A view from a roof in Port au Prince


The Secrets of Helping Others

I'm still learning about how to live among the poor. The biggest challenge is to keep loving them and keep caring about them each day. They don't go away. They are always at my gate, they always walk alongside me to and from work or hang around outside of any restaurant I go to, they wait at the airport for the sight of the car I ride in and rush to open my door for me. They see hope in me solely because of the color of my skin and it's not easy to live up to the expectations they have for me. They want a solution to their problems, they want a chance at a better life, they would like a job so they can provide for themselves.

In my past I had experience with beggars every now and again when I'd be in certain neighborhoods in Minneapolis. My upbringing taught me to lock the car doors in those neighborhoods and not make eye contact with the people holding their signs on the corner. There was an un-stated, but strongly felt sense that they should be doing something to help themselves and it was not my responsibility to help them. This mentality has been hard to shake in Haiti. It's true I came to help the Hatians, but it's easier to decide the way I want to help and to ignore the rest of the people. To have a very narrow view on who to help because the real life picture is too big and overwhelming. God has really been working on my heart for this. Sometimes before I go to the airport, I consciously choose not to bring any money so that I will not feel bad when I tell the kids that I have nothing to give them. That's what my flesh tells me to do and that's what I think I want to do. But usually I reluctantly grab a handful of one dollar bills and stuff them into my pocket. A couple days ago I was at the airport again and I had a bunch of kids come over and clean the mini-bus we drove in. They picked up the trash inside the car and scrubbed the outside. There were 5 or 6 kids in all. While they were cleaning one of them said something to me in Kreyol that I didn't quite catch. He repeated it for me in English " God is really going to bless you. You help us and give us a job." It made me smile, and then feel guilty that I almost didn't bring money for them that day. I guess those few words put everything back in perspective for me, and yeah.. it also made me feel like the kids appreciate what I'm trying to do for them. I said "thanks" and sat in my school bus seat really moved by the child's words. It's all about Jesus anyways. I help them cause I love Jesus and He tells me to help the poor. And they see that I'm helping them and they know Jesus sent me to them. I didn't even need to whisper His name... His movements were loud enough to speak for themselves.

Something exciting has happened... I didn't even ask, and people have started funding me to be able to do awesome things such as feeding the street kids and helping out other people I see in need. I've sent two kids back to school after their parents couldn't pay for their last trimester of school, given the kids at the airport a job every time I see them, paid for medical bills and medication for a family that couldn't afford it, and I have a free community clinic planned  for July 14th that was fully funded before I ever asked for a dime. Tonight I was able to support a local highschooler who spent months on a painting he would sell in hopes of having enough money to pay for a test he needs to take to apply for college. I tried to encourage our volunteers to buy the painting, but it was too expensive. I negotiated a little bit on the price and then bought the painting. Not for my sake or because I wanted a new painting.. but for his sake. He worked hard and for an honest cause. I'm trying to learn the art of helping others. I want to do it the right way. I want to be helping them in the long run... right now I see the easiest way is to give them small jobs. Sometimes I don't need their help, but I get creative in finding ways the Haitians can help me so that they can learn to work for what they want. I have a special heart for kids so they are my main target population, but I try to listen to everyone. Sometimes I buy a plate of food for the disabled and the elderly without anything in return.. those are some that I cannot think of a job for yet, but do not want to ignore. The interesting part of it all is that I always, ALWAYS feel joy after giving. I never miss the money or even think about it once it is spent. It is so right to help the poor. There is something inside of us that lies and makes us think that we shouldn't help other people and if we listen then we miss out on blessing others and increasing our own happiness.

The original painting done by the high school student. It is beautiful and intricate!
Giving to the poor is more impacting on the wealthy than on those in need. Sometimes the giver is more in need of giving than the needy is in receiving.

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