The women rushed towards me and I was not really scared but hesitant. They positioned themselves next to me, one on either side. Before I knew it they had linked their arms with mine. N-ap kampe ave-ou.
We are standing with you.
That very year Aaron had given me two expensive gifts: a digital camera and a laptop. Together the gifts were worth over $2000. I was grateful, in a spoiled- slightly entitled- working woman kind of way.
As those women linked arms with me I could not stop thinking of the gifts. The gifts were luxuries, not necessities. They were extravagant. They cost more than the help we had provided the entire village that year. My two luxury gifts cost more than the food we had given an entire village in a year. Yet here they were standing with me in total support.
Marie Josette and Lucien both began talking at once. They spoke quickly and passionately-my Creole was not fluent so I picked up fragments of thought- we know you are here to help-we know you would never hurt us- God is with you- we stand with you- we thank you for how you help us.
Their support calmed my heart. The heaviness of the day before began to leave me.
The day before we had held a clinic at a local school. We saw over a hundred patients and filled many prescriptions. The American doctor diagnosed and treated, I translated while other members of our team did crowd control. Late in the day a young boy ran up and yelled at me through the window, someone we saw earlier was passed out, he begged me to get the doctor to come to the house.
We found the house easily, we followed the wailing, the woman had died. She was in her seventies and was found on the floor in her bedroom. She had her medications next to her, the ones we had given her earlier that day for her high blood pressure. It didn’t appear she had taken any. We prayed with and tried to comfort the family and then awkwardly, we went home. We were devastated. What if we harmed her when we had only wanted to help, what if?
Darkness fell quickly, as it does in Haiti, and we became uneasy. People gathered in the street outside our gate, it was noisy and, combined with the darkness, frightening. Our friends and their dads started arriving which was unusual. Several of the men went up and sat on the roof, to keep watch. We called the embassy for advice. They suggested calling the local police but, the embassy staff member clarified: it may not work because they may not have a vehicle to get to you!
By this time we had been going to Haiti for six years. It was our favorite place to spend our valuable vacation time, and we had already committed for the long haul. This was the first trip for one of our team members and he considered leaving, immediately, in the dark. I was concerned that running away would make it impossible for us to return. We hadn’t done anything wrong, an elderly lady had died, but we feared in the eyes of the Haitian law we would be considered guilty.
Before we slept we talked with Toto, always a pillar of Godly wisdom who we respected greatly. He said not to worry, he would go before us. Just as Jesus died for others he would go in our place. He said this with confidence, as if he was not discussing losing his own life. From that moment I have treasured his friendship.
We slept fitfully that night, as our friends held vigil on the roof. The next day a Haitian judge came to the house to talk with us. He suggested we pay for the funeral as a gesture of solidarity with the family. He also requested a private consultation with the American doctor and medications for all of his ailments: itching skin, heartburn, high blood pressure, headache and anxiety! We complied.
Later that day we walked to Interior Hydrolique, scared but determined. Later that day we saw grace and mercy in action through Marie Josette and Lucien.