Haiti: Contrast

(journal excerpt 6.21)
Today was the first official day spent in Haiti and to call it a shock falls tragically short. As we flew in, our eyes beheld some of the most beautiful landscapes, pieces of paradise which were never lost; modern day Eden. The lush flowing mountains, the crystal clear water, dipping valleys and a sky dotted with white giants. A combination of the view and the heat took every passenger’s breath away, at least for a moment.

As we closed in for the landing I noticed tight clusters of dots; blue and white mostly. Curiosity became confusion and horror as I realized those dots were all tents; tarp covered shacks. Dozens of groups, each filled with hundreds of families. This was all that remained of their livelihoods. Exhausted mothers, hungry children, and jobless men scattered throughout like a spilled bowl of Cheerios; aimless and messy. And those men, how can they provide what simply isn’t there? Poverty at its utmost.

And then there is the tragedy. Many see the tents and rubble and ache over their material loss. But what of the human loss? Many lost family members and friends. The death toll reads over two hundred thousand. The heartache is too big to understand. The loss of a single family member or close friend can shatter someone’s world. But what about losing a dozen? Even if it means surviving in a tent, they still survived; and a lifetime of recovery is now upon their shoulders.

But there is hope. If only you could have seen the joy the children at the orphanage carried. Perhaps a few of the pictures can deliver that in some small way. They were thankful, at peace, and genuinely happy. They played and ran and laughed, as if the world outside their gates was only a nightmare. It’s not ignorance, it was innocence. These children were child-like: depending on their guardians for their needs, and not worrying about what was out of their hands in the first place. I thank God for the lesson they taught me.

And so we have intense beauty set against an ocean of poverty; and overwhelming sorrow alongside disarming joy. It is something only God can do, to make something from nothing; to create His most cherished creation from dirt and cleanse it into the purest of mirrors, all for His glory. 
As the contrast is so evident and radical, so are we called to live as believers. To be beacons of Heaven’s light piercing through the darkness of hell which has covered the eyes of man on the earth. Our time short, our mission urgent, our God great; and so we will do what we can by grace and what we must by love to make His name great in all the world.


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