I’ve been in a surprising number of earthquakes for a young woman born and raised in the south. When I was in undergrad we had one that stretched out of Tennessee and all the way to LaGrange. While I was in Kenya, my parents and I felt two or three, and the quakes continued after they returned to the States. But all of these earthquakes were small, the earth shaking just enough to be exciting. I wonder if that is how the quake in Haiti began.
Haiti is probably like many two thirds world countries, especially considering it is among the poorest of the world nations, that the houses are not built to be earthquake resistant. If the houses are built like any that I have seen or heard of in places like that, they are built floor by floor, stacking each upon the former, creating the perfect death trap in an earthquake. But I have never been to Haiti, and have only heard news reports through the years.
I didn’t hear about the quake in Haiti until Wednesday afternoon as I was checking my email before preaching. At first I didn’t know what was going on, how strange it is to me to receive my news through the prayer beginning class. Later, I checked my web news sources (pretentiously: NPR and BBC) to find out what had happened Tuesday night.
I thought about going to Haiti when I was in High School, but the trip fell through, and so going to Haiti fell out of my mind. I participated in fundraisers for trips to go, but never really cared to go myself. Until now. What is it about a disaster that makes us all want to focus on the despair and unfortunate circumstances of those in crisis, especially when they are so close, but previously so easy to ignore.
Now, because of this earthquake, Haiti will receive more notice and attention, until the next disaster. A week ago you could text ten dollars to provide clean water in Africa, now you can text ten dollars to the relief work in Haiti. It is so easy to do that and say that we did something, and forget that we have still the opportunity and perhaps the command to do more than merely send a text. Unfortunately, many will go to Haiti in the next few months, and then promptly go in search of a new disaster, forgetting that Haiti will need assistance for many years down the road. (Lets face it, Haiti may need help forever. I could talk about the cycle of aid/need but that’s not what this is about.)
I would hope that we can continue to pray for the people of Haiti. But also I pray that God would use this situation in Haiti to show others, those of us who consider ourselves more fortunate, that we have still much to learn about how God’s provision works.