The Norman Transcript

November 1, 2013

Hilltop in Haiti made me humble

By Phil Scowden
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — I was lucky enough to join a team of 15 to travel to Haiti after the massive earthquake in 2010.

We stayed at a compound that was used as a school, an orphanage, a surgical center and a storage area for supplies, and a section was built for missionary housing. Every part of the compound was on the bottom part of this massive, rocky hill.

The missionary housing was separated from the other areas and located on the very top. This made for interesting, long, tiring walks to our work areas. We worked on some housing projects and visited those who had been impacted by the natural disaster in our time there.

We were only two days in when I fell extremely ill. I’d been sick before, but nothing like this. Massive dehydration was the diagnosis. This was disappointing on a large scale for me.

I am a relational person by nature and felt I best helped the team by jumping into awkward and uncomfortable social situations first to break the ice. To be held up in my room for an entire day was frustrating (and massively hot, since we were in Haiti with no air conditioning — wonder how I became dehydrated?).

As the week went on I tried to make up for lost time. After our work projects, I would look for any way to jump in and be active.

I soon found that interacting with the orphans was a great end to the day. The orphans thought basketball would be a great way to build our friendship and bring me close to dehydration again. How do you tell a Haitian orphan no? You don’t.

I spent the next few days hooping it up with what little energy I had and making friendships that will last my lifetime.

As our last game on our last day ended, I felt bitterness and anger enter into my heart. I stood at the bottom of this treacherous, rocky hill that I had traversed a multitude of times that week and now at the end of my trip, after going what I felt was the extra mile all week, I was on empty.

I felt I deserved a pass on my walk back up the hill of death. I felt this way so passionately that I began to pray out loud to Jesus about how I should get a little help here. I had sacrificed a week of my life. I had spent my money to go. I had pushed through a sickness. I put in extra time with the orphans. I wanted the pain to be taken away and be magically transported to my dorm.

On my way up, I passed the surgical center. There were a lot of amputation surgeries from the earthquake, and this is where the patients stayed post-op.

As I walked by, there was a man with no legs managing his way down this hill on crutches. His newly made stumps were covered in gauze and his eyes focused on each maneuver he had to make.

He looked up just in time for us to lock eyes. He smiled and gave me the traditional Haitian greeting. He was happy, full of energy it seemed. I had never felt so small.

Here I am complaining about my legs, my aching body, being amazingly selfish. Here I encounter a man who has lost so much and yet still seems to have joy in his heart. The pulse and theme of my prayer changed instantly.

Humbled is the word that we like to use, but to be honest, it was more than humility. I knew God was listening and wanted me to see that my situation wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be.

Many of us walk through this life feeling as though we got the short end of the stick. We feel we deserve more. The honest truth is we have all we need in Christ. We don’t deserve anything.

No matter how bad we feel our situation is, there is somebody else who is hurting more and pushing through it. Whatever hill you are climbing today, remember that God is listening and He loves you. Not only that, He’ll give you what you need to climb.

The rest of my trek was filled with tears and apologies. How blessed was I to be able to experience all that I had that week.

There was no more pain. There was no more complaining. Just a sense that God had showed up in a mighty way and that I still had a lot more to learn about myself.