I asked to never be able to forget Haiti. To never forget the heat, the sunlight, the bus rides, the dusty roads. The palm trees, the food stands at the side of the road, the woman following her donkey, and the school children with bows in the hair and pencils in their hands.
I asked God to remind me of the band and singers that welcomed us to Haiti at the airport, the tree branches that brushed both sides of the bus on that narrow road up to OFCB, the sights, the sounds, the piles of garbage, the cell phone towers, and the brightly painted trucks and buses. The proud, dignified, strong, resourceful, funny, beautiful people - may I never forget their grace and elegance and the means by which they made their way through, around, between, and in spite of all that surrounds them.
The beeping of the horns, the crowding of the tap-taps, the way in which both men and women carry impossibly large, heavy, wet, and uneven loads on their head. I never saw anything fall from anyone's head - that is unforgettable.
The flowers, the trees, the plantings, the fields, the mountains, the beaches, the cows, the goats, the dogs - so much life, so much color, so much beauty. I asked God to help me remember all of it. So far, it seems that my prayers have been answered. There have been very few waking hours when I have not thought about and prayed for Haiti.
In my morning prayers, I say, "We entrust all who are dear to us to Your never-failing love and care, for this life and for the life to come, knowing that you will do for them far more than we can desire or pray for." When I say the words, "all who are dear to us," I think of some of the people of Bayonnais - who are so dear to me now.
At midday, I pray, "Accept the prayers of your people, we pray, and in Your great mercy, look with compassion on all who turn to you for help." As I utter those words, I imagine in my mind all those in Haiti who turn to God for help day after day.
In the evening, my prayer includes the following lines: "We offer prayers for the welfare of the whole world: for all people in their daily life and work, for all who hold authority and all who work for freedom, justice, and peace, for all who suffer and all who remember and care for them, and for all those in whom we have seen the Christ this day, in joy and in sorrow. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy."
As the nighttime shadows deepen, I utter my final prayers for the day - "Keep watch, dear Lord, with all who work or watch or weep this night. Give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, we pray, and give rest to the weary. Soothe the suffering and bless the dying. Pity the afflicted and shield the joyous, all for your love's sake, amen."
(This is where the prayers come from.)
It is impossible to pray those words without thinking of those who suffer in Haiti - the homeless in Nicaragua, the poor in Sevilla, the hungry in Charlotte, and the parents of a needlessly murdered teenaged boy in Sanford, Florida.
I apologized in advance and now I apologize at the end for continuing to reflect, ponder, and post photos and thoughts about this trip here on the blog. I am grateful for your continued support, your questions, your comments, your emails, and the ways in which you are using these stories in order to better feed, educate, and spiritually empower the people of Haiti. If anything I write here, if any question I ask here, if anything I do here makes a difference in the life of even one Haitian child, then to God be the glory and to you be many thanks.
Once again, I'm sorry.