Saturday, June 18, 2011

God's Beautiful Creation

"Mom, it's time to wake up."

I roll over and sleepily open my eyes. A cute, pajama clad boy is standing by the bed, one hand holding his special blanket and the other his favourite dog Cocoa.

"Okay, Jay. I'm coming."

I crawl sleepily out of bed and together we walk to the playroom and get comfortable on the couch.

Outside the early morning sun bathes the world in a golden glow as doves softly coo. It's so beautiful and peaceful.

Even in a country, known for her poverty, filth and chaos, God's beautiful creation shines through.

As I recall the beauty I've seen here, I remember the words of Psalm 19:1.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Friday, June 10, 2011


“Mom!” Jayden walks up to me half crying. A moment later he’s followed by Jason. “Will, where are you? Jayden just pushed “K” in the mud!”

“Jayden! You better go and say sorry.”

I grab him and march off to find K and her Mom but they’ve already gone home. One little girl, muddy and crying, and one upset Mother.

What to do? By the time we leave the party I still haven’t come up with an answer.

Maybe I’ll go apologize tomorrow when I see them at church, I think to myself. Then the self-justification begins: It wasn’t my fault that he pushed her in the mud, and I can’t supervise him 24/7, and besides that one incident, he did play really well.

Maybe I’ll just forget about the whole thing, sweep it under the rug, besides, the “Love and Logic” parenting book that I’ve been faithfully studying says not to make excuses or apologies for your children. That’s just teaching them they can do wrong and you will pick up the pieces. It’s not teaching them responsibility.

Responsibility, hmm, maybe I’ll make Jayden say sorry at church tomorrow. The arguments begin again: You know how Jayden says sorry. He says it at least 10 times a day and usually in a very cheerful manner. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” I hear whenever I catch him doing something wrong. Humph. Is K really going to appreciate a forced “sorry,” or a cheerful nonchalant “Oh well, better next time, kind of sorry”?

What about letting him make a card for her? I'm not sure where the idea comes from but it seems like a good one. I know she loves purple so maybe a purple card with flower stickers and butterfly stamps.

I spend some time explaining to Jayden how sad she was and that’s not how you treat a friend (he really loves her a lot), and then ask how he would feel if another boy would push him in the mud.

“I would be sad” he responds thoughtfully.

Then I talk to him about making a card.

“A card?” he asks.

“ Yes, a sorry card.”

With stickers and stamping pads?”


He nods excitedly. I pull out the stickers Oma Krul sends faithfully with her letters and a box of stamps and ink. He quickly gets to working making a beautiful card. Purple construction paper, pink flower stickers, heart and butterfly stamps; before long the artistic creation is ready.

“Here’s a pen Jayden, Mom will help you write it.” Jayden nods again. I hold his hand carefully in mine and together we write.

Dear K

Sorry for pushing you in the mud.

Love J

At church the next morning we find a spot in the back row. As we wait for the service to begin an excited little boy cranes his neck, watching for the arrival of K. Suddenly he flies out of his seat and out the door.

“This is for you K!” He says handing the now slightly bent envelope to her.

I watch from my seat as K carefully pulls the card out of the envelope and reads the words.

“Dear K, Sorry for pushing you in the mud, Love J.

A smile lights up her face. She grins at Jayden, he's forgiven. Then she walks to the bench in front of us and sits down. I watch as very carefully, with her small fingers, she traces the butterflies, flowers and hearts. Then she opens it again and reads it. “Dear K, sorry for pushing you in the mud, love J.

A little while later the sermon begins. The message is about reconciliation. Reconciliation with God and with our neighbours.

I think of the times that my pride has kept me from reconciling with others. The times I justified my own actions, or swept wrongs under the rug and even jumped on them when they threatened to crawl back out.

My eyes drift to the seat in front of me at K, still clutching her card.

Reconciliation, it’s really so simple that little kids can do it.

It’s as simple as a card that says “Dear K, sorry for pushing you in the mud. Love J.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rain, Mud and Loss

His small dark hand clasps mine as we slowly make our way through the ankle deep mud. "Jezi sove," (Jesus rescues) he sings quietly. Trying not to let my tears add to the already muddy mess around me I focus on just taking one step at a time.

Last night the rains were incredible. While we placed Tupperware containers and buckets under various leaks, felt our wooden doors expand with moisture, watched the paint in the hallway continue to mold and tried not to shudder at the smell of damp towels and sheets, it was nothing compared to what we see here.

Brick homes with entire walls washed away.

Four feet high water damage in some of the wooden Maxima homes the teams built. People ankle deep in mud trying to wash the few items they have left in the filthy water pouring down what used to be dirt streets.

Ruined books, clothes, dishes and schoolwork in muddy piles outside people's homes.

Walking further I notice people sitting and standing on their roofs surrounded by the few things they have left. Nowhere to go and more rain in the forecast.

Earlier this morning, when the rains had stopped, Shelley had gone out to survey the damage and then sent out a message to the community that people needed sheets, clothing, shoes and food. Hearing the news Denise and I went through what was left of our donated clothing and then through our own cupboards to see what we could give. When I hesitated about handing out the sheets that we use whenever we have teams Denise assured me that God would provide new ones and I could go ahead and give them away.

By the time Jason came home from work we had four suitcases of supplies ready to go. After loading it all into the cruiser we headed to Eagle market to buy food with money that had been previously donated. God must have known we would need it, I thought, as we loaded a grocery cart full of food that was nutritious and ready to eat; raisins, peanuts, dried fruit, and crackers.

At the Apparent Project, Shelley had ten Haitians teenagers waiting, ready to help. They each loaded a garbage bag with food, clothing, sheets and shoes. Then together we walked down into the ravine.

After wading through filthy puddles and streams we stopped and Shelley instructed each of the teenagers to split up and find 1 or 2 families who had lost everything and give them the supplies.

Jason, Matt (a MAF volunteer currently staying at our house), Shelley and I headed to Makensia's house to drop off a tarp, a waterproof suitcase and also a portion of food, clothing and supplies.

Earlier, when Shelley had checked the home of Makensia, the mother of baby twins and an artisan at the Apparent Project, she had found it full of mud. Even the pack and play, which she had just received from a friend, and something she was so grateful for, was completely destroyed. Thankfully her sister and twin daughters were okay.

Along the way we stop to watch three boys, rescuing items from a newly formed stream.

Ten minutes later, after walking through oozing mud and filthy streams we reach Makensia's home. She has been hard at work and managed to clean most of the mud out of her house. What's left of her possessions is pitiful. I talk to her for a minute and then give her food and supplies. Even with all her material loses she still manages to smile and thank us for coming.

Walking back, a boy who looks about ten years old comes to talk to me. He's wearing an over sized, peach colored man shirt and tells me that's all he has left.

"The water came and washed everything away," he says in Creole.

I check my backpack and find my last granola bar. It's all I have left. He thanks me and smiles.

This time a tear does fall. Watching it land in the filthy stream I think about how the supplies we handed out is just like that tear, only a drop in a raging river of need.

God help them. Jezi sove.