Thursday, June 15, 2006

Haiti Mission Trip Part VII

The Wait & Reflection

As we settle in for the night, we experience our first rain on the trip. The storm is a violent affair with lightening and driving rain. During one of the lulls, we hear a shotgun blast right outside the compound walls. At first we think it’s the transformer again, though the man with the pole had taken care of that possibility a few days ago.

I sit and listen. There is always an energy during emergencies: shouting or movement. There are two dogs in the compound and I wait to hear their barking. I strain my ears but I cannot hear anything. No one is seeking help for a gunshot wound, and no one is trying to enter the compound. I continue to sit in the darkness of that hour, with the storm around me, and use a mini-flashlight so as not to attract any attention as I flip through a small picture album of my family.

Our lead physician had joked earlier in the trip that should kidnappers show up, he had brought his checkbook. I start to think I should have brought a few blank checks of my own.

Morning arrives without incident or explanation of the events of the night before. The storm has knocked the dust down quite a bit for which we are thankful. We leave Living Hope Mission and Haiti around midday.

So my trip has ended and the question remains: Why Haiti?

It comes as no surprise that the question no longer matters. The real question is: Will I return?

There is a terrible truth that must be faced. It’s the part of the story of the young man and the many starfish that they don’t tell you: Sooner or later you are going to have to leave the beach. Whether it is because of hunger or exposure or fatigue, you will have to lay down the burden and leave. The thousands left will look at you, and you will think: Why not one more? In that moment you must decide if you are a one-time visitor or an active participant. Will you return or not?

I believe that I will return to Haiti because it is no longer a place on a map to me, but a place where remarkable people I have come to value live. Wilbert and Meg Merzilius can leave anytime they wish, both are U.S. citizens. They could get on a plane today, but they stay as they have for the past 14 years working to better the lives of those around them.

I will return because Pastor Marius won’t leave. He will awake today, just as he has for every day this past year, knowing that the man who shot him lives only a few doors away. He knows this, but he continues to preach and build his ministry and riding his motorcycle on the dusty and sometimes muddy roads that span the many miles between his churches.

I will return to see my friend Pastor Julio and share in his laugh and smile.

I will return because being a physician is about service and not about privilege.

I will return because of Marlie and My Love.

I will return because I can.


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