“Presence is the perfect present”
Becky Morone's thoughts about her trip to Haiti, October, 2006
Today I awoke to the quiet hum of the air filter. When I closed my eyes and listened very hard I could hear small chirps of the birds outside my window. Other than that it was so very hushed and quiet. My mind was clear to think about the upcoming days events such as what I needed to prepare for work, plan what we would have for dinner, make my grocery list, answer emails, return phone calls, pay bills….
Yesterday I awoke to the loud call of a rooster, and then of course another one competing with his call and then another one, another one, another one. I think there must be different type of roosters who have different times they crow as there voices were heard all throughout the early morning, afternoon and evening. Mooing and barking interspersed combined into a musical lyric. Voices laughing, calling and talking echoed around. Beep,beep,beep.. mopeds passing carrying typically 3 people bumped by. These sounds kept my mind contained in the moment. They were too loud to ignore and kept me focused on “hear and now”. This was a wonderful feeling.
Every once in a while I heard the rumbling of partly broken truck making its way around deep ruts in the dirt road. This struck me as the only familiar sound… a garbage truck coming by for pickup? Sadly so very sadly,” No”. Haiti, has no system for garbage pickup.” “That ditch looks like a good place.” The ditch lengthens eventually into a trash canal, traveling in between homes and through the market place. I see a small child making her way to school, dressed nicely in a uniform. (Each school has its own style of uniform and all the children in that school where it). Her path crosses the trash heap walking pass pigs and goats searching for a meal. Truly an unbelievable sight and only 2 hours from Florida.
Smells also kept me grounded in the moment. They could not be ignored. Burning is the only method of trash removal, plastic fumes, and rottenness of trash, donkeys, and perspiration fill the air.
However, after a few days of playing with children, holding babies, helping an aged man walk across the room, placing a pair of glasses on an elderly women who could no longer sew due to decreased vision and then watching her wide thankful grin as she saw again, these smells became associated with a culture of kind, very patient and respectful people. People who are be honored that they can survive in such conditions. Families exist lacking the simple necessities of clean water, electricity, shelter, and adequate food.
Today, I put the trash out, place my clothes in the washer, clean out my bags, put away tubes of toothpaste, soap, antibiotic ointment, bug spray, fan, granola bars, books, washcloths, etc. I place them one by one in the cabinet with many other items sitting unused on the shelves. What a wasted abundance of stuff I have. They have so little. I feel burdened by all my stuff. It clutters up the realization of what is truly important in this world. An outstretched hand willing to help is what the world needs. It is now clearer to me than ever in my life that we are truly the only hands God has. As I was riding back on the plane I saw myself on a cliff, I had flown off of it into a huge expansion of space that I never knew existed. God gave me a lifelong gift of seeing his children in Haiti. When we follow that calling to do something for someone else no matter how small or how big I believe that God’s presence surrounds us with a peace and a joy so great that no greater happiness could exists.
Dear Friends of Haiti
A Letter from Natalie Olinger-Stine, October 2006
Pat Conard will no doubt share with you all the numbers, findings and results of our very interesting and I think successful optical mission. I saw things that I just don’t and won’t see in the U.S. I’d like to spend a minute sharing a few other feelings about our trip…
As, I suspect, any travelers to Haiti might, our group experienced an extremely wide range of emotions in an extremely short period of time. The beauty of paradise; a wealth God given resources. The horror of illness and untimely death; we saw a young man on the back of a scooter for hire carrying an infant’s casket. The joy of childrens’ laughter at play, their songs, their pride, their smiles. The warm gratitude from each patient whose name we struggled to pronounce, or from the simple “bon jou” spoken, however amateurishly, straight into their eyes. The fear of the unknown and the recognition of humanity which connects us despite geography or politics. The sincere affection our group shared, and probably always will, for the common experience. Pictures don’t do justice to the place, the people, or the bond we now share. The whole group, I’m sure, is grateful to the Friends of Haiti for all that you have done to make our very memorable week possible.