Heading off to missions, you never fully know what to expect. You have to be willing to go with an open heart and mind, just being willing to let God work through you and in you. If that is your attitude, you can't help but be changed as your world view starts to open up.
I saw that again last month as I travelled to a completely new world to me, Haiti.
The people wore much the same clothes, as they had mostly been sent from America as donations over the years. Their shoes, when they wore them, were often what we would wear as well, only very often too small for their feet and worn down. Often times people go barefoot though, playing soccer, walking down the road, making their way through the market. Many cannot afford a pair of shoes so they just go without. Just a way of life.
The food is all cooked over charcoal. Most is fried and there is very little meat in any of the dishes. If there is meat it is usually goat. The main substances are corn maize (mush), rice and beans. People eat twice a day, breakfast and an early dinner. It usually is a pile of rice or corn maize with a few beans on the top. Many only eat once a day and they are grateful for even that. They often work long hours trying to sell anything they can find on the street just to be able to buy that plate of food.
Most do not have electricity or running water, which is why the cholera outbreak spread so fast and furious. People go to rivers to wash their clothes, wash their bodies, use the bathroom and get water for cooking, drinking and cleaning. Yes, all the same water. Thankfully, there are some community wells being put in place so people are able to get clean water.
In Port au Prince, everywhere you look there are tent cities. It literally looks like people are camping, and camping right on top of the next tent, as far as you can see. It's not like our camping where you have a lot, a hook up, a place to park your vehicle, trees all around. Nothing like that at all. Just huge parking lots covered in tents, end to end.
In the towns away from Port au Prince many live on top of each other in brick one room homes. They are probably about 8 x 8 size rooms where there is enough room for a bed and a dresser. The bathroom and the kitchen are outside. Both loosely used terms as the bathroom is a hole in the ground and the kitchen is a charcoal "grill" of sorts. There is no fridge, no sink, no 6 burner stove. Just a grill in the outdoors where women literally stand for hours every day cooking whatever they can find to cook.
The people gather everywhere you look. Outside on itty bitty porches, on streets where they are trying to sell things like used clothes, used cookware and beat up cans of food. There are also markets where you can go to buy and sell things, live animals are slaughtered in front of perspective buyers and voodoo doctors roam around trying to drum up business.
To be continued...