Book Club Channel
One Year Later: Letters From Haiti
I am blessed every single day of my life to be with people, many who are Haitian, who inspire me, bring me joy, make me laugh, and encourage me. From my family and friends to co-workers and colleagues, there are people all around me fully engaged in doing what they can to improve themselves, their families, their communities, and their country. It's in good people in Haiti and elsewhere and in God's grace where I find my hope.
John Engle is Co-Director of Haiti Partners.
As I was driving away the feeling engulfed me. What had just happened? Was that a dream or did I really brush up against something truly extraordinary? Is that what Jesus in our midst looks like? Did I just come into the center of God's will for a few minutes? Had I been part of a privileged moment?
Earlier in the afternoon a week ago, on December 31, 2010, I had driven to this downtown ghetto to spend time with a couple of gang members in the neighborhood. They were still living in tents one year after the terrible earthquake. Over the past three years I had been facilitating dialogues to promote peace between members of this poor community, including the gangs, and members of the formal business community, the well-to-do. Now, as a gesture of goodwill, I had gone down to spend some time with the guys just shooting the breeze over a couple of beers.
It was amazing. They loved that I would take the time to come and be with them without any agenda other than sitting in a plastic chair and talking about family, sports, or the events of a horrible year gone by. As afternoon grew into evening, other members of the community would drop by to say hello, marvel at my presence, and walk on. Then darkness started moving in and I knew that it was time for me to go home. I asked them if I could pray for them, half expecting to hear embarrassed laughter and crude jokes. Instead these hard men readily agreed. We formed a small circle. Some stayed out, yet we had a good group and I lifted all of us up in prayer to the Lord. It was short but sweet in the intimacy of the unlighted street.
What a joy divine. What a privileged way to end the year.
Louis-Henri Mars is director of EuraOdos.
In Haiti, where centuries have proven that lasting progress is elusive, hope seems harder and harder to come by. I remember when hope used to be fun and easy to find. The earthquake did a lot to change that. I want those days to return, but hope isn't being handed out like it used to be and is become increasingly harder to manufacture.
Honestly, it's never been easy in Haiti. Life teeters on a bleeding edge. Mistakes are costly and often irreversible. Hope is not some flippant emotion here, it's a genuine gamble.
It's easy to be critical of hope in the face of this great adversity. For the most part, I suspect that critics are being pragmatic. I certainly get the value in that, but I'm not really interested in the extremes, even the ones that spare me a bruise or two. If there is something to be hopeful about, I sure don't want to miss it and if bruises will grow me into a better version of myself, then I could stand to have a few more.