After a few days in Haiti, God brought me face to face with the reality of hunger for so many on our planet. My daughter Angela, a veteran of two earlier trips to Haiti with Bless Back, had asked me to co-lead a trip to Cambry which would be primarily medical in focus but also with an effort to create an infirmary attached to the clinic which was already being used by Bless Back. Although I honestly thought I was too busy with more important things, I agreed to it because I had seen such a wondrous growth in her from those earlier trips. I was excited about experiencing first hand what I had heard her talk about so often. So…my wife,Teresa, and I agreed to sign up for the January Team.
God was way out in front of us on this and had lined up an all star cast of characters for this mission. In a future blog, I must tell you about them and how God so beautifully laced our hearts and skills together to do a work that He had planned from eternity to do in and through us in Haiti. For now, take my word that He is way smarter than we can ever hope to be and that He chose just the right person for every detail of this mission. Every team member humbly chose to serve our Lord and Savoir first and to submit themselves to the leadership that had been appointed for this mission in order to bless those we had been called to serve. Their humility and commitment has impacted me in a way that I cannot adequately describe except to say that thanks to them, I will never be the same again.
Hunger…It is one thing to talk about it and to understand it intellectually but quite another to be confronted with it by someone who knows your name. In an earlier blog, Angela has explained the idea of “Being Chosen”. I suggest you read that blog. While at the Cambry Orphanage, I had the honor to be chosen by 11 beautiful children. One of them was named Ernise. Ernise is a beautiful young girl who was one of three girls who decided that Rahjue (what they called me instead of Roger) was worthy of their undivided attention while I was there.
Although many of the children had told me that they were hungry, I had been warned that they may use that to manipulate me for candy (actually protein bars) that we had brought for them. However, the urgency with which Ernise had told me of her hunger was starting to sink in after a few days. On my third day there, I was sitting beside Ernise in the clinic and she told me again that she was hungry but this time she took my hand and forced it hard into her belly. I was amazed at how elastic it felt, as if it was made of thin rubber. I later learned that this is a result of a distended belly caused by malnutrition.
As she pushed my hand into her stomach and looked directly in my eyes she said with urgency “Rahjue, I’m hungry!” I knew in that moment that my life would never be the same again. Hunger was no longer something that I read about or saw from a distance on television…it was Ernise, who knew my name. Talking about it was not going to fix it, praying about it was important and allowed God time to impress on me what He had in mind for me to do but at the end of the day, I had to act on what He was impressing on me. In His wisdom, He was impressing the same sense of urgency on our entire team and had already been preparing the Bless Back organization to launch a sponsorship program for these beautiful children. Ernise didn’t know it and I didn’t know it at the time but God was way out in front of us on this.
There is so much more that I want to share with you about the January Team and the children and others we were honored to serve…about Toto who I found famished and limp on the cafeteria floor…about Titite whose father placed him and his brother Chi Chi on a rooftop while he went back to save their mother and baby sibling during a flood only to be swept away with the mother and baby leaving these two precious brothers alone in the world on that rooftop and how they are now at Cambry with hope for a future…about patients who walked up to 50 miles to see an American doctor…about some who needed surgery which was out of reach for them financially but who received it for free from an American surgeon who needed back surgery himself but forced himself to serve them through his pain….about a dental team who performed surgical extractions and filled teeth until 9:00 at night because they refused to turn people away who had no other access to these services…about a group of people who saw over 700 patients in five days because five days is what they had….about how four guys who didn’t know each other looked at a leaking roof that they didn’t expect to deal with and said “we simply have to replace it so let’s get started” and proceeded to tear it off, rebuild it and complete a brand new infirmary in record time….about how 23 people looked at each other and said “we have to do something about these kids being hungry and we have to do it now”… I promise, give me time and I will tell these stories…just as soon as I can stop crying…
By: Roger Braswell