Saturday, December 7, 2013

HAITI :: Methodist on a mission

I met Eric on Saturday morning.
It was our last day of the trip [Haiti, November 2013]. I know now, after talking to him for more than 30 min, why he introduced himself to myself, a stranger sitting in the shade, sifting through countless photos on the computer. 

It’s because Eric knows everyone and he didn’t know me (yet!). He is one of those people that may be in the background, but knows every nuance of the property, every employee, and every guest that has been here over the past 48 years. This 55-year-old man, sporting a handsome smile and creased face, has been working here all his life. 

After a short minute, he quickly got to the point of our conversation: Eric wanted to know if this was my first time in Haiti and what I was doing in his country. I shared that it was my 9th visit over the past 3 years and I was excited to be a part of my church’s first mission trip to Haiti. We worked at a Methodist school in the mountains, Ecole Methodiste d’Duplan, and a school / orphanage for special needs children in Port-au-Prince, St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 

At this news, his eyes twinkled and he began sharing his own deep thoughts about people with handicaps and how God uses them to work in our lives. I regret not having a video camera pointed at this man’s friendly face to fully and accurately relay his thoughts, but alas, I will need to paraphrase from memory. 

Eric told me that everyone is the same. We are all born into this world as God’s creatures. Some are normal (his word) and some are not. Some can hear; some are deaf. Some can walk, while others have an accident that takes away their ability to move. As normal (his word) people, at any time, we could lose our hearing or our sight or our ability to walk from many circumstances. In essence, we are all the same. God doesn’t see our differences – God loves everyone and uses our differences to give opportunities for service. 

As he looked over my shoulder at the photos of St. Vincent’s kids, he told me that God calls each of us to do something different. I nodded fervently and began to walk him through the pictures, telling him about each child: Oxilus, Judith, Marie Line, Mackenson... 

Sonya and Oxilus
When we finished looking at the photos, he pointed to my chest, looked me squarely in the eye, and said that God wrote it on my heart to work with handicapped children. He said he could see the love in my eyes for those kids. It was the children that kept me coming back to Haiti. At these words, I teared up and replied “these children are my family. That’s why I come back again and again. There are so many opportunities to help, to love and to be loved.” Now it was his turn to nod and smile back at me. 

He pointed to himself and said God didn’t call him to work with handicapped children. God called him to fix things. His love is keeping up the property and buildings that make up the guesthouse; keeping the guesthouse cars running reliably (a never-ending task in this country); driving mission teams to and from their worksites; fixing the showers and the toilets; maintaining the swimming pool. 

THAT is his calling. It is what God wrote on his heart. And he has followed that calling for 48 years. Through his service at the guesthouse, people like me can come and serve in our different ways. We can follow our individual callings, wherever they may lead. 

It is through our varied strengths that we are able to make a difference in this world and be made whole by serving others. I guess that’s what’s makes me a Methodist: belonging to a church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world. Putting faith and love into action. Sounds quite like The Red Thread Promise to me.

(Editorial by Sonya Yencer, TRTP Vice President)

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