5 Minutes of My Day: Sandy
I’m 6.5 months pregnant now and my feet look like they belong to the body of a sumo-wrestler. I’m sitting here in Miami at the church partner we’re working with. They have a nice little house church – complete with A/C and fans!
The team is going on their 5th hour of ministry today, with today being their second day of ministry. They are hard at work forming relationships with the local teens and children, working with the men on the fence around the church and playing games and music with the kids for summer camp.
A short Haitian woman walks up to me, with her baby girl who must be only a few months old, in her carrier. As she lugs her into the seat next to me, she says “oh you speak Creole? I heard you on Sunday. I see you are pregnant!” I smile and we begin chatting.
We’ve been here for a few hours, talking about life and children, Haiti and Creole and our husbands. She begins to tell me of her illness with Sickle Cell Disease.
“It makes my blood look strange, it causes so much pain.” she tells me.
One of her sons is the kindest little gentleman ever. She asks me how old he is, a little game of hers. I take in his stature… he’s small, but not too small… “9?” I say.
She shakes her head, “12” she replies. “He has the disease, he can’t grow well because of it.” A mother’s heart worn right on her sleeve was so easy to read. I can only imagine how much of her life she has devoted to finding a cure for him, after living with the condition herself.
We talk a little more and she switches gears abruptly and stares at my feet “Oh sweetheart, those feet look bad, you are too swollen! You need to lay down!”
I laugh to myself with pure joy at this very Haitian moment. In Haiti, it is common to tell others your opinions… unlike most American people who fear that they will offend, Haitians tell it like it is. And for Sandy, her concern for me was so genuine that it touched me in my core. I felt like I was back in Haiti, being told to put a hat on because I was too hot or to eat more at lunch because I was getting skinny.
I felt right at home.
It’s an hour later and I’ve convinced Sandy to go and make a few calls, take a moment to herself, while I watch her daughter.
She comes back and says her ride is there.. she’ll be back tomorrow.
The next day she arrives and tells me – “you must learn about how to take care of a baby in Haiti!”
So this is our plan for the day – Sandy will teach me about being a Haitian mother, so I can better take care of Edison while I am there.
I learn all about how girls need their privacy no matter how little, brothers need to give sisters that privacy when she’s getting her diaper changed, unless they are helping momma change her of course ;).
I learn how to change a poopy diaper on your knees, since you don’t always have a place to change the baby. And even more impressive, I learned how to change a diaper on top of a nice skirt! Believe it or not, I didn’t get any poop on me at all! Sandy is an excellent teacher.
She taught me all about holding a baby so they don’t get hot, how to hold a little one with one hand safely – and what ways are NOT safe. So then, when I’m alone and I need to clean or go about my day while holding a baby, I can do so without worrying about the baby falling.
She teaches me to put my feet on my tiptoes while seated, to give the baby more of a stable lap. This is important when resting the baby on your lap to sleep.
And then she has me practice changing the baby’s clothes while fussy – “you’ve got to be quick!” she instructs.
We speak Creole all day and I forget I’m in the States for a moment.
I smile like a dork all day, I’m smiling now as I write this.
It’s later in the day and my feet are once again the size of a gorilla’s forearm.
Over walks Sandy with Madame Pastor and pillows in tow.
They set up a fan for me and instruct me to lie down and prop up my feet. The care they show me is so wonderful, my heart warms with their kindness.
Sandy says goodbye until our final service.
The service is over and I am talking with Sandy about how much I loved getting to know her this week. She and I just hug and laugh together. “We are sisters, you and I.” She says.
We shuffle around to take a picture together, and we laugh at how tall I am compared to her and how I can’t bend down low enough because of my belly.
I treasure that picture.
It’s the little relationships like this that are the heart of missions. To connect us, the world.
So much of the time I feel like we get bogged down by the politics of missions – the savior mentality, national elitism, foreign aide taking jobs/giving jobs, the influx of non-profits, corruption of ngo’s, etc. And all of those issues are so good to care about – SO good. But when those things take the place of our relationships and our compassion and true understanding of one another, that is not good.
When you boil it down, relationships are where we learn about others, about ourselves. It’s how we expand our worldview. It’s just one small way God can connect His church.
It’s how we learn about the nitty-gritty issues listed above – about the TRUTH of those issues. Spend time working alongside a leader in a new country and put away that Savior mentality – realize Haitians are just as capable of everything you are. Watch a Haitian child fix an electrical issue at a lodging location and put our American electricians to shame and realize your national elitism has no place.
So for you Sandy, thank you for befriending me and teaching me how to be a better mother in Haiti and in life.
Thank you for approaching me, serving me and loving me. Thank you for talking to me about your heart for your children, your love for your countr(ies) and your passion for Christ.
Thanks for being a beautiful example of the heartbeat of this ministry.
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.