Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 2: Fear

This morning, at about 1:30 AM, a man staggered out of Lil' Joe's Tavern. He swayed a little bit, righted himself, adjusted his trajectory for home, and suddenly realized that our tent city lay directly in his path. He hesitated, trying to decide what he was going to do. This was the moment of fear.

I sat by our diminishing fire, the textbook I had been reading turned timidly over in my lap. I immediately recognized a lack of security. This man could walk into our tent city and no one could stop him. Who was he? How much had he had to drink? Was he planning on just crawling in one of the inviting tents and spending the night? This was MY moment of fear. I imagine now that this stranger must have had a similar experience, with the insecurity of how to proceed looming briefly in his consciousness.

The thought of how vulnerable Haitian survivors must feel at being completely exposed, completely vulnerable flashed through my mind. How do they deal with it? Not just the presence of a stranger at the edge of their camp, but also not knowing when or if they will find food. And for those still trapped under rubble, not knowing if they will even see the light of day again.
It is in this crucial moment that I found my lesson for Day 2. Because it is in this instant of insecurity that we must make a choice. Choose faith, or choose fear. Fear would be to forget that we are under control. Fear would be to forget that we are always safe in the love of God. Fear would be to give in to the impulse to protect ourselves from the unknown. God reminded me in this moment that He is in control. Christ has calmed the storms and holds his hand out for us to take. I could not have done this on my own.

I called out to the man. I waved. He teetered a minute longer, then ambled over towards the fire. His name is Sam..."Sam I am." He is from just south of Alexandria, in town to take care of his mother who is in the hospital. We talked about his mother's situation and I told him about why we were sleeping in tents. Sam talked a little about his service in the marine core, how if he were still young enough to serve, he would relish the thought of being deployed to Haiti. Sam plays the french accordion! I invited him back to Cite' Lespwa any evening he wanted to play, and I offered to drive him home. After half an hour of conversation, Sam bid our tent city farewell and continued on his walk home. Though we didn't see Sam tonight for the Three Day Weekend show, I still cling to the hope that he returns...and brings his accordion.

In Haiti today, the battle rages against fear. The relief efforts have bottle-necked as supplies arrive efficiently to the airport, but sit on the tarmac instead of being delivered to where they are needed most. Inefficient planning and communication in relief efforts that can be explained in the initial days following the earthquake continue to bog down the relief process. Haitians grow more weary of being neglected. As Fredodupoux notes, "a hungry man is an angry man."

And so the fear of being unprovided for has led some Haitians to desperation. In the midst of this desperation, Haiti's orphanages are becoming a target. Many perceive these locations to have food, water, or medical supplies and so they are in jeopardy of being taken advantage of. "Who will stand up for the broken?" as Chasing Canaan's song goes. I pray for relief workers in Haiti. I pray for the men unloading equipment and supplies off cargo planes. I pray that they recognize what their inefficiency is causing. I pray that they face their fears, they take the hand of God and they let Him guide their supplies to His people. And I pray for Haiti and her children. That they feel God's comforting hand on them. That they remain calm and continue to show their fierce and gentle spirit.

And I pray for us, as witnesses to these events. I pray that we are not drawn into fear and judgment ourselves, but that we see the truth of the situation. Lindsay Branham notes her experience: “There have been a lot of media who are reporting that there's looting now, it's out of control, it's getting really violent. That might be happening in pockets. I haven't seen any of that. I've just seen people working really hard to figure out how to survive and helping each other do that.”

These are the people we are fighting so hard to help. These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, we are one. Right now in Haiti there is a child that sleeps. There is a child that waits. And I hope life for this child.

Lespwa fe viv – Hope makes us live.

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