We are All From Piatre

hait-mmap-md

A woman who lives on a mountainside in Haiti said something two weeks ago that stopped me in my tracks.  I can’t stop thinking about it, and it makes me smile every time.

Eve Rose was working on some food with a machete when her nephew brought us into her yard so we could pray for her family.  I was on a short trip to the island on behalf of our church to explore partnerships for ministry, and we had just visited a possible location for a medical clinic not far from her house – once built, it would mean that the people of Piatre would no longer have to descend hundreds of feet to the coast on a treacherous road to get medical care. She invited us to sit for a while, and our host introduced us and spoke with her in Creole, translating for the three Americans. I am still fluent in French, and was able to pick up the gist of some of their conversation.

We learned that Eve Rose has spent her entire life, probably over 50 years, in this mountainside community north of Port-au-Prince. Our host, raised in southern Haiti, joked with her that he too was from Piatre, which she quickly denied – “No, if you were from Piatre, I would know you.” At that point, one of the Americans also joked that he was from Piatre. We all laughed – our Haitian host might have gotten away with the claim, but there was no way this white guy from Atlanta could pass for a member of her community.

That’s when it happened. As the laughter died down, Eve Rose said something that I hope I never forget. I recall it in French, though it could be that her Creole was close enough to French that I was able to understand it.  She smiled, threw her arms wide as if she were embracing all of us together, and said “Nous sommes tous de Piatre!

“We are all from Piatre.” With that generous proclamation, barriers shrunk.  The contrasting colors of our skin were set aside for the moment.  While the vast economic differences between us didn’t disappear, their significance diminished.  We had been welcomed into the community. We were from Piatre.

That gesture seemed to come naturally to her. It was hospitality in its purest form, meant to make us feel at home, part of the clan. In its own way, it was a revolutionary statement. It gently but firmly declared that, in her yard, that which unites us is far more important than that which divides us.

I learned from Eve Rose. I hope we all learn from Eve Rose. In a sharply divided American world, in a sadly and increasingly divided Christian world, her spirit is sorely needed. We quickly forget the Scriptural command to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Perched on a rickety wooden chair in the yard of a poor family in one of the poorest nations on the planet, in a group composed of blacks and whites, of rich and poor, I experienced the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I hope I never forget it.

Because we are all from Piatre.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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1 Response to We are All From Piatre

  1. Sara B. Amstutz says:

    That is great that your church wants to get involved in HAiti. We have been involved in HAiti for 5 years in a big way..
    First with trying to grow a rabbit farm and Connect 2 ministry and now with Heart of Purpose with a Handicap orphanage beyond Onaville.
    Last night my cousin called with a question ,wondering if we could use 200 pillow case size dresses. The ladies sew dresses in the winter months while in Fl.
    One of the men at the R V park in Fl offered to provide the $$ to ship them here so we can send them on our Container in Feb. . We need to send to them so the Handicap children will have the Beds.mattresses and etc.for 40.
    There are 20 children now. The cost of help and provisions is $2,500. a month .
    Haitians think that handicap children are a curse so choose not to feed hem if they don’t have enough food .
    One child with sypholic condition or how ever you spell it. (water on the brain ) he weiged11 lbs and he was 6 yrs old .
    He has since died.
    We have benefit sales at our house when donations fill our back patio and flows out the gate. on the drive way. God provides from unexpected sources.. S S class friends show their support in so many ways and come to volunteer for the 3 day sale every time ..
    We have repeat shoppers now.
    Some come with prayer requests and needs.

    We have a rescue mission called HOpe Gardens for homeless women and children who will take left over clothes and some other things that they can use or sent to the LA rescue mission thrift shop. Bob has many pick’s before the sale and a truck load left over after the sale.
    Sara and Bob

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