It was about this time one year ago that I made my first very personal connection with the people of Haiti. We had arrived in Port-Au-Prince the afternoon before, and it felt like walking onto the pages of every missions brochure I had ever seen. Suddenly all the World Vision videos and television commercials became very real. But viewed from the inside the windows of a bus, it still wasn't the same.
I strolled outside early in the morning just prior to breakfast, where I saw someone from Mission of Hope talking to a pair of youngsters on the other side of the fence seperating the mission from a large field. They were deathly thin... a boy and a girl with a small donkey. I heard the young lady from the mission say, "You're hungry? I know... I'm hungry too."
We had already been told not to give anything to anybody. I didn't understand it right away, but the moment desperate people see that you have something to give, it creates a mob scene. To give anything at all to those two hungry children on the other side of the fence could have created a dangerous scene both for the children and the mission. Another missionary from our team and I approached the fence to see the kids. They introduced themselves (communicating as best we could in our languages) as Aylo and Tonya. Tonya was very stoic, but Aylo had a smile that could light a stadium. They wanted me to feed them. I couldn't.
I can tell you this, though. Breakfast never tasted so horrible as it did that morning. I had no appetite whatsoever.
For a brief moment, our lives intersected. And ever since, I've felt a certain responsibility for the two Haitian children I couldn't help. I pray for them often. I pray that God will see to it that they have a meal today. I pray that they can somehow get an education, and that they'll have a safe place to sleep at night. I pray that they are surrounded by family that loves them, and most of all that they will come to know how much Jesus Christ loves them.
Aylo and Tonya taught me just how small our world really is. They demonstrated to me that everyone is my brother and sister, no matter who or where they are. Hunger hurts as badly in Haiti or Africa as it does in the United States. Jesus loves them equally, and He has given me a corner of the world that I am now responsible to help make better. I want to see Tonya and Aylo again in heaven.
I'm just betting she has a pretty smile, too.