A month’s worth of days have slipped by, and the dust of Haiti is still on my camera bag. I don’t think I ever want to wash it, don’t want to wash away the dirt of Haiti from my life.
Somehow we felt cleaner there, in those cracked and grimy villages, like we were walking with God Himself down dirt paths. And I suspect we were. Mother Teresa once said that in order to spy the face of Christ, one need only look in the face of the distressed poor.
“When can we go back?”
That’s the question that the girls are asking every day — many times a day. We don’t know how to answer it, don’t know when to tell them when we might fly far away from home again, far away from our full cupboards and full gas tanks and full iPads to go back to the empty.
And funny, how it works in this upside-down Kingdom of ours, but that’s where we really felt the fullest ever — in our whole lives — in a little village by the ocean. We felt full in a village of tin huts and rice-and-beans and Haitian song and tumble-down shacks and bare feet on dusty paths, and face upon face of Christ. It’s true: you can spy the face of Jesus in the people there — who are paradoxically dirt-poor and spirit-rich.
We miss you, Haiti. Oh, how we do.
We miss the dirt and the dirt-poor, who teach us what it means to be utterly wealthy in Christ.
We miss the way the children run their hands along the girls’ silky hair, and how skin color isn’t something to be ignored. We remember how the brown-skinned children of the orphanage want to touch the peach-skinned children from an Iowa farm. And how the peach want to touch the brown.
We miss how it all hurt us so. We miss the breaking of our own hearts. We miss tears down our cheeks. We miss the way that we could see, with our own eyes, the ache of this world. We miss being close enough to help with our own hands. We miss touching Jesus’ face.
We miss wild praise, hands lifted, dancing in the aisles, worship that peeled back the curtain for a glimpse of Heaven.
I don’t know how to find right words to wrap around our ache, and maybe it’s because I’m scared of this–
The haze of years (even days) can make a person forget.
I think we’re all frightened that we might forget, so we go around remembering what we’re missing, praying for our own fresh breaking of hearts, and telling anyone who inclines an ear our way … telling them that the real missionaries are the Haitians. And how it feels like they save our lives by showing us what it means to live and love and serve and worship and pour out lives as offerings unto the Lord. Man does not live by bread alone, and I know people who really are living by faith… “Se paske.”
I might try to make myself feel absolved by saying something like: “Oh, but they know Jesus.” Which they do.
I could then, perhaps, stay in my cushy life and never do a thing, reminding myself every day that “at least they have Jesus. And that’s what’s most important.”
But Jesus is not OK with this.
He came to save people from their sins, no doubt about it. But he also commanded us to help the widow and the orphan and the hungry. He didn’t tell us how, exactly, he just said to do it.
He called us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I met my neighbor.
So, sure, we sponsored some more children, and we will keep on praying, and we have dreamed up some new ideas that we’ll tell you about when the time is right. And we beg God not to let us forget, but to tell us what it really means to spend our lives in behalf of the poor. I think we’re only beginning to learn. I want to be a student in the front row of God’s classroom.
This morning, we packed up the laptop and took it to Lydia’s fifth-grade classroom, so she could show her friends the mud-pies and the happiest faces and the beauty
And when she’s clicking through pictures, I stand in the back of the classroom, watching my girl up there, sharing the face of Christ to a hushed room of 11-year-olds.
And I want to go back,
and so every single day we go back,
because we can’t afford to forget.