Working with and developing relationships with our staff is one of my favorite aspects in working for Emmaus House. We have been extremely selective and God has led us to hire some pretty incredible men and women. Although I knew each one of them were pretty ideal at the onset, I wasn’t prepared for the ways they would truly inspire me and help me grow in my faith.
My last day that I am in Haiti is always rushed to get a few last minute things done before heading to the airport. Gerome (our Haitian administrator) asked me to come to see his family the morning before I left. I have grown to love his family and I did want to see them once more, so I was thrilled to get a chance to go. I quickly hopped on the back of his moto, trusting him to carefully dodge the prolific, ankle deep, contaminated water puddles remaining on the road from the recent flooding. A trust that has been hard earned throughout our six-year friendship of Gerome having to cart me all over the Northern Haitian countryside.
His sweet children and wife, Ang Marie, greeted me as I walked in with the traditional Haitian kiss on the cheek, they showed me what is new around their modest home, and we visited. Ang Marie shared with me her new daily devotional book she was working on and Ti Caleb couldn’t wait to show me the big dirt slide he had made in what I was sure would be a bedroom in the near future. It was getting time to leave when Gerome suggested we all pray together. Gerome and I had spent the week in intense, difficult discussions regarding what God holds for the future of Emmaus House and there was a hint of uncertainty in the air. Much prayer was needed. Little Caleb immediately grabbed my hand and as the mere six of us stood holding hands in that circle and prayed together, it felt as if I was encompassed by a mass of people. For the first time in 6 years, instead of a blan outsider, I felt included as an invited, wanted, genuine part of something in Haiti. Their prayers were lengthy, intimate, and for me as a person. They prayed for much needed strength, wisdom, and courage for me as a mother, as a wife, and as a leader of Emmaus House. And the impact on me was powerful.
Gerome was just doing what he does. I don’t think he has given much thought about this time we all spent together that hurried day. I have. I have because in my life in America, we don’t do this with one another. We don’t have this type of easy, simple, comfortable, spiritual intimacy. We do when someone dies, is seriously ill, or there is a specific need, but we don’t just have someone over to our home because we love them and would like our family to pray for them. I have been a Christian for 25 years and I have never once done it. And I should.
Gerome didn’t grow up in a Christian home and he has fought hard for the growth he has experienced in the time since he gave his life to Christ. He is far from perfect, but his openness, vulnerability, and ability to love has challenged me to be more this way in my life. Witnessing Jonathan’s patience, kindness, and forbearance as he parents our youth has inspired me to be more patient with my teenagers. Vivian’s willingness to grow despite the challenges has inspired me to do the same. Marjorie’s passion to do the hard things, to take in the unlovable and truly give them a place in her heart has inspired me to do the same. If we didn’t work together, I would still want to sit down with Gerome and talk about life for half the day. I would still want to talk Bible with Jonathan, hear all about Marjorie’s kids, and sit in the kitchen and learn from Vivian. All of us are flawed by sin as are our relationships, however, we really have grown to see one another as family and this has been a great joy for me in my work in Haiti. I have a deep love for working with our youth, however, I also cherish the relationships I have with our Haitian staff. Their impact on me reaches far beyond what they know.
- Tanya Pirtle