God opens us up to learning in all kinds of wondrous, and unexpected, ways. The WWV “Touched By Haiti” Story Contest entry below tells a tale that has to be read to be believed, and once you’ve read it, you won’t forget it.
My Baptism in Haiti
by Kimberly Curry
Matthew 25:35-36 … I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me:
Cite Soleil Sewage Canal Photo
For years, my best friend, Rhonda, applied gentle, relentless pressure in persuading me to join her in mission trips to Haiti. I resisted forever with many excuses…it’s difficult to be gone that long (about 10 days in July), can’t be in the sun (photosensitivity), can’t walk so far (up the mountains), etc. Being a relentless persuader, she organized the perfect trip for a small group: 5 days in June, (short, not so hot) and we would visit programs that she and our church have supported so not much hiking up mountains.
Once the shock wore off, I was hooked, in love with Haiti and wanted the full mission experience. On the morning when Rhonda asked if we wanted to join her to meet the two children she sponsors through Heartline, we were all in. The children live in the poorest section of Cite Soleil, the poorest neighborhood in the poorest city in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. We were taken to the first child’s home where we were greeted warmly as Rhonda gave the girl a Creole Bible.
On our way to the second house I experienced the biggest “I never in my life…” experience ever. We had to cross over an old stone/cement bridge to our other destination. As I followed the others and started down the rocky steps feeling a little off balance, I hesitated to continue. But, no, I had been praying for God to show me what He wanted for my life and I wanted the full experience. You have to follow me here because there’s a God thing I want to relate to you through this experience. I am a large white woman. There are starving, malnourished poor people staring as we visit the home of Rhonda’s student. They follow us closely and say things in Creole about the “blancs” as we continue on. Children want their pictures taken. We smiled, said, “Bon jou” to everyone trying to respect an unfamiliar culture.
So, there I was going down the rocky steps when it happened. I stumbled and went right into the “water.” I say that with great reservation because it was actually a cement drainage ditch full of sewage, motor oil, rainwater, grease, anything that could wash down from the mountains and be held there. Anything. I can’t tell you how humiliated and scared I was. There were things hanging off my hair, my now black clothes, my watch. Once reality hit and I drug myself up out of water and onto the cement bridge, I tried to make the best out of an I- can’t- even-tell-you-how-humiliating-situation situation when I was grabbed by the hand by a young Haitian woman and led (trying my best to smile and laugh and pretend I was okay with the embarrassment and not scared to death) down the rest of the bridge to an alley where there was a tub of water there on the cement walkway.
A hot pink top and red sandals is all I remember about my rescuer. We didn’t do formal introductions so I don’t know her name or age. She poured water over my head, sent for shampoo, and tried her best to clean me off. She wanted me to strip down right there so she could make sure I was clean. I say that like we were having a conversation. We were, but it was all through sign language. Obviously I wasn’t going to strip down naked on purpose (there were enough naked people running around already who hadn’t fallen in the water). I shook my head “no” so she led me to what I have to think was her home. It was down the cement walkway and into a cement 2 room “something.” I don’t know the words to describe it. Someone carried a tub of water behind us, set it on the wooden table and shut the door. I did strip down. Soap appeared from a crack in the wall and clothes came from out of nowhere and amazingly they fit perfectly.
After I cried like a baby, hugging her and sobbing from embarrassment and thankfulness, and we were OK with my state of cleanliness and appearance, she led me out wh ere I was reunited with the others. As the young woman led me out by hand, a young man came up to me, pointed at my feet and said something. It was at that moment the girl took the shoes off her feet and gave them to me. Holding my hand we walked back to our truck barefoot on the “sol, sol, sol” or hot, hot, hot pavement to be sure I got back safely.
I had been praying for God to show me how to help others. Should I send money to support a student in Haiti or work with mission projects? Should I send financial aid or collect clothes, formula, or school supplies? I. I. I. I. I. That’s when God smacked me in the head, knocked me in the water and showed me that it’s not about me. It was like God said to me, “Who do you think you are to think you are in the place yet where you can help others? What makes you think you are so much better than others??? You need help. You are the one who needs to be humbled.” That I was that day. Humbled. When a young black Haitian woman from the poorest neighborhood in the poorest city in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere would take me, a stranger, in and clothe me. She took the shoes off her feet and gave them to me. So my journey began: the journey to becoming a person worthy of God’s love, who needs to be in a place to be helped by others. I hope that I can be someone who deserves to walk in those shoes….