Last night I awoke to the sound of rustling.
My heart quickened and the thought that waved through my mind like a banner was, "There are angels in my room!"
Not perhaps a typical reaction, but then, it was my first night home from Haiti.
Dave and I left for Haiti on February 6th and were there for 9 days. We went with a team of 10 from our church to build a kindergarten classroom at a school that our church supports. However, when we got down there it turned out that there was a transportation strike over gas prices so it was impossible to run the risk of getting to the school. Instead, we started to build a house in the neighborhood of the seminary where we were staying. We were able to work in the community and later at the school and both experiences were amazing.
Dave is still there so I don't have any pictures to show until he gets back, as he has the camera. But I wanted to get some of my main impressions down.
Walking through the squalor of the neighborhood that first day was shocking. The houses are built stacked together (the "law" is 3 feet of space on every side). The paths between the houses are littered with garbage and waste. And this is where, walking through this labyrinth of bodies and homes and garbage, the image of our happy, well dressed, prosperous church chanting "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good" slapped up against this reality. I didn't want this slapping. Perhaps if I had gone to the school first, and seen all the happy, beautiful children in their school uniforms singing about Jesus, the contrast wouldn't have been so stark. But stark it was.
Slowly over the days, God allowed me to see a beautiful truth. That the working out of God's sovereignty, of His redemption, is in the very bowels of the earth that He created. That the layer we see here on the top, be it lovely or hellish, is only a very thin layer, and underneath that, He's moving. And often, the stirring in the depths will explode like a mini volcano of hope and light amidst the darkness. It was after seeing these mini explosions that I started to understand, He's here, He's working.
These explosions often came in the form of people. Mason and Lauren are missionaries in Haiti and long time friends. They serve the people of the community tirelessly. That doesn't mean they're not tired, but they are unfailingly motivated by the love of God for these people. They have helped rebuild dozens of houses for people living in scrap metal.
Johny, who laughs. Johny is the big Haitian man who started the school in Merger that our church supports. He drove to Merger daily even though it was often not safe to do so. He explained, "If the God in the Bible is real, He is able to get me safely to Merger." It was later reported to him by thugs that when they would lay in ambush to attack his car, his car would simply disappear. Yes, God is real. Johny saw a slum through the eyes of God and built a little school. The school now has almost 400 children and goes to grade 11. Next year the first child will graduate. These children are happy and bright and have a hope and faith in Jesus that is astounding.
WaWa is the president of the seminary. He had dinner with us and explained his heart for discipleship that surpasses just imparting Biblical knowledge to the students. He teaches the teachers how to invest in lives, like Jesus did, so that the students can see the practicality of loving Jesus. Yes.
We visited Chantelle who had a house built for her in 2011. She was laying on a thin blanket on the cement floor on the house. She had had diarrhea for 4 days (which was why she wasn't in a bed). When she saw several of the men who had built her house, she sat up and threw her arms open. They bent down to hug her. She had nothing but joy, nothing but gratitude for the roof over her head. We filed out of her home solemn, choked with the stench and the joy and the shock of having witnessed a volcano.
There were many other believers that we met that were faithfully, joyfully serving God among their people. They didn't look like volcanoes, but they were.
In truth, the very fact that our team was there was a volcano in itself. We hugged and kissed the children and we (the girls anyway) let them do our hair. We sang with them and laughed with them and told them "Jesus loves you" as we pressed our white finger onto their chocolate chest.
Jesus loves you. That is the truth that all the volcanoes proclaim.
God is working. Often it's in bowels, where it's not easy to see.
But I'm listening now, for the groaning and stirrings in the depths (or for the rustle of angel's wings).
I'm watching now, for the explosions of light that illuminate truth in this dark world.
Jesus loves you.
The people chanting "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good" were right, and it didn't matter what they looked like on the surface, because He's working in the depths just the same.