So this I did, watching to see what God would bring as I went about life here. The needs and opportunities are endless in this place, and it could be easy to try to "do it all." But it's been really sweet for me, because God has been so consistently faithful to make clear the things He has for me to do in this season. It is one of these stories I would like to share with you today.
When we came last June for the 2 week trip, we had a couple amazing photographers with us. One of them took this beautiful shot below. Back in San Diego, we blew up and framed four pictures from the trip into 5 foot by 7 foot pictures and put them around our classroom at Impact195. This photo was one of them. As precious as it is small, when it's blown up that huge, something deep in you is affected as you look at it. I cried more than once looking into this little guy's eyes in that picture, and he completely stole my heart. I couldn't wait to get back to Haiti and find him to continue loving on him.
God brought him as I walked the streets and I started developing a little relationship with him. His name is Isthmi, and there is something precious in him that I can't quite describe. He is different from the other kids I meet and have befriended along the way. He is special. One day I was really moved reading Matthew 25 about how feeding the poor, giving drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned- the least of these- is doing it directly to Jesus Himself. They are so near to His heart that He is one with them. I prayed that morning and asked God if I could see Isthmi that day to buy him some clothes and sandals because I knew he needed them. He lost one of his sandals and had been barefoot around town the past few times I'd seen him. God always answers prayers that are according to His heart, and sure enough, within the first two minutes I got into town I saw Isthmi. We bought sandals and a button up shirt and shorts and I told him I wanted to buy a t-shirt too. On the way to the market, he brought me by his house and I met his mom and family. I saw right away how poor they were, but also I saw the same preciousness that is in Isthmi in all of them and I saw the love there.
His mom, Natilia, looked about 9 months pregnant, but when I asked her she said she wasn't, she was sick. It was water in her stomach. I did my best to ask questions and understand in Creole what the situation was. She had been to the doctor, but couldn't afford an operation. I was really touched by her sweetness in our brief and broken conversation with the language barrier. At home that night, I prayed that God would make a way and show me how He wanted me to minister to her. As I continued to pray, I felt God wanted me to pay for an operation for her.
I went back to see her with Jacob to translate and find out more details, make a plan about the hospital, and to share the gospel. It turns out she is a Christian and I could see in her countenance and when we prayed for her that it was so- Jesus was in her and she loved Him very much. She was so delighted and thankful about the offer to help her. I wish I could capture it for you, but it was another of those sweet moments that etched itself on my heart. I will never forget her face and the way she lit up in that conversation. She is a widow- her husband died in the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. She has six children- she thought for a year she had five and that one had died in the earthquake with her husband, but her daughter miraculously showed up at her house on Sunday. She survived the earthquake and an organization took care of her and brought her back to her family a year later. Miracle!
Natilia has had this sickness for a year and a half and said she was basically just going about life and preparing to die since she didn't have the means to fix her sickness. (Can you even imagine?!) But God heard her prayers and orchestrated a tangible way to answer them and led me to her. Oh what a joy and privilege. He loves the poor so much. "'For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,' says the Lord; 'I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.'" (Psalm 12:5). We made a plan to go to the hospital soon.
We went Thursday. Here is the before picture:
Sweet Jacob missed school to come and translate for us. We talked to the doctor that had seen her several times when she came a year and a half ago. He said basically that it was an inoperable case. She didn't need surgery, but instead medicine, to eat protein and vitamins (she is literally skin and bones), and to come in every 2 weeks to get her stomach drained. Although I was slightly bummed initially because I wanted to be able to fix the problem once and for all, I immediately saw what God was doing. He wanted me to have a continual relationship with her- to minister to her on a weekly basis, bringing medicine and food, love and prayers consistently. And He was opening up a door to minister in the hospital on a regular basis as well.
It took a few hours for Natilia's stomach to be drained. Three and a half gallons of a thick yellow liquid came out.
During the waiting, I went back to the doctor's office to get her prescription. As I talked with the doctor, he was blown away that I would do this for her. He was a Christian also, and was very touched. I told him it wasn't that I was anything special, but that God loves her very much and He told me to do this, and I was just grateful and blessed to respond to His will. The doctor and I really connected and he arranged for me to have a tour of the entire hospital. I saw the pediatric ward, the sick babies, the men and women, the sick pregnant women, the people with broken or severed limbs, the cholera tents. It's very much a third world hospital, and just kinda a depressing place. Such opportunity to bring God's love, hope, and joy there. So I think as Natilia and I come back every 2 weeks, I will make rounds and pray for the patients. I told the doctor we have a group coming in April for a trip and asked if we could come in and pray for the patients one day. He said absolutely. Which is really cool, because we wanted to go to the hospital on our first trip last June, but the doors just didn't open for it. And it seemed that God was now blowing the doors wide open. I love how He works. His timing and ways are perfect.
How sweet it is to follow His leading. To watch and see who He brings. To let Him do the orchestrating and the fixing. He just lets us do the loving. I love being here and doing this with my life. My joy is full, my thankfulness is overflowing, my heart is praising Him. Pray for Natilia. When the group comes in April and we lay hands on her and pray for her I think that God might do a miraculous healing to show His power to her neighborhood and people at the hospital. But whatever His plan is, either way I know she'll be in my life for a long time.
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." ~James 1:27