It was a day of contrast (and so has been the whole trip really). We saw two extreme sides of Haiti: the ugliness of poverty and sickness and the suffering of children; but we also enjoyed the stunning beauty of Haiti's coastline. It was the experience of two worlds, really. And we Christians know the whole two worlds thing, don't we? The already and not yet. The city of God and the city of Man.
The morning was spent with the children at a local school, Bois Neuf. Lifeline coordinates sponsorships for these children. Even though it was a holiday, many students showed up to update their height and weight, so that Lifeline can provide a general report to share with their sponsor families. While the kids waited, we played soccer, sang songs, distributed coloring books and crayons, and had lots of fun with the kids.
This is what is so amazing about children in Haiti (I've experienced this in India and Kenya as well): despite the sickness, pain and lack they experience, their spirits are high. That is an important distinction to make... even within the ugliness of such extreme poverty, there is beauty in a stalwart and courageous human spirit, no doubt because the love of God is present in their lives.
In the afternoon, Lifeline team also took us to a nearby beach. I can't say it was as beautiful as those children, but you must know: Haiti is no wasteland! There are parts that are entirely destroyed, ravaged by years of abuse and poverty, and of course the earthquake. But the clear, warm Caribbean water and imposing mountains put so many U.S. beaches to shame! It was a relaxing afternoon to end the week's work, but it was more than vacating. I found it very important to realize what Haiti could be. God's creation is wonderful - the people and places of Haiti are good examples of that. But humanity has failed to steward God's creation in many ways, and the Haitians are no exception on that point. It may take years and years, but there is a strong vision among Haitians and those doing relief and restorative work here to return Haiti to its natural beauty and wipe away the destruction of disease and suffering.
We are people of contrast, living in two worlds, struggling with a real and often disparaging tension. Yesterday was a day to celebrate the good in that tension, and obtain a clearer vision of what pursuing that good really is.