Sunday, February 14, 2010

The More Spiritual Side of My Haiti Experience

I thought today being Sunday would be a good day to share some of the more spiritual aspects of my trip to Haiti. I hope that I can share these in the right spirit and light, and that you can receive them as such.
Before going to Haiti I heard the question raised "How can God let this happen?" And I admit, I asked myself the same question several times. But for every moment of doubt, as my eyes searched over ruins of rubble, wondering how many bodies were trapped inside, I saw dozens of Acts of God as well.
Something worth noting about the Haitian people, no matter how awful and terrible they have it right now, they still praise God. They gather in parking lots at night to create makeshift worship services and sing together. They break into songs of praise in fly infested and boiling hot hospital tents. They pray together. They have not turned against God.
There is one particular personal experience I want to share of a spiritual nature. There were dozens and dozens of moments where I knew I was in His Hands, but this one experience means more to me than all of the others.
I knew when I left on this trip that I was leaving behind my mother who is known for her amazing ability to worry about others. I knew she would be sick with worry the entire time I was gone. She's used to my crazy adventures, but that doesn't make it any easier on her when I take off for a Third World Country, talking about my malaria medications. I knew she would be praying for me and my compatriots every step of the way.
One afternoon I was with 4 men from my camp at the UN compound. We had left the (very safe) compound during daylight, and with plenty of time to get back to our own camp before dark. Bad things happen after dark, and the whole city shuts down. You don't want to be out after dark. We were hitching a ride the 15 or so minutes back to camp.
We came upon a roundabout just a few minutes from our camp. There was massive Haiti style gridlock. Don't be picturing lots of stopped traffic in a few lanes of traffic! Haiti style gridlock means what used to be a 2 lanes going 1 way, and 2 lanes going the opposite way, has now become 5 lanes of traffic, with cars pointing every which way, completely gridlocked in, unable to move. Our 15 minute car ride in the back of a pick up truck, was suddenly going to take much much longer.
After over an hour of sitting in traffic, we were getting concerned. It was dark outside, and we were uncomfortable with our surroundings. This was exactly the kind of situation we were always trying to avoid. A bunch of Americans sitting in gridlocked traffic in a pickup truck bed, are sitting targets. We didn't speak much to each other about the situation, but we all knew what the others were feeling. We needed to get out of there before trouble began.
It wasn't long after that that a few tires were being burned in the area. In Haiti this is a very dangerous sign that there is trouble in the area. I became increasingly worried about our safety.
I finally decided to say a small prayer, acknowledging that we needed to get to a safer place, and that I didn't want to let down those people who were praying for my safety in Haiti. I felt like I was letting so many people down.
No sooner did I silently say "amen" in my head than three US Army soldiers appeared in the darkness. They just came walking through traffic, right out of the dark, and right out in front of us. I immediately thought that they were there because my mother had prayed for this sort of moment. I yelled out over the honking horns (I'm convinced that all Haitian cars have an automatic switch that keeps the car horn blaring incessantly on its own) to the privates. "Hey Private! Come here!" The soldier nearest me looked up with total surprise in his eyes. A white American girl in the middle of this traffic jam? Yeah, probably one of the craziest things he's seen all week! He asked what was going on, and I explained (screaming loudly over the din) where we needed to go. He smiled and paused and said he'd be right back. He ran over to his 2 partners, and ran right back to us. Each soldier spread out through the traffic, placing one hand on his machine gun, and with this other hand, waved away the traffic. These soldiers moved the cars out of the gridlock formation, stopping 5 lanes of traffic, and waved our truck across. We crossed over the road, and drove down the sidewalk for about half a mile in order to get back on the road, past the gridlock. We got home to our camp in safety.
It was a simple moment. And maybe to some there was nothing remarkable about it. But I had prayed for a guide to safety. I trusted in the faith of my mother that when I needed rescuing someone would be there. And then there it was. The moment of scary darkness wondering what dangerous thing might happen next. And 3 soldiers appeared in the darkness to help us out. I never saw their convoy (usually they would be attached to one). I never got to thank them appropriately. But they got me safely home. They answered my prayers.


  1. Anonymous12:16 AM

    I have been catching up and reading your blog, I found it, from your friend Single Solitary Moments, it's hard to find single blogs,where you can relate and meet new people. I work with alot of Haitians here in South Florida, the men expesically, are very greatful, they may have the littlest and are hard working most of them that I know, as they send money home to their families, some that I know are very spiritual, and they have always told me to believe,what is beautiful is when they sing their relgious song in Hatian and you sing it in English with them. They are amazing people, because they have so little they appreciate the smallest things in life. God is their protector like he is mine and your's. They feel God never fails, and he doesn't. I have worked side by side with them for many years, and if you hurt, they hurt with you. it amazes me about them. They want very little. they protect their family and you when you become their friend. keep bringing more stories I look for them every day, and glad you are safe. That is the main thing. But, pray, like you did, it's the key to many things in life. Not just in the bad, but in the good as well. God bless!

  2. pretty incredible, erin. glad you were in safe keeping! and not to be hokey, but this makes me think of the 3 Nephite tales people tell...

    glad you're home safe and sound and i hope you're adjusting OK.

  3. What a beautiful story!
    I have tears - a gratitude, for your safety, for your faith, your mother's faith and God's great protection.


  4. Wow, that was amazing to read. It gives me chills to just think about the timing of everything in that experience and how nothing in this world goes unnoticed by Heavenly Father.


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