EDITOR'S NOTE: Greta Alex and her brother, Simon Fickinger, grew up in Haiti where their parents were missionaries. The Fickinger family lived with the Haitian people, forgoing a modern house and electricity. Greta now lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.
I have always considered growing up in Haiti to have been one of the biggest blessings God has ever given me. It was a fascinating childhood spent playing, working, reading and coming face to face with some of life's most painful realities.
Haiti is a land of contradictions and extremes. Life was very hard, very primitive and very beautiful. The Haitian people are full of life, generosity, superstition and happiness. Time stands still there. As a family, we would often compare the culture to Biblical times. Visualizing Mary riding a donkey on filthy, dusty roads, for example, wasn't difficult for us. We saw it every day.
We had no paved roads, sporadic electricity in the later years, no TV, no internet, no bridges across the rivers. I am the daughter of medical missionaries, and we lived on the north coast of Haiti, about 150 miles from Port-au-Prince. That was a five and a half hour drive at the time, but roads have become much worse through the years. We had the privilege of seeing incredible miracles happen in the hospital where we worked. Lives were saved and souls were reached.
Yes, there is unimaginable poverty and suffering in Haiti. Please know however, that in the midst of it all, Jesus is there. The difference He makes to these precious people is profound. Beautiful brown faces shine with joy. Lives are changed. I am reminded of an old woman that we called, The Almond Lady. She was the poorest of the poor, living in a hut and was just skin and bones. She gathered and cracked almonds, which she would then sell door to door. We always had way too many almonds.
One day, my Mom gave her a scrap of brightly colored fabric. The next Sunday, there she was in church with a new skirt and head scarf all made from, literally, a scrap. I remember being told by the pastor of the Church that she always tithed. Always. This is the face of the believers in Haiti.
What does all this mean in the light of the earthquake? God is sovereign. It means that His children are hurting even more than usual. It means that disease will be worse, hunger worse, thirst worse. I didn't even think it could be worse. I'm thinking about Mothers who are missing their children. I think of the nursing Mothers that won't have the proper water to continue to produce milk, let alone those whose supply has been cut from the trauma of it all. I think of babies and children crying for food and drink as helpless parents try to comfort them. I'm thinking about children whose hearts are breaking. I'm realizing that those trapped know nothing about "rescue". You see, I was a child when I lived in Haiti, and now I am a Mother, so I suppose I see this tragedy through those eyes. I think almost exclusively of the people.
I'm ashamed to admit this, but at first, I hid myself from the tragedy. Initially, I heard about the earthquake from messages left on my answering machine. I didn't run to the TV. I avoided seeing the pictures. So much of my heart is still in Haiti. I didn't want to be overcome with grief. Then, God mercifully showed me that Jesus never hides from our pain, does He? He isn't afraid of it. He looks us full in the eyes and never even blinks. Let's run as fast as we can into His open arms. Let's pour out our hearts to Him about our own pain, and the pain of the Haitian people. He is seated on the throne. He pours down His mercy.
I believe in the power of prayer, and Haiti taught me that miracles really do happen. Go if you're led to, give if you're led to, but every last one of us can lift these people up to the Most High God for His healing, salvation and restoration.
*This article published January 26, 2010. Originally published on Mommy Life, a blog by Crosswalk.com contributing writer Barbara Curtis.
If you'd like to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, consider joining some of Crosswalk.com's partners in their work: Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA, Food for the Hungry, Samaritan's Purse, and World Vision.