We are sent to LOVE
It is three weeks today since our small team of six left for Port au Prince. I find it is difficult to write about it. Jotted lines and letters to translate the compassion of our Father in the midst of great suffering? Mere syllables cannot reveal His great love and how He changed it all. The words chosen here to share our experience may not be lovely or touching. Many will likely be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Some readers will write our journey off as a short term humanitarian effort. What difference can one week make in the face of such disaster and devastation? Others will dismiss us a religious group seeking our own individual fulfillment. The truth is that we serve a great God, and He told us to go. So we went. And we saw Him there in Haiti, and we came to know Him even more in that place. We experienced His sweet love wrapped up in the embrace of an orphan, and in our weariness and weakness, He lifted and sustained us. We were but vessels of His great love and grace. What an honor and privilege it is to be His servant and to lay down our selves even for a brief moment in time.
In our American culture, we are constantly in self mode, whether we realize it or not…whether we are willing to admit it or not. We are taught to seek those things that satisfy us and fulfill us. We are encouraged to pursue our own happiness no matter the cost. And so we search. But that which we search after can never be found in this pursuit of self. This is why in those rare moments when our minds are still and silent, we find that we are desperately unsettled, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled.
In Haiti, we spent all of our selves every day. We willingly became uncomfortable. We served. We asked to be emptied of our selves, and to be filled with Him…only Him. We were honored to be uncomfortable for Him. We were honored to share in His sufferings…if only a little. So, we lovingly cleaned crusted, snotty noses. We bandaged their boo-boos. We held them close when they cried, rocking them and humming a sweet song to calm their broken hearts. Most of these have never known a mother's smile, nor had a father wipe their tears and promise to keep them safe. God sent us, and for a moment we were that vessel of Love just for them. We smiled cheerfully as we were coughed and sneezed on, poked and prodded by curious little fingers in our ears and over our eyes, while having precious arms wrapped around our legs, waist, and neck. And when we were afraid, we heard God’s voice saying “Do not fear, I am here”.
We held precious babies in a nursery that smelled of urine and spit up. We looked deeply into beautiful eyes and we cried out for understanding to the One who holds yesterday, today, and tomorrow in His hands. And with our senses being bombarded with the sights and smells of neglect, surrounded by disease and a depth of suffering for which there are no words, our Heavenly Father said, “I have not forgotten these little ones. I know each of them by name, and I have a plan for each one of them. Trust me, Child, with all that you do not understand. I am good. I am Love. That is why I have sent you…to Love.” So we did. We loved with everything in us.
During this short week, we spent almost all of our time, thoughts, and energy on the children at the orphanage. No time for lounging on the beach, or exploring the local tourist attractions. We were there for the children…heart and soul. We spent most of our evenings working on crafts for the next day, or planning what the next day’s Bible story should include. Being there so close to Christmas, we shared many of the wonderful parts ofthe Christmas story. The kids went into a frenzy about popsicle crafts and coloring! It was a beautiful craziness when handing anything out to these kids. With no possessions of their own, not even their own space, they fight to keep everything they have. The night before our last day with the kiddos, we were up very late preparing Christmas presents to give them. We had to organize a hundred gifts by age and gender, and we hit a few bumps in the road that night. Although exhausted, He gave us strength to work late and get them done, but we were still worried about how we were going to stay organized and hoping we had enough gifts for everyone. The next day, we were invited to be the guests of honor at their New Year’s party, and when we handed out gifts we were shocked to see two straight lines! And everyone had a gift! God met us in our worries and frets, and took care of all of it.
There are so many stories to share. Then there were moments of laughter as we watched them trade their shoes for a turn on the swing, when they took turns listening to each other's heart beats with a stethoscope, or when they would march and sing with the Storyteller! There were many moments when they made our hearts proud, when an older child would comfort a younger one or share a piece of their bread. One hot afternoon we walked the yard to pick up the trash outside the orphanage. There were no trash cans or any place to throw trash, so it would end up on the ground outside. There were all sorts of dangerous objects lying around, and most of the children did not have shoes. We found syringes, broken glass and tile, metal rods and much more. By the time we were done, all sweaty and dirty, we each had a little army following us, eager to help carry the bag and bring trash to throw into it. We were so proud of how hard they worked to help clean up their yard. We ended up filling five huge trash bags with garbage. During our week, we also completed some repairs inside of the orphanage, and worked on replenishing their medical supply.
Saying goodbye to Haiti was hard. There was a big part of me that did not want to return home. I was afraid that I would forget and return to the person I was before. I don’t ever want to become that person again. I also knew that when I returned, I would be thrown back into life in the states with my fellow Americans, most of whom do not understand how rich we are. I ask God to keep me loving, kind and patient, for I am one of them. Whatever Your plan is for us, Father, keep us willing.
For all of you reading this, I challenge you to press into the Father. Ask Him for the courage and the faith to seek out His purpose for your life. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and ask Him for the strength to obey. There is one Creator, and He is so good and kind. He knows your name, and He has good plans for you…beyond what you could ask or think. He has planted dreams and visions deep within your soul, and He alone can fulfill you. All you have to do is surrender to Him. If He says to go, Go. If He says to pray, Pray. If He says give so that others may go, Give. We are blessed that we may bless others. We are comforted that we may comfort others. We are not here for ourselves, but for each other, all for His glory.
To those that were home faithfully praying, your prayers were desperately needed, and always answered! He was directing our steps. To those that gave financially and of your time, your gifts became sweet treasures to the little ones and to us. God multiplied your gifts! Sincerely, we could not have done it without all of you.
To those that read this and feel called to GO, click here for more information.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to have made this journey with you: Toni, Paul, RuthAnne, Jenna, and Abby, and to have spent this week serving alongside of each of you. May we remain forever changed.
2 Corinthians 1:4
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Seeking the center of His will,