For some reason this morning I was driven from the comforts of my bed at hours when I am ungodly. Baggy sweat pants, hair a mess and an oversized tshirt draped over my body. Barefoot, I stepped out my door, whistled for my dog and started walking down the dusty road. I did not know where I was walking to, but my feet kept moving so I just followed them. It was still dark and the cold wind coming off the ocean was stinging my arms. Uneven and sometimes sharp rocks were below my feet. I live in Jubilee, the ghetto of Gonaives, Haiti. Roads are not paved, dogs are not leashed. The sides of the roads are lined with canals that smell like open sewer system and piles of trash. It isn’t a beautiful walk.
This is my life. I’ll be honest I am not often driven from my bed on a 4 am barefoot prayer walk around the city. No, I enjoy the comforts of my bed too much. Rather my life is that of attempting to hear God and trying to follow Him, wherever He is going, no matter the hour. We have team after team come down in droves to see what is going on in our section of this Earth. One of the questions that will inevitably be asked after a few days here, after one has seen the dirt homes, the muddy bare feet, the hungry faces and the sorrow all around is, ‘How do you guys do it?’ Our answer changes depending on our mood. Sometimes we explain that it does get to us and we sometimes question God, or cry in frustration, or throw things; as unmissionary like as that sounds. Other times we will explain the joy that is here and the beauty we see in the dirt. We explain the small changes that are huge, the kids learning, and the hope we hold onto. Sometimes we will just shrug not knowing the answer.
Sometimes we are simply caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.
I very clearly remember a poster hung in my health class in 7th grade. There was this old saggy man, grey skin, barely 5 strings of hair on his head. He looked deathly sick and disgusting. Not unlike Gollum from Lord of the Rings. The line read, “If cigarettes did to your outside, what they do to your inside, nobody would ever pick them up.” I was sold, cigarettes were nasty and stupid in my mind from there on out. I wonder if we were to look inside a humans heart, would it look similar to Jubilee? Broken homes, life being choked out by unfertile ground. Hard soil, unsuitable for planting. Sharp rocks, open sewers and piles of trash untouched. Is this the outward appearance of what we do to our own hearts?
“and we all, with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.