We had a wonderful trip to Haiti in July. It was a great joy to have Michael and Anna Goldston join us again. Michael is now a pastor in the South Carolina United Methodist Church and he had encouraged two new pastors to come to Haiti as a part of their preparation for ordination. We took the opportunity to work, pastor to pastor, with the churches in Cap Haitian. At the request of the churches in Cap Haitian, we constructed a church building for a very impoverished community by the beach.
As always, it was amazing to watch walls rise out of sand and rocks. I enjoy the hard labor when I’m given the opportunity to sift sand or carry blocks. And being by the water gave me a new insight into the plight of local fishermen. There was one fisherman who sat and worked on his net near our job site. It is painstaking work to weave the net from string. It stretched 10 yards or more across a dirt yard held between a tree and a post. Sometime in the late morning, two roaming hogs ran into the net this man was building. A stressful and upsetting scene erupted. The hogs tore a huge hole in the net; the hardworking fisherman lost his temper and his morning of labor. That scene and the net figured into my emotional and spiritual experience of the trip.
To begin with, I would have no idea how to make a net that could bring home food to my family. I am so removed from the earth and the process of working in the world to meet my basic needs. Quite often I forget how hard it can be to just survive here on this planet. Secondly, so often we work and toil only to see our efforts fall short. And just like for the fisherman, we have three choices in the face of failure. We can try to repair the net, working to mend the hole. We can throw aside the broken net and decide the work is not worth doing. Or we can start over, making another new net. In each failure, we have to decide how to proceed. There isn’t one answer that fits all problems.