Saturday, September 4, 2010
Blind as a Bat
The place is the infamous slum area on the perimeter of Port-au-Prince called Cite Soleil- City of the Sun. Daphne was born in the heart of this hell on earth. Her father died when she was young and her mother did the best she could to care for her and her siblings. She got to go to school with the help of family. Not every year but at 18 she was in the sixth grade. Not bad for the kids in her zone. But then she got sick. She had trouble getting the energy to get out of bed. She was always thirsty and hungry but only limited food and good water was available. She started fainting and losing consciousness. Her mom took her to the clinic but no one could find out what was wrong. Most people thought someone had cursed her. Then at age 19 she started losing her eyesight. It was so frightening. She prayed for God to heal her. Her mom had raised her as a Christian and she knew God was powerful. But her sight kept getting worse and the sickness too.
Finally she went to a little clinic that was too far to walk to. Her mom took her in a tap tap- the taxis of Haiti. The nurse there did some tests and determined she had sic- sugar or Juvenile diabetes. By this time she was completely blind.
A few weeks ago we were doing eye screenings in that same clinic. That is where I met Daphne. She was led into my examining room and I was told by the nurse that it was probably a waste of time because she was blind and there was nothing that could be done. I looked at Daphne and discovered her blindness is due to cataracts induced by her diabetes. I asked if her diabetes was being controlled. The nurse told me that they gave her oral medication but because of no refrigeration there was no way to do insulin. Her blood sugar was staying around 5-600. High enough to send her into a coma if she was not careful. Definitely high enough to continue to destroy her. All because at 20 years old she did not have a refrigerator.
Hey, I thought. I have a refrigerator. I have THREE refrigerators that run all the time due to the blessing of solar panels, and batteries, and inverters, and generators. I have a bed too- Daphne slept on the floor in her hut in the slum. I asked if I could talk to the family. I told them the situation and how we could let Daphne- who weighs about 80 pounds due to her illness- come stay with us so we could buy and refrigerate her insulin and find someone to do eye surgery on her so she could possibly see again if the diabetes has not damaged other tissues inside her eyes. The family could not believe it. They praised God and thanked me. We left with Daphne and took her to The Mission.
Daphne's blood sugar is still a work in progress but it is under 300 and most of the time closer to 200. We are working on trying to get her cataract surgeries lined up. I brought her to our house yesterday to spend the day with our kids here. She loved putting her feet in the water at the ocean.
I asked Daphne what she missed the most about being blind. I thought maybe the beauty of creation or being able to get around by herself. She immediately answered it was the people's faces. She said she missed seeing people.
God used that answer to speak to me. I had laser vision correction before I left to come to Haiti. I now see 20/20 without glasses or contacts or anything. But so often I do not see "people's faces". I see the pretty sunsets and beauty of the Haitian mountains. I see the my kids running around and playing in the yard. I see my work and the duties before me everyday as I do eye exams or work at The Mission or repair a broken generator. I see the food we give away and the shoes and the clothes. But do I really take the time to see the faces?
The faces are individuals. But beyond that, the faces are a reflection of the heart. The face shows the smile of happiness or the grimace of pain. The face shows the lines of hard labor and the innocence of childhood. Romans chapter 12 tells us to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. But do we look close enough at the faces to know? That takes time. That takes effort. It's easier just to DO something than to really look into the face and desire in my heart to feel what they are feeling. Do I REALLY want to hurt with these people? I mean, I know I really want to help them. But do I really want to HURT with them? Do I really want to grieve with them? Do I even want to rejoice with them? I mean when it rains while I am trying to do a crusade that I put a lot of energy and time and money into putting it on...for God of course... and the storm rains us out and everyone is rejoicing because it means their crops will grow and that God is blessing them... but I am pouting because my plans were ruined...what does that say? When it is easier for you to just give that beggar a dollar than to ask them about the circumstances that led them to that place of desperation. The widow that goes home alone every Sunday after church is lonely. Do you want to feel the depth of her loneliness? The single mom at your office is so frustrated and confused, but her frustration is not your problem... or is it?
I let Daphne feel my face and she was surprised at my scraggly beard that Jacy Klaire tells me I had better shave before she gets home. (She is 8 she has never seen me with a beard.) I pray one day Daphne sees faces again. I would venture to say she will not take them for granted. I venture to say she will appreciate the gift of seeing faces. The question is will I.
I found this little guy clinging to a tree beside where we eat our meals. He was only about 50 feet from his home but he had gotten caught out in the daylight for whatever reason.
When I was in the U.S. the "need" of the people in Haiti was a good thing. It helped me to see that I needed to step out of my self absorbed, comfortable, world pleasing, church enjoying, riches chasing, American dream of a life and do something radical out of love for others. But once here that "need" sometimes blinds me. I can't see the faces. I am out of my element. I am overwhelmed. I am blinded. I like just a "little bit" of need. Like my little bat friend wants just a little bit of light. Too much and I end up hanging on the side of a tree only feet from where I want to be... in the comfort of my little hole...blind as a bat.