We had a plan. It was Saturday morning in Haiti. First we would stop at the mass graves where thousands of Haitians were buried after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince. Then we would visit the elderly and an orphanage.
Our visit to the grave went according to plan. The new memorial is nearly complete. We walked around, we prayed, we took in the enormity of this crisis.
Back to our plan. Next were elder visits. My plan was to visit 3 different elderly in their homes, bring them a hot meal and a cold drink. Offer prayer and comfort as we were able.
We stopped and bought food. We got to visit Marie. How marvelous. Everyone loves Marie! Over 100 years old, her faith and joy are contagious and uplifting. She is gracious and beautiful and charming. We sang, enjoyed her company, and reveled in the moment. We delivered a meal and a drink.
And then my plans unraveled. My Haitian guide told me that he didn’t know how to get to the home of the third elder on my list. We could only make 2 stops. “No worries! We can deliver 2 meals to the next elder.”
But God had another plan. As we were leaving Marie’s house, an elderly man using a walker approached us. And he sang.
He was wearing a dress shirt and pink crocs (surely his only pair of shoes) and was clutching his hat in one hand.
The song finished and I approached him. His name was Rafael. He woke up hungry that day and had been praying for food.
Have you ever done that? I have to admit that when I’m hungry, I don’t pray for God to provide me food. I walk to the refrigerator.
Rafael had heard our truck and had walked a considerable distance to ask us for food. And there I was standing, with a meal in hand.
God used our team to answer a prayer.
It was a moment that broke me.
I tell my teams before we go to Haiti to love the one who God puts in front of you. The needs in Haiti are vast and overwhelming. The only way to make sense of it is to rely on God to lead you. And here was a man, who I nearly missed meeting and loving, who God and put literally in front of me. I felt dense. I had been focused on the plan. I had not been seeing with God’s eyes. I felt humble. Rafael’s faith was amazing. I felt in awe of God’s presence. We were feeding not ‘the hungry,’ a nameless crowd. We were feeding Rafael, and thereby Christ who is present in the vulnerable and destitute.
I wish I knew more about Rafael. I think about him many times each day. I wonder if he has eaten today. Does he have family? Does he have anyone to care for him? How does he support himself?
I learned a beautiful phrase in Haiti last week. “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
And so today I lean into God’s grace. I lean into God’s love and mercy and pray for discernment. I am reminded that God is in control. I don’t need to lead, but rather to follow.
Thank you, Rafael, for reminding me to see the world through God’s eyes. I’ll do my best.