We have been quite busy lately which means that there is a lot of material for some blog posts. Today, I am privileged to share this space with a dear friend who has been to Haiti more times than I can remember. That doesn’t mean that the experiences aren’t fresh, or easy.
Thank you, Diana, for sharing from your heart.
“Will you come and see my ‘muddaire’?” my friend asks again. “Yes, I will come”, my reluctant reply, feeling guilty about the excuses I’d made on many prior visits and knowing from past experience it is going to be difficult at best.
Smiling proudly he leads me across the busy street and into a narrow lane beside the church. Water flows beside us but it is anything but a pleasant sight. We cross a few planks over the water and I pray they hold. We walk between little houses made of mud and stone, past piles of rubbish, rocks, discarded broken things, he walking quickly with familiarity, me slower, picking my way.
A dog barks, a rooster crows, a baby cries in a curtained doorway where older eyes silently watch me pass on by. No such thing as privacy here in these tight quarters.
Just beyond a cactus fence to which a goat is tied my friend happily says, “this is my house, I’ll get my muddaire.” After a minute she appears, a tiny waif, not more than 80 pounds, ragged black sundress over her bony body, feet bare. She does not look at me. “Hello, madame, I’m happy to see you again,” I say, trying to be sincere. She slides down the wall and squats beside the house, her son still smiling proudly stands beside her. She is not blind but her eyes don’t seem to see a thing, nor her ears to hear the few words I’ve spoken in kreyol.
“Will you pray for my muddaire?” the son asks. She nods her head slightly in the affirmative when I ask if that will be o.k. I thank God for her and ask for Grace and Mercy and Blessing, my heartfelt prayer seeming small and insufficient but is asked of a God who is MORE than sufficient. My young friend is fairly beaming, “Now come and see my ‘faddaire’,” he says taking my hand.
Around the corner is an old man in a blue shirt sitting in a chair across the small ‘lakou’ (courtyard). His face is eagerly turned toward our voices, hand extended in greeting. Shaking his wrinkled hand I greet him and we make small talk. He is blind. In a dim room behind him I can see a sickly thin woman sitting in a child sized chair wearing nothing but a skirt. “Li fou,” she says quietly. “He’s crazy” she repeats, head nodding towards my young friend. I feel the need to defend him, though to all who know him, mental challenges are obvious. “He’s a good MAN who works very hard,” I say in kreyol, “A good man.” She looks away.
The request for prayer is repeated and obliged now for the father, once again, the appeal to God for Grace and Mercy and Blessing for the family. “Yes, dear Lord, please, in case you’ve somehow (impossibly) overlooked this place.”
“Li fou” the woman mutters again inside the dim room, as if taunting us to keep noticing her…. “don’t forget me!”
Seemingly oblivious to her epithet my friend makes one more request, “now come and pray for my sister, o.k.?” She looks away but nods her assent for prayer, so I step into the room and come to her side. It is only as I start to pray that I see why she has no blouse. She is holding a wad of rags on her lap beneath an enormous discolored cancerous tumor where her right breast should be. My spirit gasps and screams silently, “Oh! Dear God!” My brain is racing, how shall I pray? “God, you KNOW her, you SEE her, please HELP her…”
The Spirit says calmly, “just as you have been doing, ask for Grace and Mercy and blessing. The Father asks you to join Jesus in this difficult prayer.”
So I pray again…. “Grace, Mercy, Blessing….. Please.” If I said anything else, I don’t remember what it was. I stand by her side stroking her corn-row braided head for a while, not wanting to leave, then slowly turn and walk back the way I’d come.
Pungent animal and human dung and pots of cooking food smells override the odor that lingers in my nose. It’s hard to see the path through my tears. Nothing will erase what my eyes and my spirit have seen, what I was meant to see on this day, joining Jesus in this place.
“Bondye, tanpri, Mizerikod. Mizerikod tanpri.”
A Proverb, Author Unknown,
“Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them he cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving Creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?” God replied, “I did do something. I made you.”