Friday, September 30, 2016

Hard Places



Two years of living in Haiti has taught us......we have a lot to learn!   We were ignorant to how difficult language learning would be and even more ignorant to how difficult it would be to understand another culture.

This past week, a team come from the states to help do inventory, cleaning, painting, planting and repairing at Mountain Maid, the self-help program.  We are thankful for their "attack" on the never ending to-do list.

The team worked indoors most of the time so a few cultural experiences were planned for them. My Dear took the team so our 12-year-old daughter, I refer to as Dolly, went along to a historical fort nearby.  You should know that  Dolly enjoys people, adventures, Jesus, and is passionate about animals.....especially dogs.  Her love for animals is unique to this country where animals are seen as a way of living and not as companions.  When Dolly received a goat, the employees of the mission could not understand why she would not eat her goat.   Dolly explained that she does not eat her friends, which they accepted with laughter.   Haitian dogs, a lone  breed, are considered dirty animals, like street rats.   People do not touch or associate with them and usually run them off, kick them or throw things at them.   They sound dangerous but are actually very meek animals.

The team, My Dear, Dolly, and a few translators walked through the fort.   A little dog was in the area.   Dolly said the dog came towards her with its head low but its tail wagging, wanting so much to be petted.  She called the dog over and she came.   This is not typical for Haiti.  The dogs suffer so much abuse that they are afraid of people, but mama dog came.   She let Dolly pet her head and others on the team asked if it was okay for them to pet the dog too.   The team all thought the dog was cute and were kind to it.   I am sure the locals observing thought it was strange (and gross) for the foreigners to be nice to and especially touch the dog. 

The team walked past an open cistern that was full of water from the rain that had fallen every day that week.   Water lilies floated beautifully on top of the water creating a scene perfect for VanGogh.  They left the cute dog behind and explored another area.  When they walked away,  a local boy, probably Dolly's age, pushed the little dog into the open cistern.   Unlike Joseph in the book of Genesis, this cistern was full.  Just moments before it was a picture of calm with water lilies floating  but now it was the scene of distress as the team looked back to see the dog frantically trying to get its head above water.  The dog tried to grab onto the floating lily pads to pull itself up.  The dog was panicked and was truly fighting for her life.  What was seconds, seemed like minutes or even hours.  It would not have surprised me for a wet Dolly to come home after such an event.   Thankfully, she did not jump into the water because a man on the team laid down on the ground and pulled the dog to safety.  Dolly struggled to get the image out of her head the rest of the day.

The dog quickly ran off.   The team said it was terrible to see and they were all disturbed by the scene.   The little boy just laughed at the dog and probably at the team as well.   Our Dolly, well, I  picture Jesus in the temple behavior.  Dolly was filled with what I would describe as a righteous anger!    She unleashed her frustration on the young man, I am believing that the Lord gave her a fresh word in the Creole language if you know what I mean!   She said that all of this anger came out and she realized that she had to show Jesus to this boy.  Thankfully, she was not talking about putting her hands on him and praying because I think the kid would be grasping at lily pads too.    Dolly let him know that the same God that created him created that dog.   That is not how you treat God's creation.   After speaking nonstop to him for some time, a translator, came and gently took her by the shoulders and walked her away from the boy.    Members of the team  shared that they too wrestled with their emotions and wanted to respond by pushing the boy in....and of course getting him out to teach him a lesson. 

Dolly was emotionally worn out when she got home.   She could not rid her mind of the image of the dog grasping for something, anything to get out of that open cistern of water.  She cried.  She begged me to take her back to the fort so she could get the dog and its puppies and bring it home.  She promised she would not want to keep it and would find a home for it (She just tearfully found homes for 2 kittens she bottle fed.)   When it didn't work with me, she want back to trying with her dad.   It was a hard day for her and tears would fall without warning.   She was unable to focus on her school work.  Basically, she grieved. 

On their way home from the excitement of the fort, she saw 30-50 goats hanging off the back of a tap-tap by their feet and their cries hurt her ears as she tried to look away.   The tears trickled.   This country is a hard place for animal lovers.

Dolly has been teased about the animals here.   But this topic, grieves her.     Yes, the goats in the zoo will one day be served for dinner here, but they will not be on Dolly's plate.  She double checks the menu when in question.  She doesn't eat her friends.   The episodes of the day were hard.   The injustice to animals is hard for a person who is passionate about them.

Dolly confessed to me later, as she sorted through her feelings, that perhaps the hardest part of the day is that she witnessed a person being cruel to another living creature for no reason.  It is as if a line was drawn and part of the innocence of childhood is gone for her.   She saw evil.   She saw sin.  She saw that we all need a Savior. 

The little dog, found a savior in an outstretched arm of a foreigner and maybe, a Haitian boy heard about the Savior and his need for salvation.  You and I probably never pushed a dog into a cistern of water, but we have sinned, caused pain to ourselves and others.   We have grieved the Holy Spirit with our choices.   But our Savior awaits with an outstretched hand. 


*Photo Credits Sarah S.