She sits on the dusty ground, her strong fingers separating tiny grains of rice from pebbles and bits of trash.
She is scanning the horizon and her face lights with joy when her little girl appears in the distance. Her little girl, all arms and legs and beautiful heart trailed by us—a couple of blan on mission for Jesus.
Come, come she invites, and we join her on the dusty ground.
We are welcome here and yet so tentative, so unsure of ourselves (I am, at least). And so we reach into our overstuffed bags and pull out a few gifts.
It’s nothing much, we say.
A bracelet, a sheet of stickers and (most treasured) the photo of a smiling family.
A family that knows her daughter’s name. A family that sends their love all these miles in the overstuffed bags of the blan.
Wait, she says. I have something for you too.
No, no, no we protest.
Being here is enough.
Blowing bubbles with your little girl is enough.
But our wise translator shushes us and translates simply
A son is dispatched. A tree is scaled. A machete is wielded.
And we blan walk back to join our team with arms full of coconuts.
We struggle to open them (where is that son with the machete when we need him?), then drink in their euphoric sweetness.
The sweetness of beautiful Haitian coconuts.
The sweetness of being welcome here.
The sweetness of a gift reciprocated, of human dignity acknowledged.
It is a gift forever wrapped up in the heart of this blan.
A gift that evokes strong emotion these years and years later.
A gift that I pray I will never forget, and might one day have the opportunity to reciprocate.
The sweet gift of absolute, honest generosity.
In 2011, I visited Haiti with Food for the Hungry. If you want to learn more about what they do (or sponsor a child), you can check them out here.