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Rough Edges

As I sat by the stunningly clear water of the Caribbean Sea on the shores of Haiti, I was captivated by the motion of the tide as it poured over the rocks lulling me into its rhythmic song, back and forth, back and forth. I contemplated the continuous movements and its effect on the rocks who had no choice but to fall into step with the regular ebb and flow. Suddenly, I was struck by the roundness of the pebbles and the unmistakable fact that the rough pounding of the ocean’s waves was the cause for their smooth texture. I thought, that’s what Haiti will be for me – a kind of barrage designed to even out my rough edges.

Sitting in a Haitian night church service after almost 12 hours of traveling brings emotions close to the surface. It was easy to be overwhelmed by the many voices praising God in their native tongue of Creole, loudly and for many hours. Regardless of what country I find myself in, I am invariably moved by the fact that Christians the world over worship the same one true, living, God. The next day, after a morning spent learning more about the organization of Poverty Resolutions, my heart readily praised God for providing such a great organization to minister to the people of Arcahaie, Haiti. After visiting the home of the child I sponsor and getting to see how the community lives on a daily basis, I was ready for a mental break, which came in the form of organizing a Poverty Resolutions storage unit.

As the sun seemed to press closer and closer to our little dot on the map, so did the children of the village for the exciting time of the Child Development Program. Pictures of all 60 impoverished, but joyful children were taken in hopes that more people would be stirred to act as child sponsors (visit povres.org for more information). Games were played, crafts were made, and children desperate for love and attention were gladly doted upon by our group. That afternoon, over 40 moms poured through the gates for a time of encouragement and discipleship at their Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group.

Finally, the barrage was coming and there was no way around it. A visit to an orphanage in a nearby town the next day quickly added to the increasingly grim perspective I was gaining on the plight of this nation. Here, unable to care for their children themselves, parents purposely send their kids, lured in by the promise of two meals a day and regular school attendance. On the way to Port-au-Prince we stopped by a mass grave, known as the Valley of Death, site of the dumping ground for over 200,000 people who died in the 2010 earthquake that shook the nation. Next, a trip to a children’s hospital in Port-au-Prince broke my emotional fortitude completely as I gazed into the eyes of numerous unbelievably malnourished, infirm Haitian babies. Run by the Catholic Church, the children’s hospital is in desperate need of people to love on those little ones who are just struggling to survive. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.

My perspective is forever changed. God used the harsh reality of the waves of Haiti’s poverty to hone off my rough edges and make me just a little bit smoother for His Kingdom and His glory.  Not only was I enlightened to the needs of a desperate country,  but I was given the opportunity to temporarily love on the “least of these”. I couldn’t be more grateful.

-Jessica Kirkner