“You are going to die there” The voice said to me.
I was getting ready to go to work, but in a week I was leaving for Haiti on a medical mission trip.
The voice wasn’t audible. It was inside my mind. Was this my subconscious running wild? Was it my fears expressing itself? Was it a warning? Was it an evil presence trying to persuade me not to go? I don’t know.
So I did what anyone would do, I packed my bags and left. I didn’t go in spite of the voice. I didn’t go because of the voice. I didn’t assume the voice was crazy. I went, fully expecting it to be true.
I went because that is where I felt I should be.
Dying in pursuit of purpose is better than living forever in the abyss of complacency.
I never felt unsafe in Haiti. I had an armed guard with me at all times.
People crowded around the clinic. There was no way to see everyone that needed to be seen. I remember someone holding their baby through the window, hoping someone would take it and help.
We had to take one man to the local hospital. They wanted a bribe to let him use the oxygen tank that they had.
I have heard it said that resourcefulness is more important than resources.
Sometimes the only “health care” you can give is to care. Taking the time to sit and listen. It matters here and it matters there. People are the same. People need connection. People want to know you care.
I would ride in the back of the truck to the clinic. One of our translators would point out things on our way. He told me Haiti was a great place to live if you had any money. I looked around and didn’t see anyone that could fit that description.
The streets were crowded at times. We would give kids rides to school. We would watch the animals in the streets. We would see the filth that they made and how all the people had to walk through it to get to work.
But don’t let this brief description give you the wrong idea. It was also a very beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s interesting how you can see something from different angles. It had a magic about it. A mystery.
We met a guy that was traveling the world. He was currently exploring Haiti. He was from England. He told us “I guess I picked a bad time”. He was talking about the earthquake. I found him fascinating. He was not scared of discomfort or uncertainty. He was living his life. He didn’t let little things like earthquakes, political unrest, or violence stop him from following his path.
We met some missionaries. They were helping at an orphanage.
We met local spiritual leaders. They would help decide who was the sickest in the community and who needed our help the most.
Not all the spiritual leaders were supportive though. One night, on a small mountain outside of our compound, we saw smoke rising. It burned the next day as well. We were later told that it was a local voodoo priest burning a sacrifice to put a curse on us. I don’t know if this was true or not. They may have just been trying to pull one over on us. But it makes for a good story.
I ate goat for the first time in Haiti.
I ate strange looking bone-in fish.
Our compound had a picture of Wyclef Jean at the bar. He had stayed at this hotel before.
We saw a lot of patients at the various make shift clinics. Our team leader would try to keep up with the numbers. Everyone had a card. I would often “work in” family members of the patients I was seeing. I would write down their info on the back of the card. This made it difficult for the team leader to keep track. I didn’t care. How could I say no to these people?
One clinic was in an unfinished hotel. There was no ceiling or walls. Just cinder blocks and foundation. There was an unfinished pool. It made me wish I had brought a skateboard.
I learned how to ask several basic medical questions in Creole. And sometimes, I was able to understand the answer.
We saw the capital building that had been ravaged by the quake. We saw tent cities. We saw crime. We saw poverty and kindness and humanity.
We saw the mix of the world, right there in one of the world’s poorest countries.
But this post isn’t about Haiti at all. It’s about how you respond. How you respond to the voice inside your head. How do you follow your purpose? Will you follow it to the ends of the earth? Will you chase it down and conquer it? No matter what fears you have. Will you see it through?
Because I can tell you that it’s worth it.
And when the voice calls out “you are going to die there”, will you answer it with me