Our mission trip to Lambert, Haiti in March 2017 accomplished many important tasks, past relationships were renewed and many new relationships were formed. But, one new relationship with Jacqueline (shown above) stood out from the rest. Jacqueline is a maid at the school and receives a small salary each month to clean the restrooms, classrooms, fetch water in buckets and do other odd jobs around the campus that keep it going. She is a single mother, probably a widow, with five children (all boys); two of which still live at home. She attends the church on the school campus and lives in a home that is structurally unsound, is built with whatever material scraps they can find, has gaping holes on one side and is probably within an inch of collapsing. They get their water by lowering a bucket on a rope down a small well. As though that was not bad enough, when we arrived at her home for a visit, she was devastated to find her only baby goat had died. It is hard for us to understand the significance of a baby goat to a family like hers but it is huge - and any loss like that when you live in that kind of situation hurts.
The projects we planned for this trip required a number of local people to complete. Some work, like the concrete project, required some hired hands that had specific skills. But, much did not require specific skills - only a desire to participate and help out. As a way to encourage the local community to support and make an investment in their community, we advertised that we needed people who were willing to volunteer - they would not be paid. And, they came... One project was painting several new classrooms and the doors leading into them. Jacqueline showed up the first day of the project, picked up a paint brush and started painting. We reminded her, through a translator, that she would not be paid. She responded "I will be happy with whatever God gives me". Jacqueline worked all day, every day, as hard as anyone - probably harder. She always had a gentle smile on her face, a loving look in her eyes and a peace about her that warmed our souls. We saw Jesus when we looked at Jacqueline. She is a faithful example of Matthew 5:3 - "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Jacqueline understands her utter helplessness and has put her whole trust in Jesus. She has been able to do something that few of us can do: detach from material things (for she knows that things do not have the power to bring happiness or security) and become completely attached to Jesus (for she knows that Jesus alone can bring help, hope and strength). She stirred the hearts of everyone on the team and we fell in love with her. Everyone felt called to do something for her. We don't take many things to Haiti, but we took up a collection among the team and at the end of our last day at the school, (she was still painting!) we presented her and her 2 boys with several bags of personal hygiene items, clothing and a meaningful amount of US cash that may help purchase a baby goat. A small "thank you" for someone that touched all of us so deeply. In the end, Jesus did provide - not just for her but for us as well. We will miss Jacqueline but we will never forget her.