Haiti is not an easy place to live. Electricity is intermittent and unreliable. Running water cannot always be found. Drinking water must be purchased from stores and kiosks instead of flowing freely from the tap. Good medical care is often difficult to find. Driving is usually stressful as there are very few rules to the road and a large amount of potholes to dodge. The list goes on. It’s easy to see how these things could make one feel discouraged.
I admit that in October and November of last year (2013), I was struggling. I love Haiti, but I was at a point when these things were really wearing on me. Going through this bout of culture shock made everything else seem bleaker and I found myself feeling really, really low.
In this process, though I was reminded of two Bible verses: Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Timothy 6:11-12.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1
“But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” –1 Timothy 6:11-12
These scriptures reminded me of my call. They reminded me that, although things may be a struggle at times, the struggle is worth it. I must continue to run the race and to fight the good fight. It is in this process that transformation occurred and I began to see all the beauty and hope within Haiti that I once saw before.
I opened my eyes to Haiti’s majestic mountains that rise above the valleys in such elegant ways. I was reminded of Haiti’s beautiful beaches with sparkling blue water and excellent sea-side seafood. I appreciated the warmth of the sunshine and its life-giving light. I saw that I was surrounded by fruit trees, providing fresh fruits for incredible natural juices. And, of course, on days when I would read that it was freezing or snowing in the United States, I could look out my window and see palm trees swaying in the Caribbean breeze.
Beyond that, I saw a hard-working woman selling avocados on the side of the road. I saw a shoe-shine man working to provide for his family by walking around and ringing his bell to let people know he was ready for business. I saw young boys and young girls dressed in their Sunday best on their way to church. I saw a group of teenage boys playing with a soccer ball and a group of second grade boys playing with a water bottle – each having equal amounts of fun. I saw fathers walking hand-in-hand with their children on the way home from school and I saw mothers with babies on their laps as they rode tap-taps (Haitian public transportation) to the market. And I saw a young boy walking with his hand on his sister’s back, ready to protect her should any harm come their way.
I saw beauty. I saw hope. And it doesn’t end there.
Through CONASPEH, I have seen students receiving an excellent education from teachers who so obviously care deeply about them. I watched a grandmother dance as the spirit moved her in one of the most joyful acts of worship that I’ve ever seen at a CONASPEH congregation in Port-au-Prince. I have seen students receive much-needed lunches through the food for learning (manje pou aprann) program. I have watched a delegation from the United States and a group of Haitian college students working together to build a shade garden filled with vegetables. I have heard children sing and laugh at a children’s home. And I have seen women seeking theological education and serving as pastors – a sight that is, unfortunately, still very rare to see in Haiti.
When I was at my lowest, God did not abandon me. Instead, God lifted me up to show me and remind me of all the joy, blessing, beauty, and hope that surrounds me. God reminded me of why I am called and where I am called. I am called to be here, among my Haitians friends, giving of my talents and gifts wherever needs may be. It is truly a blessing to be here.
Beth Guy serves with the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH) in Haiti. She works with supporting People to People missions in Haiti.