If you are like many Americans, you spent $20.00 today and you can’t remember exactly what you did with it. Maybe it was a Starbucks to jump-start your morning, lunch at Chick-Fil-A, an afternoon pick me up from the vending machine in your office, and an ice cream cone to reward yourself for surviving Monday. But today, $20.00 invested in the lives of other people, changed everything.
The $20.00 could have come from anywhere. This one happened to come from an awesome little girl in Florida named Victoria. Her family goes to the church I attend and for the last few trips I have made into Haiti, Victoria has given me money for the orphanage kids. She does extra chores, saves her allowance and gives me an envelope before I leave for Haiti.
The last time I came in we had a massive Sopi Bon party. Sopi Bons are Haitian popsicles. We bought popsicles for everyone on the mission campus. Orphans, special needs orphans, elderly orphans, staff, and travelers. We had a “Victoria Party!”
This trip I had planned that we would have another party. But, as often happens in Haiti, plans change. We have an eye team in this week at our mission. They are doctors from the Midwest who come every year and do surgery and eye exams. Yesterday I took a group of them to Anse-A-Floer, the voodoo capital of the world. We hiked to a monument and then enjoyed an afternoon at the beach. It was the one day this week the doctors would have off.
As we left the town, we saw a little girl who had a serious eye problem. We stopped the truck and talked with her family. We also talked to two other families that had children with eye problems. We explained that we had eye doctors at the mission and we could have the little girls come to the mission to see the doctors. We gave them my name and told them to ask for me when they got to the mission gate.
As I stood in line for breakfast this morning, one of our interpreters said there was someone asking for me at the gate. I walked down to find Benjina, a beautiful little girl who ha a very serious eye issue and some type of skin issue. As I was talking with her and her grandmother, another little girl we met yesterday showed up with her grandmother. I quickly realized that neither family had any money to help cover any costs.
In order for the two little girls to see the eye doctors, they needed a total of $17.00. I was thinking I would just pull out some cash and pay for it myself when I remembered Victoria’s gift. I went to my room, got the money, and paid for the two little girls to see the doctors.
One little girl only needed some drops to clear up a bad infection. We thought Benjina was going to need surgery, but the doctors were able to avoid surgery and give her glasses; paid for by a little seven-year-old girl in Florida.
As I reflect back on today I am overwhelmed with emotion. We were able to make sure two little girls were healthy because one little girl sacrificially gave. We were able to love on and pray with families because we were in the place to interact with their need. And I was humbled to realize that $20.00 can do so much good.
Oh yeah, with the left over $3.00 from Victoria’s gift, she bought lunch for two grandmothers and two very beautiful little girls.
So, what did you do with $20.00 today?
So often people ask me about spiritual life in Haiti and it is difficult to explain how every belief and every worldview gets put into the same pile and mixed together. It is an incredible challenge to fully explain how people view evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and voodoo as extensions of each other.
While looking on-line at a The Palm Beach Post, out of West Palm Beach, FL, I came across this article of a religious festival in Haiti. Perhaps this will help shed some light on the spiritual struggle we have in helping people understand that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”
I hear it over and over again. It is more than just a platitude or pious comment. The single mom who works twelve-hour days says it on her knees. The mother in the birthing center whose child is holding on for life raises her arm and proclaims it. The entire church congregation repeats it in unison. It is a simple phrase, but carries so much power.
“Mesi Jezi!!” “Thank you, Jesus!!” The Christians of Haiti exclaim this phrase so often and so passionately that it is embedded on the brain of everyone who hears. And through it all I sometimes stop and ask, “What are they thankful for?”
There is poverty. There is illness. There is brokenness. There is death. And through it all…..”Mesi Jezi!”
As I listened to a woman I have grown to know and love pray in staff devotions the other morning, this phrase was intertwined with cries for help and pleas for peace. But through it all, the message of thankfulness poured out of her heart.
I am convicted that the question is not, “What are they thankful for?” but, “Why am I not more thankful?”
I am rich by every measurable standard of the people here in Haiti. I have a job. I have income. I have an amazing wife. I have children who love God and follow him. My brain often asks Jesus for more instead of thanking him for what I have.
I am convicted that my tears are not tears of thankfulness but of fear. My heart if filled with frustration instead of praise. My emotions are raw and selfish. My prayers are usually for God’s provision, not to thank him for what he has already done.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for salvation. Thank you for grace. Thank you for my family. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for life and health.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7