I recently returned home from a short-term missions trip to Haiti. Our family is actively involved in a small rural community called Neply, about a 2-3 hour drive from the capital city Port-au-Prince. It is a peaceful, quaint village surrounded by sugar cane fields and in the distance, a mountain range touches the sky.
Life is simple here. Women do laundry by hand and then hang it out to dry. There is no such thing as processed food. All cooking is 100% organic and homemade. Bathing is done in a charming, little river. Children are always running around, ready and raring to play. As people pass by, they actually say hello. There is no such thing as a stranger. Everyone in the village knows you by name.
We, as a family, frequent this foreign country. It is like our second home. Our youngest son has been adopted from Haiti and for the past three years, my husband has directed a medical clinic for MyLifeSpeaks. Our two daughters can’t seem to get enough of it. They spend holidays and summer breaks away because they are passionate about serving the poor and helping others. They want to make life better here and willingly sacrifice to do as much as they can.
I am incredibly grateful for all of the life lessons our family has learned. The Haitian people are absolutely beautiful! In a land where food is scarce and you’re never sure when your next meal will come…I stand amazed at the generosity of some. Last week I helped dish out hundreds of meals to children who may only eat once a day.
I sat at the table getting to know them. With language barriers standing in our way, at least we were able to exchange names. There is always a grin and roar of laughter when I share my name is Madame Sue…which in Creole translates to “Town Drunk.” Who knew?
They patiently wait for the food to be dispersed and then something extraordinarily unusual occurs. You see teamwork come into play. They push all their bowls piled with rice and beans to the center of the table, and each scrap some off into one bowl.
This bowl becomes heaping full. Filled to the brim. In my mind, I am wondering “What in the world?” Do they not like the meat topping with carrots and herbs? I ponder, “Is it too spicy for them?”
But later I learn that they all are hungry. In fact, this might be their only meal. But despite the growling stomachs of everyone in the room, they know who needs this meal the most. They willingly give up some of their own.
The heaping bowl is pushed over to a child…a child who honestly looks like everyone else. However, they know each other so well from living in tight community that their friend needs a helping hand.
Tears come rolling down my face and conviction settles in. I ask myself, “What am I scraping off? If I sat in their shoes, would I think like them?” I cannot think of a more accurate depiction of the early church found in Acts 4. They willingly gave even when they had barely anything for themselves.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32
They knew the needs of those around them. And then they willingly shared. They scraped off their bowls until not a morsel was left. They gave their everything.
I wonder if America could change if we started to live this way. To think our possessions are not our own, but actually a gift from heaven above. Not something to be hoarded or spent on a whim….but rather, something to used for the common good.
What are you scraping off? Is it leaving a visible mark behind?