I started crying before our plane left the tarmac.
The tears I swallowed down yesterday at an orphanage in Lillavois, Port au Prince, insisted on making an appearance.
We learned of the orphanage through a ministry partner in Haiti, a Catholic sister. She had recently visited an orphanage where the children had, quite literally, nothing. When she arrived there was no food anywhere on the property. She found 32 hungry kids with no food. "Joyce, they would be better off on the street where they could at least beg or forage for food," she said. Sister shared what she could; bags of rice and beans.
I have a responsibility as a spokesperson for Haiti to speak positively of the country, its people, and its future. Haiti is beautiful and incredibly blessed in many ways. Progress happens daily. Earlier this week a Reiser Relief group attended the dedication of the Cecelia Kathryn Duffy memorial school in Marfranc. Built by Haitians hands and managed by Haitians, the school is already a positive force in the community and a symbol of hope.
But there is suffering in Haiti too, and we are called, as followers of Jesus Christ, to act with mercy in the face of suffering.
So I cry for the children in the orphanage who are suffering from malnutrition, from lack of shelter, education and sanitation. During our time there I made a lame attempt to talk to a couple of the children. I watched other team members engage and embrace them. But for the most part I stood apart, disengaged and overwhelmed. I couldn’t wait to leave. I felt like a failure. I didn’t know what to do about this orphanage. I still don’t.
As I look ahead to Holy Week and reflect on the passion in the Gospel of Luke, my thoughts today are with Peter. He was confident the day before the crucifixion that he would follow Jesus to death. But he failed, denying Christ three times. And then Jesus looked at him, with what? Was He angry or disappointed? I doubt it. Peter went on to be a leader and perpetuate the continuation of Christ's ministry. I believe that Jesus looked at him with forgiveness and understanding.
I arrived in Haiti a few days ago giddy with excitement, confident in our ministry. In retrospect, many moments in the past days exceeded expectations. My heart overflows with blessings.
Today I pray for mercy for my failures as a missionary. I leave Haiti broken, again and again, bewildered by God’s call to me and my responsibilities with Reiser Relief.
I give myself, broken and imperfect, to this ministry. Give me the strength, God, to allow your mercy to flow through. Forgive me. I need your mercy to act with mercy.