Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blessed and Annointed

Here's a post-trip reflection from team member Susan Ozawa

People have asked me for some quick reflections on my time in Haiti and I have been slow to find the words, but a couple of words keep repeating themselves in my mind.

The first is "blessed". Our group of ten was truly blessed. Through prayers we were covered by God's protection every step of the way. All our logistics were smooth and no one was injured or ill the entire trip. This is profound because we were working on a site of a former church/school which was rubble, filled with metal wires, and shards of rock and cement we were moving with shovels and our hands. We were safe from cholera and malaria. God watched over our every step in Port-Au-Prince as we visited Action Aid and an artist cooperative. There was no static or tension when we left the part of Mellier where we were staying and went to the beach after church. All eyes were on the foreigners at the local beach where there was lots of drinking. Another team member, Laurie, and I just got a soccer ball and started up a pick-up game. Our translators Jean-Claude and Caz were always nearby to make sure we were okay. Despite being women and foreigners and not speaking the language, we played together and laughed together. God found a way to keep us all in community and communion with the people we met despite our limitations (many Haitians spoke 2-3 languages).

Another word that keeps coming up is "anointed". I know that God anointed us with the right words at the right moments as we struggled with God's purpose for us in Mellier for such a short time. God anointed the children as conduits for the adults. They led us like little guardian angels through the streets of Mellier, filled with a significant amount of structural destruction, human loss and continual poverty in the middle of a gorgeous and prolific countryside. Instead of being seen as spectators and onlookers, we were seen as friends invited in as the kids held our hands the whole way and taught us new words in Creole. "Marche ver" or walk fast they would say, laughing the whole time. Our smiles were always reflected back to us by the community. God anointed the leaders of the community--Josephina who was a member of the Methodist church's women's group who prayed with our women for hardship and pains and journeys we all travel; Benoit, a local young man in his early 20s who was always around, and extremely talented at playing soccer and playing the drums as we sang in worship in Creole and English every night; and Betty, an older woman who cooked and cleaned for the Methodist teams in Mellier. Betty had a stern face until you said "bonswa". Her face would light up beautifully, with joy and welcoming love that was all the more powerful for the contrast. These people were always around us. Pastor Jacob, Principal Patrick and Boss Vech, the site foreman were always there to guide us and to pray with us. Jean-Claude and Caz, our translators, clarified our words as we stumbled. They made poetic our scattered words. God truly anointed the people we witnessed and anointed our words and actions while we were there, so that the community would see our hearts were filled with love, despite our privilege, despite our loss of words, despite the small gift of our labors. They knew we were united by God as brothers and sisters and were as glad we were there as our team was. We laughed together, cried together, sang together and worked together but we mostly laughed together. Our group and the community was also anointed with the gift of humor.

I know these blessings and this anointing was the holy spirit hard at work. I knew people were praying for us; our friends and families, our home church Foundry United Methodist Church, and I knew my father intercessors would be praying over our time there. Whenever, the heat seemed oppressive and the emotionality of despair seemed not far, I would pray and take comfort knowing good people around the world would be holding us up in prayer. And everytime we prayed, God answered our prayers. When we asked for guidance on how we should give, when we asked for greater personal connection with the community, when we prayed for God's love to compensate for loss of words across languages, these prayers were answered in less than 24 hours! It was amazing and powerful to witness.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continual prayers for the people of Haiti, as they heal, rebuild and use the love of God to guide them in working with their brothers and sisters from all over the world to move out of trauma and poverty to prosperity, stability and peace.

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