One of my favorite things about leading a team to Haiti is our reflection time each night. We talk about what happened during the day, where we saw God that day, and then we pose a question to the group. Each night a different person chooses the question. I have a book of questions that they can use or the person can come up with their own question. It’s a neat way to get to know everyone better and find out interesting things about the team.
The last night, one of the team members asked us to relate the most memorable thing about our trip. We had a good week on LaGonave – painting school rooms and benches, giving out food/items, playing with kids, having a movie and popcorn night, hanging out with our Haitian friends, a lot of good memories.
My memorable event was recalling a night just seeing the brilliant stars in the sky. The stars seem so bright in Haiti, probably because they don’t have as many street lights or ambient light from homes. It gave me the sense of awe of God’s creation, but also how much I appreciate being able to travel to LaGonave. It isn’t an easy or convenient place to get to, but I love the people there and appreciate that I can be a small part of their lives.
The person who suggested the question is also a pastor and his response has stuck with me. However, his reflection needs a bit of context. One afternoon we traveled “up the mountain” to a small village. Local doctors were holding a mobile clinic and we went up to observe and to bring medical supplies and food. We loaded up supplies and seven of us in the back of a pickup. Now the worst roads you’ve been on are some of the best on LaGonave. It is a rocky, volcanic island and the roads are almost indescribable. It took over two hours to go about 15 miles to this village.
About an hour into our journey, it began raining. I mean pouring. We were soaked to the core. After we arrived at the clinic, we gave out food and medical supplies, and observed some of the difficult medical cases. The rain had let up, so I made the decision to load the team back up and head down the mountain. Not ten minutes into our trip, it began to rain. I mean pour. It was a deluge of rain. It was the first time I’ve ever been cold in Haiti, in fact a young woman on our team’s hands were turning purple. Being soaked for 3 hours, even in Haiti, makes you chilly.
I was sitting on the back corner of the pickup, along with my pastor friend. He and I could see the river of water cascading down the road behind us. It looked like a waterfall, water pouring over the rocks and chasing us down the hill. He and I would look at each other – and laugh. We’d look at other team members, drowned rats in the back of a pickup, and just laugh. A time when people could have been angry or disappointed or frustrated and all we could do – was laugh.
So my pastor friend recalled this as his memorable event. That he will use this memory when the sky is falling on him, when things are dark and bleak, when he is soaked from the problems of others, when people are sharing that they are angry or disappointed or frustrated – that he can choose to laugh. Through it all, things will be better. The rain will stop. We will put on dry clothes. Our shoes will dry out. The sun will shine. We can laugh.