From Hogwarts To Haiti
A few years ago, I noticed my daughter on the computer. She was totally locked in and focused. Her eyes were wide, and her smile was so big her face could barely contain her excitement.
“What was she doing?” I wondered.
She broke the silence with a simple question: “Hey Dad, all my friends in class have been to Disney World. When are we going to go?”
(Since when is it not normal for 10 year olds to have not been to Disney?)
I quickly realized she was looking at YouTube videos of Disney World and, like all good marketing, she was hooked.
Soon she would shut down the laptop and leave. You see, she has an imagination that has no end. Its like the ocean from Miami to Haiti… the spectacular views never ends!
She loves to enter new worlds….
She can stare at the sky for hours…
She has read the Harry Potter book series in full more than seven times in the last two years.
When we take trips, she is quiet as she stares out the window of the car, day dreaming.
When we fly, she desperately hopes for the window seat. And, if she does not get it, she starts to barter.
I love this about her, and I encourage her to never stop being who she is.
But, this kids is also a strategic thinker. So, an hour after I told her that I would take her to Disney World someday, she returned with hand-written contract.
Not only did she want my signature, but she also wanted her mom’s as well. And she wanted some timeframes. I had promised her so many times but had never followed through with details.
A year later, I found myself at the entry gate of the Magic Kingdom and a few days later, we spent the day at the Islands of Adventure. (And, this place is amazing!)
I had fulfilled my side of the contract, finally. My kids rarely ask for anything, but I knew this was important for my daughter.
Of course, we had a blast–princess shows, roller coasters, food, and lots of laughs. We made memories as a family and it was fantastic.
A few days later, after our trip to Disney, I was heading to Haiti with a group of storytellers. Honestly, I feel much more at home in Port Au Prince than I do in Belle’s Castle or Harry’s Coaster or in the darkness of Space Mountain.
So, when our little group walked out of the airport, I had a sense of deep relief. No more fabricated exotic worlds; I was now in the real world. A real adventure was about to begin!
You see, in the midst of the ragged brokenness, I see the greatest joys.
In the midst of extreme poverty, I see the Spirit working.
When I drive down the pot-hole filled streets of Haiti, I feel at home.
These are my people. They have adopted me and taught me more than I can possibly imagine — I’m indebted to them even if I still can’t speak a lick of Creole. Also, I might have called our team “gringos” in the middle of a rice field as I was speaking to a Haitian mother whose kids are in our sponsorship program!
For us –
This is not a mission trip.
This is more than a project with key data points.
This is not about another stamp in the passport.
We are not wearing matching t-shirts that proclaim we’re coming to “fix” Haiti.
When one of our kids gives me a hug and says, “Hello Mr. Chris Marlow” in their broken english, my heart melts. Those kids could be dead today had we not met.
I know what is I stake. I feel the burden. The weight is a constant.
When one of our kids speaks in English, I remember when that same child almost perished because of malnutrition. Now they’re going to school, they have dreams, they want to be artists, or doctors or athletes… heck, some want to be the President.
And this will happen.
When I extend a hug to Gaetan or Jean Alix or Pastor St Cyr, I’m hugging a friend. These men don’t need to read Harry Potter for excitement, they don’t have a broomstick to fly, but just like Harry, they’re heroes living out a magical story of love, grace, and redemption. They are fighting evil everyday.
And you are a friend who can help them!
This is why we do these story trips. One of my greatest joys is to introduce my brilliant friends in North America with my brilliant friends in Haiti. I know it’s only a matter of time until the magic happens.
We want everyone to get dirty
Our trips have no fabrications, no silos; they are not sterile. We don’t want anyone to leave Haiti clean, we don’t have pat answer to hard questions. We want everyone to get dirty.
You see, it’s in the dirt that we find the kingdom. It’s in the dirt that we realize how vital it is to serve the global church. It’s in the dirt where we see Jesus roaming and working, loving and serving, giving and going.
Often, our Western form of Christianity has become so clean, so boxed in, so boring, so formulaic. This is tragic and when I read scripture, I see a different story with a different outcome.
But that outcomes means our lives will literally be turned upside down, and that scares us to death. And, it drives us to creating Hogwarts.
Hogwarts is only fun for so long. Once we realize what it is, once we realize that it is fake and fabricated, once we realize that our imagination can’t become real … well, that is when we have to decide to work in the real world.
So, I asked the story team to get dirty for a few days and they did! We heard horrific stories of extreme poverty, human trafficking, disease, sickness, and deep deep brokenness.
We also heard amazing stories of love, hope, and community transformation.
We drove all over the country, we slept very little, we had a few unplanned fasts along the way (and some luxuries as well).
I believe when you get dirty, you tend to find the greatest joy, deep meaning and beauty that no human can imagine — not even the great Walt Disney or J.K. Rowling.
Jesus’ calls us to enter this kind of life, to leave the comforts for the cross, leave our families to help restore other families, leave our community to be a part of another community.
It’s spectacular. It’s holy. It’s glorious.
We need your help
I would love for you to read these dirty stories of love and hope from these brilliant writers. I would love for you to see the images, embrace the tension, and take a step forward and lean into what it means to love and care for the global poor.
As much as I loved Hogwarts, it will never capture my imagination like Haiti has. I hope these stories capture your imagination as well.
If you want to help today, you can sponsor a child. Our goal is 100 new sponsorships.
And/or you can throw a Garage Sale for Orphans party and help us rescue another 25 kids this year and build a pre-school for Ferrier Village!