Here are a few little blogs I wrote during my time in Haiti this last July.
IKEA Opens in Haiti!
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
OK, so there obviously isn't an IKEA opening in Haiti... but I've been asking myself lately what would drive me, or other lovers of stylistically-cheap furniture, to wait in line for hours? To be reduced to depending on animal-instincts to fight to survive? To lie? To cheat?
IKEA opened in Denver this week. Which is sort of a big deal. Apparently there were radio ads in the city urging employers to give grace to employees fighting IKEA traffic. People lined up outside for days, incentivized by IKEA with coupons and free stuff. Seriously? Days? I mean, I like me some Swedish home goods, regardless of their impossibility of assembly, but is the mega-store closing after one day or something? Oh how I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when they opened the doors; certain madness.
I took this picture out in the village of Corail a few weeks ago. A group was here visiting from Indiana and bought and packaged food bags to give out to those in need in this village. Which sounds great, right...?
By the time we arrived, people were starting to gather around in anticipation. Once instructed, they all lined up nicely (and remained organized for a bit of time, at least).
I couldn't help but think of how different my life is from theirs. We are all children of the same God, and yet I can't imagine having to depend on a truck full of white people to feed my children. While order remained, I thought of things that I see people waiting in line for where I live. The release of the iPad and the line outside the Apple Store at Flatirons Mall came to mind, mega-blow-out sales at wedding dress stores, Black Friday. Stuff.
I apolgize if my words seem a bit jumbled, but I have been struggling with this topic for over a week now; struggling to wrap my mind around it and how to best communicate how I felt that day. So I am sure that much of my own confusions and struggles are showing through here...
That day in Corail was hard for me. It was hard for me to see brothers and sisters of mine being reduced to lying and cheating their way to a bag of food that may last them a few days. I felt my heart break as I saw children being used as pawns of deceit and trickery. Seeing children scramble and fight over a travel-sized tube of toothpaste was just too much for me.
The ride home was a somber one. I prayed. I asked God to give me a sense of comfort in the fact that 'well, at least they have food.'
Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
The Jennings’ family is a family of acronyms. Just listen to us talk to one another – “PD”, “OOC”, “SOML”, “WGE”… I could continue for several pages. Because this is such a part of regular conversation with my siblings, I often think in acronyms. Tonight, I am thinking “HBR”: Holy Buckets Rain.
Last night was hot and no one in the house slept much at all, so when it started to drizzle this evening, I thought of the cool air the rain might bring along. What I am hearing now is not just rain, though... it is HBR.
I am falling into a comfort and routine at the Guest House and that allowed me to take a couple of hours today and visit the Maternity Center during Child Development class. I sat and took the blood pressure of the moms in our program. They sat still with the cuff around their bicep and their wrist gently resting on my knee. I would stroke her baby’s foot or make small-talk with her while we waited. Their smiles were sweet and inviting.
As HBR rain is falling tonight, I can’t help but think of them again. I don’t know all of their stories at all, but for the poor in Haiti, this much rain is dangerous. From tent-homes that are continually deteriorating even without rain storms to leaky tin-roofed shacks, rain is at least an inconvenience.
And so I pray, and ask you to pray. That their strength will be renewed in the Lord and they would know feel His ultimate shelter and security. That their tent would hold on a bit longer. That the rain would let up quickly.
“….and how much more valuable you are than the birds!” – Excerpt from Luke 12
The Airport Embrace
Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Sometimes, though not very often, I really get to thinking. I often think about love, mostly maternal love and how I am looking forward to someday knowing what that is all about. I think about people and why we are the way we are… and how we’re so crazily loved by a Creator who chooses to love us. Today, I started thinking. I was standing among a swarm of sweaty people outside the airport in Port au Prince, picking up bits and pieces of conversations as people passed by with their newly arrived loved ones. The joy on their faces was obvious and their excitement hardly contained.
My attention turned toward a striking woman of tall stature walking toward my direction. She was dressed beautifully and her hair shone as she made her way to the crowd. She had a strong confidence about her and a stern face… like she had somewhere to be. Once she was about 12 feet in front of me, she saw who she was looking for. A sweet-faced little girl of about four years busted her way through the crowd and jumped into the lowered arms of her joyous mother. She lifted her and spun her around as tears of joy dripped gently from beneath her studded sunglasses.
I couldn’t help but wonder about their situation. How long had the mother been gone? Was she returning home, or did she live away from her daughter and was just visiting?
As a broadened my view as the reunited mother and daughter moved along past me, I was continually drawn to similar encounters. Elderly women meeting up with their children again and pride in their eyes as they kissed them, brothers sharing an embrace while laughing and smiling together.
About then, I started to forget (and believe me, before this, I certainly wasn’t forgetting) that I had been standing in the heat for over an hour, taking turns with my friend P at holding the small ‘Heartline’ sign over our heads in an attempt to create shade.
Admission time: I’m a dreamer. I continued to think about these people and how happy they were to see their loved ones. I thought about my family and how happy I am to see them after a few months. My thoughts turned into dreams. I day-dreamt about the ultimate embrace that we’ll one day have with our Creator and how utterly mindblowing and awesome that it will be. I tried to think of a number to exponentially multiply the joy that I saw on the faces of the mother and her daughter by, but of course I couldn’t. I dreamt about meeting Jesus and dancing with Him as we argue over who loves each other more. Oh, what an eternity that will be.