My head was aching, my heart was racing, I was filthy dirty, and my whole body screamed with exhaustion, yet I couldn’t stop. My body was reacting to need but my mind was detached. Being thrown in to the mix of things immediately created a chasm between what my body was doing and what my mind was grasping. It was at the moment my mind finally ended the chase that sticks in my head.
I was sitting on the dirt with the biggest tin bowl I’ve ever seen in front of me. It easily held a 100 pound bag of black beans. As the beans were dumped, my friend and I started scooping as fast as we could. 1, 2, 3, 4 scoops into the brown paper bag, hand off to Tamara, she folded, then handed the bag further down the line to add to the growing pile. There were at least a dozen people all moving around, handing, folding, carrying, scooping, all working with a definite mission in mind. I could see through the legs all around me and caught glimpses of the growing crowd of people who were hungry…no starving. It was 3 weeks after the deadly earthquake in Haiti that killed hundreds of thousands of their fellow countrymen, and now food was hard to come by.
The sea of legs briefly opened and not 10 feet away from me was a woman with charcoal skin looking right at me and the beans. We caught each others eyes and stared for what seemed 10 minutes but was probably more like 5 seconds. Oddly, I wondered if her mouth was watering like mine does when I have a succulent piece of chocolate cake before me.
This moment in time is what I want to bottle up, keep forever, take out and visit occasionally. Because that was when I felt like my life had never had more meaning. I knew God was using me for a purpose to give sustenance to another human being. Now, I know this woman in front of me would have been fed with those same black beans had I been present or not. But God allowed ME the privilege of scooping her beans. Such a menial task, but yet so incredibly vital to this woman and her family.
The sea of legs closed and we continued to scoop 600 pounds of black beans that day. When it came time to actually hand out the food I never saw that woman again. I had to place myself between the children and the adults and hold one group off the other. I found myself pushing and screaming at people because they were close to rioting they were all so desperate for food. I never once felt threatened but instead felt as though I had to save them from themselves and make sure the food got in to each person’s hands. I’ve never been in the middle of something so intense, nor seen a more desperate situation that closely. I also can’t say I wouldn’t have reacted the same way had it been me in the crowd needing food for my children.
I’m home now, back in my nice house, in my comfortable bed, eating all the food I want. But I’ll never forget looking at that woman and realizing the privilege God had afforded me and my friends to be on Haitian soil helping any way we knew how.
Just missing Haiti today…