St. Peter's Blog 'What a Day!' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

What a Day!

Image Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

Day Two in Haiti, a long and mind provoking onne...

It's late now in Haiti. It was a long and busy day with lots of driving. And it's not easy to convey the stark images of this country and the contrast it provides to our life style. Oh, this is a very poor country with almost no functioning infrastructure. You visit places and you wonder: where to start here? No good roads, no clean water, lots of arid land due to earlier deforestation. Haiti is just a two hour flight away from the South Florida Coast and yet, it is an entirely different world! It is like day and night!

Our tour guides brought us again to three places today.  At 8 a.m. we board the bus and drive an hour and a half through slums and huts and arid landscapes on a rocky and dusty road to visit a small community in-land that has recently drawn the attention of Food for the Poor. Another crowd gathers around us. Some of the children are barefoot, many lack clothing and there is no water source or electricity. For the most part people live in shanties and huts stitched together with straw and mud. Some have tarps or fences made of scrap sheet metal for protection, but those are all very, very primitive living quarters, often no more than 120 square feet big, occupied by five or six people. During the rainy season they are in trouble and sometimes have to stand during the night to avoid sleeping in mud. There are no showers in sight. There is no garden surrounding this area, just a few plants; some chicks run around, a few hogs are tied to a tree. What do these people live from? The community is called Foudouche. Walking into the home of a single mom who lost her husband recently, seeing four skinny children who eat very infrequently, looking in her face, it tells a sad story. The people from Food for the Poor are trying to find a place to drill a well for water. It costs about $ 6,700 and would make a difference. They are also assessing this community to possibly build a number of sturdy homes, with lots of community help of course. Those are just the most pressings needs. Then what? It can be easily overwhelming here. Aid workers have to have at the same time a broad vision and a "one family at a time" approach.  I am glad for the Haitian people working here to make a difference. We give our goodies to them so that they can distribute.

Another 45 minutes down the dusty, dirty road we see what a sturdy house can look like. We are stopping in Manneville, but don't picture a village, please. There are a few concrete structures on an elevation above the Bay, actually a quite beautiful location, but again there is nothing but rocks and dust, wild cactus and a few more useful plants here and there. The concrete shell of a house has been finished and we are there to paint it in a nice light blue color. Fifteen people get that done in two hours. I think they put us on the job more to have a good excuse to be there and to interact with the people who of course are involved in the construction process. A single mom with children will be the recipient of this house. Her name was Michelle or something like that. A door is put in and she gets the keys to the house by one of our pastors. Which is a big deal. Not many people have houses, let alone keys or a sense of privacy in this part of the world. In her little speech she thanks God and the people who made it happen and expresses hope that others will be blessed in a similar manner. She was really quite humble and thoughtful. There are other con create houses still in the process of being built. Some boys are eyeing up a soccer ball that Tom, a Missouri Synod pastor from Indiana (and my room mate) brought. But where are these kids going to play in this rock desert? They will find a place, I'm sure. We are reminded that Haitians are resilient people.

Our last stop is an orphanage run by Father Moises, a Catholic priest with a baby face who looks at first glance like a 25 year old. I had to ask him and found out that he is really forty years of age and a dedicated servant of Christ. The orphanage has a school which is frequented not only by the kids who live here but also from the surrounding communities. It is situated on a steep hill above the bay. The bus aches up the rocky road and we are touring this place of hope, led by this young priest in a starched white shirt, black shoes and a color. He is constantly worried about funding for this place and also about follow up opportunities for his children and students once they are 16 years old and leave school. Haiti is no place for easy answers, but it is the everyday heroes such as Father Moises who give this country hope. He is thinking about developing some  kind of business that his kids could be trained in, that could also make money for the orphanage. He is thinking about a bakery. A wind farm also wouldn't be bad in this place to produce electricity.                    

Can we do more than pray? It is such a hard life here for so many people. God, help us to be more mindful for the plight of our neighbors and let us be a blessing for them!  By 6:15 p.m. We return to a hotel, another world again. Those worlds are very close together here on this island.

Pray for the people of Haiti!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

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