This week I have really been grateful for where God has placed me. I love Haiti. I think Haiti has changed me more than I could change Haiti, or shall I better say that God has used Haiti to change me and teach me many lessons. I know a lot of our missionaries and teams say so too when they just come on a short trip. I remember my first mission trip to Jamaica that absolutely changed my life.... Why? Why does Haiti or other places have such a profound impact on people's lives? I have lots of theories, full of those. Lots of spiritual principles I can see that apply, but I don't know if I can ever fully explain the mysteries of God's ways at work in our lives to teach us and grow in us.
Here are a few things this week I am grateful for that have been teaching me some good lessons:
Haitians know how to pray, with fervency and passion. Out of necessity, out of their prospective poverty, they know their humble place and when you call for a prayer service, people come. We've had two, powerful all night services of prayer full of people and prayer that is not just this quiet, keep to yourself kind of reflective prayer. No, it's noisy, Scriptures being read loudly, arms waving wildly, voices crying out in song and cries. It's beautiful. One after another, someone gets up to the mic to motivate the prayers of the people, present prayer requests of repentance, liberty, healing- and not personal requests. Not simple requests of 'so and so has a cold,' or 'so and so needs food'. No, passionate, deep prayers. Even the children know how to pray! I have learned a great deal of how to press in and seek God for change of my own heart, for my family, for this country. Haiti has taught me this. In fact, when I think about it, this lesson started years ago when Marc and I were in Bible College and he would get up at 5am to prayer for two hours- EVERY MORNING! My lessons in prayer, though they started way back then, still stemmed from Haiti. My husband is still a passionate man of prayer today and still strives to inspire others to pray fervently for God to move.
I've also learned that living a life 100% for God and ministry in a foreign field (though it's Marc's homeland), provides a fertile ground for raising our kids to also be passionate about ministry. Today I was truly blessed as we went up to Tapion Church, our children/youth church up the mountain from Grand-Goave. Our young girls club from our church went up to assist in their service and build relationship w the youth there. Miesha and her friend, Norlie, came along to join us. To my surprise, Miesha offered to take the small kids w Norlie for them to lead the kids in so be and games. She and Norlie even led the little kids in a skit of Jesus. I just sat back and watched, with great contentment in my heart. After the Tapion service, I brought the girls back to our church for their choir practice. All my girls are singing and dancing with the girls choir, ages 3-13, and Miesha has a solo. I pray God keeps raises these kids of mine up to make an even bigger impact in the world than I.
Another great lesson I have learned in Haiti is to be content with what I have or what I am able to do. In North America we have way too much striving and for things that are not of lasting or eternal value. We are never satisfied w our clothes, our cars, our fitness, our hairstyles... In Haiti, Haitians do take great pride in what they do have. They dress sharp, like to have the latest hairstyles too, yet... there is still a great element of having to be content with the little they have. I have learned to sacrifice a lot living here in many material ways, but it has proven to be so life-giving and freeing to my spirit, not to mention I save lots of money not buying useless stuff. Even with the slim selection of food entrees has helped me be grateful. There is one reputable restaurant we frequent. The meals are consistently tasty, but the selection is either fried chicken or fried goat w plantains and salad. That's it. That's the menu. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet, it's the outing we look forward to all week long. In my eagerness to attempt an exercising program here, I seized the first pair of runners I found in some of the clothes missionaries left and started jogging. My route is always the same, from home to the campus, a whole 1 km, yet by the time I arrive, I am sweating enough to have run 5km, thanks to the humid temperature even at 7am. After twisting my ankle about four times on the rocky road, I decided I should content myself with walking instead. We then got to pick up some used bikes from the market, which I excitedly worked into my fitness program to save my ankles. To my luck, I have a knack for hitting ever single big rock or bump head on with force, but I am still happy. Happy to have a bike, happy to have an avenue to exercise and happy to save my ankles. I may not lose all the weight I would like to, but that's ok. In fact, Haitians think being a bit bigger is beautiful. I'm in the right place. :) My only problem is no matter how long I spend in the sun I still am as white as ever. I may braid my hair, speak perfect Creole, dance, sing and pray like a Haitian, but I'm still a very white American. Yet even in this, God has given me contentment. He has called me to be a vessel of reconciliation, a symbol of how God is reconciling the world and drawing them to Himself, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.