It’s been amazing to hear all the stories this week, as I have prayed—and asked others to pray—for Ellen and her companions during their mission trip to Petit Goave.
Two out of three seem to have a Haiti connection themselves, either of a trip they’ve made…or someone close to them has made…to the impoverished nation. Invariably, they’ve been touched by unexpected encounters—gifts of ‘found spirituality’, given by some of the poorest people on earth.
Just today, I heard another one… An ACTS teammate told me of the ingenious ‘Haitian hinge’ he saw fashioned by a dad there, who was building a small toy-box for his son. The dad couldn’t just head to a Lowes or a Home Depot; instead, he fabricated the hinge from two thin strips of copper. He started by curling one edge on each strip; then, opposing those edges, he nested one curl inside the other…inserted a pin…and presto! A fully serviceable hinge, made from metal scraps – no coinage required!
My teammate had others stories, too. He recounted how another pair of Haitian acquaintances had worked to mend the zipper on a tent that he was ready to discard. We talked about the difference that encounter had revealed: the ‘opposing edges,’ if you will, between Americans, who tend to think of most things as disposable (and yet, we never seem to have enough)…and Haitians, who could find ingenious uses for materials that we’d consider scrap.
So who’s teaching whom here? It got me thinking about a truth I have experienced on more than one occasion in recent years: Whenever we go to serve—even when we set out with the most altruistic of motives—we almost always find ourselves on the receiving end of abundant and unexpected graces. Our hearts expand…and we find ourselves hinged, in unforgettable ways, to other parts of the body of Christ.
I keep a free-verse poem framed in my office—a reflection that describes this mystery in a particularly captivating way. It was written by Mary Anne Grant, the daughter of dear friends, who died in Haiti some years ago when she travelled there on a mission trip as a high school senior. In my view, her words, and her life of loving service, leave no doubt that Mary Anne was connected to this great mystery. I invite you now to consider them for yourself: