Gifts of produce when I visit a home, the best chair brought out and dusted off even if I’m stopping by for a quick second, shared everything. These are things that I’ve started to get used to – yet I’m still constantly humbled, warmed, and surprised at just how caring those I’ve come to do life with are towards ME. It’s just natural, it’s the heartbeat of the culture here.
I mentioned that I got sick in the middle of teams, and that I’d post about it later…later has arrived. A little background: The night before a long Sunday in Canaan – I’m up all night with an eye that won’t stop running. What does that even mean, when your EYE is a faucet? Whatever it means, I wake up tired, drippy, and extra sensitive to the sun. I brush it off as possible pink eye, stay in my glasses for the day, and gather the team to jump on the tap-tap and start the day.
I went from zero to 1000 in just a couple of hours. I can’t be in the sun, my eye is non-stop water and pain (causing a non-stop runny nose), my head isn’t on top of things, all of this is balanced with the feeling that I need to lead. (Side note: This is AFTER I was praying EACH day to give the schedule to HIM instead of me. Trust him with whatever happens. But I was still holding on a tiny bit, let’s be honest. He used this to gently teach me that He really does not need me – He loves using me, but He doesn’t need me at all. Sometimes we need to step back – ALL THE WAY, I see your foot on the line! – and trust that He will work. Just like salvation – we try to work, we have this back thought that it’s us that needs to put in SOMETHING…nope. All Him.)
Anyways, I was miserable after the first hour of the church service. I go outside (to just sit without being touched on all sides, the building was packed) and start praying (and let’s be honest, some real tears fell with the non-stop dripping eye) as I just wanted it to stop and begged him for strength to get through the day. I mean, I was about to spend the day in Canaan, a place with no shade, while my eye literally could not open in light. This was an issue.
And the first humbling moment comes.
“Steph? You okay?” The sweetest voice, Pastor Samedy’s wife Venise, in one of the few English phrases she knows. She had come outside with her five month old daughter to feed her and she ran into me, and this sweet friend writes all of her emotion on her face. No, I couldn’t see it – but she had me follow her to a home where she made me sit in the shade and I could eventually see, and I saw as much concern as my own mother would have if I was home sick with an awful flu virus. All of the women in the home were offering me space to sit or even lay down, asking if I was okay (but gently, instead of that overbearing way that makes it worse) and giving me bagged water to put on my face. And the whole day, I balanced feeling awful and like I should be with the team with being so comforted and humbled by Venise just staying by me and checking in – “You okay?”
Once we got back to Bercy, I passed out in bed for a few hours. Woke up way worse than before. I avoid the doctor at all costs in America…and I was at the point where, after talking to Kelly about how bad it was, I came to the realization I needed to get to a hospital. Amanda and I eventually tried going to the hospital in town – so everyone outside of our gate saw me. People were also asking where I was and finding out I was sick. Long story short with the doctor, I had to wait and go the next day. And then, they didn’t have the medicine I needed. (But God provided in other ways!) So I’m still pretty miserable, frustrated that I can’t leave the darkness of my room, and not liking the fact that I’m not with the team and not following what I had planned for the week. I nap again, there’s nothing else I can do.
I wake up to Tiffany asking if I’m up…I mumble a “yes…ish”.
“The kids want you to come outside so that they can pray with you.”
And they did.
Multiple times, they did this. Every Haitian worker stopped by and genuinely asked me how I was feeling, hoping that I was better. Our driver made sure the next week that I was riding in the cab because I had been sick and was getting over it. Mickens gently stopped me every time I walked by him and examined my eye. I had a group of kids sing and recite a Psalm for me. I didn’t know what to do as a girl that I had been comforting just a few days earlier after a moto accident sat with me outside the gate when the kids came out, our roles were all of a sudden switched although she still wore bandages from her injuries. I was exhausted and could barely open my eyes, and friends just sat with me. People are still checking on me now as I’m in the last legs of what we’re pretty sure was an eye infection, just caused by the dust from traveling to Canaan every day.
The way that people care here is beautiful. Humbling as I hear the phrase “I’m sick” literally every day – and I just recite “I’m sorry to hear that” back to people. It reflects the amazing hospitality and care that I see in people, that comes even from the aggressive families that are harder to create relationships with. It’s a core piece in the culture here, and somehow in the dark cave of my room that I created I went to sleep every night overflowing from these details that He gave me throughout the day, using people to pour into me as I felt like I was at the end of my strength. His people are beautiful, this country is beautiful.