Eastminster Haiti Trip 2012
Tee shirts packed. Gatorade powder – packed. Bug spray – packed. Passport –ready to go. While I was packing for my trip to Haiti, a country known for its poverty, political turmoil and devastation caused by a recent earthquake, I kept thinking about the Wedding Feast of Cana. That’s the story in the bible when Jesus tells the wedding servers to fill six stone water jars. The jars could hold 20 – 30 gallons each, so the servers gathered 180 gallons of water! When the head server tasted the “water” he ran off to find the groom wondering why in the world he hadn’t served this crazy-good wine earlier. Basically, he says to the groom, “Why are you wasting this seriously delicious wine on all these drunk people? They won’t even know how good it is!”
So why was I drawn to this story before leaving for Haiti? What did this seriously delicious wine have to do with the mission of our outreach trip?
It is hard to summarize our group’s 10-day trip to Haiti. There is too much to tell.
About how we all could still laugh and sing after 24 hours of straight-up travel.
About all the great projects we did – building forms and mixing and pouring a cement front porch for the church, adding earthquake-proof mesh to the walls of the school, painting two lovely murals, planting 100 tree saplings on a barren hillside.
About our hilarious struggle to learn some Creole by turning it into a game show complete with Haitian judges and audience. Someone say “WHEEL!…OF!… CREOLE!”
About the adorable baby named Emmanuel that the church community is raising because the mother is incapable.
About the tropical paradise of a cove we swam in everyday.
But for me, my favorite part was the Haitians. They were so gracious and welcoming, fun and hope-filled. On our late-night arrival, the worried Haitians– all ages – gathered at the beach crossing in the dark to make sure we could get through safely. They ran back to the village chasing our trucks. The next day, the children grabbed our hands and asked us to follow them through the coconut and plantain trees to their homes. Then they pulled out chairs for each of us and offered to get us coconuts. Every day fifteen cooks made us delicious traditional Haitian meals. They really put their hearts into it, serving us something a little different now and then as an extra treat.
I fell in love with these gorgeous people. They take pride in their appearance but are not prideful. They probably wear hand-me-down clothes, but who could tell? They look wonderful. While we were there it was Holy Week. Every night there was a service. The church filled up with lots of young people. One highlight was the ten young adult men from the congregation who got up front in matching burgundy dress shirts and sang. Everyone was clapping along and the young men were smiling, obviously having a blast. The song went on and on until it felt like the rafters were shaking. After it was over, everyone clapped and passed a hat to gather donations for the singers!
We were all there together – Haitian or American, rich or poor, sick or well, tired or rested, fed or wanting more, living in a hut or a three-bedroom house. But also there was this stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks wine that was being poured out for us. It was something too deep for us to fully realize. And definitely too good for our drunk, thick-headed selves! Later, as I was reading one of the devotionals that Jeff had us read, I realized that whether we understand this wine right away, or later, or maybe not at all, the delicious wine-filled Hope that we are called to as Christ-followers is always there – 180 gallons of it! That is more than we could ever need.
Who knew we would experience such thirst-quenching Hope in Haiti – described by some as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?” I think the 16 of us who went on this trip would agree: Haiti has wine that tastes expensive and while we were there it was generously poured for us all.
Reflection by Anne Melnyk