Haiti: Day 9

Written on July 8, 2018

I love to figure out the “whys” in life. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I relish in the discovery of why specific things occur.

It’s driving me somewhat crazy to not understand why God is keeping me in Haiti for these extra days. I haven’t done anything except be an anxious mess since we got the news of being stuck. Maybe the why has nothing to do with me. Maybe God needed to keep someone else here, and I just got caught in their plan. That’s how my life has felt for a long time: like God’s got this beautiful meticulous outline for everyone else’s life and I’m a sideline pawn that doesn’t have a narrative.

At church this morning, a little boy runs to where I’m sitting and plops down next to me on the bench.

A shock runs through my body as I wonder: is this why He wanted me to stay? Is this little boy supposed to mean something to me? I decide to act as if this is the exact reason God brought me to Haiti. I put my arm around the boy and give him a little squeeze & a smile. He looks at me and stares, expressionless. I want to know what he’s thinking so badly. He glances at the pen and notebook in my lap, then back at my eyes. I take his hint, and scramble to flip to a blank page in the notebook and hand the pen to him. He takes the cap off my pen and puts it in his mouth. I’ll have to remember to clean that off later. He draws some soccer balls and what his interpretation of a truck is. He writes his name over and over again. Stanley Jean. He leans back on my chest when he gets tired of doodling and lets the weight of his body rest on mine.

What if I treated every opportunity as if it were the exact purpose for my life that day?

This afternoon, the missionaries Kristin and Brooke have plans to walk us down to the village of Chambrun. It’s about a half mile walk down a gravel road from our campus to get there. The walk isn’t treacherous, but it certainly gives us an intense perspective of what life is like for the locals.

Once the homes are in sight, babies with no pants and children with no shoes, all with dusty bodies, come running out of the mud huts to great us. I feel out of place. Why are we here? Just to gawk at the living conditions and hungry faces? The kids do seem to enjoy us though. They show us their made up games and want to play with our hair. I don’t see how this is helpful to them in any long term sort of way. I take a few pictures, but mostly don’t like making a spectacle of this encounter.

It’s a quiet walk back to campus. I think we’re all feeling more than we know what to do with having witnessed what the children we’ve been teaching all week go home to at night.

We meet with Adam around 8 this evening. He compliments us on how we’ve dealt with this unusual situation. He says we’ve handled ourselves with a grace not many people would be able to replicate.

There is an exit plan for tomorrow. No one is wanting to risk sending us to Port-Au-Prince in the morning. Pastor Pierre comes up with this scheme: at 5am, we will load the buses and head west toward the border of the Dominican Republic. Once we’ve crossed the border, we will board a public transport bus to Santo Domingo. The ride will likely take around 6-7 hours. Once in Santo Domingo, we will hopefully be able to get tickets to go back to the States from there. My inner pessimist is completely unconvinced that this overly complex plan is in any way going to be successful.

After reviewing the game plan for tomorrow, Adam begins briefing us on the feelings we may have when we get home from this mission trip. He talks about theses three lies that will likely flood our minds at some point…

Three lies that the devil tells you when you get back from a short term mission project:

    1. God got it wrong. Explanation: We may think that the Haitians deserve better than they have, and we don’t deserve what we have. But by having these thoughts, we are unintentionally making an attack on God’s sovereignty. We are all where we are in life for a reason. We get to decide how to use what we’ve been given. God has a purpose, we shouldn’t waste our time questioning Him.
    2. No one cares what we did. Explanation: Most of the people who ask how our trip was aren’t going to have the time to listen to a detailed summary of each day we were here. We’re going to end up giving a 30 second version of our experience. That feels bad. It might feel like people actually don’t want to hear the full story because they don’t care. And, if no one cares what we did, then what difference does it make?
    3. What we did didn’t matter. Explanation: This feeling tends to come a few weeks from now, when we start to forget small things about the trip. We’ll slowly forget the names of the kids who sat on our laps and the name of translators we laughed with during meals. This, too, will make us question the purpose and effects of our time here. If we can’t remember a simple name, then how will the people we served remember us?

Adam sums up how to put these lies to rest by concluding, “You might not see the full results of your actions until you’re on the other side of eternity.”

It’s hard to argue with that statement. I forget about the other side of eternity quite often, as shameful as that is to admit, being a Christian and all. I find myself dismissing the cornerstone principle that this life is but a vapor, and everything we do on earth should be to better the kingdom of heaven.

We close our meeting in prayer. Adam prays for the safety of our voyage and attempt to leave Haiti in the morning. A line from the prayer that sticks with me the rest of the night: “God, be with us tomorrow as we fulfill your plan. Even if that means our death, let Your will be done.”

Liv – Authentically

*Timeline Disclosure* We actually visited the village on a day during the week after English camp. I included it in this day’s journal entry because otherwise this would have been an uneventful post.

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