While in Haiti, all of the things that I had learned while in El Salvador and Jamaica quickly came flooding back. Things such as not flushing toilet paper, but simply wrapping it up and putting it in the trash can (the septic systems couldn't handle it). Also to never take more food than you are willing to eat. Thankfully this has never been an issue for me. Although I am not a big fan of goat, we ate like kings. However, at the end of the meal, we would scrape any crumbs that were left over onto one plate. What usually goes in our garbage disposal at home, went to feed other Haitians. Any of the food not on the plates, went to the preparers family that night. It kind of made it difficult to indulge in seconds, knowing that you were depriving somebody else of quite possibly the only meal they had that day. We were instructed to take "Navy Showers." For those of you that do not know what that is, you turn the water on for a few seconds to get wet, turn it off and lather up, then quickly turn it back on to rinse. It was a blessing if the generator stayed on in order for the water pumps to keep working.
I knew full well that I would experience withdrawals when I came back to the States. This might sound strange to some, as some probably couldn't wait to get out of that country. Trust me when Sunday morning came around, I did not want to miss my flight. However, I am forced to think about certain things. Don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed flushing my toilet paper while at home, as well as taking my time in the shower. There is nothing wrong with these things. However, I don't want to lose sight of what it taught me. Am I being wasteful of God's resources when I leave the water running while I brush my teeth? Am I throwing too much down the disposal that maybe should be leftovers for the next day, or consumed at the dinner table? Maybe just maybe, I am lazy and lethargic in life because I have not had to fight every day for my daily sustenance.
The Haitian people think in the here and now. If you were to give them a 100 pound bag of rice, they would take what they needed for that day, and they would sell the rest. Is this wise? Maybe...Maybe not... We can all justify our stance on whatever it is we support, but when the rubber meets the road, are we being good stewards of our time, resources, and energy? I never want to forget the filth, devastation, and poverty that I experienced in Haiti. In just the same fashion, I never want to forget the kind and cordial hearts that the Haitians showed to me. They don't know that they are living in less than appropriate circumstances, because it is all in the eye of the beholder.
I asked one of the Haitian translators a question one day. I said, "Andy, does it hurt your feelings when Americans come down to your country and complain about not having air conditioning, the smells, pollution, etc.?" He didn't know what I was talking about. He said, "I don't know what you are talking about. People would complain about Haiti? My country is such a beautiful country." You see what looked like a Hell-Hole to some, was their Home. Though they didn't take pride in it the way we interpret that they should, they have never had anything to compare it with.
Last Sunday night when I rolled through Shelbyville on my way home, I looked down Main Street through a different set of glasses. For the first time I saw the street light, the garbage cans, and the sidewalks. I saw the store fronts without broken glass, and the court house that represents justice. I saw order and not chaos, cleanliness and not filth. I am thankful for my city where I live, but pray that I never take it for granted.
So as I come off two nights of attending the premier Shelbyville Horse Show, I am reminded of the glitz and glamour. I am reminded of the souped up Jaguar and Harley Davidson that I saw roll in last night. As people wore revealing evening gowns and sipped on alcohol, I wondered how much left-over food was being thrown in those 50 gallon trash cans. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my time there as well, I just don't ever want to forget where I came from...