My sister-in-law gave us a book for Christmas called "Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle." We celebrated Christmas with them early because we were going to Milton-Freewater for Christmas, so I had the book ahead of Christmas. While we were packing to go to M-F I put the book in the car thinking I would skim through it a little on the drive. With a 5 week old I honestly was not doing much reading, if I had time to sit down long enough to read I was instantly asleep. Well, I didn't even look at the book on the drive to M-F or the entire time while I was there. However, when we were driving home I found myself in the position to open it.
You have to picture the situation I was in when I started reading the book. We were coming home with my family so every seat in two cars was full. Nathan was in the front seat with of our van with Andrew, so I was in the very back of the van in the middle of Ainsley and Hudson. It is four days after Christmas and our van is quite full with 7 of us and all of our Christmas gifts.
The book is the story of the author and his wife as they went to serve in Haiti with an organization called Beyond Borders. To begin their time they had to spend 8 months living with a typical Haitian family. I knew very little about Haiti before reading the book, and I can hardly believe how deplorable the conditions are (and this was before the earthquake yesterday). 80% of the people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day, transportation is a nightmare, there are often floods and landslides, deforestation has ruined much of the country, water is usually contaminated, and the government is unstable.
Kent Annan, the author of the book, is a wonderful writer. The story is engrossing and compelled me to do something. What that something is, I don't know. However, there are some parts that I must share. On Kents blog he has a video that shares part of the book that precedes my favorite paragraph of the book. In this video he is listing all the things he wants after being in Haiti for 5 months:
And now the paragraph that follows:
"Things on the above list aren't all bad. But part of why I looked forward to moving to Haiti is because I hate how easy it is to satiate my hunger for God and for good and for love by stuffing my appetites with food, with entertainment, with ambition, with stuff. How easy it is to fill the echo chamber that calls me toward God and good and love with other clanging noises. The absence in Haiti of choices to feed this profound hunger is unpleasant.. but I need it I'm too often too weak to hunger for good (or, to be more biblical, to seek the kingdom of God) and to pull away from the dancing lights that have embarrassing power over me, like over a mindless, fluttering moth."
So here I was in the car with my four healthy, well fed, well clothed children who have more toys than they know what to do with reading about conditions that are worse than anything we would find in the poorest cities in America. I have lots of "stuff" that way to often satiates my hunger for God, and does the same for my children. Ainsley asked for something to eat just as I was reading one part where he recounts the story of a boy who rescued a page out of an American magazine that he had thrown in the garbage fire and the boy carried it around for months as one of his most cherished objects. Nathan handed Ainsley some tortilla chips and she started complaining because she didn't like that kind of chips. My response to her was a little more harsh than usual. It has really made me think about how my kids are growing up, and what I should do about it.
As I'm writing these scattered thoughts I just heard more news about the earthquake on the radio. They are reporting that there are bodies of children piled up outside of a collapsed school, the UN building collapsed, the national prison broke open so all the criminals inside have escaped, and they are estimating 500,000 people have died. It brings me to another quote from the book:
"The aphorism "Pull yourself up by the bootstraps" comes ironically to mind because it's so inapplicable: if you can't afford boots, don't have any power and barely any resources, if there's no way to hoist yourself up, then when you need something (say, food or tuition for your kids) the choices are either to ask for it or take it. Or suffer quietly. ...So are good, brilliant, powerful people working somewhere to find systemic economic and political solutions to the problems we see crushing down on our neighbors? And will the good guys win? Because too often they don't."
I know ultimately THE Good Guy wins. But in the mean time what am I doing for the people of the world who don't have the resources that I/we treat as a birthright? How can I live and how can I raise my children so we don't try and fill up our need for God with entertainment, other people, and the stuff that is so easily acquired here? Hmmm... My prayer today is that the earthquake in Haiti brings light and attention to this country that is in desperate need.