5 Minutes of My Day: Different Colors, One People
“Have you ever heard of Lucky Dube?” Wilbur says. (he pronounces his name as Lookie Doobie).
“Well, you should know him, his music is beautiful. People don’t like him because he isn’t a Christian, but, his words are very powerful,” he says.
We’ve been standing outside the airport for 4 hours now, waiting for a delayed flight carrying a small team from California. Wilbur, a middle aged father of one, is a friend we always see at the airport. He helps the teams with their bags and is always willing to lend a hand with tasks like baggage checks, going to cargo to locate lost bags, keeping watch for teams, getting me water when I can’t leave my post and the almost impossible task of entering the airport to find a group member.
Haitians always stand in the shade where it’s cooler. The shade is receding as the sun rises into the sky, and we are standing in the sun, easily twenty feet from everyone else. After being in the midst of winter in the States, I’m opting to stand in the sun and soak up its warmth. Wilbur stands with me. I try to tell him he doesn’t have to, or that we can move, but he doesn’t let me. “You love the sun, I know this,” he says simply, as if stating that the sky is blue. I smile.
We talk about everything, switching from Creole to English as needed. From his family, friends, and relationship with God to my teams coming, Eric, how long his beard is, and what snow looks like. At one point, he asks me “You always talk with me, why? Not all other blan do.”
A thousand thoughts race through my mind. I’ve heard this question before, and it always stumps me… I know he is asking more than just, “Why do you talk with me?” He’s asking a hundred other questions. How to answer such a loaded question? To me, it’s so simple: talking with people is what I do.
In Creole, I try to fabricate an answer. “Well, I enjoy talking to you. But more than that, you and I, we are equal. People who cannot see that, are living in the past, in wrong-thinking. The bigger question is, why are YOU standing here talking with me? In the sun, the two of us are standing out in front of everyone, and yet, you still stay with me and talk with me.”
He says, “Because you’re my friend.”
Those words swim in my mind, so simple and beautiful. He takes my arm, flips it over and compares it to his own. Side by side, we are white and black. There are no two other colors to describe the difference in our skin. “Your skin is not like mine,” he tells me. “It is white, mine is black. But we are the same. You cut me? I bleed red. I cut you? You bleed the same. It’s like Lookie Doobie says…”
He then quotes these lyrics:
Different colors – one people
Different colors – one people
They were created in the image of God
And who are you to seperate them
Bible says, he made all man in his image
But it didn’t say black or white
Look at me you see black
I look at you I see white
Now is the time to kick that away
And join me in my song
Do you ever have those moments in life where you get an out-of-body experience, feeling like you’re watching yourself from a fly-on-the-wall perspective? And you think, “How did I get here? What series of events allowed me to be here in this very moment having this conversation with this person?” That’s how I feel right now, standing here with Wilbur.
Standing here in the warm sun, trying to hold my skirt down from the ripping breeze, I’m having a conversation with Wilbur about equality of life, racism, and being created in the image of God. I feel so lucky, so incredibly blessed. So thankful that I have been given a chance to know the people of Haiti, to have simple moments of time like this. I’m just waiting at the airport, but my entire world-view is continually being shaped. In the past few hours, I’ve had the chance to really get to know a friend on a deeper level. We’ve connected in a real way, tackled hard subjects and laughed together at corny jokes.
This is why I’m here.
Haiti. Inexplicably beautiful in terrain and soul. Dynamic people. Wisdom gained from history. Gracious and real, opening it’s arms to people like me everyday.
And everyday, I get to go to class. The class of Haiti, teaching me countless lessons. Teaching me what it means to be a friend. Teaching me to take time to listen. To have real conversations. Showing me how to see people with open eyes, an open heart. To stand in the sun even when I desire the shade. To not be afraid to talk about the hard stuff. That we’re all the same really, our blood will spill the same and it runs red. Teaching me what it means to cast off ignorance, to be open to new ideas, to never stop learning. To love the path Christ has me on, to pursue Him with abandon. To serve those around me even when it’s not easy, to give them the sweat from my brow even if I receive nothing in return. Especially if I receive nothing. To wait patiently, to expect obstacles. That’s Haiti, the ultimate professor.
Thank you for your challenges, thank you for your beauty, thank you for being an open book.
Thank you Wilbur for your constant support and help, thanks for being my friend. There’s no way to ever know how much sweat you wipe from your brow for me every week. I learn from you every day. I pray blessings upon you and your life, my friend. See you soon.
This is Haiti. This is the world. Different Colors, one people.
5 Minutes of My Day is a series of the more intimate moments in our ministry. Launching off of something Eric said to me one day: “When you are overwhelmed or stressed and Satan is on you, focus on the little things. The small moments that make you remember why you live this life. Why you love this ministry.” So here it is, the good the bad and the ugly. Snapshots of 5ish minutes of my day.