[This is the letter that I have sent to all of my supporters. I thought you may want to read it too.]
Leaving home or going home. I’m not sure which one I was doing when I left Haiti on July 2. I remember the great times growing up there. It was my home for 15 years and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 years since I left. When I got there, I felt like I was going home. And by the time I left, I felt like I was leaving home. Yet I was torn, because I knew was going home too. I miss those times of growing up here a lot but life moves on. God wanted that for me then, not now. I think we all forget that God knows us better then we know ourselves. I’m glad we have a Father like Him to look out for us. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths. He knows we’ve gone through a particular hard time yet when another hard thing comes up, we tend to ask God, “why do I need to go through another one?” I feel like He says, “Because I didn’t want that for you or I want something different for you”. God is putting it in our life for His purposes. One thing that I learned was that God knows what’s best for me.
While I was there, I was able to attend 5 different churches. And to be frank, Haitians’ praise and worship is so much fun! They get loud and excited; they dance and raise hands all in the name of Jesus. Every church did it and it was so freeing and inspiring.
One thing that touched my heart deeply was the women. [So much so that it made me wonder…is God putting women in foreign countries on my heart?] Each Sister Church team prepares and hosts the Haitian ladies of the church to a “Ladies’ Tea”. This is an afternoon where the women on the visiting team serve the Haitian women snacks, tea or a beverage and other goodies they have for them. The team members also plan games (that’s a fun part!), a craft and a devotional. The Haitian women usually sing and sometimes do a skit, but the team members are the ones who are blessed to serve most of the time. I can’t describe what it’s like to see the women’s smiles and free spirits. You’ll have to come and see it yourself. The women here have a very hard life. They don’t ask for anything. They have very little yet they don’t complain. The little that they do have they give to their children.
The ladies with “hot hands”. In Creole, if you want to say that someone is a good cook, you say that they have “hot hands”. It’s a wonderful compliment for ladies who make fabulous food in an outdoor, lean-to kitchen with a couple of pots over charcoal!
In addition to these things, I was blessed to be a part of two counseling sessions during a team visit. A professional counselor was on one team and had prepared sessions on loss, grief and dealing with what they’d gone through. Those that attended were hurting from losing a family member. There were young people on up to 80 year old members that came. One 24 year old girl lost her mom in the earthquake. I wanted to cry for her - it hurt so much to hear her story. I couldn’t even imagine losing my mom or dad. The counseling sessions really put a face on the catastrophe. I can’t comprehend something like an earthquake with so much death, destruction and hopelessness in it. Personally I don’t think many can. I wanted to cry for the mothers and fathers that lost daughters and sons. I wanted to cry when I heard people’s amazing stories of God’s protection. With all they’d been through, It was incredible that they were still able to praise God! I wanted to give them hope and some happiness in a very hard situation. I was happy to help the 24 yr. old girl by giving her some of my clothes (we were about the same size) and another team member gave her some sandals.
It’s hard to express how this experience has truly inspired, encouraged, and taught me. It did confirm God’s calling on my life into full-time ministry. That was definitely clear to me. Not only did I go “outback” with 3 teams, I helped in RMI’s child sponsorship program, Hope for Kidz and their transitional homes program, Homes for Haiti. I helped a new missionary unpack his library. (I was kept very busy!) I made many new friendships with missionaries and nationals alike. I was able to see the “other side” of missions, the view from a missionary’s point of view, not from a visitor’s viewpoint or even a missionary kid’s viewpoint. I found out that my heart was gripped and touched as I participated in ministry and saw ministry happening. I found out that ministry is hard work. There are tough times but God remains true and sufficient through it all. It can be fun and enjoyable. And there will be tears, too.
Thank you for helping make it happen. I couldn’t have impacted people or have been impacted by myself. God really used your support for His glory and for His kingdom. I really hope you have been able to check out my blog, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Facebook. I’ve chronicled my Haiti time there and hope to continue to post updates from time to time. There are definitely a lot of fun stories to be told! One story has to do with fresh paint, a door, and a bedpan.
Ok, story time with “D”: Out in the country, Haitians don't really have the best bathrooms, but fortunately this church did. They were located outside of the house (read “outhouse”) where we staying. At night they locked all the doors and gave us bedpans. In the middle of night nothing is awake not even the crickets (well, except the really annoying dogs and chickens). I wasn't going to go to the bathroom and risk everyone hearing me (we were all staying in the same open-ceiling house), so I figured I would just open the door quietly and go outside. The pastor didn't tell us that the door had been freshly painted a couple of days before. ooops.... To open the door quietly I leaned against it with my arm and upper thigh. When I successfully opened the door and proudly patted myself on the back I realized I was sort of stuck to the door. I had to peal my arm and thigh off. In the morning I had a blue streak of paint down my arm and a bit down my thigh. So the next night I thought I would try a different method, but woke up with a blue hand. It didn't really work, so I gave up and used the bedpan. Yeah that's right…! (You definitely have to learn to laugh at yourself on the mission field!)
Please Continue to Pray for Me!
In mid-August I start my sophomore year at Trinity College of Florida. I am attending by faith. Even though I’m on the volleyball team, there are no scholarships available to me. I am relying on God to supply the funds! Pray also that God will continue to guide me as I follow His call on my life.
Thank you again for being my partners in ministry this summer. I appreciate you so much!
Your Sister in Christ,