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Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Community of Southern Haiti, Faith Adventures, Hurricane

Through the Eyes of a Poet

In February 2018, Emily VanDegrift visited Haiti with a team from Mariners Church. Though she was the youngest on the team by quite a few years, she displayed wisdom and understanding beyond her age. Here, she shares the two favorite poems she wrote while she was there.

The “Red Church” in Rosier, which was built with what few building supplies remained after Hurricane Matthew destroyed the previous church.

This first poem was written about the “red church” in Rosier. We refer to it as the “red church” because it’s the third church to have stood on the exact same spot on a beautiful grassy hill looking out towards the ocean. When we first visited this church, it was a small, gray cement structure, and there was a large foundation laid out behind it where the pastor hoped to one-day build a larger church. With financial aid from members of Mariners Church in Irvine, CA, Pastor Daniel actually built that larger church. It was literally weeks away from opening its doors in October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew leveled the building, leaving little behind. From the few scraps of building materials remaining on-site, Pastor Daniel and his congregation built the “red church”. This is where the Christians of Rosier continue to worship today.

When the
Sanctuary
Shattered
The pieces
Were not
Abandoned
The people
Collected
The fragments
And built
A place
Where light
Shines
Through
The broken
Cracks

The second church’s red tin roof, which was scattered to the wind during the hurricane, now appears shoring up homes and roadside stands throughout Rosier. Like the church, the whole town was destroyed, and tin roofing is a valuable material.

Emily’s second poem captures her impressions from the five-hour bus ride from the airport in Port-au-Prince to the Glory Glory Center in Torbeck.

A bitter sweet journey
Filled with laughter
And rain drops
Of tears
Trash and smiles
Lined the streets
Ordinary people
Living extraordinary
Lives
And we drive by
Amazed
Startled by horns
And adjusting
To the assault on
Eyes and ears
From so much noise
But if you are
Brave enough
To settle into
The smells
And sights
And sounds
You will see
The children
Hand in hand
Hear the men
And women
Singing in the fields
And smell
The hope
That has
Wrapped around
This country
And breath in
The beauty of
Haiti