Some say the sweet combination of sweaty moistness and three layers of 40% Deet Ultrathon Bug Spray is an acquired taste. Along with the constant perspiration in every crevice, there’s continuous cloudy haze of humidity, dust and pollution in the air. Not to mention the guy walking down the street mostly naked, giving away the goods to hundreds of cars and motorcycles that weave in and out while honking their way through the chaotic two-lane road around him.
It’s 11am in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and the sounds of dozens of crying babies fill the air like a symphony of despair and pain. We, the twelve volunteers present at Mother Theresa’s Clinic and Orphanage this steamy Wednesday morning, are doing the best we can to hold and console as many of our little friends as possible.
Despite our best efforts (and our ongoing game that included 1 point for vomit, 1 point for urine, 2 points for poo, and 4 points for diarrhea acquired on any piece of clothing), our morning feels like an outnumbered game of baby whack-a-mole, using food and love instead of a hammer of course.
11 o’clock is a particularly hard time for these kiddos as families are only allowed to visit from 9-11am and sometimes it might be the only time they are held and played with all day. As the parents make their quick exit, as you can imagine, the tears come fast and hard. The volunteers stay and help feed the kids lunch before leaving at noon.
As I held Cadet, a rambunctious bully of a girl who immediately became attached to my hip (of course), I somehow found an indescribable love pouring out of me like never before. Sure, Cadet is a biter, she scratches me, pushes other kids down, and pulls my armpit hair, but looking in her pure brown eyes you can’t help but see the love of God staring back at you.
This beautiful child has the entire world stacked against her. She is living in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, she is sick and as far as I can tell, doesn’t have any family to care for her. She is the very least of these, a girl with almost nothing and almost no one.
It’s there, holding her five tiny figures and slowly feeding her bite after bite of beef stew that I realized how much of my life I have wasted on things that don’t really matter.
How will the story of your life read? What will you leave behind after your gone? I fear we’re living in a generation whose eulogies will include how many shows he/she binge watched on Netflix or how many levels he/she beat in a video game. I am guilty of those things as anyone. Yet, looking at Cadet it became so abundantly clear that we’re only given so much time to do things in this world that really matter.
According to the book Radical by David Platt, if you make more than $10,000 a year, you are richer than 84% of the world. If you make more than $50,000 you are richer than 99% of the world. Yet we live in a culture where nothing is ever enough. We want more, bigger, better because maybe material things are what ultimately lead to living a happy life.
I am here to tell you that a shiny car or a perfect house will never satisfy your soul my friend. As it says in Ecclesiastes 5:10 “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
We were created to experience the love of Christ and show it to everyone around us. That will be our legacy.
As for me, I’m going to keep fighting against a mentality that says I am only living to make myself happy, and instead, set my sights on serving others and loving them with the same ferocious love God shows me.
This was us playing in another village. Photos weren’t allowed at Mother Theresa’s Orphanage.
On our last day at Mother Theresa’s, I arrived and immediately walked into the room filled with wall-to-wall cribs. There, in the back, was a screaming toddler with red eyes and a face soaked with tears. I walked towards Cadet and she immediately stopped and lifted her hands to me. As I picked her up she buried her face in my chest, immediately fell silent and smiled.
“This feeling of caring for the sick, the lost, the hungry is worth more than anything else,” I wrote in my journal. “This is why were created and I only wish everyone could experience this feeling.”
As for the sweaty moistness, sure it’s not the most comfortable and yes, given the choice to not smell like industrial strength bug spray every second of the day is a luxury I am beyond grateful for now that I’m home. Yet, those inconveniences are nothing compared to the experience of being the hands and feet of Jesus and knowing what it’s like to care for someone with all your heart.
That is truly the feeling of being recklessly alive and it’s worth more than anything this world could ever offer.
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