Imagine This…..

You live in a very poor “neighborhood” in a very poor country.

If you’re doing well, you make $3 a day selling things at the market.   What kind of things?   Pretty much anything you can think of –food, art, you name it.

You barely have enough money to feed your family and to have a 10 x 12 shack to live in.

You are fortunate enough to have been able to save up some money and buy a “moto” for you to get to the market.   But it’s hard to fit all of your family on a “moto.”  

The trip from your shack to the market usually uses a gallon of gas per day.  Between traffic, hills and poorly running engines, that’s a reasonable estimate.

And then, the government announces yesterday that they are raising the cost of gas (no longer subsidizing it) by $1.25 per gallon.   Suddenly another 40% of your income goes to buying gas so you can go to the market and try to sell the art and jewelry and stuff you’ve made.

So, which meals do you skip?   Lunch?  Nope, can’t skip that one- because you already are.   You and your family are already used to living on two meals a day.   That leaves a total of 14 meals left in a week.   You could barely make enough for that – and now your costs are going up. 

So, do you skip 5 meals a week?

Do you skip two days at the market?  That’s going to hurt your income even more.

Ugh, this is not fair.   Why does the government do this to me?

I don’t know how I’m going to feed my children.   I don’t know what to do!

That is why people in Haiti are rioting this weekend.   They were hanging on to life literally on the edge and suddenly their costs are going up substantially – and they don’t have the ability to absorb that increase.

As Martin Luther King said it:

“A Riot it the Language of the Unheard.”

Right now, literally as I’m writing this I’m talking to friends in Haiti who are saying this is some of the worst rioting they have ever seen and they are being told (I don’t know by whom) to expect it will be worse on Monday.

Please join me and pray for peace in Haiti.   Pray for protection – for all lives, but especially for the lives of children and those who care for them.

There are many people in Haiti who have reached the end of their proverbial rope and feel like this is the only way they can be heard.   Pray that God would open up other ways to resolve this.

Thanks for praying,

Tom

P.S. There is hope that a rainstorm that is predicted for Tuesday will help cool people down and reduce the rioting.   Tuesday is a long ways away.   Oh and that rain storm – might actually come in the form of a hurricane.

Which brings the potential for a whole additional set of problems – flooding, crop damage, house damage, job loss, sickness, and the list goes on.

As a friend of mine told me about an hour ago,  #lovinghaitiisexhausting

Comfort Zone? Uh, yeah, I didn’t pack that…..

In June of 2003, my wife and I got on a plane in Miami bound for Port Au Prince, Haiti.

We forgot to pack our comfort zone. Left that back in Michigan.

Our intention at that point was to spend a week volunteering at an orphanage and eventually adopt from them.

I had never been in a third world country before.

I’m sure if I could come up with a list of the “firsts” from that week, it would be a very long list. Maybe some day I will write a book about that week and what it did to me.

But what I saw and what I heard and what I (insert all of the other senses here) made my heart hurt. Not my physical heart, but my emotional heart.

Our first full day there, I spent three hours helping the orphanage director’s husband rewire a Chevy Blazer that was donated by the US Military in 1994 when they left Haiti the last time. If we had been in the US, a 15 minute trip to an auto parts store would have solved the problem and then maybe 30 minutes to install the part. But the closest auto parts store was an hour and a half away and there was no guarantee, actually a pretty high probability, that they wouldn’t have the part that was needed.

If I had to narrow it down to the top three things that changed me, I’d say that our first trip to Haiti had three major impacts on my life:
• It stunned me that there was such poverty and struggle this close to middle class America and that most of the middle class in the United States didn’t even know that Haiti was less than a 2 hour flight from Miami.
• It bothered me that people in the United States didn’t seem to be bothered by the struggles of one of our neighboring countries.
• Holding a 20 month old baby who weighed 12 lbs (and I thought she was maybe 6 months old) made me realize how many children in our world struggle – many times struggle for their very lives. I was no longer comfortable with not doing anything about that.

That week in 2003 changed my life. I’ve often said, “If you can go to Haiti and spend a week (or at least more than 4 hours) and not come back a changed person, then I feel sorry for you.”

Comfort zone – many people in Haiti don’t know the term.

Comfort zone – many people in Haiti would LOVE to live there – but they can’t.

They can’t, because living in the comfort zone requires an education – (read the next post about that.)

They can’t because living in the comfort zone requires a job – and the last I heard, unemployment in Haiti was well over 60%.

They can’t because living in the comfort zone requires a certain amount of material wealth.

And they don’t have it. They might want it, but corruption, poverty, malnutrition and many other things keep them away from the comfort zone.

We’re going to be talking a good bit in the future about the things that keep people out of the comfort zone and what those of us in the comfort zone should think and do about it.

And also what being the ones in the comfort zone means to us.

But stay tuned, I’ve got a story to tell you about 200 high schoolers – coming up soon……

Tom


Something New…….

First, if you are reading this, thank you.   It means a lot to know that someone cares to take the time.

Secondly, for about 3 months, I’ve been doing a good bit of my writing about adoption, orphans, vulnerable children, family preservation at The Apparent Project’s website.    You can read the posts there at http://apparentproject.org/our-blog/.

I’m going to start, when I post something over there, posting an excerpt of it here and a link back so that you can read and decide if you want to read more.

I hope you will. 

Thanks!

Tom V