It’s been just over a week since we got back from Haiti. I have been at a loss of words when it comes to explaining what is happening inside my heart other than the fact that it is broken in the most beautiful way. It’s the kind of broken that I pray I never fully recover from, and that changes everything.
What most people don’t know is that our team wasn’t sure if we would actually be going to Haiti until less than 48 hours before we left.
Yeah, that’s right. Your favorite obsessive compulsive planner left without a plan. The rising political tensions in Haiti made it challenging and our team prayed long and hard, but we unanimously decided that unless God grounded our plane himself we would go.
We left Maine with little to no expectation. We understood that there was a good chance we would spend the entire week at the guesthouse, and we planned accordingly. Our team made baked goods for the staff members and their families, developed games and activities to keep us busy, and packed extra snacks for ourselves. Let’s be honest, the last thing you need is someone being hangry in a limited amount of space and 90 degree heat. We decided that if our mission field became the Healing Haiti guesthouse and the people within it, then that would be awesome.
13 strangers got onto a plane with no agenda, except to serve in any way God asked us to and if He would leave the 99 for 1, then so would we. One person, one touch, one conversation would be worth it. He called each and every one of us to step out in faith as pioneers into the unknown for a week-long appointment with Him.
It’s become apparent to me over the last year that when we consistently say YES, in spite of our own self-established comfort zones, God consistently entrusts us with more. More than you expected. More than you imagined. More than you hoped. Every loss feels less like a loss and more like a clearing of a path for the journey God wanted for you all along.
As team our aside comfort zones God was faithful to our team.
On day one, the Healing Haiti staff came in to tell us that we would be going to deliver water! This was something we were told we would most likely not be able to do at all, but here we were stepping off a tap tap in the middle of Cité Soleil.
For the sake of honesty, I didn’t do a lot of research on Cité Soleil before we went. I knew I was going on this trip and knowing more or less didn’t really matter. Nothing can prepare our American minds for what you discover when you step out into the poorest city in the Western Hemisphere. However, in the midst of it we discovered tight-knit communities that come together to survive on the daily bread that God provides like manna from heaven. The kind of faith that this creates is unlike anything I have ever experienced in the United States.
We have so many options and distractions to choose from in the US. Which restaurants will we go and get our breakfast from today? Do I feel like Dunkin or Starbucks? Ugh, my app isn’t working for ordering ahead and now I have to go through the drive-thru and order in person. It’s all so inconvenient. Our inconveniences are a privilege. In Cité Soleil they don’t have the luxury of such distractions. God becomes more than an option – He’s the only option.
I’ll never hear “hey you” again without an instant grin. We spent the morning delivering clean water to a line of women and children carrying buckets ranging from a small bowl to a large 55 gallon drum. Our team helped carry the water to their homes and then children took turns being carried on the way back to the truck. It was beautifully organized chaos.
We went back to the guesthouse covered in dirt and unsure of where the water and sweat stopped and began. We were filled with gratitude, love and joy for the opportunity to serve. We looked at one another and agreed that if this was our only day out of the guesthouse this week then this whole trip was worth it. God had other plans and He allowed us to deliver water three times. Every time our faith grew in the plan He had for us.
Later in the week, we made the three hour trip to the mountains in Kenscoff to be pioneers in a mission field that’s new to Healing Haiti. This trip led to one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever experienced – The testimony of Simone or Mademoiselle Balvaltrese (I’m spelling this phonetically… so, it’s probably wrong).
She wore a beautiful purple and white dress that perfectly complemented her spirit of joy and beauty. We spent time with Simone and she told us about her life. As members of our team massaged her legs and feet, I asked her how she came to live in the mountains. She explained that she was a widow and had lost all three of her children to gangs and disease. After the death of her last child, she had a dream that if she moved to Kenscoff she would find a new family.
Simone packed up everything and made her way to the mountains. When she arrived, another family had just lost their own elder and took her into their home. They happened to be followers of Jesus and she realized that in them, God had made the dream a reality. He answered her prayers and gave her a new family. She accepted Him as her Lord.
I held back tears and I told her that God continued to answer her prayers because her family had grown larger with all of us. We were her family in Jesus too. She smiled, clapped her hands onto her thighs, bowed her head and joyously started praising Jesus. Simone exclaimed “Hallelujah!” as she laid hands on every one of us.
Her faithfulness to leave everything she knew – her home, her life, her town – to step out and follow the calling of God took my breath away. She took the step of faith before she even knew who God was, boldly walking into the unknown. God called Simone by name and He was faithful to deliver on His promise of a new family.
I can’t help but hear the lyrics of Oceans:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without bordersOceans, Hillsong United
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
Like Simone, our team left home without a complete picture of what we were walking into, but we trusted that something better was waiting for us on the other side. Our team was united in our belief that this trip belonged to God and we invited him to have His was with us – our mission was to grow in faith by surrendering our plan for His plan.
This blog is the first of three in a series about what God taught us in Haiti. When I arrived home and started praying over what God wanted me to do next I kept hearing the last line of 1 Corinthians 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” As I dove deeper into this passage, it became clear that this was what God wanted me to learn from Him on this trip and to continue to apply as I came home.
Agape kind of love – one that is greater than all others. 1 Corinthians 13 is found below and the next blog post, “Beacon of Hope” will be released next week.
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.