Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Bridge Team - Day 5

Cite Soleil started as a home for sugar workers in the 1950's.  The Haitian government created an export processing zone near Cite Soleil in the 1970's and new factories sprang up.  People flocked to Cite Soleil seeking work at the factories.  In 1991 the coup that deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide led to a boycott of Haitian products which caused the factories to close.  In the 2000's the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti was installed in Cite Soleil to provide security for neighborhoods terrorized by gangs.  The children recognizing the letter "U" on the side of the UN vehicles started calling out "Hey you."

My first memory of Cite Soleil is of a barefoot young boy probably 4 or 5 years old dressed only in a dirty striped shirt.  As our vehicle traveled past he raced after us down a dirty street lined with open sewage canals.  With a huge smile on his face and his arms outstretched he chanted, "Hey you!  Hey you!  Hey you!  Hey you!"

Today is our second water truck day in Cite Soleil.  We follow the water tank truck to a water station that sells water.  Our tank truck waits with 10 or 12 others to take on its cargo of 3000 gallons of water.  The  contents of the truck will be freely distributed to one small section of Cite Soleil.

People are lined up with their buckets, cooking oil jugs, and wash tubs  seemingly before we arrive.  As we try to exit our tap-tap truck small children crowd the back door, each vying for our attention by reaching  up to us and shouting "Hey you!"  We step down and have difficulty walking as children grab our arms, legs, and clothes.  Many of the children are partially dressed or wear no clothes at all.

Two people man the hose of the water truck and start filling containers.  Soon the rest of us are either holding small children or responding to requests of "Hey you" followed by fingers pointed towards their home.  Women ask us to set 5 gallon buckets on their heads.  Women and children say "Hey you" grabbing us by the hand, wrist, or shirt and lead us to their buckets.  The men are conspicuously absent.  Soon the orderly bucket line descends into chaos as children and others start cutting to the front of the line.  We carry bucket after bucket under a 108 degree heat index.  Toddlers shout "Hey you" from dirty alleys while other children hold on to our shirt tails hoping to be carried back to the water truck.  Parents offer us their infants and ask us to take them home with us.  We repeat these trips over and over until the truck is empty.  We drive back to the water station two more times and return to deliver water to two other sections of Cite Soleil.

I've been called "Hey you" hundreds of times in Cite Soleil, but I will not forget that solitary barefoot boy joyfully pursuing us.  He modeled how I need to joyfully pursue Jesus.

Hey You Jesus, please bless this little boy as he has truly blessed me.