WRITTEN BY: MARK FULTON
It was late on our second day of assessing the damage from Hurricane Matthew in the southern tip of Haiti, and we were several miles away from the city of Les Cayes, heading toward the city of Jeremie. The road was strewn with debris, and piles of burning trees and limbs were lining both sides of the road, making an eerie smoke-filled tunnel. The local pastor whom we were following turned off the pot-holed road and headed down a dirt path, barely wide enough for our vehicles to continue. Again, burning debris lined the way, as we descended into a muddy valley, back up again, and right, then left and up and down until we were deep into a hurricane-deforested area, where a few remnants of huts were still leaning against the once-monstrous wind.
We got out of our vehicles, and meandered over to a mostly roofless building, with pieces of mortar, leaves, limbs and paper strewn a few feet deep all over the cement floor. “This is my church!” the driver of the other vehicle said in Haitian Kreyòl. We waded silently in the debris as people from the village began to curiously come our way. Behind us, we heard a “Bonswa” (hello) and turned to see a that an elderly lady had appeared immediately behind us on what was the porch of the church. Her appearance was a little startling, as her long gray hair was a bit bedraggled, her toothless grin was pointed toward us and her clothes were muddy and torn. We exchanged greetings and her pastor said she was an elder in the church. She expressed that she was sad about the church being destroyed and then invited us to see her house, about 20 yards from the church.
The cement walls of her 10’ x 15’ (est) house were checkered with cracks. The fact that the walls were even standing seemed to defy not only gravity but all of physics. She said that she was aware it was not really safe to stay in her house but she really had no choice. We told her we were so sorry, and she again flashed her toothless grin. “M gen tout bagay toujou!” (I still have everything), she said. “You see,” she continued, “God knows everything about this! He still has my heart and my soul, and even if my house collapses on me tonight, I will go to heaven and that will be even better! Don’t be sorry! Be happy that Jesus Christ died for us!” I mumbled out an “amen!”, tried to hold back some tears, and wondered why my faith wasn’t at that level.
We lingered for a while, then piled back into our vehicles and moved onto the next damaged area for our assessment. We continued on to examine several other areas of hurricane damage, but the words from the lady on the mountain continued to ring in my head. As we had come to give encouragement, we were blessed beyond measure by the faith of one of God’s special people. I doubt that I will ever see her again this side of heaven, but I am truly anxious to see the mansion that awaits her with sturdy walls, and a beautiful place to worship our God for eternity.