Abigail Becker Haiti Reflection Letter 2021
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.” – Psalm 23:1-4
This biblical verse has been in a frame on my nightstand for as long as I can remember. Understanding where we are lead, where our strength comes from, who we continue to praise, and who we entrust when all hope is lost, has been a continual struggle for me.
I say this is a struggle because we don’t always feel God. We don’t always understand why things happen to us, and why God would choose that as the result. We often times find ourselves trapped, in dark spaces with no hope in sight. It is in these times of struggle, fear, and lack of strength that God truly shows himself and guides us with his call.
Much like a flock, we follow those who call us. When asked to embark on an outreach trip to Haiti, I, with no hesitation said yes. Little did I know that this outreach trip would change me, lead me in a direction, and restore my strength in humanity.
With God, I found myself in a rickety “bus” that I hardly thought would make it up the “roads” consisting of an excessive number of potholes. I looked from side to side seeing something I had never thought would be possible in the 21st century – a lack of infrastructure, sanitization, and even as small as clothes on your back. The next couple of days would teach me more about myself, God, and the beauty of the Haitian people.
“In green pastures you let me graze” – Green valleys, with stacked homes spanning the side of the mountains became a comforting sight. These stacked homes varied in size, with most consisting of our 10x12 plywood, tin roofed, built homes. Within these 10x12 homes, you will meet some of the most humble, grateful, and generous individuals. These green valleys are not providing nutrients for the citizens of Haiti, but rather a sense of community and understanding. With the valleys not providing nutrients, the Haitian citizens turn towards non-profits and the small amount of money they make each year – if they make any money throughout the course of a year. We provided individuals with pre-packaged food and food cards depending on how many we had left. Upon entering these homes and handing out food, we would often times leave their home to see them sharing with their neighbors. While the fruits of the land are not able to provide for the communities, the people ensure all are able to graze on the small amount that they are able to obtain.
“To safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength” – Safe waters and strength were lacking after the 2010 earthquake. This earthquake left thousands without homes, individuals trapped under rubble, and a diminished number of resources. During this earthquake, a Haitian woman with 4 children was crushed by rubble, resulting in losing her legs (half of her right shin and almost all her left shin). She was found safely, received medical attention, and eventually regained her strength. Due to this, she is now walking with padding on her knees, still carrying her small children up and down the mountain trails. During our last day in Haiti, we passed out food to 2,400 Haitians; this woman being one of them. She had walked over 2 miles on her knees to get to the compound for food. Leaving with a 50lb bag of rice and beans, a bottle of olive oil, and noodles balanced on her head, she made her 2-mile trek back home because God gives her strength and continues each day to safely guide her along her path.
“Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage” – I walked down uncharted roads, through areas populated with the voodoo belief, and saw the raw truth of what poverty consists of. With all of this darkness, I consistently felt guided in everything that I did. I would experience the smiling faces of orphan children while blowing bubbles; the generous nature of those a fourth of my age sharing water with those around them before themselves; the grace of God working through the Franciscan Friars who no doubt changed mine and the Haitian citizens lives; I watched the sunrise and sunset each day just as our Lord died and rose again; and I experienced the courage and strength of the Haitian Catholics during our Church service.
Much like a flock, we follow those who call us. I embarked on a journey to Haiti in hopes of bettering the lives of those I could reach while there; but I left with a regretful feeling knowing there is so much more to be done. I encourage you to let the Lord guide you – find his strength, his call, his rod, his staff, and gain the courage that you have yearned for your whole life.