I am Only One, but I am One

Today’s guest post is written by Joe Wright who recently returned from his second trip to La Gonave. Joe and his wife, Maria, came to La Gonave for the first time in March 2012. Joe returned last month, this time leading the team, bringing four new people with him. Joe recently posted the following story on his own blog site and he has graciously given us permission to share it here. Enjoy.

I’ve tried to sit down and write this post numerous times, but for some reason nothing ever seems quite right to describe what we did in Haiti. So, I’m going to try a different approach.

I could tell you about the hundreds of banana trees we relocated and distributed… but I won’t.

I could tell you about the school photos we took in Makochon or the bell we installed at the school… but I’m not going to.

I could tell you about our trip to the Saline to install water filters and about the immense poverty there… but that’s for another day.

Instead, I’m going to tell you about our day-trip to the tiny village of Pikamabe (pronounced: Peek-A-Maybe) and the profound impact the people of that village made on me.

It was either the first night or the second day we arrived in Anse-a-Galets, I cannot remember which, that a pastor from a village in the mountains on the other side of La Gonave showed up at our gate wishing to speak with Freddy. How he heard of StarFysh, I’m not entirely sure, but he knew that StarFysh was installing water filters in homes on La Gonave. And these filters were of immanent need, as multiple cases of cholera had been confirmed in his village. So, he made the 2-3 hour motorcycle ride (to travel 32 miles) from his village to our guesthouse, on a total act of faith. He had no idea if we had any filters to give, or any filters that were not already assigned to homes. But, we did. And so, we amended our schedule to make the trip out to his village, Pikamabe, on Wednesday.

Let me tell you a little something about driving across mountainous terrain in Haiti… it’s slow traveling and really bumpy, I mean really bumpy. We left at 8am and arrived in the village at noon. We traversed mountains, scraped upon multiple boulders that had buried themselves in the road, narrowly squeezed through a market (on market day), and ventured to the “boondocks of the boondocks” of rural Haiti. If we looked at Google Maps, I could not tell you where we were, the village is one that you will not find on a map. I was already soaked with sweat and covered in the dust of the red clay roads (it’s truly a miracle that my shirt is white again after that trip, I don’t know how our laundry lady did it!), and we hadn’t even began installing water filters yet.

After we got out and took a much needed stretch break, we were eagerly ushered into the village’s school. It was pre-K through 4th grade and we got to visit each class and our tour of the school ended with the 4th graders singing, “This is the Day That the Lord Has Made” in Creole and English (you can guess which version we accompanied them in).

Following our tour, we went up to the pastor’s home, where we installed our first filter of the day. Then, amidst the confusion of the language barrier and in the direct heat of the day, it was determined who would get water filters and so we went about and installed 7 of them in the village (the other 3 we installed about 1/2 mile down the road when we were leaving). At some point near the end of installing the 7 filters, we took a break to eat our sandwiches. We noticed that behind the school they were making a meal, which we presumed was for the kids when they got out of school.

After our little lunch break and a chance to sit in the shade and have a Coke, we went back out to finish installing the filters. Then, as we began to load up the extra bags and things to take back with us, the pastor ran over to us. He told us that they had prepared a meal for us to eat. What we would soon find out was that this was no ordinary meal, this was a feast that they had spent all day preparing for us. Imagine the spread at Christmas or Easter… that was what awaited us. We had fried plantains, spicy coleslaw, some sort of gravy, a giant bowl of rice and beans, and to top it off, they had butchered a goat and cooked that up for us as well. Goats are an expensive meal in Haiti, so this really was an elaborate feast they had prepared for us.

Here’s the thing that really got me though. Out of everyone from the village, from all the kids to all the families to all the women who spent all day preparing the meal, only the pastor ate with us, and he only took a little food and urged us to eat and eat and eat. In our view, these people had virtually nothing. Most of them wouldn’t get much to eat that day, or any day. Yet what they did have, they gave freely and generously. They knew what it meant to trust in God in everything. And they knew that God would provide.

As I reflect on our time in Pikamabe, and as I get to share the story of the faithful pastor and his generous flock, it continues to strike me how much these people gave up for us to have (a 2nd) lunch that day. When I consider how many “things” God has blessed me with, how many things he’s blessed us with, I wonder if we could have the same generous hearts as our Haitian brothers and sisters. If we knew it meant us not getting food or that we might never see that beloved item again, would we really give it up to bless someone, someone that we may have never met before and might not ever see again?

My two trips to Haiti have been life changing, both of them in different ways. I know that return trips await me, for the people and the island have captured my heart. There’s just something about it that I cannot explain. As I said in my previous post on Haiti, the country is a strange place. There is so much brokenness, so much poverty. You see some of the living conditions and wonder how someone could live there day in and day out. But then you remember that the people living here are no different than you and me, they too are children created and loved by God. You see all the devastation and wonder how transformation could ever take place. But then you remember that you are not alone in the fight, and you remember the power of the God we serve and the immense love he has for his children./


I came across the following quote on the StarFysh Facebook page, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to sum up my thoughts and conclude my posts on Haiti.

“I am only one, but I am one;
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do I ought to do,
And what I ought to do, by God’s grace I will do.”
-Edward Everett Hale