“Pigs don’t know pigs stink.” It is a saying I learned a few years back and will contiune to use if only to remind myself I can be, well to put it bluntly, a self centered American. Okay be offended if you need but beware of the insidious nature of entitlement, it can dig in and settle like smoke residue in a hotel room. You can’t see it, but it sure make its presence known. The other side of the goud reflects, in my twisted mind, a more positive light. The people of Haiti are at the bottom of the economic scale and yet life continues, when you scrape the bottom of the barrel you get sawdust. And if you are surrounded by others scraping the bottom of the barrel you don’t know any different. Now shake the barrel and disrupt everthing and you are left with, well, the bottom of a barrel; and the scraping continues around the mess. (Now as you may know my mind sees this world a little differently so please try to keep reading.) Abject poverty is not the inability to find decaf, freetrade, Sumatra and settle for instant. It is the sight, smell and sounds of people digging through garbage to find scraps to feed their family, it is an evnironment that can breed hopelessness, it is normal everyday existance on the island of Hispanola. And yet there is hope in the whitest of smiles, the movement of the Spirit and the service of “God’s Image”. Can you smell it, can you hear it, can you see it, can you touch the rough dry skin powderd in white dust crusted by dried sweat. We smell it and call 911 to complain about the neighbors burning garbage, we hear babies crying and look judgingly to seek out the neglecting parent, we see the ramshackled rusted tin roof structure and avoid that side of the street and we feel the rough skin and reach for the tub of cucumber/coconut/lime/mint butter nut lotion. (Remember conviction is from Him who loves you beyond comprehension and condemnation from the prowling enemy. I garantee you I will be held to the jot an tittle of my words before this week is over.) Our latest team to return from Haiti saw a country, a people, devastated by an earthquake that would have minimal damage elsewhere in the world. (Building codes prevent this kind of damage; look at Chile.) Their stories tell of standing buildings with devastated structures inbetween. They tell of building materials that would never be found at a “Box Store”. But this is all meaningless in the light of the people. The people continue to scrape the barrel around the rubble and devastation. They move from the cinderblocks to tarps. Life remains hard with an added mess. Yet after we throw money to organizations who function with overheads ranging into the high 20%, we focus on the separation of Tipper and Al and “Oh my what will Simon do now?” THEY STILL NEED US!!! Brush away the many piles of rock and debris, scrape it into the ocean and you sill have Haiti, the poor. “Whatever you do for the least of these……” Don’t stop praying, it is the offensive weapon we have, the Word of God reaches within to separate your muscle, bone and tissue and reaches without to bless the little girl in Port au Prince who lost both parents and to the man with one leg who continues to scrap for the “sawdust” to feed his family. They are there and we are here. We are here to serve those that are there. In the last few days our teams have spoken to kids at several local elementary schools who collected change, to 150 some-odd kids in a juvenile detention facility who washed cars in the rain to raise money to help and to sunday school children who raised several hundred dollars to help build school desks. It is happening. I spoke today to an young RN who served several hundered patients in an clinic in Dessalines. She will be heading back soon to do more. Her mind and heart hold the images of Gods children, children in need. She spoke of emotional suffering manifested in the aches and pains of fatigue. She shared the unexplainable reaching for the words to describe the undescribeable: the smiles of the hopefull, the thanksfullness of the destitute and the innocence of the children. I spoke to a father about the depth of serving people who speak a different language. He shared his experiences and stories and in his eye was the careing of a man who loves deeply. He has a tatoo on the inside of his forearm of a childs’ hand reaching for a fathers’ hand. That image is the meaning of why we serve, that image is us reaching for God and God extending His hand to us. I started with stinky pigs and now I am talking about a tatoo. There is a country song in there somewhere… Okay I am about to reach 900 words and you need to stop reading. The point is this: 1st, Jesus said the poor will always be with us and 2nd we are each on our own path. How is God stirring in you to connect those two truths. Truth is an will always be Gods’ version of reality.