I woke up early that morning because the donkey that Willem tied outside our bedroom window started braying. It was still mostly dark but the tiniest splinters of light were peaking over the mountain surrounding us. I rolled out of bed, slipped bare feet into flip-flops and wandered down to the bathroom. Using a flashlight, I searched for tarantulas, scorpions or any other strange looking insects before washing my face and preparing for the day.
By the time I finished, my husband was hard at work on my morning cup of coffee. If a Starbucks coffee is worth $4 then a mug of Haitian coffee should be worth about $10. My taste buds were already dancing at the thought. I waited impatiently for him to slowly strain the boiling water through the folded paper towel filled with coffee grounds. There was a coffee maker in the other mission house but we were almost always up before the generator started.
I tipped a spoonful of dried whole milk into the mug, stirred and then grabbed my Bible and a sweatshirt and slipped out to the front porch while my husband went to get dressed for the day.
Mornings in Haiti are glorious. The air still cool from the night, and you can feel the world around you waking up. Some mornings I read Psalms filled with praise and some mornings I wept for the return of Christ and the healing of the nations, but either way, mornings never grew mundane or tiresome.
It was Willem, coming to get his donkey, who told us the news. A man grew angry at a woman and hired a voodoo priest to cast a spell on her. She couldn’t walk and was so weak the doctor’s thought she would die. Her baby would die with her.
I searched out a layette and went to see the mother and baby. The smooth cement of the hospital floor allowed me to slide along almost silently. I stood outside the woman’s door and watched the nurses work at preparing her for the doctor’s visit. After a moment a movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. There, in a bassinet lay an infant. I stepped closer and bit my lip hard.
His eyes were staring but not focusing. A makeshift diaper was wrapped around him and all the visible parts of his body were covered with tiny sores. Some oozed liquid and some were scabbed over. Instinctively, I reached out a hand but a nurses began to lecture me in Creole. I understood enough to know that they didn’t know what disease he had and I shouldn’t touch him.
I left the blanket and clothes for him and asked the nurses if they needed anything. They informed me that the woman had no family and would need food. That I could handle. I went in search of Millen and gave her rice, beans and a few cans of MCC meat.
I don’t remember at what point something in me snapped. Perhaps it was later that afternoon when I saw the nurses feeding the child without touching him, or the next morning when I found out that everyone was scared of what had happened to her. What if the curse affected them as well?
All I know is that I went from praying in a chair beside the baby to holding his tiny hand and whispering words of healing over him. After that day I boldly touched his delicate skin and asked God for a miracle. There was no doubt that his affliction was some type of STD but I also had no doubt that God created babies to be touched. Something happens when skin touches skin. And it happened again. His floundering, hooded eyes began to meet mine. His hands began to reach for my voice. His lips stretched into a smile.
I wrapped him in warm flannel blankets and rocked him on the edge of the hospital bed several times a day. I brushed my finger down his brown cheeks and sang Scripture over him.
Every day when I went to leave, when I stopped to press a treat of some kind into the mother’s hand, she would blink away tears and whisper, “merci”. And I would whisper back, “Jezi remen ou.” Because He does.
The other day at church we were discussing why we don’t see miracles like they did during the early church. Here and there, yes, but not with the boldness of those days. My husband said, in broken wondering, “There was this woman in Haiti…” and he told about the curse and said that he prayed, believing so strongly that God would heal her, but when she left the hospital, she still couldn’t walk.
I don’t have answers. I don’t know why.
But all I can picture is that baby, the one that no one would touch, and the way he smiled when I walked into the room. I can picture the woman coming in her wheelchair to the house to say goodbye, holding him nestled in her arms. I can picture the clear skin on his face. And I still remember the smile that turned a poor cripple into beauty.
I believe that God does miracles. I have watched Him pull people back from the brink of death. I’ve heard first-hand accounts of blind eyes seeing and crippled legs dancing and cancer disappearing.
But I have to wonder if, before we see the obvious miracles, God is asking us to recognize and label the hidden ones.