Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I have pictures to edit and load, and hoped to get them on here tonight - but I'm tired and Tara said she'd prefer it if I posted some words. Words are hard sometimes in light of all that we've seen and all that has transpired in Haiti over the last three months. Words fail to describe how terrible some of it is, and they also fail to accurately portray how amazing and beautiful other things have been.

140 characters on Twitter seems much easier - you can only focus on one thing and do your best to squeeze the idea in under the limit. A blank page presents a much larger challenge. So much room for so many words. That can be looked at in two ways - an overwhelming unending task, or an opportunity to write something beautiful. (I usually err on the side of the former.)

As I sit here I realize that this is analogous to the issues facing us in Haiti today. The future of Haiti is vast and uncertain and seemingly changing every day. There are a million different ideas being bandied about and each have their corresponding pros and cons and pundits. This challenge can either overwhelm us with its complexity or help us rise to the occasion and each do our small part in advancing this nation and helping these amazing people.

After visiting one of the largest tent cities in Port au Prince today, we were again struck hard by the sheer enormity of the need and tasks facing the Haitian people. This usually makes us want to get back to our own small corner of the city and get back to helping the few that we can affect and touch - because that seems real and tangible....and possible.

In that sprawling field with thousands of refugees living under twigs and tarps, where we saw trenches being dug to divert the rains in order to have a dry place to sleep tonight - we entered the home of one family. Nine people will live in this ten-by-ten foot room made of scraps of wood and blue plastic tarps. One mattress on the ground. Laying on gravel with mud on the sheets. Their access to clean water, food, health care, sanitation, and basically everything else most of us take for granted would be described as difficult if not impossible.

Their situation is replicated thousands and thousands of times over across this city for untold numbers of other families. Even though we can't do anything about this problem on the whole - we can for this one family. They have received medical care, new beds to sleep on above the muddy ground, tarps to keep out the rain, and our commitment to continue loving them and caring about their well being. We cannot do that for everyone - but we can for some.

We cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and unable to respond. It is not acceptable to throw our hands in the air and hope someone else will take care of it. We are not responsible or able to change the whole world-country-culture-city-community-neighborhood or disaster...but I know that we can all touch someone and make a difference for one person and one family at a time.

Mother Teresa was apparently much better with words than I am, because she managed to say all of what I just came up with in far fewer:
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.

She went a little over the character limit, but I would follow her on Twitter in a heartbeat if I could.

Thank you for joining us in doing the small things that turn into something wonderful.