Where does your trash end up?
When I lived in America, I never really thought about trash. In Boston, I tossed it into a garbage can; in Maine, I tossed it into a dumpster. In both cases, a truck came once a week and my trash disappeared to an unknown destination.
However in Haiti, it doesn't work like that. There is no official trash pick-up or removal system. Trash merely accumulates in piles here, there and everywhere.
The city dump is Jubilee. Does that name sound familiar? That's right: Jubilee is where our clinic, school, and community health classes are. In the dump. All day long, I can see trucks and wheelbarrows laden with garbage coming past the school to add to the mountains of waste.
I take the small bags of trash from my apartment out to Jubilee and burn them in a pit near the school. I hate doing it, but what choice do I have? There is a darling little old man who comes to our street every morning with a shovel and a wheelbarrow; for 25 cents, he'll take our trash away, but to where? For all I know, he simply dumps it around the corner in one of the larger heaps, eventually a city truck scoops it up and delivers it right out to Jubilee.
The only cheerful thing about the trash is pigs. Haitian pigs eat absolutely everything. Everything. One of our Jubilee families was able to scrape the money together to purchase some pigs, and since then, I have carried all my food-trash straight to them.
We are close with this particular family. Their oldest, Ifocoeur, has had tuberculosis twice - he just finished his 7th month of treatment - and the family lost a baby son to tuberculosis meningitis 2 years ago despite all our efforts to save him.
Ifocoeur and his sister Lorisna, attend our school in Jubilee. Ifocoeur in particular has taken to heart the message our teachers share about Jesus. He has remarkable insight, spiritual dreams, and lots of deep questions. What makes all this even more exciting is that fact that Ifocoeur's father, Lifete, is a well-known and feared voodoo priest.
Sometimes it feels like Christians try to encourage others to believe in Christ out of a desire to tame them, to get them to start behaving right, to get their lives in order. But with Ifocoeur's family, it's all about love. We really love them and we hate hearing Ifocoeur and Lorisna describe with fear the mystical activities that their parents participate in. Voodoo results in fear; the God that I believe in sets us free from fear through love. So we just try to love this family. We visit them and chat with them and play with the kids and "ooh" and "aah" over the new baby.
And I bring trash to their pigs. That's my personal way of loving them. Who knows? Maybe trash will lead to faith and faith to freedom.