A Healthy DistanceRich Stigall
By Courtney (serving as a GO Fellow in Haiti)
This weekend we visited our partner village at Source de la Grace East. There was a lull of teams throughout the month of September, so we were not sure how the children would respond to teams coming to visit them again. We were highly encouraged to see the children excited to see the team and engaging on a personal level.
Source de la Grace East holds a special place for many. The children’s ability to unconditionally welcome their guests has melted GO hearts for the last three and a half years. However, our frequent, impromptu visits and gifts have, at times, have been a negative. The lure of material is a shared human experience. Little ones living in Haiti are not exempt.
Proximity (only an open gate separated the children’s homes and the hotel where teams stay) contributed to this problem. A few months ago, by government requirement, a wall was built where the gate once was, separating the two campuses. This modification altered the dynamics of life at Jumecourt Inn and East.
No longer can trip GO’ers walk a few yards to play with the children at any time. No longer can the children sit on the wall and wave or talk to the guests at Jumecourt. But something good is happening amidst this change that some have found frustrating. The wall has created a healthy distance between friends.
Like guests, we now have to walk around the perimeter and knock at the “front door.” No more barging in the back with bags of toys and candy. No more interruptions to meal time or bed time. The authority of the local leaders and house mammas is now so clear that even a child can notice the difference, and they have. Is it any wonder that direct requests for money or toys from children to team members have declined? Relationships are being built more on time and presence. Interactions are deeper, more human, less material. While a wall may have gone up between two campuses, this new, healthy distance may be tearing down walls between two cultures and between people.
Change is not easy. Some trip GO’ers are finding the new distance difficult. But God is still good, and He is certainly at work. I find it fitting that shortly after an unsightly concrete wall went up, we had an art team come down and paint a colorful mural on the wall of one of the girls’ homes in East. This painting is a beautiful reminder that nothing man can build will hinder the work God has for His children of young and old.