After seven days on the island, things become workmanlike. Wake up early. Drive to the drill site. Punch holes. Lay pipe. Drive home as the sun is setting. After the initial physical shock diminishes, your body becomes hardened to the difficulty. You expect problems and expect God to solve them. And so you set out each morning, ready to do your job. To make any more of it is to overdramatize it.
And as your physical body adapts to the pain and exertion, your emotions follow suit. It is impossible to comprehend all the need, helplessness, sickness, pain, and death. So you shut it off- you adapt. And so you set out each morning, ready to do your job. To make any more of it is to overdramatize it.
After seven days on the island, I was on autopilot. My team just finished punching our tenth hole in a week. We had it down to a science. On our way back to camp, we stopped by one of our first drill sites to watch a pump installation. This was the fun part- the first time fresh water starts flowing out of the ground. There is something about watching that water flow- it made me smile. It made me laugh. I let my guard down for the first time in a week. And I got blindsided.
He appeared about 50m down the road. The makeshift wheelchair was the first thing I noticed- a cheap plastic deck chair and two bicycle tires fashioned together with bailing wire. The next thing I noticed was his legs- withered and undersized for his age. I would guess he was 20 years old. But what broke my heart was his smile.
He struggled to negotiate the terrain. But with the utmost patience, the wheelchair kept moving. He was smiling all the way. I met him halfway with some freshly pumped water and some candy. We struggled to communicate, but when he raised the water to his lips, I realized what that smile meant.
Change was one the horizon. Hope had come to La Gonave, Haiti.