by Melanie Gray
This past February I had the opportunity to travel to Jacmel, Haiti with a group of medical professionals. We were picked up at the airport in a Volkswagen van with “Merci Jesus” displayed across the top of the windshield. This became a running joke in our group and we always knew to look for the “Merci Jesus” bus at the end of our busy day to take us back to our clean, air-conditioned hotel.
As we travelled through the streets of Haiti, I remember looking at the breathtaking views of the clear, blue ocean and mountainous peaks; however, what stuck with me the most was the stark contrast of the beautiful scenery with the destruction and despair still present a year after the country was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. It amazed me that people were still living in tents, bathing and doing laundry in the river and many did not know when they would eat again. What amazed me even more was the strength of their faith in God.
The small town where we were staying held Catholic mass every morning at 6:00. After a few days of sleeping in, I decided to venture to mass to see what it was like. Although I wasn’t able to understand what was being said, I was able to understand the love that the Haitians have for God and each other. They truly believed what Psalm 146 states: “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob and whose hope is in the Lord their God (v1). …He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry (v7).”
I went into this trip thinking that I would be providing a service for their children, however, I came home with a renewed sense of faith and a reminder to thank Jesus (“Merci Jesus”) for what I have, for he has truly provided for me.