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On the Coast Magazine

Anniversary of Hope

01/07/2013 10:05AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 4:53 pm. Fear-ridden screams and the crash of plummeting buildings echoed throughout the heart of an already economically depressed Republic of Haiti. Haiti was victimized by an earthquake measuring 7.0 in magnitude, the greatest in over 200 years. Nature’s massacre continued for the next twelve days with 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater. It is estimated that 220,000 to 250,000 lives were lost as a result of this natural disaster, leaving thousands of bodies abandoned on the streets and 1.5 million people completely displaced.

We are nearing the three-year anniversary of this great disaster and wondering if there is any measure of hope amid the devastation. There are reports of misallocated food, clothing, and relief funds. Mangled cities and lives are still the panoramic of the masses as well as to the naked eye. It would seem to an outsider that there has been marginal progress to restore any semblance of normal life. Fortunately, reality is seldom the picture she paints, but rather becomes the collective perceptions of the lives involved.

Friday, May 18, 2012, 3:30 am. On a humid Florida morning, a group of 13 young (mostly young) adults, myself included, packed up their cars to caravan to Pensacola International Airport. From there we were off to Gonaives, Haiti on a mission trip that would prove to change the world…our world. If you asked us what we hoped to do in Haiti, we would have said, “Deliver change.” If you asked us what our expectations were, we would have said, “To be completely broken for an impoverished people.”

Upon arrival in Port au Prince we connected with MUCH Ministries who has been providing assistance to Haiti while living among the locals since 2003. Beaver and Kathy Brooks run the house where we stayed and their stories are as inspiring as the changes they author. They traveled from the states to find the poorest city in the poorest country in the western hemisphere: Jubilee. There they set up shop (literally) with MUCH Ministries. While MUCH Ministries began with a food program, it has evolved to include a clinic, a primary school, a trade school, housing and clean water supply development. MUCH Ministries does more than meet a physical need - it collaborates with the people to develop relationship and economic independence. Kathy teaches the women to create beautiful jewelry, baskets, rugs and accessories from items they can easily find. The men make rustic-style burlap and leather journals.

During the two-hour commute to Gonaives, I stared out the window as a foreigner exposed to an altered universe. The land was littered with broken buildings; trash peppered the streets and watering locus. This land was tattered, to be certain, but was nothing compared to our destination in Jubilee. Once there, we understood the socioeconomic deficiency compared to the other cities. There was no vegetation, just dirt, and there was an unpleasant, unique smell in the air. The children were naked and their ages were hard to determine as they were all malnourished. We went on to clean the backyards of orphanages, paint, pray, feed and wash clothes. We left much to be done, and at the end of the day I would say we were little more than helpful tourists. But it was that tour that changed the way we view the world and contributed to a picture bigger than we could imagine.

It seems that when we are pressed, we find our glory or allow another’s to shine. These people have been pressed so hard yet continue to prevail, to smile, to play, their dignity and hope intact. Beaver and Kathy maintain a mantra that speaks volumes: Do the next small thing right. Through small steps they are changing a culture and an economy from the inside out, one mission tour at a time. And they are changing a world so culturally far away, one mission tourist at a time.

Friday, June 25th 2012. Time in Haiti was different. I knew I had come, and I knew I had to leave, but in between I was transformed. I never felt freer than in Haiti. I never felt more beautiful than in Haiti. We delivered what we intended - a portion of love, a pinch of hard work - and were recompensed with healed eyes, a vision of simplicity lost in a commercialized existence. This journey began with pity for the “have-nots,” but I could not avoid a mirror in its midst. I have become broken now for a people who are impoverished of time, who think they have nothing and strive to have more, to do more.

The faces we encounter and the moments we share are a far weightier gold than the merchant would have us believe. Time is truly our most valuable possession and we are spending it as though it comes freely and ceaselessly. The measure of life is not where we go nor the house which we own but the small steps we took to get there, the little things we did right and the little things we righted all along the way. My hope for each of us is that we may rediscover life, that we can live the moments with our loved ones slowly and recycle the memories shared with our grandparents. Jubilee speaks a message of hope and happiness, as her name alludes, amid a seemingly impossible trial. We should always be aware of other’s needs, not to be overwhelmed but to do the next small thing well. Through these tiny strides, we will journey distances we never dreamed we could.

[Editors note: To buy beautiful handcrafted items that support Jubilee’s economy and the lives of the people there or to learn more about MUCH ministries, visit www.2ndstorygoods.com ; www.muchministiries.org]

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