Cheryl Lewis » Cheryl Lewis

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  • I’m a mom of two teenagers and the wife of an amazing man and, at heart, a loner who doesn’t like to be alone. Some days, I want to jump on the bed and laugh joyously and, other times, I can barely suppress the temptation to crawl under the bed and hide from the world. Bi-polar? Nope… just a girl! Truly, if I wasn’t me… me, the one whose path veered, no CAREENED wildly from what I envisioned as a kid instead into disarray and dysfunction and, at times, even self-disgust… if I WASN’T me… I’d wish I was! I am exactly who and where I am meant to be … right here with you!

Because He Matters

When I was in Haiti in February on a mission trip, our team spent a couple of days at an orphanage in a Port au Prince slum called Carrefour. What we saw there would surely break your heart. It tripled any sad scene you ever saw on “Annie.” Dozens of preschoolers and toddlers were crawling around in filth, with flies buzzing relentlessly around their eyes. They were underfed and crying. Their caregivers had vacant expressions and gave little attention to the babies with sodden diapers. It had only been a few weeks since more than 50 children in their care had been crushed or slowly suffocated in the devastating earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians – children and adults alike were still traumatized. One small girl squatted in the dirt, in the midst of a dozen people, to defecate and no one even blinked. Most of the children had skin conditions and our small medical team did what they could to give treatment with few supplies.
Because I have no medical training, I spent time playing and interacting with the kids at each of the sites we visited. One of the things that seemed to inspire wide smiles was their seeing themselves on the display screen of my digital camera. So, for hours, I took pictures of their smudged-but-oft-beaming faces and presented their own smiles back to them as entertainment.
As we played, I noticed a young boy sitting quietly to the side, observing our every move. He wasn’t participating – just taking it in. Bit by bit, I made my way near him, taking and showing pictures along the way. Finally, I was sitting on a bench across from where he was perched. I looked directly at him and smiled. He didn’t move.
I aimed and took his picture, then turned the screen in his direction and patted the seat beside me. Still nothing.
I shot another image and showed it to a child nearby, who smiled broadly and pointed at the young boy. Finally, a hint of curiosity showed on his face. I patted the bench beside me, again, and he slowly scooted over to see himself on my screen.
We sat that way for awhile – me taking images of the kids around us, him peering at the screen and smiling at each shot. Slowly, I put the strap around his neck and showed him how to properly hold the camera.
He timidly shot a couple and we looked at each one, then I modeled how to better fill the screen with each scene before clicking. A quick learner, he took a few well-composed pictures and sat there, beaming as I praised him in a language he couldn’t understand.
I nudged him and waved my arm, showing him it was fine to wander around, capturing images of his choice. At first he was hesitant, but soon he was shooting away, returning to me from time to time to show off his work.
Eventually, it was time for our team to leave. Reluctant to go, I took out my Blackberry and attempted to add his name. He looked at my screen and corrected the spelling of his name and age. He was 10.
I gave him a big hug and smile and he joined the others in waving to us as we left. Then, when we pulled beyond the guarded fence into the bustling street, our driver stopped to speak to someone he knew. I looked back and there was my new friend, smiling and walking behind our van.
I was puzzled, since surely the orphanage children weren’t allowed to wander such dangerous streets. I couldn’t stop worrying about him and mentioned it to my husband, who was also on our team. That evening, we called the orphanage to ask whether there was any way we could help the boy.
We were stunned when we were told they had no child by that name or age living at the orphanage.
How could that be??
Baffled, I insisted that we had spent the day together and described him more thoroughly. Yes, they acknowledged, there was a boy who lived on the streets nearby with his mother and sometimes came in, because he was hungry, but she was unable to care for him. They would ask his sister to find out more.
So he at least has a mother and sister. Family.
To most of us, that means safety and solidarity. Who knows what it means to a child who roams the streets of Haiti – when few are lucky enough to even have tents for housing? When many are snatched for child trafficking or slavery? When food is practically nonexistent, water is tough to get and the potential to find either is slim?
I have called the orphanage many times, but no one answers the phone. I’ve tried to hire someone to see if they can find the boy and identify his circumstances, since I would like to send him to school and keep his family together, but have only met with a shifty opportunist who demanded thousands of dollars as monthly payment and the purchase of a car. I’ve exchanged letters with a man who says he is freelance media in Haiti. He promised to look for the boy that same week – but didn’t and then stopped answering my emails. A fellow team member who was scheduled to return to Haiti promised to look for him, but then her trip cancelled, because of the increase of violence there.
I feel worried and disheartened, but my God is BIG and, for some reason, He has given me this kid’s back to cover. I want to be there for him.
I need to be there for him.
So why look for a 10-year-old child who probably can’t be found in the chaotic, ever-shifting street masses of Haiti?
Why be haunted by the memory of someone with whom I only spent an afternoon?
Why bother?
There only seems to be one answer:
Because he matters.

P.S. I’ve just read the most amazing blog entry from someone who arrived at this orphanage the day after it collapsed! He rescued some of the same children I held. Please read his story and listen closely to God’s urging: http://www.redeemhaiti.org/haiti-earthquake-relief-update-12010/

Jeannette - Thank you for sharing this story…. I hope and pray you find this young man!

Dion Evans - I sit here reading this as I wait for my carpool and my eyes are holding back tears. That is a beautiful story and a big example of what it means to show love to those in Haiti

Shellie Tomlinson - I am so touched, and so crying, and so thankful that Father has crossed our paths. It is no mere coincidence. He doesn’t operate in ’em, amen? Hope to talk to your more soon. Blessings…

Chloe - I really like all the pictures of Haiti and it makes me remember that everyone does not have enough money to have a shelter or have anywhere to rest their head. I wish I could help!! I’ll keep praying for them.
<3 Chloe from small group

Lisa Wines - I noticed your very funny Twitter name when I was responding to a follow request (you follow the same account) and clicked through to your blog. I allllmost ran away when I saw the Christian reference, until I saw fun&mental versus fundamental. :-) Love that. Unfortunately, the fundamentalists who get the most press in the US seem to be destructive versus creative. While Christians like you, travel to Haiti and connect, as Jesus did, with the lost and forgotten. Thank you for being so loving, so interested, so gentle. You may not find this boy again, but you changed his life. If you do find him, can we send him a camera and whatever equipment or connections he needs to upload and publish his work? I was taken aback by the photos he framed & captured.

christina - My heart is breaking. Please let us know of your progress. Prayers.

Dustin - Wow, thanks for sharing this. Those are some great pictures!

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Remembering Haiti

Every day, I think of the people we met in Haiti. I think of the rain and the misery that follows. I think of the mosquitoes and the thousands who don’t have DEET. I think of Markenley Edouard and wonder if he’s safe and fed and dry and loved. I think of Mirdrede and her new baby and the challenges they’ll face. I think of the women and children and disabled and elderly who are vulnerable to sexual violence when they go to the latrines or are eyed by evil. I think of the government that can’t win for losing and has learned to prosper only through its capacity for corruption. I think of the little girl at Notre Dame Orphanage in Carrefour who is listless and wasted away with malaria and whose life will likely end without clear meaning. I think about the members of our team, who went from being strangers to family in a week, and wonder how they’re faring now that they’re back in what we once thought was the “real” world. I think about God and His love for each of us and wonder why so much was given to me and how I can best honor Him with that ridiculous abundance.
I watched “We Are The World” for the first time last week and cried all the way through it. I felt frantic to pack my bags and return to a place that is unsafe, especially for women, to sleep on the ground and wear the same clothes three days in a row and eat little more than protein bars in the blazing heat. I want to be among them. I want them to see us among them, to know that God has sent us, and that they are far from alone. I want to teach them something productive that will save their children’s lives and spirits.
I’m not going back to Haiti right away, because of the rise in sexual violence and kidnappings, and that reality that I’ll be aching from afar just about reduces me to depression. I want to be in that truck, racing along that pot-holed road, heading to Ms Evelyn and her kids, so that I can help them smile and function and then, as soon as I can convince someone to accompany me, I want to go outside her compound and find Markenley and his family. I need to see whether he’s in a tent or a tarp and whether his mother and sister are healthy and if they have protection from predators. He haunts my dreams and I want him to know there is a lady in America who cannot and will not forget him, even though that seems more than a bit crazy. He is 10 and needs to know that, in an impossibly expansive world of millions, he is the one I think of when my eyes open each morning.
Jim and I are throwing ourselves into Portlight Strategies’ initiative to convert former shipping containers into housing in Haiti (http://portlight.org/). The specifics are taking shape and soon funds will be raised and a prototype built. I hope that, when the first step is taken by a formerly homeless Haitian into their new, secure home, I can be there to capture the laughter.
I wonder if I’ll be able to hear theirs above my own.

kim sisto robinson - You are Amazing! :) xxxxx

sherri - I am going to Haiti July 4-13. My first trip. My friend Alecia Settle adopted a Haitian girl many years ago and has been traveling there for about 10 years. She authored the book VISUALIZE HAITI. 100% of the proceeds go to her humanitarian efforts there.

Love your heart.

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Teamwork and Tents

There are many things for which I’m grateful while in Haiti.I’m thankful to believe in a loving God, despite all I see. He continues to produce miracles before us each day. Ask me how and I’ll be happy to share.

I’m relieved that I have another world into which I can again step tomorrow, where my children are healthy and have plentiful opportunity to carve out lives of purpose and abundance. Where my mattress is double stacked with a downy cushion and perpetual comfort. Where even my dog has more food than he can eat.

I’m grateful for the Haitian people, who are unlike anyone I’ve ever known. They rise at dawn to sing, despite unspeakable loss, and sweep the leaves that have fallen during the night to the dirt that lines their world. They hand wash their clothing in metal tubs and are always tidy and composed. On Sundays, the women wear heels, despite the challenges of dirt floors and hazardous streets. Women and men alike carry gear and baskets of produce from place to place atop their heads. They are quick to smile.

I’m thankful for Mirdrede, our hostess, who speaks English well and laughs easily and is a reliable anchor in a broken country that is filled with corruption and despair. She is also a volunteer and talented at braiding hair. No one messes with Mirdrede.

I’m grateful for the security guard who walks round our property, rifle slung over his shoulder.

I’m encouraged by the communities who stand behind us at home, making our journey possible through prayer, support and roll-up-your-sleeves-and-create-a-solution-from-afar tenacity. (You know who you are!) Even people none of us have ever met continue to improve Haitian lives and our own daily. It’s not because they’re trained in such things; it’s because they care and choose to dive in.

I’m thankful for Markenley, who reminded me today that even a 10-year-old orphan can teach an old girl new dreams.

I’m awed by the members of my team. We had barely met before coming here and yet already they seem like family to me. No one leaves another behind and all are quick to work and laugh and pray.

Beverly is a pediatrician but, first, she is a wife and mom to seven children – five of whom are adopted. She will dance and skip rope with orphans as quickly as she checks their heartbeats and temperatures. She is fearless, fun-spirited, competitive and wholly impressive. Several years my junior, I want to be her if/when I grow up.

Mark is a burly fella who will climb atop a collapsed building to swing a sledge hammer alongside locals, rather than stand around to wait for an official assignment. Even his past two heart attacks haven’t slowed him down. He loves MREs and prefers flavor over healthy, anyday. He is the guy you’re glad to have beside you when inching down broken roads in the back of an exposed pickup truck near dusk with thousands of hungry, restless survivors eying your bounty.

Debbie adds trinkets and crystals to clothing when home but, here in Haiti, she is anything but fragile. She is quick to communicate and laugh with all who draw near and her determination to learn Creole is earnest. Two days ago, a Haitian who she befriended begged her to take his precious son, who he said was the most important thing in his world, with her to a better life. His wife was crushed in the earthquake. Debbie was crushed by his offer and the sacrifice it contained.

Brad is the big brother that every woman wants. He is fiercely protective – fiercely, fiercely protective – and, with his shaved head and imposing hunting knife slung always from his waist, convincing. As a proud American, he served in Somalia and Desert Storm, then lost his employment in construction, thanks to the failed economy. He has turned to the lawn-care industry to support his precious wife and children. While in Haiti, he has become quite the mobile clinic pharmacist. We also call him our prayer warrior. Mostly, we call him our friend.

Dana wasn’t sure whether she should come on the relief trip. She is rowdy, in her own spiritual way, and confesses everyone says she’s a bit of a wild child. She is the baby of the group and yet her tenacity is fierce. Her son asked her to stay home; her husband assured her he knew she would be in good Hands. She is quick to roll up her sleeves and dive into the dirty work, whether it is helping to change the sagging bandages surrounding a festering wound, holding a soggy-diapered kid or flinging herself into the mix with a bunch of sweaty guys in a makeshift game of soccer.

John walks the talk without having to say a word. He is quiet, but wry and funny. He is always watching, listening, but is slow to judge. His research and advice before our trip even began has gone miles in keeping each of us safe and well. His heart is bottomless. His safari hat is ever-present.

JP is always smiling. Big. Given the opportunity, he generally has two or three kids in his arms. He is not camera shy. He has the patience of Job and plays a mean duct-tape soccer game. He respects women, speaks adoringly of his wife and praises even his female boss. He is genuine.

Howard is our fearless leader. He naturally gravitates to people and is quick with a prayer and welcome. Not your typical preacher, he wears sleeveless tee shirts and shorts, whenever possible – hence, his perpetual farmer’s tan. Networking is his specialty, social media is his hobby and genuinely making a difference, in ways large and small, is his heart. He is good at all of them.

And then there is my husband, who did not hesitate to jump into Haiti beside me. A tireless worker, Jim thinks on his feet and is a hungry learner. He is fiercely protective of me and devoted to stepping into God’s unfolding Plan. He has the heart of a father and the obedience of a son. He and Howard have seen more of this country and its chaotic bureaucracy, as they have tirelessly fought to free our donated supplies, than the rest of us put together.

Let me say it, again. In one short week, I love our team. I’m a bit of a loner, by nature, and sometimes savor too much my time behind a camera lens or keyboard, but I can genuinely say that I’m the biggest fan of those God tapped to stand alongside me on this wacky, spirit-filled journey to Haiti.

Speaking of crazy, I’m also happy to have a driver who, though hot headed and quick to launch into argument (and has even disappeared on a couple of outings), delivers us in a vehicle so that we don’t have to be one of those trudging in the rubble-strewn gutters and densely peopled edges of ceaseless shacks and tents.

Ah, tents.

Perhaps even more than food and water, I’m grateful to sleep in one that is watertight and sealed from mosquitoes and peering eyes.

Here, there is a sea of tents, and yet there are not nearly enough. For every tent you see, there are 20 makeshift, ramshackle lean-to’s alongside.

When it rains, which it did – heavily, for hours upon hours – last night AGAIN, I’m filled with horror when I think of the masses who are scrambling to find cover for themselves and their wee ones.

The knowledge that Menard, a young girl I met a few days ago, is now struggling with her family and community to hold aloft – for hours on end – the tarps sheltering their limited belongings horrifies me. The weight of the water will otherwise collapse upon them.

The same children who dance around me during the day are scared and miserable when it rains. It is nearly impossible for their parents to keep them well.

Before I came to Haiti, I saw lots of discussions about tents and whether they were truly the best option for families who had lost their homes.

What I have learned is that many Haitians never had houses – even before the earthquake. To give a tent is to give the first home some of them have ever had – and will ever know. It is a gift of dignity and protection and hope.

A tarp will never, ever be the same.

And neither will I.

Harold Skaggs - Hi Cheryl,
We are continuing to pray for you. We are proud of you guys for going to Haiti. I assume you are heading back today or tomorrow. Megan sends her love from Buffalo (she at a meet there till Sunday afternoon) along with the rest of the Skaggs family. Be safe! Hope to see you soon.
Harold

Isais Sylvestre - Hello Cheryl
I found that your writing expresses the resilience of the Haitian people. Your group was very helpful and compassionated for the devastated country. I would like to say thanks to all of you who were predisposed to assist the vulnerable country after the tragedy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Amy - Here’s your story; here’s your book. In the dark of the night on a tiny Blackberry keypad, you’ve typed out words that have brought us all with you on your journey. Thank you for being your group’s historian and using your gift.

Bruce - Hello Cheryl
I found that your writing expresses the resilience of the Haitian people. Your group was very helpful and compassionated for the devastated country. I would like to say thanks to all of you who were predisposed to assist the vulnerable country after the tragedy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Beyond a Hard-Knock Life

There is nothing that can prepare you for a third-world orphanage.
The flies. The listless eyes. The snotty noses and chins. The swollen, vacant bellies.

And that’s just the adults.

OK, not all of them. Miss Eveline, the director at Notre Dame Orphanage in Carrefour was tired but appeared healthy. But, for most of the women sitting in the filth holding infants in their arms, the heaviness of another day sat upon their shoulders like the slabs of crushing mortar pinning cars across Port au Prince. They are carrying the weight of grief and responsibility and illness and despair.
Their eyes only lit briefly when lollipops left over from my church’s Valentines activity were pulled from the bag. In hopes of securing at least one, a few of the desperate shoved babies toward me, gesturing that each drooping, feeble child would love nothing better than sugar’s kiss upon its malnourished lips.
It was only a small sack of surplus candy and random Happy Meal toys stuffed as an afterthought into a backpack and it caused a churning mass of humanity that literally brought me to my knees.

The rest of our team quickly surged in, scooping up a few of the 60+ children that live out each day in the dust on sheets and a spartan playground. Just a few weeks ago, I’m told there was a heap of more than 50 tiny bodies stacked in the same space after the earthquake broke their world.

Several of our men climbed atop the old iron merry go round, swirling a couple of tykes into broad smiles and laughter.

Beverly went right to work, holding babies and checking their tiny bodies for fever and dysfunction. At least one, she said, has pneumonia.

My husband tossed a donated football with a couple of the boys. Our team’s pastor sat on a tarp on the ground, his lap overrun by a couple of children. Dana had two more. Brad two. Mark same. Debbie. JP. John.

Even with every member of our team cradling several kids at a time, there was no way to grow enough arms and laps to touch them all.

The boys clamored for the matchbox cars in the bottom of my bag and one sad-eyed son scored an unopened bag of tiny green soldiers. His eyes widened in amazement at his good fortune, but I saw one of the older boys pursue him around the corner. The younger of the two was back in line, his eyes swollen with tears, minutes later.

Two sleeves of hair ties were in my bag and, to satisfy so many, I doled them out, one by one, to extended hands. Sometimes there were so many tiny fingers reaching toward my face that I couldn’t see what I was holding.

Red. White. Black. Blue. Pink. Navy. Green.

When the women saw there were elastic ties being given away, they discarded all pretense and stepped forward with hands outstretched.

The older kids were quick learners. When one child who was already clutching a toy gestured that he’d like to deliver a treasure to someone across the yard and I relented, savvy copycats queued up, pointing to phantom recipients. When I busted them with a knowing laugh and scolding, their eyes would sparkle and lips quiver into mischievous grins.

In the space where our team had planned to build a shelter, a French team had already come and gone, leaving behind a sturdy building to house the kids. In the area vacant just this morning when our advance team had visited, there was now a beautiful Shelterbox tent.

There is work that still needs to be done and food is scarce, but the greatest need seemed to be one of companionship. Many of these children likely have no way to comprehend why it has not been their mother’s arms or father’s shoulders that have held them these past few weeks. Their loss is still raw and new.

Too soon, it was time to leave. The sky was darkening and much of our team would be crammed into the rear bed of a pickup truck to ride for 30 minutes through the traffic- and people-choked streets back to our camp. To minimize risk, we needed to hurry.

As the driver was backing the truck from the orphanage, one lone child came staggering toward us with outstretched arms, sobbing to see us leave.

His tears matched our own, but especially those of John, my tall, quiet-natured teammate who had to return him to his plight.

Maura Alia Badji - Hello Cheryl,
I’m happy to land on your beauty of a blog and your wonderful stories. Thank you for going to Haiti to help, and sharing your experiences here.
It was great to see your note on my site.
All best,
Maura
http://www.themoxiebee.com

Emily - Hello Cheryl,
I’m happy to land on your beauty of a blog and your wonderful stories. Thank you for going to Haiti to help, and sharing your experiences here.
It was great to see your note on my site.
All best,
Maura
http://www.themoxiebee.com

Sabrina - Hi Cheryl,
I see you made it to Haiti. (You had left a message on my blog prior to heading out). I see you had an amazing time in Haiti. I am sure, like myself, and from reading some of your posts, that you gained so much from the Haitians. Amazingly resilient people.
Praying for you for an opportunity to return.
Happy Easter.
In Him,
Sandra

Lora - You have too much, really? This is what you’re teanhicg your children? To feel guilty for achievement, success, and a lifestyle that you’ve earned with your own hard work because you are lucky enough to live in the greatest country in the world that afforded you that opportunity? You are ashamed’ of your excess and are going to pass this misdirected guilt on to your children? Why don’t you show them the billions being directed to Haiti through (among other things) the deployment of the greatest military in the world, liquidate their college funds for donation, and march them straight down to the recruiter’s office and sign them up for the delayed entry program. Believe me, they won’t make too much’ money and they might actually get a real eductaion. Compassion is not learned by way of guilt and shame.

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Here am I, Lord

Oh sure, I’m no dummy. I know that sounds either crazy or presumptuous: “God woke me up and spoke to me.”

I get that. Seriously, I do.

But, just as I decided to listen to the fierce urge I felt to go to Haiti, despite that seeming plenty wacky, I’m choosing to risk you thinking I’m nuts to share the thought that was resonating clear in my head when I woke up at 2:30:

“Nothing you have is yours. It’s mine. Give. When you see need – give.”

The woman we met as we were leaving a second pizza restaurant this week popped into my mind. She had rushed forward as we left the safe confines of an oasis that seemed impossibly nice in Haiti – they even had a wine list – toward our waiting van and driver.

It was clear what she wanted as she hopefully extended a basket of socks to each of us. She wanted to sell us something.

She wanted our money.

One by one, we assured her that we needed none and pressed on into our van.

She faded back to the side of the filthy road, her basket still full – and the contents of our pockets and bellies also full – as we pulled away.

Our money that we had brought along in case we saw need was safe.

We didn’t need any socks.

I’m sure we could’ve bought her entire supply for 20 bucks. Or 10.

Had my heart been open, I would have recognized she wasn’t going to use my money to buy drugs. She wouldn’t tuck it triumphantly in her bra and walk around the corner to her Mercedes.

She needs to feed her family.

When I say there are moments that will long haunt me from our time in Haiti, some of them are my own failure to listen to God’s nudge in time.

Tonight, we sat, relaxed in our camp after a particularly eventful day and camp-cooked meal of beans and rice, and chatted with our hostess, Mirdrede. She began to open up about the conditions in her country.

“It is hard,” she said, in sometimes halting English. “I do not understand those who lay around all day, saying ‘I cannot give, because I do not have money.’ I do not have money, but I give. I work every day, every hour, since the earthquake.

“I live here,” she said, gesturing over her shoulder toward a tent. “It is not my job. I do not get paid. How would they pay me? No one has anything. But people think if you are giving, it means you have something. I have nothing. I lost my house. I lost my car. I lost my computer. But I am alive. And so I give. My husband is at another hospital in Carrefour. He is an adventist preacher, but this is how he is needed right now.

“When someone gives me three boxes of formula for the hospital, I keep one and I give two away. Because there is great need.”

Our conversation meandered, and I showed her a few of the photos shot during the day.

“These were taken by Roselaure,” I said, beaming. I was especially proud of the young girl’s first attempts at photography. She had a natural eye for composition and I felt like a spontaneous mentor to the girl also living at the Quisqueya University encampment.

“That is her mother who does the washing,” said Mirdrede, nodding. “She has nine children and she lost a daughter who was 9 in the earthquake. We also watch her twins during the day. They are 1 year old.”

The images of the twins show beautiful babies perhaps half that age. There is a new infant laying on the cot beside them in the photos.

“Her mother was killed in the earthquake,” said Mirdrede. “But she has aunts. One is the mother of Roselaure’s mother.”

Each day, those women show no signs that they know such loss. They walk in the shadows of the fallen university each morning and it is easy for the rest of us to assume they were “merely” homeless. But everyone here has lost someone.

“There were 13 professors killed here,” said Midrede, as we sat in our camp, mere feet from what is now a mountain of rubble. “And 25 students. Only three survived. One is my sister and she was trapped for three days.

“Come with me and I will show you something,” she said. We walked down the hill and into a nearby tent, where Beverly Lense, the doctor on our team sat in a roundtable discussion. She was educating the university’s remaining medical students through an interpreter about the wisdom of immunizations.

On a stage, there was a table with teeny clay figures sitting in colorful array.

“Every Friday, there are about 100 children who come here,” she said. “They have no school and nothing to do all day so, about two weeks ago, we started bringing them here. Some of them are being abused by their grandparents. This gives them a place to be secure.

“This time, the students used the clay to make pictures of what they saw in the earthquake. It is important for them to express it.”

There, in figures designed by children ages 5 to 10, lay sprawling and broken limbs of clay, myriad flattened buildings and tents with no sides or doors. One child fashioned a park with a few animals – but no people.

All throughout the day, our team had spent time issuing medicine to children and adults in another tent community. They had been quick to laugh, despite deplorable conditions, and yet, when given the opportunity to release the haunting images inside them, chaos spills into the clay.

Throughout the morning, the other members of our team and I had looked at each other a bit anxiously as the line of patients lengthened and supply of medicines slimmed. When we ran out of zip sleeves for each set of prescribed pills, a search for alternatives began. Could we put pills in latex gloves, write instructions on them and tie the fingers? Was there enough paper to create envelopes?

Finally, we began to spoon each batch of counted pills into sip-sized cups, writing instructions on tape and then affixing it to the side. To keep the medicine from tumbling out, we stacked each set of cups, handed them to the patient and hoped for the best.
Beverly, when she discovered there was no inhaler attachment for a prescribed dose of Albuterol, fashioned a mouthpiece by slicing the lid off one of our plastic water bottles and taping its edge with medical tape, then affixed it to the dispenser. After a few whiffs, the child breathed easier.

Finally, there was no more we could give and the medical students said, “We are finished.”

I was especially anxious as we began to pack our box, since the driver of our van had not been seen in hours. As I eyed the close quarters where we were crammed, with the many homeless Haitians surrounding us, I even felt a tinge of fear.

Things could go south real fast, it seemed. Already the people were disgruntled, because a UN truck had arrived only half an hour before, swung wide its doors for a shipment of food and elated the people. When only a few packs of cookies were distributed before the truck swiftly closed its doors of promise and left, a murmur rose from the crowd who thought they would finally be fed.

“He may not come soon,” said one of the medical students of our driver. My volley of emails to the pastor leading our group seemed to lend no quick solution.

Silly me.

When will I learn that all God needs to show His face is a heart willing to see Him?

When our table was packed and chairs folded, a few children playfully nudged their way into our midst.

Beverly scooped up a girl into her arms and the child quickly took the ends of the stethoscope and placed them in her own ears, then touched the metal scope to her own chest. When Dana cuddled Jefferson, a little boy, he did the same.

John and JP kept a watchful eye for our van to arrive, even as they joined Brad in keeping a watchful eye upon us.

Beverly began to dance with some of the children and then – I swear I am not making this up – “We Are The World” began playing on someone’s radio nearby.

Captivated by their smiles, I began to snap some shots of the kids surrounding us and show them the results. Soon, some of the adults nodded when I indicated I’d like to make pictures of them, too.

They were delighted by the images of their children and friends, especially when I swapped to let Christine, one of the young girls in the camp, become the photographer. Her images were composed beautifully, despite total inexperience. She hugged me, asking for my nombre and gushing, “Je t’aime.”

I love her, too.

God spoke to me then, too, by the way.

He said, “Trust me when I tell you I have a Plan. All you need to do is show up – and give.”

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