I remember coming back to America my first time, after spending a significant amount of time in Haiti. I did not break down until my mom took me to the grocery store, for me to choose whatever foods I wanted. As I walked through the isles and isles of available food at my fingertips, I started crumbling inside.
Culture shock can take your breath away and leave you in a puddle on the floor of a big grocery store. It does not wait til you are in the privacy of your own home (an unfortunate event).
One of my friends told me, “You will get use to it. Eventually you will transition between the two relatively seamlessly. You will just know: This is how America works and this is how Haiti works.” I swallowed those words like poison, ‘how can I ever just accept it? Injustice!’ My heart was in turmoil.
That was three years ago. One of the hardest parts about coming back to America now is not the transition period, or the culture shock, but this; this first blog being back. My friend was right, I have learned to adjust between the two countries. However, it is less about the way the countries work, and more about the similarities between the two countries that make the transition easier. I used to be highly focused on the differences: the stark contrast between pristine streets and sewage lined dirt roads.
Eventually the outer was stripped away. Eventually God whispered to me (or I heard for the first time) Look at the heart, not at the outside. Judge not the appearance. Strip it away and see the condition of the core.
For all of our differences- Haiti and America are the same. The problem in Haiti is not the rampant poverty, the lack of infrastructure, or the corruption. No, the problem is the heart. It is the same problem we have in America. In Haiti, the God of the masses is adulterated with a good dose of voodoo, confusion, and religiosity. In America, the God of the masses is contaminated with a sizable dose of patriotism, judgment, masks and again, religiosity. In both countries, God is bastardized.
My kids hunger more for love, than they do bread. In America, kids hunger more for love than they do the new iphone. We want to be witnessed. We want someone to regard us in delight. The pigmentation of your skin or the location of your house on a map matters not. The condition of humanity is the broken relationship. We strive, with every breath, to have somebody notice and desire us.
My goal in Haiti has changed from when I first moved there. No longer do I want to feed the hungry children with fresh bread. My desire, above even the hungry faces, is for the untainted love of God to be held in their hearts. Only He will satisfy their hungry soul.