Oh boy… it’s been so long since I’ve written anything – I have tons of things I want to share! I want to write about the experiences we had with our first “official” Water Project for Haiti team – the group that came down from our home town of Harrisburg, PA – because we had an AWESOME week. I want to write about how hard it is having your heart in two places, especially when loved ones are in need and we can’t be there for them. I still want to write about how God is all about Do-Overs, because He shows us time and time again that He is a God of second chances (see Too Much and Not Enough).
But, I know me, and I know that I’ll take too much time thinking and processing and drafting and editing. Ultimately, nothing will get posted. I’m pretty predictable that way.
So instead, I’m going to shy away from those topics, at least for now, and go in a totally different direction.
Recently, a friend of ours became ill. We visited him at his home, at the request of his brother who works as one of our security guards. After a quick exam by a visiting American doctor, we all came to the same conclusion: the man had had a stroke. (Apparently, this is pretty common in Haiti because of the diet.)
Philip went to the hospital when he first fell ill. They did a brief exam and sent him home
with some vitamins, blood pressure medicine, and aspirin. A few days later, with no noticeable improvement, his family moved him to a local church’s prayer room. The infirmed live here until they are well enough to leave.
In our first-world lives, it’s hard to envision, imagine, or appreciate what it’s like living in a prayer room. The room is big – maybe 25’ x 40’ – and built of concrete block. Though there are a few small windows to help with air flow, it’s pretty hot inside. People sleep on mats that are, at best, 3-4” thick and likely brought from home. They provide little comfort from the hard concrete floor. Family members are responsible for feeding, bathing, laundry – everything associated with personal care. If they’re lucky, they may find a bench to sit on. I did see a chair outside during one of our recent visits. It’s a far, far cry from any kind of care facility most of us are accustomed to.
My first visit to the prayer room was with the American doctor who wanted to check on Philip before returning to the States. We were accompanied by Mamane, Philip’s brother (and our security guard). While there, we had Philip do a few exercises, then knelt by his side, laid hands on him and prayed. We bid a “pase bon nwit” (have a good night) to others in the prayer room as we left. After all, it was getting dark and we needed to get back to the compound.
Fast forward two weeks… a team of young adults arrived from Missouri. I mentioned to them that we have a friend who could use some prayer – would they be interested in praying with him? The response was an immediate yes. Once again, Mamane accompanied us on our visit. After all, this is family, and we can see that he loves his little brother very much.
During this visit, we had an opportunity to learn more about the others who had come for prayer. There is Miguel, who has some kind of stomach ailment – perhaps an ulcer? Cevlin, who according to her family, is not right in the head. Leo, who has unexplained swelling in his legs and feet that came on very suddenly. Aronson, who is still struggling with the loss of two family members in the 2010 earthquake and is now dealing with trembling in one leg. And of course, Philip. We prayed over each of them.
I would love to tell you that there was miraculous healing when we prayed over our Haitian brothers and sister, but that didn’t happen, and that’s not what this post is about. What struck me most about that evening was the walk home, and the conversation between Mamane and me. It is one that I will never forget. At least, I hope I never forget it.
Mamane was grateful, so very grateful, that we went with him to the prayer room. He emphasized how much people appreciate it when others come to pray, especially Blancs (whites) because everyone knows that God pays more attention to the prayers of white people, and He answers them more quickly.
Did you catch that?
Everyone knows that God pays more attention to the prayers of white people, and He answers them more quickly.
There is a lot about Haiti that will tug at your heart on a regular basis. Kids in tattered clothes. The constant ask for food or money. People without access to medical care. Animals that are mistreated and starving. Injustice abounds. But hearing Mamane say these words? That’s pretty high up there on the list.
I explained to my dear friend that his thinking is flawed. I told him that when he prays and when I pray, God hears our prayers the same way. When God sees Mamane, He doesn’t see black. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see white. He sees His children. And He loves all of us equally.
Mamane smiled and said “OK” a lot, but I know that this is a deeply, deeply seeded belief. He told me that maybe it’s because a lot of people in Haiti know God, but they don’t love Him. I explained to him that the same thing happens in the U.S.
Suffice it to say, there are a lot of things that are universal.
I know that our little chat likely won’t change things, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss an opportunity to remind Mamane and Philip and all the others that God loves us all the same; that He hears us all the same. And though I sometimes worry that when healing comes, people will say it’s because God answered the prayers of the Blancs, we continue to visit the prayer room and lay hands and pray. After all, not praying doesn’t seem like a very good option.
Why am I sharing all of this with you??? Good question. It’s one I’ve been wrestling with myself. But, I think what’s going on in my head is two-fold. First, I realize how very lucky, fortunate, blessed LOVED I am because I cannot relate to Mamane’s words. I know and live in unconditional love every day. Wow, what a gift.
Of course, I can’t help but wonder how many of you feel the same way that Mamane does. Do you think that someone else’s prayers are more credible or carry more weight than your own? Goodness, I hope you say “no.” If not, well, perhaps we need to talk.