Lespwa.  It means hope.  Hope in a place where logically there does not exist a reason for it.  A place that is imprinted with the creative beauty of God, but has been painted with the harsh brush of unbelievable poverty.  Recently, I struggled with the harshness of that paintbrush.  I was interviewing a group of the graduates and made the mistake of asking an American culture question, “ What are you looking forward to, now that you are graduating?”  I received an answer that made me pause.  An answer that at first glance, did not seem to reflect any hope, even though these were graduates of The School of HOPE.  They told me they did not know what they would be doing, they couldn’t afford to continue on in their education and they did not have jobs.  I quickly realized I had to throw my list of questions out and meet these students where they were, not where my American mind wanted them to be. So I asked them what they would say to the North Americans who want to help them.   Over and over again, these students voiced the need for the technical school to be built because they knew they needed further training. The conversation continued in the same vein, their desires to continue their education voiced.

I spent that day struggling with what seemed an insurmountable problem, how to build the technical training school NOW? I wanted it fixed NOW!  I wanted them to have hope NOW! To be honest with you, my conversations with God were focused on the need I saw and felt He wasn’t meeting.  As God and I went back and forth on this, I was drooping.  My spirit was worn, my heart heavy.  As a former educator, I wanted the students to have the hope and joy and vision that North American graduates have.   Couldn’t anyone else see this? Slowly and thankfully, gently, God helped me to see that I was allowing my culture to get in way of my faith, and to be real, in His way.  God knows the needs way better than I do and He has a plan for each of these students as well as ones I haven’t met.  As my friend wisely reminded the graduates, our hope is not in Mission of Hope, the School of Hope, or even in Mr. Brad, Mr. Bob and Mr. Marc.  Our hope is in our God, He has the power alone to meet their needs.  Then, just as God did with the Israelites, He reminded me of what He was accomplishing in Haiti and how lives WERE being changed.  The Grace House is almost completed, the Transition House is being built, villages are receiving trees, houses are being built, goats are being delivered, starving children are being fed by the 1000’s, mobile clinics are caring for the medical needs, Haitian pastors are being trained, food is being grown and packed by Haitians, and on and on He rolled the list through my head of all that He was doing through His people.  What I viewed as a harsh brush, God viewed as a masterpiece, with strokes of hope slowly and carefully being placed. Hope does exist and as I allowed God to open my eyes, I saw it that week in the laughter of the children, the sweet relationship of an elderly Haitian woman with Vanessa Johnson, and worked out through the hands and feet that are serving God daily in this special place named Haiti.  While I know I can’t make the technical school appear RIGHT NOW, I can KNOW that God will.  He has proven Himself faithful over and over again and used His people to do so.  So I hold onto Lespwa, trusting in Him who provides our Hope!