I spent a week in Haiti with staff and friends of Vi Bella Jewelry and I’ve brought a hundred stories home. I carry the artisan’s stories every day and I try to do so carefully, but getting to hug our team is the very best thing.
This trip was different. It wasn’t a time to train or just transport jewelry.
These six days were a chance to praise and worship and pray together, to cast stones of regret into the ocean, to link arms, share hearts, and witness our friends and artisans give back to the villages where our centers exist.
It was a chance to see up close how there really is a front-line army against hunger and thirst, the power of employment, the tangible ways what we do in the United States impacts families across the ocean.
How empowerment has faces and names.
It was a revival
I stand at the back of the church on Sunday afternoon and the dust is heavy. I dunk my hands into the blue cooler over and over, reaching for bags of water and it feels like a big awkward band-aid, this handing of water to women and children.
Some hands are preparing to preach, some are preparing food.
One hand reaches for mine and I hand her extra water.
Because it’s hard to deny anyone water you look each other straight in the eyes.
As all of our hands move it’s not our work that is being done. It’s not a jewelry company or a founder or an author or prayer warrior or a child. It’s a collective spirit.
It’s all of us with gifts differing, praising as beloved daughters.
Communion can look like bags of water and packages of crackers and they can multiply there just like those loaves all those years ago.
Because when God wants to give living water it will always multiply. And He will always be the giver because everyone is thirsty.
The church is almost full but we would make room if more came. I look out into the dusty path, eyes stinging and just across the way I catch the glance of two young women who aren’t coming in.. I walk across and bring them water and two packs of crackers. They smile. I smile and turn.
Because bread and water wasn’t just meant to be shared inside church walls.
Hands are raised and hearts are shared. Interpreters help us understand each other’s stories better, the details anyway. But we don’t need anyone to explain the tears.
Vi Bella artisans have been working for nearly two days on a meal to serve their village and their smiles beam. Hands mix and serve and food spills over in into bowls from heavy pots.
I had hoped there would be enough water and crackers. There were. And now I whisper a prayer of thanks that the food will be enough, that we won’t have to say “I’m sorry” to any of these families.
I walk down the center aisle, my eyes smiling at each set of eyes that meet mine. I smile on the outside but underneath I nearly collapse from the weight of it all. From the sights and sounds of hunger and thirst.
Because poverty of soul will destroy you but hunger and thirst will kill and I know I will never unsee this moment. And I don’t want to.
She moves white plastic spoons to mouths, taking turns with her grandchildren and making the styrofoam container mounded with food last. The children eat and it’s more than rice and chicken and fruit. It’s survival.
And I want to cry.
I wonder if I’d praise Jesus as loudly if my body was malnourished. Because I feel like I’d have less to give, nourishing has to start with our bodies. How else does our soul know there is more than just surviving?
But I know that there is living water and maybe that is what Jesus meant.
She closes the lid on the white Styrofoam box and when she leaves she squeezes my hand and carries that box of food close to her like it like a precious gift out into the Haitian heat.
I know she is saving it. I know she will share.
I’ve been home now seven days. Two teens and a husband scattered between three states and I’m alone with the quiet truths and a white takeout box that makes me miss being so close to hunger that I could reach out a hand to help. I miss that I could feel the bruising of my heart and the soaring of my spirit.
I miss revival. Because it doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all thirsty for living water.
I’ve been home two weeks.
I miss the fresh sting of tears and I miss the standing in awe. I miss the way smiles take over faces when feel when they are seeing for real. I miss children and artisans and love so fierce and rocks laid down and prayers in two languages roaring together in some kind of beautiful crescendo. How I understood bits and pieces of what was being said but tears stung because I knew God understood it all.
I miss the way her shy smile held courage and opened the part of my heart I was trying to keep protected so as not to feel too much, know too much, CARE too much..
I miss how we felt like we were changing inside, seeing change in hearts and villages and in the world.
I miss being so close to help I could hold out a bag of water and solve thirst close up. And I miss how so many others quenched my own, reminding me of living water.
Re-entry home surprises me again. How you can walk around your every day life missing a place that you never thought you’d go, and a smile that haunts you in the most beautiful of ways.