It's funny, the interest in the Haitian outhouse. I promised to follow up on it, and I will today. :)
On that first missions trip to Haiti when I was twenty-two, we traveled far back into the countryside of Haiti to bring some manpower (well, kidpower) to the missionary. He was building a work back there and needed to construct a meeting place for the church. He didn't need much skill. He just needed strong, young backs and willing hands. He got both with our teenagers.
Haiti was and still is a third world country-- one of the poorest in the world. Port-Au-Prince is the capital. That is the richest part of the nation. There are real houses there, most with electricity and running water. If you google images for Port-Au-Prince, you will see that the richest and best that the country has to offer looks very much like any inner city in the United States.
Well, there are a few really nice, deluxe homes here and there, but they are for the most part owned by someone in the very corrupt government. But that is another story.
When you get back into the countryside, you will find nothing. I told you before that the average annual per capita income in Haiti is $1,500 in US dollars. But what I didn't say was that average would include the people in Port-Au-Prince who have real jobs, rich foreigners who came to retire on the beach inexpensively, and those corrupt government officials.
What I'm trying to tell you is that these folks who live back in the countryside don't see anywhere near that average of $1,500 in US dollars a year. I would guess that many of them have never have had $500 flow through their fingers in any one year. And maybe not in their entire lifetime. They are poor.
Poor like you cannot imagine. Stinkin' poor!
They live in huts made of sticks, mud and straw. They have dirt floors and straw mats that they've made themselves to sleep on. There is a fire pit outside to cook on, with a pot or two and a few dishes and utensils. There might be what serves as chairs and tables that they've made of raw wood, but in most cases not a single piece of what we would call furniture.
That's where we were. A hut had been built for the girls to sleep in. The boys were to sleep outside. Read Vodou Drums to find out why. And the entire time we were there, visiting hut-to-hut every day, I never saw another outhouse besides the one that the missionary had constructed for us.
It was a nice, clean, brand new two-seater, built just for us out of finished wood. The spoiled American kids who had come to help-- we would need a place to go to the bathroom. And so, this outhouse had been provided for us. I have to tell you, it was quite a culture shock for all of us, that first day, looking at our provisions.
Some of the teens swore off all bathroom activity for the week. They just wouldn't eat or drink and the problem would be solved. Lol! Did I mention that it was over a hundred degrees every day that we were there and that there was physical labor involved? :)
That outhouse got used aplenty. And the kids soon learned to deal with the double occupancy. Haha!
There are lots of outhouse stories, but I'll not share them here. It's kinda like the kinship of people who served together in the military. You've shared some things that have made you a tight knit group forever and you are now like brothers and sisters. But the intimate details do not need to be told outside of the group who experienced them together.
I will tell one story, because it does not involve any of our teens. There was a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, who had come with her mom and dad who were part of our team. I'll not give any more details because I don't want anyone to be able to identify her. Anyway, one morning several days into the trip, her mom and I were standing talking when this young girl came running up to her mom in a bit of a panic.
It seemed that there was something wrong with her legs. There were stripes up and down them in places. I'll not get graphic here. Use your imagination a bit. Her mom and I laughed and told her to go wash up in the creek. Problem solved. :)
Well, I could reminisce all day, but I'll get to the point. We finished our work there, came back to the states changed but very ill people, and then life went on.
A year or two later, that missionary came back to the US on furlough (a short visit to rest and raise support), and he came to our home church to report in. He and I got to talking after the church service, and the subject of that outhouse came up.
He told me that when he was building that outhouse, he didn't just have us in mind. His thought was for the folks in that community, and what a great thing it would be for them to have this better way of life after we were gone. With this in mind, he had built it with real lumber and made the hole deep, at greater effort and expense.
But as soon as we left, the locals tore it down. They found the materials to be of more value to them than their need for an outhouse. And even he was surprised.
You know, we don't really need any of the things that we think we need. A little food, some water, a few clothes, a shelter from the storm, and the Lord. That's it.
Philippians 4:11 - "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
1 Timothy 6:6-8 - "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I've told you before-- oh, how those folk love the Lord when they come to know Him. They praise Him with great enthusiasm and joy. They will walk many miles to get to church, and then home again when services are over. The Lord is everything to many of them, because they are not distracted with the junk in their lives that we are.
How those days changed who I am! I am so grateful!
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