Anderson has really become Ben’s right hand man on these many trips to Haiti. In spite of his young age and definite affinity for city life and American pop culture, he strikes me as steadily committed to helping Ben in the work he’s doing in rural, remote Pestel. I never once heard him complain about translating, and he had a very good attitude even with the long days and long meetings. Don’t get me wrong, there was the occasional whining that we ALL did here and there, but just minor stuff, how hot it was, how sore our bottoms were after the mountain drive, etc. Really, we had more praises for things we enjoyed, and answered prayer than complaints. Anderson’s self-conscious about his English, (the same way I’m self-conscious about my Swahili) but in a humble and I think typical way non-native English speakers are, and this tells me that he takes his job as translator seriously. He’s quite fluent actually! Heck, he speaks French and Creole too! And considering he only spent a few months in the States, I’d say he’s quite gifted in languages.
We talked a little one evening, the three of us, and Ben asked Anderson to tell me what it was like when the earthquake hit. It was amazing to hear a first hand account, to hear him describe the ground moving and shaking, the fear and anxiety the unpredictable aftershocks brought, the sleepless nights out in the open- not trusting the shelter of buildings for weeks, the sadness and aloneness survivors felt as they wondered whether loved ones were still alive. Cell phones, the main communication method there, were down for days. I remember the palpable anxiety in Jen’s (Ben’s wife) voice those first days after the earthquake, when she was unable to contact any of her Haitian friends. For Ben and Jen this wasn’t some obtuse disaster in a far away corner of the world that we see for five minutes on the evening news. This was affecting people they knew, people they loved. In our conversation that evening I pointed out to Anderson that he is very fortunate. He survived open heart surgery and an earthquake that claimed the lives of 250,000+ fellow Haitians and left a million homeless. So now what? It’s good to ponder that question. When you look back at your life and see what you’ve come through, it begs the question, “What do I do with these remaining days that God has given me?” You don’t have to survive an earthquake to ask yourself that question, but I think some of us need an ‘earthquake’ sometimes to shake us out of our complacency. -Jon