Wherever I go it is the children that grip my heart the most. It's not something I go looking for, it just hits me like a freight train. Haiti has been no different. Well, maybe it has been very different. The Rescue Center, for one, is a very extreme place. These kids are the worst of the worst and some aren't so cute or cuddly. It's really hard to love a kid who has horrendous amounts of diarrhea and who knows what kind of contagious illnesses. Believe me, it's really really difficult.
When I was in Uganda I remember a moment of epiphany. There was a baby sitting on my lap who was half naked, dirty and stinky and a girl named Maureen who was about nine who was mentally disabled because of a high fever from Malaria when she was younger. Her hands were ridden with scabies (or something that gave her blistering wounds) and she would constantly want to be held onto, so she would wrap herself around my waist. She wasn't the only "unlovely" kid, but she was the clingiest.
I remember sitting there and suddenly realizing.... when Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14) He was probably welcoming and loving kids like Maureen. They were most likely kids who had never worn shoes, who hadn't bathed in a while, who didn't have the convenience of modern medicine to get rid of whatever was eating away at their skin. Why was I giving a crap about getting scabies? This little girl needed to be loved, she needed to be held and kissed. It wasn't about Jess Lehman loving her...it was about Jesus being present in my love. In my putrid, dirty state He comes to me, He welcomes me, He loves me.
Fast forward two years to Haiti. Same kind of kids (no, I'm not saying all these poor, black kids are so gross...I'm saying poverty doesn't allow for the same amenities that we take for granted). That kind of epiphany is not something that is easy to act upon once it is realized. It is a struggle to keep that heart each and every day....especially when seeing these kids becomes a regular part of life. That is one of the reasons why Haiti has been different, I have been here a lot longer. I stayed in the village in Uganda for less than two weeks and I will have been here a total of three months, which is not that long either, but it isn't so "love-really-a-lot-for-two-weeks-and-then-peace-out...i'll-remember-you-forever-but-never-see-you-again". It's like a mini marathon...how to I pace myself to love so I don't get burnt out and how do I love deeply and hurt without completely shutting down or building up walls. Basically it come down to "holy crap, I can't do this on my own, LORD HELP!"
That's how it has been different I think (as I sit here trying to process this all as I type away), these months have allowed for more time to get to know these precious kiddos, as well as for being overwhelmed and, in turn, shutting down. It's this great dichotomy...they are incredibly easy to love and yet overwhelmingly hard to love.
With all that said, I don't know how I could do anything else in my life but live each day striving to love others and my Jesus more and more (as difficult as it is). Anything else seems so empty and very temporary. I desire to impact eternity, even if my impact is the size of one mustard seed among numerous watermelons.
Here is a taste of the transformation that takes place here:
A few more from the RC
bon nwit timoun yo. mwen renmen ou ajame.
and some cute ones
Nono (yes, that's his real name)
(the meltdown/cute photos were taken earlier today...they're fresh off the press)
I want to leave you with the little tid-bit from Oswals Chambers...it resonates so deeply in my heart right now:
Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually...The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though . . .” ( Psalm 46:2 )— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!” - My Utmost for His Highest, July 20th