Mwen pa konnen – I don’t know
I don’t know what to do when she asks me again to take her daughter. Half-joking, half-serious.
And when my heart tugs, wanting to wrap her daughter up and say yes so I can ‘guarantee’ meals and baths and a positive environment. So I can work with her one on one for development issues. So I can whisper truth to her and sing truth out loud with her. So I don’t have to watch her throw another tantrum as she turns from giggling to furious she has to leave after a short visit.
And I don’t know what to do when my heart – the same heart – tugs at my pride that I could think it’d be “better” for a capable mother’s child to be with me. When the Holy Spirit whispers to my soul that I know better, that there is a hard work ahead instead of instilling worth and empowerment into this mother. There is the work of coming alongside of her, continuing to love her daughter, and send her home where she belongs – tantrum and all.
This mother is able, she just forgets it sometimes as the world tells her – literally, people tell her – to give her child to the white girl who is always giving her attention. She forgets when she is homeless and has no idea what to do for an income. She forgets when she finds a room to rent (no more homelessness) but that doesn’t solve daily water, food, soap, charcoal to cook, medicine if her or her daughter gets sick. This mother forgets she is able when the world refuses to let her forget – literally, people tell her this as well – what she has done wrong so far in motherhood. This mother, who does not have the King of Kings and lover of her soul inside of her to whisper truth to her, forgets when all she has heard for almost 20 years are lies and negative thought cycles that the world has to offer. She forgets that she is able…did she ever believe she was able in the first place?
I know the Holy Spirit it right. I have no idea how to do my role in it.
She is why I need you to pray for us in Haiti. “Mwen pa konnen” is why I need you to pray for me in Haiti.
Election season in Haiti is historically not something that runs smoothly. This year, keeping up with the trend, there has been some unrest and a lack of clarity around elections – leading up to this weekend, where there was supposed to be the election for the next president tomorrow, Sunday the 24th. The election is now cancelled for tomorrow – no news on what is next.
Election season makes great news – dramatic pictures & stories that are combining with pictures of Haiti that have been painted in the past to show, “once again”, a interesting story full of violence and instability. (These are especially interesting to a country outside of Haiti that may be watching the news. A country that has the privilege to be rich, comfortable, and secure enough that the people watch the screen shaking their heads, saying, “Can you imagine?” – as they ask because literally, they can’t.)
Yes, the elections were cancelled Sunday because of demonstrations all over the country. No, I do not agree that a demonstration is the best way – or even a good way – to be heard. But here’s what I really don’t get – why is “violent Haiti” the main thing heard on world news?
Who is reporting on the election problems/government that brought us here?
Who is reading (to be fair to reporters who try to report, and get sleepy eyes in return) about how the elections so far were found to have inconsistencies and issues, and still the government said, “We’ll go ahead and vote anyway”?
Where is the news outlet that focuses to “shock” the world that what is going on in the government to CAUSE these protests – all I can find are the news outlets looking to gain a profit by “shocking” the world with pictures of burning tires & headlines that make sure to put “Haiti” & “violent” in the same attention grabbing sentence.
The reason there are protests is because people feel unheard. (NOT EVERYONE DEALS WITH BEING UNHEARD THIS WAY & I DON’T AGREE WITH THIS BEING A WAY TO DEAL WITH BEING UNHEARD. My friends & neighbors feel the same way.) I can’t help but feel that the lack of reporting on the root is a small part of what “being unheard” is.
The elections were cancelled for Sunday because of protests.
The news is reporting those protests.
Imagine if the news reported and focused on the government – if that is what led to the elections being cancelled as opposed to the protests. Imagine if the government was seen and called out for inconsistencies. Imagine if negative pictures of a country that does not look like what I am seeing on the news where transformed to show that these are people reacting to a government – and by the way, these people have a lot to offer, and even more if they had a government working with them.
I just feel like I am reading articles about demonstrations & I don’t see anyone really “calling out” the government. I feel another layer of “unheard”.
I know very little on journalism – dropped out of that program and switched to another my freshman year – and I know very little about the government. But I can’t help but put this out there, in the hopes of overcoming ‘the unheard’.
[Yes, by the way, I am completely fine & so is everyone else with CPR-3 & Respire Lavi. We are far from where demonstrations are going on as well as taking lots of precautions, as always. Don’t want any unnecessary worry from the subject of this post :)]
Snapshot of last night:
Walking back home from a neighbor’s house in the dark after buying some ‘fritay’ with Jessica.
I pass by one of my best friends here, a single mom. I tell her good night, go to kiss her on the cheek.
She nods and acknowledges my goodbye with a smile, but does not break from reciting the school work she is working on with her daughter. She is going line by line with her through her homework, correcting gently when needed and checking all the work.
They are sitting on a half built wall under one of the solar street lights that are near Route Nat. #1. That is the light to get work done after 6:00 in the winter.
Some days in the shade away from the blazing sun of the afternoon, we sit around doing laundry or keeping each other company while one of us is sick & she tells me the dreams she has for her daughter to go further than she has. Her eyes glitter as she giggles and tells me about her daughter’s high marks in class and the way her personality-filled daughter insists on working hard to keep those marks.
In the coolness of night with that blanket of stars that I hope I never get over hanging above our heads, Jessica and I walk away and can still hear the gentle rhythm of her voice, going through grammar lessons as she says a phrase and stops to pause every few lines to leave space and hear a response from her mini-me in a higher pitched voice.
One time, my friend – a teenager who lives more or less on their own – told me about how that week they had been woken up by a rat chewing on their finger.
Let that sink in a second.
My friend, who I do life with, looked at me, and casually apologized for being tired. And this was his reason why.
But months later I totally forget or disregard that as I swore I saw something in my room yesterday and that is confirmed today with a TAIL attached to something running too fast to be seen around the corners of my room, just to be hidden again.
I’m distracted from work now and frustrated that I don’t have the time or energy to take apart my room for this creature that will run away too fast to be caught as I move things around anyway. I am already feeling the yearning for comfortable America this month as the “camping style” of living here (no windows so there is dust everywhere, air outside is the air inside, bugs on bugs) combined with being sick has made my heart whiny, in all honesty.
And then I remember my friend. That off hand comment – said as fact, not a sob story or a “what will you do for me” or “life is so hard”, but just as a “yeah, sorry I yawned – A RAT WAS CHEWING MY FINGER NO BIG DEAL” comment. And honestly – if I continue to get this frustrated with life not being as comfortable as what I was born in – am I not saying, “I mean, I know HE has that living condition, but I’m used to something different, so…”? Aren’t I sitting here, and at the root of my thoughts, wanting justice for others but while also getting to keep my life where it is?
I only hear the thought, “Well, why were ______ many people born into poverty and we weren’t?” once every few weeks due to the nature of what I do. But when life hits and it’s hard to do something about that difference…is my attitude reflecting an uglier heart than I’d life to admit?
It is no more or less okay for an American to wake up to a rat chewing on their finger than one of my friends here just because an American is not used to it – and yet THIS IS HOW WE LIVE.
We go, “That is awful! That is not okay!”
I write, “Sit and really think about that for a moment.”
And we do, and we believe it’s not okay –
But then we get uncomfortable and we are much more upset and much more prone to do something about it.
And can you imagine the social media post to one of your middle class American friends waking up the way my friend did?
Can you imagine MY post if I woke up how my friend did.
So, confession. I’m a self-centered human, like we all are. I’m pretty sure that as I learn more about my heart, I am way too comfortable staying comfortable and justifying, “This is the lifestyle I’m used to!”
And I am blown away by the grace offered to me despite my whining heart wanting temporary comforts. And the patience to teach me another way. And the love as opposed to condemnation when I crack open my ribs while staring in the mirror to see some muck and junk up in this heart of mine.
Over time, what gets exciting or gives your heart butterflies may change. There are still some things that will always make your heart soar – for example, here, a baptism or cuddles from a young friend waiting outside the gate. Never gets old.
But over time, the excitement of some things fade.
But guys, I am jump-on-the-bed-to-a-90s-pop-song excited. Tears welling up, but the good kind, happy tears. I am bursting to the seams proud of a young friend of mine who is just – I can’t even fully explain it’s awesomeness without you being on this journey – but she is growing. And I am so proud of her.
She is a young mother, and she has transformed into this caretaker who is all about her little one. Her attention goes to her child before others and her resources are responsibly arranged to take care of him. And let me tell you, it shows on him…he ADORES his momma. He’s one of those kids that hasn’t learned about the universe yet, and therefore has mistakenly assumed it revolves around his mother. His dimples and playful attitude come out when she is around and their joy together in front of me reflects what their time at home is like.
She is learning how to responsibly organize her resources – AND she is organizing them with her child in mind! She is working hard where she is at. She is taking up responsibilities and following through with them.
She had lost her light a little over a year ago – that smile that defined her to me. It is back, and sometimes she is having an awful day, or even week, but that smile stays! Her child may be sick and not sleeping….for days….and she shows off bravery and love in that smile.
I see loyalty in her, maturity, ownership. When you give her a responsibility, she owns it and she owns it WELL. She doesn’t know how it will happen, but she is dreaming about how she would own a shot at a future, like going back to school. This includes a savings plan and all that she is dreaming up. Guys – talk of savings DOES NOT HAPPEN AROUND ME, not so far in my experience here. And definitely not from a teenage girl.
I have seen her be the most consistent attender of Young Lights (the youth gathering in Bercy that God is moving in) and stretch out of her comfort zone….and invite her friends to be stretched as well.
In tough, tough interpersonal situations…I have seen her act beyond her years or her peers. I have no idea where her other worldly reaction came from.
And guys, this is not from me. That’s part of why I’m so excited. So proud. So humbled. So emotional over how good He is.
Oh, I had plans for it to “be me” if she grew at all in 2015. Intentionally putting things into place where I could pour into her, influence her environment, love her well day to day. Prayers for her growth and for her to see her worth and for her life to break cycles. Dreams of what it could look like as our lives came together.
You know what happened instead? I was human. I was short with her at times, I was lazy and didn’t intentionally plan a way to pour into her each time I saw her. I love her, I really do, but sometimes I love her like a sister – where you’re all, “I love you, but I want my space right now”.
Yup. Me. The missionary. Sent to love people and show off Jesus. Guys, I love the verse about making the most of every opportunity and I didn’t! I know truths, I have on my door, “What would today look like if there were no selfish ambition?”…well, ask Jesus that one, cause I definitely did not go a DAY with no selfish ambition this past year.
But friends…look at Jesus. Look at Him. The one thing I DID do (inconsistently, at that) was pray. And look at Jesus. It is GOD who is shaping my dear, dear friend and He alone can get the credit.
God is maturing the daughter He stitched together before I even knew her. God is growing her. God is softening her heart. God WILL break chains. God had her cousin get baptized just a couple months ago. She WILL be His soon. And He continues to grow her, and I hope that she is seeing His love, bit by bit.
I had this dream, I prayed these words….and I did not show up on my part. Or I did passionately one day and called in sick the next. I am imperfect, I am selfish, I am lazy, I am not put together, and I definitely do not have a “1, 2, 3, come get discipled with me!” plan in my back pocket. And I want to get better, and I am a work in progress, but the truth is that I cannot get 2015 back.
I am SO proud of my friend. She is why I am here, and progress in people – even when it seems stuck-in-molasses slow – is the fuel to my heart (after Jesus, yes). This is the why.
But even more – He is the why. Look at Him! Look at what He is doing!
While I do NOT want to “celebrate” the areas where I could have done better; it’s almost like it’s kind of awesome that I was so clearly NOT it this year. Because that leaves no debate – it is Him. And I hope that I can remember this in both my plans to “improve” as well as every time I see progress….yes, I get to be a part. Yes, I want to redeem the time given to me. But it is HIM. LOOK at what He is doing!
I am so proud of her. I am so in love with Him.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
Hey, if you want to pray for her heart…I am SO proud of her growth, but she still has not accepted Jesus. She is not holding back in interest, jumping into being involved, and showing changes of heart all over the place – if you want, you can pray confidently with me that this will happen soon!