Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Last Saturday around noon I was in a hurry to pick up the Harbor House gals and their babies and get back to my house.  (You know, so people could get busy trying to drown.) Two women approached me and began to try to explain what they needed/wanted.  I made a quick decision that they were begging for food or money and decided not to listen.  I told them that our program is for pregnant women and women with young babies. I told them I did not have anything for them.  We pulled away and left them. 

On Monday the same ladies were camped in the same spot.  They asked if they could talk to me.  I was walking from Harbor House after just finishing a meeting, going over to the Maternity House where Beth, Jen, and Jonna were working with a woman in labor. I wanted to get over to the house to join them.  I was hurried. Again I chose not to hear the ladies out. I thought I knew what they were going to ask me for and I decided not to give it time.  I again quickly explained what our programs are for and that I doubted we could help them.  I did not try to hear their needs or questions.

Today as I left Harbor House one of the two women walked up at the exact right moment to catch me and asked if she could just explain her problem. Maybe we had a doctor? Something about the way her shoulders slumped told me I needed to just slow down and listen, even if we couldn't help her.  I went to find Jen to listen with me because Jen has wicked awesome language skills and I figured it was time to get the whole story and try to get it right.

She began to share with us. As she talked I felt a tremendous sense of remorse for ignoring her the first two times she tried to talk to me.  As she explained her health situation and how sick and awful she feels tears began to fall - for both of us.  She was crying because she felt frustrated with feeling sick all the time and not having health care that is properly addressing her issues.  I was crying because I felt like a giant jerk for refusing to take five minutes on the previous days.

While Jen referred her to another option and went to grab something, I asked if I could pray.  She said, "Yes please pray." While we prayed we both cried some more.

My prayers in Kreyol are pretty much "God we love you we need you we know you have a heart for us but please we need you - we need your help today." Once I've said all that I switch to English and it doesn't get much more complicated in my first language.  God. We. Need. You. Help!

In the end there really was nothing we could do for her.  We are not able to treat the complicated issue she has. My initial thought/judgment proved to be true.

We go about our days and we do the things we have set out to do. We have parameters and ideas and goals.  Those things are probably really good. My world is young moms and young children. I want to build relationships with them. These ladies were older and did not fit my criteria. There is something about the unending challenges and the large numbers of hurting people that can cause you to put walls up.  Some sort of self-protection measure I suppose. And truthfully, some walls are totally necessary but in this case I felt convicted that my walls were too high ...  And because I felt that as strongly as I did, I know it is true. I screwed up Saturday and Monday.  In this case I should have given them five minutes the first time they asked. I should not have been so hurried.

Lest you think we've got this whole 'loving God, loving others' thing all figured out ....  I thought I'd share this failure.  I think all of us struggle with knowing what to spend time on, what to listen to and determining what we should and should not do. 

Praying today that I might be led by the spirit and not by my agenda.