This is my first blog post since I returned from mission field a few weeks ago. I traveled to Haiti with 16 beautiful souls and witnessed shocking third world poverty for the first time. As I've returned and made my way back into "normal" life, I've run into many people in the neighborhood or grocery store. The common question asked by everyone is, "So...how was it?" If you have run into me, you know that I have either held you hostage for an hour or more with stories and personal revelation or I have stared back at you blankly or even fought back tears as I stammer for words. Because the truth is, Haiti was about extremes and I'm still trying reconcile it all in mind.
A mission trip to Haiti is an exercise for the mind, body and soul in extremes. Upon landing, your lungs are hit with hot dry air and your nose tries to reconcile foreign smells. All eyes are on you as your group are the only white people around. Haitian transportation means cramming as many people as possible into tight places traveling at high speeds dodging other vehicles doing the same. Service work and evangelism means picking through rusty trash piles choking on the odors of urine and feces and an hour later standing over a gorgeous 8 day old baby asking God to bless him. Construction means working side by side with a man you cannot understand who wears flip flops and uses no gloves but makes sure you work in the shade so you are not overcome by the blistering sun. Teamwork means asking for more to do even though you are exhausted and dizzy and soaked with sweat but knowing you cannot and will not complain because everyone feels the same.
All ideas of self sufficiency, feminism and independence are out the window because you require someone to be with you at all times to keep you safe or you require someone to lift you up into the only transportation available or break your fall as you stumble out of high places. You look for the men in the group to lead you and keep you safe because without them you know you have little or no voice in the country where serve. Thirst is never really satiated and you are constantly feeling for your water bottle, protecting it and filling it making sure the source is safe. You struggle when asked to share it or give it away because that is exactly what Christ tells you to do but you yourself are weak and want to make sure you do not become a burden to your team.
You become fully dependent on each morning’s devotion and prayer and your quiet time with the Lord is lengthy because you have no distraction and you know it’s the only way to get through your day. You crave each mealtime prayer because you know it means another encounter with thanksgiving. You spend half your day laughing until your sides hurt with friends and people you never knew could be your friends. The other half of your day is spent in tears because you’ve just stared into the eyes of a child who has boils on her head and ear, lice crawling all over her head and a mother who says the medicine does no good because the water she has to clean the boils is dirty and re-infects her every time she bathes her.
You struggle with wanting to give everything you have away and obeying the pastor who is teaching his people to work for what they have not to beg. You pray for sunset to come quickly so you have a break from the relentless sun and sit in awe of a sky full of beauty and stars. You realize the Proverbs 31 woman works in the mission kitchen to feed you each day and you wonder if you have ever worked that hard for your own husband and children. You wonder if you even made a small difference for people of Haiti but know for sure you changed the life of a teen who joined the group with little or no faith. You are hit in the face with extremes day after day, even upon return to a life which you are both thankful and ashamed.
Some folks have asked if I'm already planning my next trip. Honestly, I don't know. I believe the Lord has plans and I will watch and wait and listen to His leading. Matthew 19:14 reads in the photo above, "but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” I believe is all of our calling to bring the little children to the feet of Jesus if by way of a meal, teaching a Bible truth or showing up from across the world to hug them and love them when it seems to them that they might be forgotten.