I was on the floor kneeling beside a woman in labor who Haiti Serve team had just brought in from the village. Holding her hand, rubbing her arm, trying to teach her to breath deeply. This team is amazing. Everyone digging deep into their pot of talents like an involuntary reaction. Humbled to see them work all around me. Amber went from taking photos to trying to keep the IV bag from falling that had been taped up on the wall to washing the feet of children to washing the feet of children to! You never know what the day will bring here!
About 30 minutes before sitting on the ground beside this beautiful woman, I was outside of Children’s Hope Hospice Orphanage sitting on the floor of the open aired pavilion with 42 orphans. This orphanage has more than tripled in size since the quake. The children were surrounding me and Momma T (the grandmother of the orphanage : ) They were showing us their drawings from our time of art therapy. Each one desperate to tell their own story. Literally pushing each other to come closer to us. We had told them they each had a story of heartache because of their sad memories….. but, with God, the ending of their story would be better than the beginning. Reminding them how we believed in them. Reminding them that God had a plan for their lives. How God could make purpose out of their pain.
We listened to 42 stories. One by one. Some of the pictures showed people running or family members being crushed under the rubble. The younger ones did nothing more than scribble and draw swirls on their paper – but that was all they needed to draw.
“It is the earthquake” “It is the ground going round and round” “The earthquake came and the ground came alive and we ran away” “My father died in the earthquake” “My mother had died and my aunt was taking care of me. The earthquake killed her in the house” One by one. I made sure to look them in their eyes, and I wasn’t moving until I heard each story. Sitting on the ground looking up at them. I was the student and they were my teacher.
After each little one shared, I ran inside to check on the medical crew before we were to begin washing the children’s feet and giving them new shoes. Or so I thought. Half of the crew were gathered around a women who had fainted in labor around a mile away, and the other half were giving fluids to two twin infants found being carried by a nine year old boy in the village. Both babies were dehydrated. Both looked to be around 3 months – but they were not. They were around nine months old, and we were told they probably would not have lived to see one year. We all started doing what we could. I took one of the infants in one hand and started holding the IV bag in the other. During one of the most stressful times, one of the team members started singing Amazing Grace. One by one we all started singing. It was beautiful.
The kiddos were still outside and Ashton, the missionary family’s 12 year old daughter was still drawing with them and keeping them out of the home. She’s a rockstar : ) I soon found myself on the floor beside of Momma. By that time she had had at least two seizures, and, I think, we were all secretly fearing the outcome. Putting my hand on her tummy. Knowing on the other side of my palm was a beautiful precious soul whom God had incredible plans for
In the middle of a village in the middle of Haiti in the middle of Grace. It was a moment. Sitting there, I started singing again to Momma.
Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound who saved a wretch like me.
Singing softly, but hearing something behind me. It was the same song, but in a different tongue. A man behind me was singing with me - in Creole. Me on the floor looking back at him. He started smiling and came closer. Kneeling beside me. Kneeling beside of her. We were both there and two worlds seemed to become knitted together with the Spirit of God. Holding the hand of a mother getting ready to bring life into the world. We sang to her.
After another seizure started, I quickly got out of the way to let the medical staff take over. How they all worked together was incredible to see. My mind suddenly went back to the kids outside. I shifted gears once again and went outside where Momma T and Ashton had gathered them all together for us to wash their feet. I told them of how Jesus washed the disciple’s feet as a symbol of the fullness of His love. That today was a day of renewal for them. Of new beginnings. New beginnings. Mind drifting back to the other side of my hand as it lay on Momma’s tummy. The sweet staff had given us water to wash the children’s feet and they were all so excited. One by one. We washed 84 little feet. Praying for each of them as we put their new shoes on. Amber quickly shifted from photographer to foot washer and we were side by side washing feet and praying for each precious heart. Love those little toes. We were done, but it was Momma T’s turn.
“You too Momma T” She smirked. I knew what she was secretly wishing. She resisted. I insisted. This great women who had been through poverty, hurricanes, and, now, earthquakes. Oh, the stories she could tell. Oh, the wisdom she could give. I was, again, sitting on the ground looking up at her looking down at me. Washing her feet, Momma T’s eyes met mine:
“I have seen Christ in all of you today. Today you have done a beautiful thing.”
Kids started playing. Half the team stayed to attend to Momma and the baby. The rest of us left for the guest house. All the way back, I couldn’t help singing in my head over and over.
Amazing Grace…. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.
I see. Lord, I simply pray that you make me blind. Blind to my own eyes and Awakened to yours. I have seen you today. In the eyes of 9 month old twins, in the hearts of 42 orphans, in the spunk of a 75 year old Haitian women, in the warmth of a mother’s tummy who hold’s a soon to be baby boy……. Named after Greg, the East Tennessee missionary whose family has touched my spirit. This day. This Amazing day of Grace.
I will never forget.
Photo courtesy of Amber Beckham. AmberBeckham.com