Hi Hope Ames!
I'm writing to you from the
Many Hands for Haiti
campus in Pignon, Haiti. I'm with 14 of our Kairos (college ministry) students and an additional two volunteer leaders from Hope Ames. We arrived yesterday and will be working on a variety of jobs; construction, sustainable farming, painting homes and visiting orphanages.
To get here, we hopped on a former military charter plane that was built in 1943 (yep, it was as cool as it sounds) and arrived at Many Hands for Haiti just in time for lunch. The food is amazing!
In the afternoon, we did our best to learn some common Creole (Haitian language) phrases and headed to a local market. Images of Haiti have flashed on my screens in the United States for years, but this marketplace was real life, and it was unlike anything I've ever seen.
I get it; I'm the American on his first mission trip to Haiti. I'm just in shock, right? Maybe... But, I expected to see poverty. I knew my eyes would be opened, just not like this.
Dozens of vendors laid out their products on makeshift tables underneath makeshift tents, trying to catch shade from the blazing sun. Crowds of people rummaged through three-foot wide aisles, purchasing cooked chicken that was covered in flies. Meanwhile, children ran away without notice, and some toddlers took naps on the concrete floors. As the people left, many of them carried their purchases. Others towed away rusty wheelbarrows full of rice. Stray dogs, ducks and goats came in to search for scraps.
The whole scene was noteworthy, but it's not the dirty, unorganized mess that I can't get over. Messes are everywhere, aren't they?
In the midst of the messy market, there was
beauty. Not everyone was in high spirits, but I couldn't miss the ones who were smiling, laughing, hugging and dancing. They didn't seem to fit the surrounding environment. How could anyone be so happy in such a broken place?
Turns out, you don't need America to be satisfied. I mean,
where does true joy come from? Dreams? Or, the Dream Giver?
"What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD... When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger..." (Psalm 84:5-7)
Life - no matter where you live - is unorganized, dirty and chaotic, but that can't stop you from the real joy that comes from knowing God. The secret is not in the setting, and it's not about the stuff. It's Him.
is Hope's amazingly gifted Young Adult Minister in West Des Moines, and she will be preaching! Plus, the wonderful Deb Gibson will be hosting our service, and the hilarious and insightful Sally Dubois will be delivering the kids' message. On top of all that, this Sunday is Mother's Day! You don't want to miss this!
P.P.S. Hi, Mom! I love you. Thanks for being an awesome mom and for loving Jon, Kristy and me so unconditionally. You're the best.