Mwen sonje ou (I remember you) | Learning from the Haitians

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

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Hurricane Harvey has devastated the lives of millions across the Texas coast. I read one statistic that says it has affected about 46% of Texas’ population. Floodwaters are still high in some places. People have lost lives, homes, pets, vehicles, everything. “Normal” for so many will never be the same. My heart breaks for those who have been negatively affected by this hurricane.

And yet…I see GOD at work. I saw GOD working in LiveBeyond team member, Marguerite Allen as she unloaded her car full of supplies to donate. I saw Him in the backbreaking work of LiveBeyonder David Hayes as he helped get the trucks loaded with food and water. I saw Him working in the woman who ran over to give us the $9 she had scraped together with her friend to help us with gas for the U-Hauls headed to Houston. I saw Him in the 15 volunteers who stayed up late in Houston to help us unload the goods after we had two blowouts on tires (we might have been a little over weight). I saw Him in our friends at Oliver & Otis, who are donating t-shirt sale proceeds to the disaster relief effort.

But the most obvious time I saw Him at work was when I heard about my friends in Haiti. The American staff talked with the Haitians about just how devastating Harvey had been to so many. The Haitians remembered their own trials: the 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic, Hurricane Matthew (2016). They also remembered the friends they made from the Houston area that have served on mission trips to Haiti.

And they jumped at the chance to help.

Though they cannot physically make the trip, they are sending funds. Yes, that’s right. People in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere are sending funds to the United States for disaster relief. From a place where the minimum wage is $2.25, Haitians are sending money to one of the wealthiest countries the world has ever known. So far, they have raised over 1000 USD. Our beloved Indian construction manager, Solomon, and his friends have donated about $650 themselves to this cause. And they are still going. Many of them are volunteering to work extra days for LiveBeyond without pay so that they can continue to give.

When I heard about their sacrificial giving, I was reminded of the famine that affected Jerusalem in the time after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Macedonian churches gathered funds to send to the churches in Jerusalem.

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (ESV, emphasis mine)

And they have the perfect example of sacrificial giving in Jesus: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor so that you by His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Jesus gave up all the wealth of Heaven to come to earth, live as a poor man, and die a horrible death just to save us. For your sake, He became poor. So that you by His poverty might become rich. I don’t know if I fully realize that statement, but I know that my Haitian friends do because of their generosity.

Let me explain the gravity of this act a bit further: The Haitian people that are giving aren’t just writing a check to handle the problem. They are going without things so that they are able to give. They may miss meals without that income. They may have to put something off just a little longer until they can afford it. They may need to work out a second job for a while to make ends meet. Some of them are cutting into their weekends to put in another 8 hours to provide for their friends on the Texas coast. They are spending valuable time away from their families to care for people they don’t know. 

And yet they are still willing, no, OVERJOYED to give. Because they know that they are caring for their brothers and sisters.

The way that you say “I miss you” in Haitian Creole is “Mwen sonje ou.” It literally translates to “I remember you.” Every time I hear a Haitian tell me this, I am reminded of just how thoughtful my friends are because the phrase implies a continuous remembering. It is evident that they are true to their word. May we all follow their Christ-like example.