We began the day with a prayer, together. I have to admit, my heart wasn’t in it. I was having a bad attitude, thinking about all the things I had to do at home, and how this was now day 14 of working from 6am till 8pm with constant guests in my home, barely giving me time to pee alone, and frankly, I was cranky about it. I wanted to stay home today, and really certainly could have. This team was doing pump repair, and pump repair isn’t in my repertoire. So I didn’t have to go. But seeing as how there was only one woman on the team, the teeny ounce of kindness left inside me said that I should just suck it up. And I did. But my attitude was less than stellar.
On the way out the door that morning, I checked with Linda to see if she had everything for the day, and she said yes. So when we showed up to repair the pump, and she went to grab her supplies, she in fact didn’t have anything she needed. I chuckled a bit, seeing where this day was going, and told her we would be fine, we would figure something out. So she asked if we could pray. What good missionary would say no? But her prayer was healing, in that she simply prayed that the Holy Spirit would show us what He wanted us to do that day. Simple. Something I do often pray for, but when my flesh and attitude get in the way, it can also be the last thing on my mind-as it was that day.
We headed off. A few of the other days we had together we visited homes, talked with women, and had a great time together. So we passed a few houses, but nothing really beckoned us in. Then we came across a small river where I noticed some ladies doing laundry.
And God said, “This is what I have for you today”.
What did I do? Kept walking. The first thing that popped into my mind was this: About six months ago, when Brandon and I were at in a community scouting to see if we were going to drill there, I met a woman. She was re-mudding her hut. Something like exterior decorating, minus the flash and awe of house hunters. For those of you who don’t live in a mud hut, the how to is simple really. You collect some dirt, mix it with water, and make a paste. Then apply to your already existing mud walls that are cracking and in need of another coat. So, I chatted with her for a bit, and as I did, knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to help her. I asked where her friends and family were, and why they weren’t helping her. She had no money to pay them. Then she said she didn’t even have extra food to give them for helping. (I’m guessing like the idea of helping a friend move=yummy pizza at the end?) I was struck by this, and convicted, so I threw off my shoes, rolled up my skirt and plunged my hands into her mud while saying, ‘You don’t have to pay me, I’ll help for free.’
She laughed at me.
And then told me no. And better yet, shouted to her neighbors even though we were speaking in Creole so she knew I would understand her, that “the crazy blanc wanted to help her mud her hut. haha.” I was mortified. I stood there, embarrassed. I tried to be gracious, but left irritated, humiliated and well, pissed. I was just trying to listen to the Lord, and look where it got me.
So, that scene played out before me when I saw the ladies doing laundry and felt a tug from the Lord. Of course, I kept walking. We managed to get up a hill, and still didn’t find a place we wanted to stop, when I couldn’t take it anymore. I casually mentioned we should go back the way we came and turn to the left. And we walked straight up to three ladies bent over scrubbing their clothes as I said, “Good morning. Would you ladies like some help washing your clothes?”
And one girl literally jumped up off her tiny chair and said, “YES!!”
I laughed, greatly encouraged by her enthusiasm, thankful for the invitation, and we set to work. And we worked. Doing laundry is not exactly my favorite chore-it is something I have come to love here in Haiti though, because I line dry everything and there is something lovely about hanging your clothes out in the warm sunshine. But I also have a washer. And have only hand washed my clothes here and there out of necessity. However, I saw things from a different angle as I was bent over working with these ladies.
Now, I don’t want to romanticize things, cause let me tell you, it’s tough work. But check it out: these three ladies obviously all know each other. And they come to this spot to wash clothes every three days, the same three days. As they are bent over working they chat, laugh and enjoy each others company. They talk and joke with everyone who passes by-and let me tell you the fun we had talking with people who walked by who were oh so curious was to what we were doing. My favorite was a man who walked by asking what the blanc was doing washing clothes. I told him I was helping my new friends, and he was of course taken back by my Creole. Then, I asked him why doesn’t he help out too? To which he said, as most men wish they could but aren’t that gutsy, “I don’t know how.” All us ladies laughed pretty good. So I asked him, you really need someone to show you? Here, watch this. And showed him. To which he replied, ‘I don’t need to learn how, I have a wife.’ I died laughing-so honest, SO true. I said you could you help your wife, to which everyone laughed even harder. I didn’t get it. Only then did he point to the woman beside me to tell me that was his wife!! HA.
Back to the story. When we had washed and rinsed about three loads, the ladies grabbed their now very heavy buckets and turned to go and lay them out in the sun. We followed. But they were not so sure about this. They pointed to the very top of a pretty decent hill, and explained that was where they were going to lay out their clothes. We said we’d help. They still were unsure. So what did this stubborn girl do? Insisted we could do it. I did have to take off my wet and slippery sandals, but all went well. We got back down the mountain without incident.
When we got back to the river, I wanted to dive back in and help them with the last few loads they had left. Linda wanted to bust out some gospel bracelets she had and tell the gospel story and make a bracelet for them. So, we compromised-I kept washing with the women, while she told the gospel story. And they loved it. They listened while they continued to work, and enjoyed making and having a cute bracelet to take home.
But, I am still struggling with my thoughts on this. Because, often, since I live here, I really enjoy the moments I have with Haitians where there is no stuff involved. When there is no handout, no gift, nothing. We simply talk, share, and that is that. I can’t explain to you, without sounding like, oh, the worst person ever, that it gets old when people simply see you as a dollar sign or what you have for them. Of course this isn’t true of everyone! But then there is the flip side. I also know the Bible commands us to help those in need -in a real and tangible way. I mean, for goodness sakes, that is why we are here. So in this context, the bracelets didn’t bother me per say, but it was rather that I thought we shared this perfect moment together, where we showed them the love of God without involving any stuff. Yet, the flip side being that Linda was deliberate about sharing the entire Gospel message with them, and I did love that. And maybe adding the bracelet in there really will be a good reminder of the story told-a story that if listened to carefully, and taken to heart, could save their lives if they don’t know Jesus.
I also think you can’t just parade around telling people how much God loves them, when some of those people are struggling to survive. You just can’t.
Which is why we do love working for Living Water, because we can say Jesus loves you, and give them something that they desperately need-clean water-so they see the love of Christ through our actions, and not just our words. You can tell someone you love them, God loves them, but when you ignore very real needs,confronting needs, I believe that message can get lost.
Anyway, I just wanted to share with you one day. One day that turned out great because the Lord forgave my bad attitude, still chose to use me and Linda, and reminded me that He will show me what He has for me in each moment, if I only allow Him, listen to Him, and obey Him.