bad to good

February 10, 2010


Today I was able to participate in water and tarp distributions in Cite Soleil, one of the worst slum areas in Port-au-Prince. (Stories and photos to come.) As we traveled from location to location, I couldn’t help but wonder how our faithful driver was holding up after the past few weeks. During a break in the day, Fougère told me of losing many extended family members in the earthquake. In fact, he listed them for me one by one—a subtle but clear tribute to those who did not have the privilege of having their deaths properly honored. His house is completely destroyed, and he and six other family members continue to sleep outside. When asked when he is planning on sleeping inside again, he laughed nervously. He shrugged his shoulders, and his pained eyes revealed that he is not a man recovering from a tragedy—but living it, day after day, like so many others.

Later I spoke with Belizaire, another driver. He told how grateful he is that his four children and his siblings survived the earthquake. His house, though, is uninhabitable, and they too are sleeping outside—underneath only a barely-there tarp. His kids—8, 13, 16 and 19—are having trouble sleeping. Each time a helicopter passes or a car rumbles by, they fear it could be another quake. He tries to tell them to “soit tranquille” and to assure them that they are safe. Despite losing everything, he said he knows God is in control of the situation. His children ask him what their future will be like, and if they will ever have money for a new house. Belizaire is facing these big questions alone. He lost his wife a few years ago.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry, I tell them. If God wants to, He will provide to rebuild. They ask me, ‘But how?’ I say – He can.”

Belizaire referenced the Israelites in the desert, and how God provided food and water for them—necessities that are in scarce supply in Port-au-Prince. He said that if his faith is as small as a mustard seed, God will move the mountains in his life. And he said it with conviction. He believes it for himself—but most of all he believes it for his children.

A few nights ago as they tried to fall asleep, Belizaire’s youngest daughter, Jennifer, asked him, “Are we going to spend all of our nights out here?” “No, no, not at all,” he responded. “Will God help us?” she asked timidly. “Oui, oui, oui.” Jennifer paused thoughtfully, “Well we should pray now that God changes the situation.” Belizaire said he was so touched that he wept.    

In the midst of shattered lives, Belizaire and Fougère continue to work because they have no other choice. The grief and fear that have compounded and rippled across this city and nation in the last few weeks is too much to comprehend.

Before Belizaire departed to trek back to his ruined house and sheet under the stars, he turned around to me with a smile. “I believe that God can change the bad situation to good.”

2 Responses to “bad to good”

  1. Les Says:

    How penetrating are the questions of children who are suffering. How difficult to be a parent in the midst of tragedy you have no power to change. Your words inspire me as I go to lead our Church prayer meeting tonight Joanna. We will not forget. We will pray and give and come as God gives us strength and grace.

  2. evansgw Says:

    Belizaire is a great guy. Send him my greetings. I hope to be there soon.

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