Smells, markets, smiles and suffering… words just cannot capture all we lived and experienced today. We spent the day at the day at the Missionaries of Charity’s home for the dying that is a place for the poorest of the poor who are terminally or seriously ill and have no where else to go. The drive there was eyeopening as we wound our way through the streets of Port-au-Prince lined with stands and baskets and people selling everything from freshly caught fish to beans and rice. So many areas show a poverty that is almost incomprehensible.
When we arrived at the Missionaries of Charity we began with an introduction to the center and the people there, morning prayers and a reflection in the chapel. We needed a spiritual strength to face the day! As we went out to serve so many of us were met with bright smiles and warm welcomes, especially from the children there. The peace and joy are such a contrast to the suffering and challenges that these people face. We helped with ordinary care for the patients, putting lotion and praying with each person. The crafts we brought were a great hit! Within the first half hour many of the women and girls were decked out in pipe cleaner glasses and necklaces, nail polish and crowns. The little boys spent the day playing with the soccer balls and looking incredibly cute in the sunglasses we brought.
As individuals and groups we prayed the Rosary and other prayers at the bedside of the patients. Many were moved to tears that we prayed with them, especially at the end of the day when we went through the rooms to read Psalm 23 in Creole, pray, sing and have the priests offer a blessing. It was an incredibly powerful moment.
The drive home was slowed down by traffic and a little fender bender. Everything here is different, no road signs, tiny roads, very different rules. It was a cultural wake up call. We arrived back to the guest house to share our experiences after the poverty, prayer, suffering and joys and with a totally new appreciation for the real challenges that people face here.
Here are a few of the experiences that we shared tonight to sum up the day.
The day was a high moment, i was scared to go to the home for the dying but arriving there was so different. The little girls were so welcoming and so much fun and full of energy!
It was so powerful to pray with everyone. We were able to make them so happy!
One of the little boys i met there, came with me everywhere as I put lotion on the people who needed it. He was my assistant and dispensed the lotion.
Dehydrated- I spent the whole day with the little boys playing outside. They were so happy!
My most powerful experience was praying with people. Their faith is so strong!
It was so powerful to see how much they trust in heaven and how much they want to pray. It helped so much to have the words in our books in English and Creole to pray together.
I felt like i could interact with people today and really get to know them, but it was also so overwhelming to have so many emotions today.
I loved singing with all the kids
I felt God present with us.
There was one woman screaming in pain all morning. Near the end of the morning I went over to her and put lotion on her and she was so consoled and happy, we prayed the Rosary with her and she was so happy and just kept repeating “Merci, Merci”
I feel so incredibly peaceful at the Home for the Dying. Seeing their faith and praying with them and singing with them is such a powerful thing for them.
I was so happy to hear the story of the woman from last year who was burned over her entire body who was able to get better and go home.
It was a wonderful day! I prayed the Rosary with one woman who was about my age, she was dying and we just became friends, when I was leaving she leaned over to say: “I love you”.
Self-Reflective- i worry so much about petty things, and here I was with people in so much pain who are so peaceful and content and happy despite all their pain and the challenges they face. It really made me reflect on my own faith, one older woman was so touched to the point of tears that I prayed the Rosary with her. They are so heroic yet it means so much that we pray for them.
I saw people just feel relief from the simple way we served them, then from the love we put into it, and then praying with them just completely changed them where you could not see any of the pain in their face. I need to be ok with everything that is happening in my life because of the same trust in God.
I was expecting today to be sad, but it was amazing how happy people were and how much they wanted to be with us! It was so beautiful and powerful to pray with them.
It was so hard to understand why these people can be so happy in what they face when it is so hard for me to be happy in the challenges I face, I want to be as excited about prayer as they are, i feel really confused about how i feel about everything tonight.
I feel like it is hard for me to make connections, i get flustered and caught up in everything, but today when we prayed with them and I was able be with one of the women and I realized that just being with her made such a difference. These women, no matter how sick they were made such an incredible effort to pray.