I already have?
So what then? How are we to respond to these feelings, thoughts and prayers? For some, they might feel like they have to give things up, but that is pride clothed in false humility because you are just doing that to make yourself feel better about having so much in life. For others, they might feel like they need to support those in need of things. This is and can be the right response, but again, we must question the motives. If your motive is so they have a better life, not to preach the gospel, baptize believers or disciple the believers to observe Christ's teachings, then your sacrifice is in vain.
There is a quote I recent read on social media and it totally captures this,
"If we give warm cloths, food & clean water to the world & omit the gospel, we just provided a cozy road to Hell."
-Africa Inland Missions
HOW DO WE RESPOND: What we need to do is become more responsible with what we have
- Be content with what God has blessed us with.
- Stop being jealous of what others around you have.
- Consider all that we have as God's
- Seek ways to use what God has blessed you with to carry out the great commission.