I’ve never seen such extreme hunger.
It was a hot day. A really hot day. Our team just spent about two hours packed into a school bus to get here, and then boarded the rickety wooden boats to cross Lake Azuei to get to this village. It was isolated from civilization in more ways than one.
Our host pastor had been visiting and working with these people for several months, and our visit with them was intended to bring a glimmer of hope in support of the ministry that was already happening.
We were fortunate enough to have a great deal of corporate support that allowed us to purchase about 1,500 pounds of food items to deliver to these people. We had rice, beans, oil, and noodles. Our host pastor informed us that many of these people hadn’t eaten in about three weeks, and the food we brought would last them approximately 2-3 months.
Oh, and then there was the clothing. Judging from the naked children walking around, it’s obvious that this was needed just as badly as the food that we brought.
If I’m honest with myself, then I’d have to say that I’ll never truly understand what their lives must be like.
Especially considering the short time we were there.
Sure, I could see that the land was dry and rocky. It must be impossible to support any substantial livestock, let alone farm the land.
The only transportation that I saw were the boats that brought us across the lake. So getting to any ‘nearby’ work would have required a great deal of effort and expense.
There was no electricity. No running water. No phone lines. And I know it’s hard to believe, but there was also no cable TV.
They were literally disconnected from civilization.
After being there for a little while, I easily understood their hunger for food. As we distributed the food, people would regularly send their children back to cut in line and get more of one item or another. It was difficult turning them away so that we could guarantee that there would be enough for everyone.
Then we brought out the clothing. You’d think that it would be okay to open a suitcase and expect people to remain calm and orderly. But we didn’t (or couldn’t) understand what it’s like to need (anything) that bad.
Chaos is the only word to describe what happened as the people mobbed those who were trying to distribute shoes and clothing. It was so chaotic that the police officers that traveled with us literally went into riot-control mode.
It was (and still is) difficult for much of our team to understand why many of these people would act so uncivilized. Many of us judged them for it.
But that’s because we failed to understand their hunger. And not a hunger just for food, but for any of the bare necessities that many of us take for granted.
It’s hard for any of us to imagine why someone would go crazy for a $3 pair of flip-flops.
I know that when I get really hungry, and choose to ignore it long enough, then my blood sugar will start to drop. As a result I get fidgety and agitated. I do and say things that I normally wouldn’t do. I loose my ability to think straight, especially as it relates to food. I think that this must be a small glimpse into what their entire lives are like.
This experience and realization helped me learn how important it is to not judge without fully understanding what motivates one’s behavior. It made my heart break with compassion for these people.
Their poverty is so extreme.
Their hunger is so deep.
Their need for someone to save them is so great.
Lord, I pray for the people in that village on Lake Azuei. May the food and clothing that we delivered be a great blessing to them. And may they see that it was the Love of a Savior that brought us to them. I pray that You continue to provide and pour out Heavenly Love on these people that they may be drawn to You and realize salvation in You. And may You heal their land. In Jesus name, amen.
For more from this trip, check out the #haiti diaries.