The Trail to the Forgotten People
Bill used Google Earth to locate the roofs of a village lost in the mountains far above Les Cayes. He made the ascent there this week - the first "outsider" to ever do it. This is his account of that journey:
Where the road ends, the adventure begins. Can't quite tell you all the story. But I will tell what I can and leave the rest for other ears. It was a Friday afternoon; we left on a journey. I knew not where it would end. I had a general idea of where I was headed but God must surely direct our steps. We sailed across the channel some 11 miles or so, in a 22 foot Haitian keel boat to a bay on the mainland called Grande Baie Du Mesle. I met Sonel there and we set out together. Hoping to get an early start, we decided to find a place to sleep on the way. But no. No hotel. No motel. No other convenience along the way. We're not in America anymore, Toto. We continued winding through a valley strewn with coconut trees and people, living mostly in shacks, with no power and few water sources. Traveled on through the sunset into the night in the rusty old faithful Toyota pickup. We decided to stop where the road forked to sleep in a “pastor's" house - concrete floor and a blanket! We took it with some gratitude and a little foreboding, not knowing just where we were but trusting we were in the hands of He whose eye is on the sparrow. Sweaty, dirty and fairly exhausted, I felt my heart filling with laughter; for we had stopped there to inquire about spending the night at a house with people shouting and chaos descending; they suddenly stopped to ask for our identification! Thought I'd die overcome with the mirth in the incongruity of it all. Amazingly, I slept some with all the groups of curiosity seekers with exclamations and flash lights coming to see the “Blanc”. One young man who was there when we arrived having a serious fit of anger - I knew not why - came later in the night with his ear split open to his skull. I learned the next morning he was what they call a Fool. We sat on the porch the next morning and talked with the person responsible for him. He was maybe 18 and has a beaming radiant smile and sweet disposition. He needed medication to prevent his fits. Was treated badly by the rest of the people as Fools always are, not knowing to such belong the kingdom of heaven. My heart went out to him. Will attempt to contact his doctor at the hospital. We rolled up our few things and set off to find the end of the road and the beginning of the trail. Getting directions from people is near impossible. So we began the trek with GPS to the place I was led to go. Standing at the base of the mountains in the jungle I can tell you the terrain looks nothing like it does on google earth. But we set out sure we had a destination and we would arrive where we were meant to be. Through the canyons and foot hills our way wound until we stood looking up the path to the village at the top, now known as Janou.
Two hours of steep ascent would be on the conservative side. My throat dry and raw from sucking air, I willed my feet forward with a prayer to surrender all within me to the keeping of the Father. I felt each step draw me closer to "Him with whom we have to do" and could die content. Here I must tell you, lest you fear to make the journey, that I reached the top as close as I could get to God in body and soul, and there I ended the ninth day of my fast. Only the "Maker of the mountains I can't climb" could have given me the strength to carry on. I thought my heart would burst, and hoped it would with love for Him. I fear I am telling you what is meant only for Him and me, but thought you should know. Understand, it was from no goodness or greatness of spirit in me that drove me to such extremities, but a sorrow and pain which I needed so much for the "Healer of the hurt within me” to mend, and for "His tears to wash me clean.” I feel myself so far away from Him that the springs of sorrow flow unbidden. I know He's as near as my breath, but where am I? (Oh Father look down on this poor child of yours and take me to your heart).
(The "Trail" through the mountains to Janou)
We arrived at the village on the top - a place of both beauty and abject poverty. I can't guess how many people lived there. When I asked they just said “many.” Most of the young people leave to the city. They have no school. A five hour hike is necessary for any who want to go. They tell me I am the first white person to ever make the hike or see their village. May God grant us grace and wisdom to know how to help without hurting and may our hearts be touched through an awakening of His great grace that floods our lives! God and the people gave me four mangos - the juice of which was so sweet and good - there in a little house, with the rain falling as I rested and talked with the forgotten. I was so grateful for that as we made the two hour descent, headed back to the road which led to the bay and the little boat that would carry me home. Oh God of all wonder and goodness, fill us; for without You we are empty. Protect us; for without You we are overcome. Heal us; for without You we perish. And oh God, save us; for without You we are indeed lost!
(The region they call "Janou")
For King and Kingdom!