Under the Haitien Sun

June 22, 2017

My two daughters and I just returned from 7 days in Cap Haitien, Haiti with my good friend Cara and her two teenage daughters. We went down there with 40 other folks associated with the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation to help put on a camp called Surf City.

This was our second trip to Haiti and the Joshua House – the place where we stayed while we were down there last summer. My group was especially excited this year because we were told there was air conditioning (eureka!) in the Joshua House, unlike last year. So, our bags were lighter because we didn’t pack our bulky battery-operated fans like we did last year.

We even packed blankets and leggings because we thought we would be cold at night. While the fans we brought last year were surprisingly effective, we knew the newly installed A/C would be a welcome delight.

Well, well, well.

When we landed in Haiti, we learned there was no A/C in our room. The person who innocently gave us the faulty information was back in the USA, I’m sure bundled up in his freezing house, having no idea his information was wrong. I wanted to hop the Caribbean and bonk him over the head with my battery-operated fan, but wait, I didn’t have a fan…I was told I didn’t need one this time.

I was scared it was going to be a long week.

But it was a week of provisions from God I’ll never forget.

We learned that our trip last year was just like putting our big toe in the water to test it. Of the shallow end. This year’s trip was like jumping in head first. Into the deep end.

My bed was far below the window, so when the breeze (if there were one) blew in the room at night, it would bypass me altogether. My hormones associated with my rapidly approaching 50th birthday didn’t appreciate my bed placement. But, hey, I learned that my sweat glands function just fine.

To top it off, a caged dog decided to start barking at midnight each night. Apparently, dogs are not prone to laryngitis. When he was done barking around 4 am, he handed the microphone to the resident rooster so he could start his cockadoodle-dooing until daybreak. Did I mention daybreak was around 5 am each morning?

With all that said, I averaged about 5 broken hours of sleep a night.

And to my sheer amazement, I was not tired the whole week like I should have been.

On Monday and Wednesday, we were down the hill from the Joshua House working Surf City on the grounds of the children’s orphanage, under a pavilion and on the adjacent field from 8:30 am until 3 pm. On Tuesday and Thursday, we took the 150+ orphans to the beach by a bus, open air truck and vans – the beach was a hard hour’s drive away.

You don’t just take a leisurely drive in Haiti. Any drive anywhere is a total beat down. Many of the roads are in horrible condition with pot holes the size of Jupiter, so our adept drivers would have to serpentine all over the place to keep us from falling in the abyss of the pot holes. But on the bright side, my spine got aligned a few times and I was shocked to learn my stomach was tougher than I thought. I couldn’t believe I didn’t throw up.

A hot lunch was prepared by amazing Haitien women every day…every day…for 200 people. Rice, beans, fried plantains, beets and a chicken leg in each box. Because of the amount of people they were preparing lunch for, it wasn’t ready before 2:30 pm each day. Since we ate breakfast at 7 am each day, it was a long haul waiting for lunch.

You would think our energy was shot, given the heat, the activity level and lack of food on our tummies. But amazingly, we were all fine and our energy level was high.

On Thursday, my 16-year-old daughter cut her big toe pretty bad at the beach. As she’s crying and I’m looking at the blood flowing from her toe wondering what we were going to do about it, out of the blue, Dr. Wislyn saunters up to us.

Dr. Wislyn is a medical rock star in the community, and a graduate of the older orphanage called EBAC. We are fortunate to have known him for the past year through our time in Haiti. We had no idea he was at the beach that day. He just showed up. He was our resident angel that day.

When he saw Lizzie’s toe and the amount of sand in the hole of it, he went to his car and returned with a scalpel (!!), plastic gloves, gauze and antiseptic wash. He told us parasites live in the sand at that beach, so he had to dig the sand out with the scalpel. After she passed out a couple of times from the pain of the procedure (I didn’t feel so great either just watching), she was all bandaged up and good to go because of Dr. Wislyn.

One of the most amazing things I noticed the entire week was the love the orphans had for each other and the joy they possessed amidst their circumstances. The older ones took care of the little ones and the little ones looked up to the older ones. It was a sight to behold. Their concern for each other became our concern. Their joy became our joy.

Mysteriously enough, there was a deep-seated joy our group had on this trip. We were sweaty, having bathroom issues, sleep deprived and rationing our snacks. But we laughed our heads off and bonded with the 40 other people from the USA we had never met before.

When our trip ended and we were back home again in free-flowing A/C and the modern conveniences of a first world country, I realized that I see God’s provision most when I am in need the most.

In Haiti, I needed to cope with being miserably hot 24/7. I needed supernatural energy with little sleep and less food than I’m used to so I could show the orphans love. I needed to be kept from throwing up on the bouncy van rides. I needed my daughter’s sand-packed cut toe to be fixed and free of parasites. I needed joy.

God provided all of those things I needed. I know this because I had no means of providing those things for myself. That’s the beauty of being in need. I see his provision in ways I wouldn’t see otherwise.

Are you in need of God’s tangible provision in your life today? Just tell him you can’t do it on your own and wait and see what will happen and watch the supernatural unfold.

I’ll bet you a battery-operated fan that your sleep will be sweet…even if the air bypasses your bed and the dog won’t stop barking.









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