Zoom, focus, snap. I can hear the mechanics of my DSLR camera opening its shutter and capturing the image that I see before my eyes. My finger patiently waits to fire the camera in an attempt to freeze a moment in time. I had the great opportunity, in addition to experiencing my first missions trip, to film a documentary in the beautiful country of Haiti. My task was to capture a mere glimpse of Haiti’s culture. To document the hope that resides within ‘The House of Blessings’ orphanage. Unknown to me what I would see or experience, I came with few expectations. Just ready to soak in what my eyes would process.
The rolling hills and endless paths that make up the beautiful country of Haiti made it almost too easy to capture stunning moments. At times, I would wake up around 4 a.m. to wait for the sun to slowly inch closer to the sky. Slowly casting a bright vibrance over the lush mountains that would start the day off, a rooster announces across the valley that day has begun. Only one loud obnoxious bird is all it took, the people of Haiti began to appear.
I sat on the outside ledge of our two- story cabin cautiously placing my camera right on the edge. Letting my feet dangle while keeping safe... I sat, watched, and listened. An older gentleman pulling his prized cow down the rocky terrain. A mother getting her playful children ready for yet another day of school. A young man revving up his motorcycle to make his daily trip down to the city. For it being 4 a.m. and the sun just barely out, it was loud. I can hear an abundance of noise echoing through the hills. For those camera gear junkies out there, I had a 70-30mm lens attached to my Canon 5D Mark II. I can see things hundreds of feet away from me. It allowed me to see faces and the first stories of the day panning out in front of me. I watched and waited for what moments I could film for this documentary.
One consistency struck me as I started filming. Yes, life was different in our westernized world. Yes, I can see the poverty. Yes, children wearing only what was sufficient to clothe themselves. But being able to see so close, I can see joy in many faces. Hope in their eyes. Determination for pushing forward towards the day. People were content with where they were placed in this world. The mom dressing up her children was pleased. The young man revving up his motorcycle was ready for the trek. The old man dragged his cow along the path as he was thinking about the opportunities awaiting. I could see it in their smiles, their eyes. What was it? What made these specific people content with their situations?
God is present everywhere. That phrase is exchanged constantly. The juxtaposition of those words have entered my ears numerous times. But have you ever really realized it? Have you ever experienced God where you least expected Him to be? Feel Him in the most unexpected moment? On a fine Sunday morning, our team had the opportunity to visit the local church in this small town within Haiti. I came in, camera in hand, ready to capture the sounds and visuals of the church. Yet, I barely captured anything that morning. My heart was moved. The moment my feet walked up the steps to this simple church, I experienced something I didn’t expect.
The mother I saw just a few days before had her arms raised in worship. The older man face down surrendering his all before his Lord. The young man finding hope and filling his spirit. I started weeping. I didn’t expect to feel tears down my face. But they dripped down my left and right cheek. I put my camera down. I felt His presence. God was there. His spirit was evident in this place. Here I am, over 2,500 miles away from home. And there HE was. Just as loving, strong, and powerful. God was there. He is the same God for every human being on this planet. For the first time, I realized God truly is present EVERYWHERE. Even for the people of Haiti. As they poured themselves out, LOUDLY singing His praises, they received the JOY that I saw behind the lens days before. Those smiles and motivation they had for their daily routines was all because of the honest heart they poured out towards our God. In turn, it challenged me to be as passionate and as thirsty as them. My daily routines need to be shifted so that God is my top priority.