I just returned from my sixth trip to Haiti. Returning from my first trip was probably the hardest....readjusting to "normal" life after what I had seen. But this one is a close second.....I'm in a fog, broken-hearted, confused and at the same time, so FULL.
Yesterday, I heard a song I've heard a thousand times in a different way. The first line is "I can barely stand right now, everything is crashing down". This is exactly how I felt after visiting General Hospital just two short mornings ago. Twice during our week in Haiti, we couldn't go to General Hospital as we had planned. On our one visit there to the abandoned adults building, our team was so broken and wanted to return to help so bad that no one hesitated to get up extra early and help with breakfast so that we could go before we headed to the airport. The sacrifice was well worth it.
We arrived ready to serve.....we had met these people before....we knew their names and some of their stories and what help they would need. Within minutes every single person from our team was on their knees next to a patient on their thin foam pad on the floor.....giving baths, changing diapers, feeding, dressing wounds, praying and loving. My heart was so full....seeing each person do exactly what God called them to do with absolutely no hesitation. My heart broke for one man who had soiled his bed and was being treated brutally by the staff there.....naked on the cement floor with some kind of cleaner being thrown at him. So grateful that a few people from our team stepped in to clean him up, get him back on his bed, and pray over him while their tears drenched his body.
Luke 7:38 And standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Just as the sinful woman anointed Jesus before his crucifixion, I believe our team was anointing this man.....this man who was Jesus in his most distressing disguise. (Mother Theresa)
As things were settling down, I was able to paint some fingernails. As soon as I had finished painting the nails and praying over one younger girl, she got up and beckoned me to follow her to a place outside where they can shower. I didn't quite understand because there was no water, no showerhead, no soap. Just a cement floor and wall. With the help of others, we figured it out, got the supplies we needed, got her undressed, scrubbed her from top to bottom, brushed her teeth, powdered her neck and put a clean white dress on her.
While we were doing this, I noticed two men laying on the ground with some other Haitians around them. I wasn't quite sure why they were there (they weren't there when we arrived) or what was going on and was determined to ask once we finished the shower. It was soon discovered that these men had been dumped here by the ER hospital staff....literally next to the garbage cans. While others attended to the naked man face down on the cement closest to the garbage can, I went to the other man who was trying to put his pants on. I asked if he needed help and he said "wi". As I straightened out his pants to try to help him put them on, I realized that they were filthy. I looked down to see that he had no underwear and his body was also filthy and flies were covering his genitals and wounds. I immediately grabbed the tub of water we had used for the shower and used cloth upon cloth to clean him. It had been a long time since he was bathed. I discovered a cut on his genitals and asked for our nurse Judy to come over. One man on our team, Patrick, ran to the truck to give him some of his own clean clothes and as we dressed and bandaged this man, he screamed in pain. I figured out that the pain was behind his knees which he refused to straighten. I was able to get him to relax enough to see behind his knees......open yellow pussy wounds that I fought to keep flies off of as Judy cleaned and bandaged them. He screamed in pain again as we let his knees back down. He had been clutching money in his hand the entire time....I'm guessing all the money his family had when they dropped him off at the ER.....in the hopes it would be enough to pay for some help. He tried to give his money to Patrick. We were able to find a couple more mattresses so we were able to carry these two men into the "hospital". (if you can call it that - cement floors, corrugated metal walls, openings for doors and windows, no doctors) We were rushed for time, as we had to get on the road to make it to the airport on time. But as I was getting ready to leave, this man's eyes pulled me down to the ground next to him......over and over he cried mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi.......such gratefulness for just cleaning and clothing him, but how could I not. And how could someone else leave him naked, filthy, fly covered next to the trash.......how?
As we boarded the tap tap to leave, our entire team was in shock and tears. We clung to each other trying to absorb what we just witnessed. Men thrown out with the trash. We cried and prayed and cried some more.
The next lines of the song leave me longing: "Even though I don't know what your plan is, you make beauty from these ashes". I have no idea what is next, but God is stirring something inside of me and in so many I am close to. There are so many "ashes" around us......I am waiting for the "beauty". It's so hard to wait, but I know that God's "beauty" will be amazing.
The chorus of the song goes like this: "I've seen joy and I've seen pain, on my knees I call Your name, Here's my broken halleluliah". This week I saw so much joy especially on the day we took to the elders to the beach (probably my favorite day ever in Haiti) and so much pain at General Hospital (probably my hardest day ever in Haiti).
I am so full of joy and yet I am so broken. "I raise these empty hands to You........"