P.S. If you’re not already planning on being in Lakeland on New Years Eve – head there!
P.S. If you’re not already planning on being in Lakeland on New Years Eve – head there!
I am adjusting to life in Haiti, but still in that grace window where if I’m going to cop out it needs to be now. Trust me, I have asked myself a couple times if we wanna run away yet; and when I say we, I mean myself and my subconscious. We have had quite the discussions these past few weeks, to say the least.
I don’t question myself due to life in Haiti being hard, but because I left a life that I loved. In light of heartache and home ache and border crossings and super energized kids on Christmas vacation, I was having “a moment”. God always seems to always meet me at my “moments” just to reassure my heart, and prolly a little bit to give me a reason to not pout.
Nevertheless, this morning was a great discussion and reflection on Christs’ compelling love and how that love will in turn cause us to react as a result. I knew that the decision to come here was right, but that doesn’t mean that it would be easy. I wasn’t expecting easy, but I also wasn’t expecting such heartache. Such perfect timing of God meeting me at “my moment” to remind me why I made the decision in the first place.
The reflection is here.
I don’t know how to share. It’s easy to impart and pour in – when the hurting is not coming from within.
But it is from within and I can’t quite comprehend why this is so hard and why my journey is never soft to the touch .
Why the questions that are being asked of me are so extreme and why the answers take so much. Why the sacrifice to grow, to be more, to expect great is always screaming and why I continue to desire to choose to turn the volume up.
During this time I don’t know how to share. I don’t know how to write. I don’t know how to poeticly form lines and rhymes and stories to flow from my cup. Within me feels pain and anguish and hurt. I feel selfish and deserting. I feel like the Ruth inside of me is betraying her loyalty.
But I know that it is right.
I know because I have prayed for this. I have prayed that this would come to pass. As soon as I saw a glimpse of it I ran so fast.
I refused, I regretted, because the roots that I have planted are so comforting, so warm, so true and so rewarding. I’m comfortable in my place. I know my lane. And have found what makes me shine.
So to my Father, to my Father who has known me before I was birthed into this earth. To the One who I’ve never had to question, assume or raise a second guess. My heart is content with you. You know me, my fears, and each very tiny insecurity and concern that is inside of me. You are the greatest love story ever told, the greatest story ever known, and I am privileged to play opposite you. To even be in the supporting cast. Even if it makes me the damsel in distress instead of the heroin that I wish I could be.
Just know that I am scared.
Tears on my pillow betray my strength.
The decision before me is one that confuses me, has my head and my heart spewing two different lines. It’s a gamble and a bet. Unknown, risky and without convenient, safe or reserved seating. However, it is not what awaits in Haiti that frightens me, but it is what I am leaving and what possibly will not be.
Right now all that I am asking of you is that if I step away from the things that I know. If I walk away from the people who have aided my healing and provided a safe place for my pain, celebrated my growth and gave segway to “church” as more than a name. If I go through with this time away from those who have become family and forever important, that You will hold steady the distance between us and provide grace in the mean time. And in the latter of this adventure, what remains is strength and honor.
However, whatever the outcome, whatever the trial, wherever the journey – I will remain knowing that your plan is true and real. You are sovereign and still reigning over this earth that You created in the vast cosmos of eternity.
Even if the relationships that are deepest and closest to my heart find another bonding place, I will continue to meditate that You are forever my judge and I long to forever be your witness. My only prayer is that I am always found on a mission about my Father’s business.
Whatever that looks like, wherever that is. Beyond whoever understands, is confused or could care less. I pray that you keep my mind on this path, this very narrow bind that is embedded into my heart. The one that pulls me here and pushes me there.
But I thank you before I even know it or feel it that on this journey you have lit, you have put in me peace and contentment in a way that as uncomfortable it is, as wrong as it feels, as selfish as I seem, it is a fit. It is a fit because I know the Word that you have put in me, I know the desires that my soul longs to be.
And on the other side I know the reward that you have waiting for me. On the other side of prayer, of obedience, of fear, of sacrifice. Just to see if I will.
But I want you to know, that even if my steps seem shaky, inconsistent and quietly plotting our escape any minute, know that my heart is willing. I want all that You have for me, in the abundance and essence that You want to give me. I want Your word to be tatted all over me.
And before this one is even over, let me just say… if it isn’t how I want or not how I planned, if You’re ready for another move, another test or another trial – I will be waiting. Still willing. Knowing all that You are according to who You have always been.
I haven’t written much in the past month. Not because I couldn’t write and not because I had nothing to say. But because I had no words to serve proper justice to what is under weigh in my heart.
It’s not easy to share in a hard place, always better to share the story in hind sight, after it has all worked out for my good. But you know I’m always told to write down my feelings because one day I will want to tell my kids how I felt and I won’t remember. All I can say today is that my hurt is burdened. I know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and I am confident that there are blessings on the other side of this test of obedience, but the process of pressure that is building my exit has me at a place where I’m just ready to walk away.
There have been many times that I have come to this point and have not walked it through because it hurts me to see those hurting around me. Apparently a pressure cooker needs the pressure in order to cook correctly, but at some point I have got to stop crying.
(Is this normal? No clue.)
I can’t think about it, I can barely talk to the closest people in my life because my current reality is heavy.
I love my life.
I love my normal.
I am so grateful and so blessed.
I love my church. I love that it doesn’t take going to the street to see true and tangible change in lives, and that is what is happening at Free Life Chapel.
This is the moment where relationships are truly tested. Were they becoming because they were convenient or available? Or was there something that connected a relationship worth investing in? I am grateful for the relationships that I know will remain.
No matter what, I feel like I am leaving my place in my home. Giving up my room. The place where I feel valuable and purposeful. When I come back, will it be the same? I almost feel guilty because I’m bringing this on myself. I don’t have to feel this way.
I could just stay.
And then my heart wouldn’t be aching with the slightest thought of leaving this place that I call home. I wouldn’t be making myself sick over the idea of gambling the most precious relationships to me in the world for the opportunity to serve a small community of people.
I have a good life. I am in a good position. Why is it even necessary to go? I have no clue. Is it just longing for adventure? Is there something that I need to learn about God and faith and trusitng Him that I’m not getting in my element? I don’t know. I have asked myself that same thing and tried to substitute the idea with another and I keep returning to this point.
This same point of “go or don’t go”. I could just stay in my good life where I know the ropes and it’s comfortable. People do it all the time. People have huge dreams and desires in their heart and instead they stay where they’re comfortable and live a happy life, never knowing what else they could have missed out on.
It’s harder because it has been my choice. It is so much easier for me to react courageously to other’s choices that I have no control over, but it’s never been me who caused my own pain. This is something new.
I am holding on to what I know to be true, and trusting that God has a sufficient plan.
I’m usually not the kind to use such phrases to begin my tale, but man-o-man is this a doozie. In the words of Mami Mya, this is truly “the stuff of blogs”.
It won’t be long at all. I’m not gonna detail it out or give the meaning of it all. Just the story as it happened and the hilariousness of what turned into my Saturday night.
Once Upon a time, in a land far, far away (actually about 40 miles from Florida, but whatever) I was crossing the border from Haiti to the Dominican Republic about 5 minutes after the border was closing. As we pulled up to the guard, who fully knows who we are and what we do because we cross at least once each way every day, looks back at us, pushes about 10 or so Haitians from wiggling through he doors and snaps the lock closed. We all hustled to it and threw our stuff across the fence and climbed around the gated bridge, about 30 feet above a shallow, mucky, rushing border river.
Once stuck between two countries (literally) we sought out our plan. We couldn’t sweet talk our way over so we crossed back and decided to do it the truly Haitian way. We would cross the river through the water and be on our way to our home in Dajabon, Dominican Republic.
I already felt bad because I have a guest with me and he has never been to a developing country – or any country other than the great ole US of A – and I wasn’t making the best first impression of how Americans should do things while traveling, but ‘When in Rome’, right? So we proceeded without shame and I just casually threw out there that he needed to experience some sort of sacrifice since he has had it pretty nice all week (all generators working, sleeping with air conditioning, 3 big meals each day INCLUDING COKE… you get the picture).
As we approach the river’s edge, where it’s common at this time for locals to be crossing, I was confused as to why, people who I thought were taxi drivers were trying to put me onto their shoulders to carry me across the Massacre River. Uhh, not. I grew up a camping girl so I am not afraid to get me TOMS wet in some waist deep water. But on my way down they were all pulling me and yelling and I finally just had to say (in English no less. They had no clue what the white girl was screaming, but they knew it was spicy… and not a compliment) “STOP. EVERYONE GET AWAY FROM ME.” As I put my bag over my head one of our staff called to me and said that there is a strong current and he had a friend who he trusted who would take me across. So yes, I hopped on the guys shoulders and away we went, illegally, across the Massacre River. I looked to my right and a mom of one of our kids was there doing her laundry under the bridge. She waved and laughed and I blew kisses, but all I could think was, ‘Is this real life?’ and I had to take a picture of what was surrounding me at that moment, on top of that man’s shoulders. True story.
On the other side we had a few things happen:
I was quickly over the intense and threatening attitudes that some of these men had. Trying to intimidate the white girl. Um, not. One thing he doesn’t know is that I may be white and I may have blonde hair, but I’m from Texas and I’m fiesty when needed, so he picked the wrong girl to try and force to give him $20. He was saying, “I’m hungry, give me $20.” I was like “HA! So am I, what does that have to do with anything?” So I went back to the photo that I snapped and could see the shirt that the man was wearing who carried me so I could identify who to pay. And not $20, are they kidding? Maybe like $3. I paid double what I was told to pay and he was happy, but the others wouldn’t leave and we had to sit under a bridge on laundry day and apparently bathing day since there were multiple men and women scrubbing it all down close by.
After a quick deliberation about what to do – do we make a run for it, do we go back, do we yell some more to try and get our way? We had an emergency on the property, as all this was happening, so the rest of our team needed to get across to get to a hospital – so we chose to not take the shoulder route and just wade across – to go back to watch the kids. God knew perfectly what was gonna happen and that we were needed in Haiti for the night. Needless to say, in waist deep water, He made his point.
Practicing for Kindergarten graduation. No clue what they’re singing, but it’s too cute to not smile:
One of the newest kids in the orphanage, actually a REALLY good little rapper:
..and whenever he was rapping, a rat the size of a squirrel crawled out from under that storage bin. No joke. True story, true story.
My Marie Joy is so amped to sing, and insists that everyone sings along. After each song she waves her hands and says, “hallelujah, Jesus!” and then “BRAVOOOO!” There’s one point where Francia isn’t singing good enough and she gets all loud LOL so cute, and the best part is no one was telling her to, this is what I walked up on:
This is my ride on a taxi to the border to go eat in Dajabon (I know, I am hardcore):
Our version of a YMCA league or city league, high tech soccer.. seriously, it’s kind of a big deal. There is a missionary from Africa that we went to watch play:
Cutest boy EVER, who replies “yes” to any question.. it is his BEST English word:
Walking to the property from the girl’s house, this is just a tiny peek into the madness of market day:
More to come,
Ok, so im in the back seat of a Honda C-RV and I’m trying to get some writing done since I do not speak a lick of english and it’s better than sitting in silence while this poor guy drives me from the border. But I can’t help but be distracted because: 1. There is this GORGEOUS mountain range to my right, 2. He is driving so fast and honking so much I keep checking to make sure we aren’t dying or something.. trying not to even look because I know this is just “how they do it” but my goodness, and 3. Motorcycle taxi’s keep passing us with the biggest loads on the back that no matter how many times I see it I have to analyse how this is even possible. I’m talking like 6 flats of fruit behind this man, just rolling down the street on his little dirt bike.
So, I was just about to go across the street to grab some supplies in the DR before getting on the road and was feeling like such a local walking down the street to the “Staples” in Santiago. When I approached the corner I stood their waiting patiently to cross the street, when I realized – there is no stop sign. They just honk real loud as they’re crossing the intersection so that any oncoming traffic knows their coming. I am gonna have to throw myself in front of some on coming traffic to get across this road. And in the spirit of a true J-walker I strolled across like I did it everyday (praying that someone didn’t come flying) and into the store. Where again, I couldn’t describe or mime the word “envelope” and took me forever to get Jen some envelopes.
When I first went to Haiti I was surprised by what I was surprised by. It wasn’t really the poverty or the heat or the homeless kids or the lack of just about everything that we throw away daily at home or the sickness or the lack of health care or even the men digging trenches with sticks.
What I was ultimately amazed by were the gracious women at Danita’s Children and how they deal with the tasks of juggling kids and everything else that takes place in Haiti. A whole new excitement with each day.
It’s never like, O man I need to get groceries and pick up so and so from soccer practice, then I just don’t have time to get to the bank, O woe is me.
It’s more like, well, I just sat in on so and so’s brain surgery and now I’m going down to the banana tree and turn left until I get to the white fence with the goats and I’m gonna get some goods for so and so and his mom because they’re both HIV positive and in the hospital with tuberculosis, but on the way I’m gonna stop by their house because now her young daughter is running the house since she’s gone…. o, just all in a days work.
A little different lifestyle, huh?
Some days I just walk around and watch. Watch people survive. Watch them make the best of their situations. Watch kids smile and laugh and
play bathe in the rain gutters. Watch families cook their dinner outside on a fire. And think to myself, maybe it’s just really not that deep, after all.
I am sickened by the perception of our culture (myself included) that people harbor different emotions because they live with different circumstances. As if they don’t care as much or process as long or hurt as deep.
I am sitting in church, watching families, who get to church with their clothes sticking to their skin because they have walked so long in the sun, and they’re still on time. When they pray it is not because it’s ‘right’, but because it is out of the great anguish in their hearts, and to the truly only option of refuge that they know as “Jezi”.
Have you ever seen a grown man cry? Well it looks the same in Haiti.
One of the teachers at Hope for Haiti was robbed and beaten last week.
The community was shocked because he was drug out of his home, in front of his children, kidnapped, beaten and dropped off on the road.
Two days later he died of internal bleeding.
I watched as Pastor Richard choked back his tears, fidgeted with his keys and paused to try and find the words, delivering the news to Mami Karris that this teacher, his friend, this role model in the village has passed away. He has two young children who attend the school as well and my heart and prayers are going out to this man’s family tonight, who are now forced to learn a life without their dad and their husband.
The community here is without words, no one expected it, the students would even stop by the hospital to see him on their walk home from school. All reactions that are no different than it would be at home, and I am longing for the perception of people to become more clear across cultural lines. That we would see across racial and economic status and look at the hurting heart of people. A heart that will always be hurting as long as a void exists and one that will always be tender, through experience or reaction, as we reach out to one another.
P.S. Speaking of reaching out, I want to throw a HUGE shout-out to Angie Webb (also known as, “Angie from work”… she has worked with my Dad for forever) who reached out with great generosity, simply from the compassion in her heart. Thank You – it means more than you know!