Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Armstrong

Six years ago when we arrived in Haiti they had just suffered the devastation of a massive earthquake that took out almost a quarter of a millions lives in a few split seconds. We had victims staying at the church property. We fed them for months, the number at one point grew to around 60. One young man came and really has never left. While we now have a place for him to stay off church property, for years his bed was one of our plywood church benches or the concrete floor at the back of the property. Our dear Armstrong has been a faithful boy, running sound and learning all kinds of things church related. He is a quiet and reserved soul, and every time I get to the property, he is there. He leaves to sleep, and then he's back. In April when the girls visited they felt prompted that now was the time to reach out and do something special for our young faithful champion. He has nothing, and unlike all those who now have a place and moved away our young Armstrong remains for the most part alone, no family to care for or to watch him. Through a God set of circumstances we got him shoes, clothes, dress clothes and undergarments. It equaled a small suitcase of provisions for him. Last night we had him over and fed him, it's difficult to get him away from the church property. We stood in a little side room and I affirmed his faithfulness and our deep love of him and what he is doing with his life. He was standing right between Beth and myself. I reached down and went quickly through his suitcase of supplies. As I stood up his arms went wide and swept around Beth and myself. He bowed his head and for a moment I thought he meant to pray, but then suddenly a great sob escaped him, huge tears of gratefulness washed down his cheeks, and you literally felt the burden and stress of the years wash away. I must confess something, in all my 52 years of life I have never experienced gratefulness from another human being like I did in that moment. A dam burst, and the flood gates opened, the freedom we witnessed was extraordinary. You would have thought he had just won some kind of golden ticket. This is a young man who has not asked me for a thing across the years. Not food, not money, not clothes, nothing for himself. In that moment I was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime, I was a partaker in the grace of gratefulness. I have never felt the vacuum that Armstrong has lived through, I'm not sure I could survive the force of that kind of draw on my life. It was perhaps one of my most beautiful moments in Haiti, one I will cherish for the rest of my life. In a country so ravaged by natural disasters, it's amazing to watch how people recover by not complaining but simply keeping faith and moving forward. It's all Armstrong could do, but he has done it well, and stands in my mind as a very tall and incredible young man. Blessings from St. Marc.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh we have so much to learn from such a impoverished yet richer than rich culture! Keep in mind for the last 5 weeks I have been researching the affects social media is playing on society. Armstrong.... these people! It's been 6 years since Jim and I last joined you in a group in Haiti.... I am still learning from them every day! I hope you all are enjoying the wonderful people of Haiti! I love you all!!! Wanted to get a quick note out to you all! Payton told me to remind grandma...... don't forget the sand! :) I'll write more.... have to turn in my rough draft tonight to my final paper... of this class! Give out hugs for me please! Alisa

Lynn Ellis said...

Wow! Powerful scene described in this post! I felt as if I were there with you. ❤️Thank you for taking the time to share with us who are at home praying, but with you in spirit! What an amazing oppportinity to be able to give love in such a powerful way. Equally beautiful is that Armstrong was able to recieve it as it was intended. Life changing for ALL involved. My favorite kind of story. So much love to every single one of you tonight! Bethie, so many things to share with you. I can't wait until you're home and we can catch up. Wow! Thank you, God for what you're doing in Haiti and in each of our hearts this day. Love and hugs. ❤️❤️❤️

Jake T said...

Armstrong was one of Haitian church team members that stood out to me when I visited with the team last fall. I felt that hug all the way back up here in Northern Michigan and the gratitude attached. I write this comment with tear filled eyes, in awe of the awesome wonder of the God we serve. Love from up North

Matthew 25:36-40English Standard Version (ESV)

36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’