I’m sitting beneath the starriest starry sky, out where the moon glints off the rippled glass of the ocean. The scattered city lights of Port-au-Prince pulse stubbornly into the dark.
Sit with me a while, under this velvet tapestry of Haitian night. And listen.
Hear it now, the wind through palm and the bark of the stray dog and the echo of an orphan baby waking.
Watch the sway. Watch her in the shadows. Watch her swaying silhouette, with a babe on her hip. Watch the clothes-pinned shirts dance with the breeze. See now, how your own hair sways, too.
You’ve become a part of the music.
Before we left for Haiti, my friend Ann told me to “listen for the jazz.”
I’ve heard whole songs here.
Days ago, Ann and I were among a few dozen people who gathered around burning firelogs at a retreat center in a Texas canyon. And cultural anthropologist Marlon Hall told us how God makes “jazz from junk.” He made a whole, big, beautiful talk about that, and I won’t be able to do it justice here. But I’m guessing you get the point. What he was saying is this:
God takes messes and makes music.
He can transform mangled to masterpiece.
Junk to jazz.
Once upon a time, a man named Ed sailed his ship, “Tytoo,” to Haiti. He thought a little piece of land across from the shining lights of Port-au-Prince would make a mighty fine nightclub. And a brothel. So that’s what he planned to do.
But the thing was, a lot of children started showing up at the gate of his brothel-in-the-making. They just wanted a little something to fill their growling bellies, so he started spreading peanut butter on bread, and he gave the children sandwiches. And they kept coming back.
You might say that Jesus showed up the gate, too, and the man let him in — for good, and forever. And he decided that this place by the ocean would make a far better orphanage than a nightclub.
Junk to jazz.
We showed up at Tytoo Gardens today – Scott and I and the girls and Scott’s mother. Forty-five children stole our hearts for good.
While we’re still sitting under this diamond-sprinkled sky, let me introduce you to our new friend. Meet Amalisa. She’s eight years old.
Amalisa has a little body because of a bone disorder, but a big spirit because it seems that God decided to hand out extra charm the day He made Amalisa. She has a smile that lights up the orphanage courtyard. She’s all jazz.
Amalisa’s father died in the earthquake in 2010, and her mother – traumatized by all that happened when the earth shook – is in a psychiatric ward. Not long ago, she said that if she could have anything in the whole world, she’d like an education. So her aunt asked her if she could live here at the orphanage and go to school at Touch of Hope. Amalisa is in the first grade, and learning quickly. I’m thinking: Future President of Haiti. I’d vote for her.
There’s more, but it’s late, and now, even the stray dog has stopped his barking at the moon.
But the jazz? It’s right here. Listen:
MY APOLOGIES TO THE TELL HIS STORY COMMUNITY. I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO GET A WIRELESS CONNECTION UNTIL TODAY… 🙂
So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.
You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.
Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.
Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.
Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer or a grammarian to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?