After two full days of work I am beginning to develop a slight sense, but very slight, of the culture here. A lot of it is baffling, some unfortunate - still the same expectations of hand outs you seem to encounter in too many 3rd world cultures. The culture is unlike any I've experienced before. Many people are instantly friends for life; others seem to really resent the very sight of us. It is somewhat understandable in a country of unimaginable poverty where 90 percent of the wealth is controlled by the 5 percent of the controlling mullato class, I can understand how a white face might bring up century's old resentments. I am revising this a day or 2 later. I have come to realize that Hatians, as a group, are some of the warmest, open, and loving people that I have ever been blessed enough to meet. Even in the midst of devastation, they remain very concerned with how they are perceived by outsiders.
As we entered the gym yesterday to begin setting up what wiu be our hospital/ER/wound care center/counseling center and whatever else happens to come through the door, to our eyes it appeared to be uncontrolled chaos. Part of our group went to the hospital - 1 block away - after their attempts to help were sweetly rebuffed by the 5 or 6 different locals that appeared to be either equally in charge, or each trying to take charge. It was fascinating to watch as a definite sense of order began to emerge, and patients/victims fell into an order that seemed familiar to them. This occured in spite of the fact that they had never been in this facility in their life. It just fit their sense of order, or their custom.
Was it the structure that either myself, or one of the 4 or 5 other visitors would have been more than happy to jump in and set up in our own fashion? Of course not. Did it work? Absolutely - And to tell the truth, far better than anything any of us would have instilled as it was based on, and adapted to the culture.
I'm intentionally not writing about the countless tragedies that constantly come through needing a broken limb splinted, a wound treated, or for many a hug and a simple God go with you - Allez ach Bonjid.
Personally my hope for the trip is to encounter my own personal Haiti this week. I am trying to be open to God's teaching and guidance for me as I serve Him this week. My lesson, if you know me well, you know what a hard one this is. Be patient. Relinquish control. Be calm. God will bring a sense of order out of life's chaos if I can learn and internalize these things.
We are waiting for around 800 new patients to arrive sometime "soon". In Haiti that means most likely tomorrow night! We had a visit today from UN and US Army to assess our capabilities and needs. I guess we passed. They told us to prepare for incoming. They have redirected to us based on the assessment.
Please keep praying for Haiti. For a country already filled with orphans, we see way too many that have been newly orphaned by this disaster. Pray for the people who have come to assist with the rescue efforts. Even though there are thousands, there is still not enough help. So many lost. Only God can bring order from this chaos.
As I say and watched the proceedings, it was fascinating to see order arise from the chaos.