A month already? It’s hard to believe that a month ago today we arrived in Carrefour. My heart does not believe it, yet my calendar says it is so. Our time there plays like a movie in my head.
I promised to share some stories from the displaced persons camp (aka tent city) we visited at Centre Sportif de Carrefour, a municipal sports facility.
We walked from within the neighborhood where our base and host pastor lives out Boulevard Jean Jacquea Dessaline. This main road was paved, unlike the neighborhood streets, and was lined with merchants, full of traffic and people, and curb lines flowing with what I’ll call muck that you couldn’t avoid completely. I’m not entirely sure of the composition of muck, but let’s just say it smells strange, is muddy looking, and I don’t want to think about it further.
It seemed like a long way as our group of twenty wove through the crowded walkways, dodging puddles, people, animals and traffic. Sometimes a person would talk to us; a young adult walked a long way with me, conversing in tentative English until it became clear to him that I wasn’t going to take him away from all this.
We reached the gates of the tent community, entering opposite the building with the red roof near the upper right corner of the adjacent photo. The homes are the white and blue tarp tents in two sections extending along the right side of the photo and back toward the oval stadium. The tents are about 8×10 feet and each shelters a family and whatever belongings they may have accumulated in the 11 months they’d been there. We prayed and divided ourselves into ministry teams and spread out into the rows of tents to offer listening ears, encouragement and prayers to whomever desired to speak to us.
People were welcoming and hospitable, as well as open to sharing their stories and concerns. Most people spoke passionately about God’s grace in sparing them from death in the earthquake. Nearly all of them asked for prayer for a closer walk with God and for His provision of work or finances to be able to move out of the camp into a permanent home. They still hope for that. I hope for that for them. I have recently heard from our translator, Carl, who lives with his wife and daughter in the part of the camp near the oval stadium, that the government wishes to resume using the stadium complex for sports and may be evicting the residents soon. I have no way of verifying that information, but I pray that people will not be forced out with no place to go.
In the second row of tents we visited we met 2 families. An older woman was sitting in front of her tent with family coming in and out. She had a display of candies set up, a small business. She asked us to pray with her for healing for swelling she has in her legs. Nearby, a mother was keeping watch over two younger children, but told us about her 14-year-old son, Given, who was away at a revival service in another area of the city. We prayed for the children (who then followed us everywhere we went).
Some time later Given came and found us. Given is a pastor, among those appointed to help care for this community. He told us about where he had been preaching at a revival service. I asked our translator to ask Given if he would pray for us, which he did with intensity, with passion I have rarely witnessed much less in someone his age. He then asked us to pray for him, which we did, asking God to continue to use him to share the gospel with his neighbors and bring about the transformation of many hearts in Haiti.
When Given left us, we continued through the row of tents along the back wall of the section. Here we met several individuals and families and lingered to listen and pray with many. While talking with some young boys who were hanging out in the shade of a large tree, a young woman overheard the word “prayer” and ran to get her baby. She went back to her cooking and her sister stood by while we prayed for the boys. She led us back to the tent she and her sister shared where we talked with them and prayed God’s blessing on the 1-month-old baby boy you see to the left. We also prayed for his 20-year-old mother. Her sister drifted back from us while we prayed, and before we left, I asked her if we could pray for her also. She said yes, but didn’t have anything to ask God for. I asked her if she knew Jesus, and she said she did not. We talked about Jesus for a few minutes and I asked her if she would like Jesus to be her Savior. She replied, “Yes, but not today. My life is not right.” I explained to her that she didn’t have to wait for everything to be right, but she was decided. She still wanted prayer, which we gave. I left sad.
After we left their tent, we encountered a man outside it. In fact, we almost walked right into him. I told about our encounter with him in a guest post I wrote for the Adventures in Missions Haiti blog — click here to read that story, Hope Empowers Haiti.
What I’ve learned in the last month is that some of what was undone in me while I was with the people of Haiti is going to remain undone. I was asked a few days ago how long it might be before I was back to normal after this experience. My response was, “This is normal now.” I’m going to have to accept that some of these loose ends may stay untied…for now.