I am ashamed to admit that I did not really want to go on the recent trip with Aid For Haiti. I have been before and knew full well what I was getting into. Long days of travel over rocky terrain, steep mountain passes and endless days seeing patients in between sleeping on the floor and using a smelly outhouse. To be honest, I would have rather stayed at my parents’ house sleeping in a warm bed and going Christmas shopping. And what about my two boys, ages 2 and 4? What kind of mother would I be to leave them for a whole week? But God had other plans for me, and despite my excuses, God’s word assured me, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). The confirmation is clear and I answer God’s call to serve in Haiti with a “Yes”.
So while my boys happily play with their grandparents for the week, I embark on a long journey into the rural Haitian mountains with my husband Caleb (yes, this whole thing was his idea!). So this physician -pharmacist couple joined a fantastic Aid For Haiti support staff and translators, settled into our grass hut with dirt floor, separated into our consultation rooms divided by a thin curtain, and began a 4 day mission of medicine and ministry.
My prayer for this trip was that God would open my eyes to the hearts and lives of these impoverished people. The vision He revealed to me centered around the hearts of the women and the burdens they bear in life. Mothers know a universal language. In the consultation room I saw their concern first hand, and the evidence in their children of infections, worms, and malnutrition. I had a conversation in Spanish with a woman from the Dominican Republic whose greatest desire is to have a child, but is struggling with infertility. A Haitian woman has had seven children, but lost three of them to starvation. “They just got skinner and skinnier and then they died,” she explained. Now a fourth child is sick and she has brought her to us. I prescribe her nutritional supplementation in the form of vitamins and formula, but how can I heal this woman’s heart? I cannot begin to imagine the grief she has experienced, the helplessness of watching her children suffer and die, over and over again.
Another woman brought her 4 month old son to us who could not urinate without screaming and crying in pain. Caleb was able to perform a simple procedure to alleviate his problem while I sat outside with the mother. Despite the language barrier, I could sense her agony and she waited through the procedure, not really understanding and grieving for her suffering son. All mothers weep in the same language.
The next day started early and I could tell the emotional burden of this experience was weighing on me. I sat in my consultation chair as the translator ushered in an elderly woman with an infant son. A grandmother with her grandson. The mother is 15 years old and wants nothing to do with the baby. The grandmother has no money to take care of him. She sold the tin roof off her house to make money to care for the child. She has nothing left to give. She asks me plainly, “Will I take her precious grandson?”
I need a moment to breathe. I don’t have the capacity to process what this woman is saying to me. But God.
Yes, I would take the child, but I might have trouble getting him through customs. He was so beautiful to me. All smiles, with bright eyes and curious little hands. He grabs at the chart I am holding. I hold him in my arms.
After much discussion with the team and the area pastor we decide the best option is to support the woman financially and follow up at a later time. So a couple days later we met with her privately, gave her money to encourage her in the work she was already doing for this child and prayed with her. “Thank you Jesus.” She says it in Creole, but I understood. I understand. Mothers thank God in the same language.
That night at chapel I heard these women singing. They praise in their own words, which are foreign to me, but some of the tunes are familiar and one cannot mistake their passion. The pastor reads from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…
To comfort all who mourn
Giving them a garland instead of ashes
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting…
That He may be glorified.
God sent me to Haiti to show His love to a hurting people… to show them Christ, who alone can heal their broken hearts. God showed me how big and wonderful and compassionate He is, and how He longs to use me in His plan if only I am willing. As the Haitian voices echo around me, I humbly thank God for the opportunity to come and serve with Him. I thank Him for opening my eyes and my heart. I praise Him.
Mothers praise God in the same language.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” Ephesians 2:4