Joy in Haiti

Estorius Gabriel and his wife, Anita
Estorius Gabriel and his wife, Anita

I recently got back from a whirlwind trip to Haiti. There were so many people I talked to, but one man really stands out in my mind.

I’d like to introduce you to my new friend Estorius Gabriel.

Estorius doesn’t know exactly how old he is, but figures somewhere in his mid-80s. When you ask him about it, he just laughs and says he’s “older than Haiti.” He lives with his wife Anita and five of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When we pulled up in the truck and made our way down the dirt path to his house, Estorius’s face immediately lit up.  He hurried over and shook my hand and the hands of everyone else in our little group.

In one of his old, weathered hands, he was clutching a small tattered bible. The cover was missing and the pages were dirty and bent, giving it an old and worn appearance; sort of like Estorius himself. When asked about this bible and what it meant to him, he explained, “Every day, three times a day I read my bible. In the morning before going out to the garden I read my bible, and again in the afternoon I read my bible.”

He went on to say, “The joy you see on my face comes from God. When my family is apart and not home, I pray by myself, but when we are together we sit and pray together.”

It turns out that the bible he was clinging to was only a year old, he had just read it so much in the small garden behind his house that he’d simply worn it out. It was beautiful.

The most amazing this to me about this precious man was the joy that was exuding from his entire being. His face lit up as he spoke about how blessed he was to have a house, a family and food to put on his table.

It made me realize how much I take for granted on a daily basis. This brother in Christ had so little, yet he loved so much. He was thankful for literally everything he had. He told me how he often shares meals with his neighbors who have less than he does, and how much he loves the psalms because they give great praise to God.

Coming home from this trip I was both encouraged and challenged to have faith and joy like Estorius. To thank God for the blessings I have instead of focusing on things I want. He was poor by the world’s standards, yet completely content and grateful. And I feel beyond blessed to have met him.

-Briana B.

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