"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
1 Peter 4:10
I was destined to go to Haiti.
I knew I was called to do mission work and had been doing it one way or another for a long time. But when I got to Haiti, I was paralyzed. The post-earthquake devastation and poverty was immense.
After the initial sense of shock, I felt as if I could really make a difference.
I’m a fixer. I enjoy fixing situations for people when I can. I should have been able to fix things, but that wasn’t the purpose of the mission trip.
The trip’s agenda was focused on partnering with the people of Haiti — to work alongside them, rather than for them, to support the work they were already doing.
This was challenging for me, because I like being the go-to person. I thrive when I’m overcoming challenges.
But, that wasn’t the mission and I really struggled with that.
There was a man in Haiti who could only walk on his hands. He was paralyzed and dragged his limp, yet strong body behind him everywhere.
All he needed was a wheelchair. I could do that, I thought. I could buy him a wheelchair.
My missionary lead reminded me, “That’s not your role.”
I cried for two days. I wanted to help but all I felt was a sense of hopelessness.
On a journey out one day, I was staring out the window when I heard a small voice whisper, “Look in their eyes. It’s in their eyes.”
So, I looked. I looked deep, focusing on just people’s eyes, and I began to feel the heart of God in them.
Through the eyes, I’d tell myself. Let them know you see them, you hear them, you appreciate them.
Isn't that what we all want most, to be seen?
Over the last few months, we all could have been paralyzed by the current circumstances — feeling inadequate, not knowing which steps to take next.
But even the man walking on his hands chose to move forward, despite the difficulty.
Walking around with a mask on everyday, social distancing from my loved ones, left me feeling invisible and depleted.
But one day, something happened when I walked into work. As I was getting my temperature checked, as I do everyday, the lady who took my temperature whispered, almost as if the words were meant to stay as thoughts, “You are so beautiful.”
It was odd to me because she couldn’t see my face and then as our eyes connected, she continued, “Your eyes are just shining.”
I was immediately transported back to Haiti, when I began to find God in the eyes of the people, not the devastating circumstances.
From that moment forward, my rounds through the hospital began holding new meaning. I make a point to look in everyone’s eyes, to be sure they feel valued, recognized for the amazing work they are doing.
Recently, we had the privilege to honor nurses for the hard work they do. I want them to know their work has not gone unnoticed. I’m thankful for the lady who saw me that day. She saw me for me — not as the fixer, or the nurse, or the mom or anything else. Even with the mask on, she felt the heart of God in me.
That moment, when we locked eyes, I thought, “She must know, it is in their eyes.”
Then, the voice in my head again gently replied, “And it’s also in mine.”
It’s In Their EyesLouise Saladino