Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heartbroken

My heart is so heavy tonight as I sit and think about all the devastation that has consumed the nation of Haiti. I won't pretend to be an expert on the island, but it has a very special place in my heart. My former church in Alabama had three full time missionaries in Haiti and I had the honor of knowing all three. I had many conversations with them and saw many pictures and videos over the years and that led to an extreme burden for the country.

A few years ago I was employed by a Christian television station and I produced a 10 minute package on Haiti. I spent weeks and weeks poring over video and interviewing missionaries there. It became one of the best packages that I ever put together. I became so entranced by the stories I heard that I did three segments on my kids television show on Haiti. We interviewed missionaries and asked other kids in the viewing area to pray for Haiti. Rob and I began to financially support two children in Cape Haitian and then we had the privilege to actually go to Haiti.

I met these people. I saw the extreme poverty. I prayed with the sick. I danced with the children. I used the little bit of French that I knew to speak Creole to the natives. I hung out in a make shift hospital with some elderly women and I hugged them. I played soccer with some local boys. And I cried. I wept over the helplessness of their situation.

Rob and I were so burdened by the plight of the children there that we gave an option at our wedding to adopt a child in lieu of wedding gifts. I was thrilled when 2 children were adopted and many donations were made to our foundation of choice- The Starfish kids. When Rob and I were choosing a honeymoon spot, we chose the Dominican Republic. A main reason for this choice was that it was on the same island as Haiti and we wanted to see how one island could support extreme poverty at the same time as extreme luxury.

I say all of this not to claim any superior knowledge of the island but rather to give a small bit of background information on how much Rob and I have felt connected to Haiti over the years. And I am so incredibly sick tonight. I don't think you can even begin to imagine what the conditions are like there- and this was before the earthquake that hit the island yesterday.

I have never ever seen such extreme poverty. It is considered a fifth world nation. There is no infrastructure, no sewage system, nothing. Families sleep on boxes if they are lucky. We saw concrete foundations that were considered homes. I wish that people here in the US understood that even a very small one bedroom apartment would be a luxurious mansion to so many others. The unemployment rate is 90%. The food that is sold on the streets is contaminated and rotting. The streets are littered with rot, feces, garbage, and fires. Witchcraft is the main religion in the country and we went to sleep at night to the sounds of voo doo drums banging.

Yet, there was hope. There are many Christian organizations with missionaries doing amazing things. As I alluded to earlier, Rob and I support a ministry called Starfish kids which allows Haitian children to go to school and it feeds them and gives them clothing. When we went to Haiti I was able to see with my own eyes where my money was going. It is a wonderful organization that is changing the lives of the children in Haiti. We also met children at a local church and they were so happy to see us. I don't know where they got the clothes they had on, but they were dressed in the most beautiful party dresses and they waited outside for hours to meet the group from my church. Tears are pouring out of eyes as I write this and I am praying that they are safe.

I don't know what to do. I just needed to blog to process this. My heart is telling me to jump on a plane and go help, but my head is telling me to wait and pray. We will be donating to Samaritan's Purse until we feel that there is anything further that we can do, and I would urge you to do the same. I cannot stress enough that this country was in need of help before this happened. I cannot imagine what it must be like now. Please pray for the people. Pray for the children. Pray that they will come to know the one true Savior. Pray for help.

A few pictures from our trip to Haiti taken in 2005.

These were some wonderful women waiting at a free health clinic set up at the missionary compound we were staying at in Cape Haitian.

A woman cooking food in what would be considered to be her kitchen.

There is no sewage system to speak of. The streets are littered with waste.

This is me with a precious little girl from our church, Garrett. We are working with a translator to see if Garrett can play with the local children.

Rob took along his video camera and he spent a lot of our trip delighting little boys who had never seen themselves on camera before.

Rob led worship several evenings for the local families and I captured most of the trip on video. I used the footage when I got home to put together a video to raise awareness and money for the people of Haiti. I only pray that it did some good.

3 comments:

Jen said...

i couldn't agree more, lauren. haiti is the one place i have never been able to get out of my mind, the one place i have never been able to truly process, the one place i just couldn't make sense of, the one place that contained utter beauty and utter depravity at the same time.

starnes family said...

Lauren, what an amazing connection you have. We are praying, too. What a devastating event.

Stacy said...

Thank you for this post -- while you may think it's just a way for you to process the unfathomable, it really helps readers connect to the realities of poverty in Haiti. I often wonder about our Fredo (Starfish Kid), and I pray that he's okay tonight.