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People of Haiti Work While They Wait in Faith

A Letter from Cindy Corell, serving in Haiti

December 2017

Write to Cindy Corell

Individuals: Give online to E200482 for Cindy Corell’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507566 for Cindy Corell’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).


Marie Jean is waiting.

When Hurricane Matthew crashed ashore at her community near Port Salut, Haiti, on Oct. 4, 2016, the stones of her small house crumbled apart. The roof caved, and all that Marie owned was destroyed.

It was a simple life she had built in the community known as Bolamè, which in Haitian Creole means “beside the sea.” She sold fish for a living, depending on the Atlantic Ocean that, on that terrible October evening, rose up and destroyed so much.

I met Marie, 52, one year after the hurricane struck Haiti and devastated most of the southern peninsula of the country.

I was accompanying a delegation from the Presbytery of the James to visit the regions affected by the hurricane one year before. The people of Bolamè showed us the broken road, bridges and buildings. They told us that most of the recovery they’ve been able to make has come from family and other friends.

Marie Jean approached me while I was with a group of local residents. Then she asked me to visit her house.

The wooden frame structure sits on a concrete slab. Its walls and roof are tarpaulins. The only door is stronger than its frame. It opens to one 8×12-foot room.

Marie Jean stands outside her small, temporary home where she has lived since Hurricane Matthew destroyed her house on Oct. 4, 2016. Photo by Cindy Corell

It had been raining steadily the day I was there. Marie pointed out the pile of wet bedding — the thin pad and sheets where she sleeps. Daylight slipped into the room from nail-sized holes in the ceiling.

“It’s too wet to hang it out,” she said, shrugging slightly.

“My brother helped me get this. This is what I have now, but I am working on my house.”

Not far away, Marie showed me the rubble of her destroyed home, but what she wanted me to see was the growing pile of rocks and a neat stack of cement blocks. “When I have enough, I will rebuild my house.”

Marie Jean is waiting.

In this season of Advent, we wait and watch for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We tell the stories of his coming. We tell the story of another Mary whose life was changed with the news she carried the son of God. And we remember again the patience and dutiful journey of Mary and Joseph as they waited through hardship, seeking refuge until the child she would deliver would change the world.

Marie Jean is waiting. And while she is waiting, she is working. And while she is waiting, she is teaching me how to wait.

The poverty of Haiti is striking. There are pockets of wealth, but the vast majority of the people of this country live on less than $2 a day. They eke out a living by buying and selling, finding odd jobs and depending on the generosity of others. Because there is little government service, many families live without a safety net, depending on one another and living in community.

They wait for opportunity.

They wait for a better day.

They wait, and while they wait, they work.

A great gift we can receive in Haiti is just that — the powerful faith and hope that the day will come when our struggles cease. The day will come when life improves.

The day will come when Marie Jean lives in a solid home built of the rock and block she patiently, persistently collected.

The day will come when we are welcomed into a new life in Jesus Christ, who will come again.

In this season of Advent, we wait and watch with expectant joy. It is so easy to let the harshness of our problems and struggles wear us into inaction, but Marie Jean teaches us that we can choose to wait with hopeful hearts.

I am privileged to live and work in Haiti among people like Marie Jean. In showing me her temporary and humble home, she showed me her strength, her persistence, her faith in God.

To all who support our ministry in Haiti, know you are greatly appreciated. Remember Marie Jean and all the others like her who are waiting, and watching, and working while they wait.

I invite you to join in our ministry through prayer and financial giving and by visiting with our partners here.

As they teach me, they have many lessons for us all.

God bless you all, and may you enjoy a Merry Christmas!


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