by Kayla Raymond
There I am standing on a platform, about 8 stair steps off the ground, waiting outside of the doorframe of a little shop, wanting to make some photocopies. I greet the people inside with “bonjour” and mind my own business. I suddenly feel a light tap on my calf to realize it is coming from a man standing on the ground, eye-level with my feet. He begins a game of charades with me, motioning his hand to his stomach then to his mouth. He repeats the phrase “mwen grangou” (I’m hungry) several times and I act like I speak absolutely no Creole and am the world’s worst charades player. I continue to mind my own business, and he continues to tap my calf. I want to turn around and begin an argument with him, asking why he chose to intrude my personal bubble? Is it because I’m the only white person you see? Is it the color of my skin that makes you believe it is all right to ask me for money? I want to yell at him and tell him it is not all right. I want to plead my case and tell him how I have two children of my own that I need to feed. Tell him that I have already given my money away to three other people. “I don’t know you sir and sorry, you can’t have my money today,” I think to myself. Instead, I don’t say anything. I bite my lip and begin to feel extremely awkward as everyone inside begins to stare at me now, too. Finally it is my turn. I pay the 200 goudes to make 50 photocopies of a paper I need for work. I walk away from the man, who is continues to play charades with me, and head towards my truck so that I can just go home.
You see…the color of my skin is beginning to trouble me in this country. I have learned that in the past (and still happening today), white colored people have come in, with all their riches, left behind “things” and now all we have taught these people that it is okay to continue to ask and expect “things” in return. My heart is becoming wearisome because I don’t know who to give to and who NOT to give to anymore. It’s not only affecting my heart, but it affects my attitude and temper as I continue to interact with these people.
There is this story in the Bible about a man named Lazarus. On earth, Lazarus was a beggar. He lay outside the gate of a rich man; a man who dressed in fine linens and lived in luxury everyday. Lazarus was covered with sores and only hoped to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.
The time came for the beggar and the rich man to die. The difference was that the angels carried Lazarus to heaven and the rich man was buried and sent to hell. In hell, he looked up and saw Abraham in heaven, with Lazarus by his side. He begged Abraham to have pity on him and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue, because he was in such agony from the fire.
But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received his bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” (Luke 16:19-31)
You see…my life is full of Lazaruses now. Although I don’t dress in fine linens, I know I’m here to help the Lazaruses that Jesus places in my life.
My new friend is pregnant for the 8th time, having had 4 previous miscarriages, she is in high hopes to give birth to a healthy baby girl. She has had recent pains and is worried. I gave her money to see the doctor.
After buying bread, a lady came rushing to me, asking if I could see her baby. “Of course,” I said. She brought to me a one-year-old naked baby boy, who was covered in open sores. Covered so severely in fact, I was afraid to pick the child up. I gave her money to see a doctor because I had never seen such an infected child and was worried this infection may enter the blood.
Afterwards, I visited Mama Noel. Although the visit was nothing short of hugs, thanksgiving and laughter (the lady is always making me laugh), she was short on food and has no money to buy new shoes to go to church. I emptied my pockets.
Then I went to Cabaret to make photocopies. And that man started tapping my calf.
You see…there are Lazaruses everywhere. But, how do I know which people truly and desperately need me. How do I distinguish who is trying to take advantage of the white girl and who is depending on me?
You see…I don’t want to be like the rich man in the story. I don’t want to go around thinking I’m doing right, when in fact I may be doing complete wrong. What if that man tapping my calf was in fact my Lazarus?
Last night I laid in the darkness of my room with Webert at my side and told him how this was all beginning to wear on me. In the darkness, I stop seeing the color between white and black, in the darkness I forget the differences in the ways we were raised and how we come from completely different places, in the darkness I hear the voice of my best friend, Webert. He begins to pray, “Jesus, give her wisdom.”
Yes, Jesus, that’s all I ask for. Please give me wisdom.
Life here in Haiti is just so different. I see a lady who lies on a piece of cardboard everyday. I see children wearing rags, covered in dirt from head to toe. I see children with orange hair because they go days without eating, children covered in sores and children who have never gone to a day of school. I see people working long days in the field with only a plow, people selling fish from the sea and people washing all their clothes by hand in the stream. I see people just trying to survive. I see the unexpected, I see sadness, I see Lazaruses everyday.
Today my prayer request is for myself (and for Webert and for missionaries around the world working with those living in poverty) to have serenity to accept the things I (we) cannot change; courage to change the things I (we) can; wisdom to know the difference between who I (we) can and who I (we) cannot help, wisdom to know the difference between what I (we) can and cannot change; and strength to say no when I (we) have to.
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me your servant.
But I am only a child.
I do not know how to carry out my duties.
Your servant is here among the people you have chose, a great people, too numerous to count.
So give your servant a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong.”
-1 Kings 3:7-9 (some words omitted)