Br. Samuel Maria Haiti Reflection Letter
I wasn’t ready for what I witnessed when landing in Port Au Prince December 31st. The drive to the home base in Carrefour was probably one of the most provocative moments of my life. I had never witnessed poverty at that level nor seen smiles like the Haitian people before: it’s as if their whole being was smiling, glowing from their hearts.
The bulk of the time, I worked on the evangelization team doing retreats for the kids. We did 3 two day retreats. The first was for 13-18 year olds, the second 7-12 year olds, and finally 4-6 year olds. It was amazing! We made sure they had 2 meals a day, breakfast and lunch, and water throughout the day. The days were filled with talks, games, activities, and prayer. To the older kids, I gave a talk on forgiveness. I felt the power of the Holy Spirit rushing through me and the look on their faces told me that the Lord was working in their hearts. I said; “I know some of you have been hurt in your life, badly, yet you will always be chained and enslaved to the hurts and wounds of the people who have hurt you unless you turn to Jesus and ask Him to give you the power to forgive from your heart. Then you will experience freedom and release from these chains.” The 7-12 age group was probably the most fun. We played a lot of games, talked and prayed together. I saw the Lord work powerfully in their hearts and we talked in small groups about prayer and identity in Christ. We also put on a Nativity play with puppets for the little kids. It was beautiful to pray with them the Joyful Mysteries as they saw the story of Our Savior’s Birth reenacted.
I also did home visits to the people in the village. It was beautiful to walk down the streets and have kids run up to you, hold your hand and bring you to their home. Thank God for our translators! They were rock-stars going with us wherever we went and translating the simple but heartfelt message of God’s love and encouragement to the people. One moment stands out: a woman in her home of a tin covered roof and tarp walls. She had 3 young children and begged us for a new house. We had already just finished building 61 and were out of supplies. In my poverty and lack of resources, all I could do was pray with her and invite God into her home. As I prayed in that dark-fragile house, I called upon the light and power of Christ to shine in and dispel the darkness of evil and at that moment, rays of light from the setting sun pierced through the flaps of the tarp-door and the house was filled with light. I don’t know if she experienced anything, but I was profoundly moved by the experience. I still think and pray for her and her family. Handing out the food to over 2400 people was another beautiful experience. I got to personally welcome almost every person as they came into the compound and received their bag of 10lbs rice, 5lbs beans, and quart of oil. It was beautiful to look into their eyes and say “God bless you” in Creole and have them light up, smile and respond gratefully. It hurt to see so many, whom we could not feed; who went home hungry.
My heart hurts leaving these people I got to know and love behind and I continue to lift them up in prayer. The Lord is so good to me in letting me have had this experience with His poor ones, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you to you all who support this work and know that although you may never go yourselves, you are making an impact in people’s lives and “storing up for yourselves treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:20). May God richly bless you now and forever.
-Br. Samuel Maria, CFR