They called him The Monk.
Tall and handsome.
He only spoke when spoken to.
His clothes were neat.
And his voice was soft.
I watched him from creases in the crowd of friends and leaders.
He was so quiet; never uncomfortable or uneasy in the quiet.
And he never filled up the empty spaces with chatter.
He drove us around Haiti.
He hugged kids; they hugged him back and talked his ears off.
There were a couple times where I caught him in a funny smile, looking from the kids to us,
The only one who knew exactly what they were saying about us...
There was mischief in that, and I think he might of enjoyed it just a little.
He walked alongside a bunch of chatty women for five days.
And with great purpose.
I think in Heaven he will be a great king.
Because he reminds me of Jesus.
On our way driving across the country, one of the girls asked him if he had ever been out of Haiti.
He answered that he had.
The Monk had visited Miami.
She asked him how he liked it.
He said he had not.
So, the Haitian was unimpressed with Miami.
I waited for a punch line.
Because I thought for sure he had to be joking.
We were driving alongside canals shared equally by trash, farm animals, and naked children.
We were visiting places where parents needed to choose which of their children would eat that day.
I had never spent time alongside great poverty.
And I do not know that even now I have really processed out the mix of brokenness and beauty.
Haiti blends the two so well; maybe it is not my job to separate them into distinct experiences.
Whatever the blend, there is something greater in this beautifully broken country
Than there is in Miami,
A US hotspot of pristine beaches, flashy nightlife, and living luxury.
And I felt shell-shocked by his words.
Now let me tell you about a white guy from Raleigh who wears golf hats and black rimmed glasses.
His name is Chris Marlow.
When he talks, he sometimes touches the middle of his frames to slide them back up his nose.
And he likes to lift his cap off and on
Lost in words,
Explaining in great detail the various pieces of Help One Now.
When Chris spoke to us about one of his dear friends, Pastor Gaetan Alcegaire, the tears flowed.
He stood in the shadows of a newly built school, funded through Help One Now.
And now Pastor could offer education to the orphaned children he took in after the 2010 earthquake.
When Chris stepped into Ferrier Village, the kids came running, open-armed.
And he teased Pastor Jean Alix Paul, because he was wearing a golf hat now, too.
Both of them walking in a sea of Haiti's kids, sharing the same vision.
In Chris, I saw a heart fully engaged.
He doesn't wave Help One Now flags around in Haiti.
The people whose lives are uplifted by his organization do not even know who is behind the goodness they experience.
The village people sending their kids to the schools do not know how their kids are receiving a nutritious meal during their school day.
Or where the books and materials come from.
They just know the children have an opportunity to eat and learn.
He is in the shadows empowering Haitian leaders to create change.
While watching Chris move through Haiti,
I started to understand The Monk's words about Miami.
There is something both of these men are working towards that is not about comfort for themselves.
Or happy places.
Miami might be lovely.
But they are not about a quick-fix of lovely that has no eternal weight.
I think that is why Haiti, to me, feels like a kaleidoscope of fractured beauty.
Because in glimpses, I saw Jesus.
I saw justice worked out.
I saw risk.
I saw people willing to get out of the boat and try this walking on water thing.
And being a girl who has always held on white-knuckled to the sides of the boat,
Unwilling to meet danger or brokenness,
Or even reach for my Maker's outstretched hand,
I realized on this trip
That the riches and beautiful things I need to be seeking
Are going to be found in the unlovely places,
The broken people.
Because in joining their causes,
I no longer need "Miami's"...
I find myself closer to the Kingdom places.
And hoping in the coming Kingdom...seeing it ushered in by men like The Monk and Chris,
in all honesty,
Makes Miami look pretty lame.
“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. KNOWING A MAN WELL NEVER LEADS TO HATE and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other!”
Tomorrow I will share how YOU can come alongside Help One Now.
Please make it a point to stop by...
And feel free to share these posts to your heart's content:).