Do You Love Him?
Over the four days spent in Haiti with Food for the Poor and the rest of the Nativity group, I experienced many emotions. There was disbelief, sadness, confusion, anger, hope, joy, and love as I took the time to interact with a country living in pure destitution.
During one of our visits to a Nativity Village one little boy, about 4 or 5 years old, took hold of my hand right as I climbed off the bus. He led me up and down the rows of modest homes. He took me to a large group of children where he wanted to join in and get his photo taken by another member of our group. Even in the crowd he clenched my hand so we would not be separated. After the group photo, he led me out of the crowd and we continued just walking hand in hand. Unable to understand each other’s language, we walked in silence. It was one of the sweetest moments of the trip for me.
After awhile an older boy, maybe 10 or 12, approached us. I had noticed him watching us from afar, but now he came up and asked me something in English.
“Do you love him?” he asked as he motioned to the little boy still clutching my hand to his chest.
“Do I love him?” I returned his question, surprised to hear this boy speaking to me in English.
“Yes. Do you love him?” he repeated.
My mind started racing. I had heard all the warnings about not giving out your address, email or phone number for fear of people showing up at your doorstep months later with their babies etc. Surely this young man was not trying to con me into taking this boy home with me, right? Maybe. Maybe not. Just as I started to panic, a sense of calm came over me.
“Yes, I do love this boy,” I answered. “And I love you. And I love all of the children in this village. Don’t you love this boy?”
“Of course I love this boy,” he replied. “It’s easy to love him.”
“It is,” I agreed. “Because he’s so little and sweet.”
“No, it’s easy for me to love him because we are the same color. But you, you are a different color from a different country, and you come here and you love everybody. How come you love us?”
Wow. His question was so much deeper than I initially gave him credit for. He didn’t want to know why I loved this specific little boy. He wanted to know why our group from Nativity cares for people so unlike ourselves. And in that moment I realized he was experiencing love from God through us. As the family of Christ we are called to love all people. And as I stood there still holding the hand of the little boy and looking into the face of the young man who noticed love-- time stood still, and I felt blessed to be in the presence of God.
THE WORLD’S ANTHEM by Gianina
One of the quirky little things I learned about the country of Haiti is that the people are wild for Brazil soccer. We were visiting during the height of the 2010 World Cup, and the streets were alive with yellow and green. Flags, banners, homemade jerseys, you name it! Even with the language barrier, I could always say, “Soccer? Brazil?” and get a huge smile from any child. They rallied around their team.
On one particular visit to Shada (basically a community living in a swamp full of garbage), I was feeling particularly down. After seeing the sheer filth of the situation it was hard not to feel helpless. As we walked back toward our bus, winding through the little huts counted as homes by so many Haitians, I heard a familiar melody: the official anthem of the World Cup. Someone was playing it from one of the homes. It was so out of place! I couldn’t imagine where they received the recording, or what they were playing it on, but it was loud and clear. As I processed the situation, I looked down to see the boy who had been holding my hand. He was singing along to the song in English! To my knowledge he didn’t know English – I had tried a few words on him earlier. But here he was now, effortlessly singing along to the World’s Anthem. I held back tears. If you do not know the lyrics, I have posted them below:
Give me freedom, give me fire, give me reason, take me higher
See the champions, take the field now, you define us, make us feel proud
In the streets our heads are lifting, as we lose our inhibition,
Celebration its around us, every nations, all around us
Singing forever young, singing songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game.
And together at the end of the day.
WE ALL SAY:
When I get older I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom Just like a wavin’ flag
And then it goes back
And then it goes back
And then it goes back
I wondered if he felt the weight of those words. I wondered if he felt the emotion they carried and how they seemed to pertain his country right now. As he sang, I sang along next to him, both of us moving to the beat of the music, united by a song that the whole world was singing with us. I believe our song was sung as a prayer to God for Haiti that day, and I left Shada filled with a new sense of hope.