My friend Jill went on a mission trip last year. When I returned from Haiti in August, I asked her how long am I going to feel so sad? So overwhelmed? So turned upside down. She said it took her months to feel like herself again. That astounded me. I thought, that's for her. I'm sure I'll be feeling back to normal in a week or two....right?
It's been 2 months...and I feel like a fish out of water. I just don't feel like I fit in. And I'm not exactly sure what that means. I just know that's how I feel right now.
Part of the process for me is purging my thoughts. So here I am this morning. Enjoying my second cup of coffee, sitting infront of the computer. I'm purging. I just hope it makes since.
It's so easy to blog about Haiti.... I feel like I am still there...
(Picking back up from my last Haiti entry.)
Day 4 of Vacation Bible School ~ Our last day with the children
'As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." ' Luke 9:57We step out of the van this morning. It's so hot here. I've literally sweat off 10 pounds this week. I feel beaten and battered. I am tired. I know that I am not here to conquer the world or fix Haiti, but being here sure does make me want to. I'm starting to understand why this trip was only for a week. It is exhausting trying to be everything to all these kids. I feel like if I were a bucket, I am pouring myself out. Completely. Until the bucket is dry. And here I am a dry bucket surrounded by warm, sweet faced, angel children. I quickly take a deep breath. How in the world am I going to fill up this bucket? I look around wondering if I can take a break real quick to regroup. It's 8 in the morning. The kids run up and swarm us. I look over at my friend. She looks the way I feel. Interesting. I guess this is how we are supposed to feel. I can't believe I already feel this way. It is God who fills me. So I pray.
'But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.' 2 Corinthians 12:9
He fills me immediately.
'We love because He first loved us.' 1 John 4:19
As a little girl, I thought my Grandmother was an angel. Literally. Except maybe the time that she popped my hiney. But before that event and after that event. She was an angel. Probably even during the hiney incident too. She wouldn't have punished me if I didn't deserve it. I KNOW I deserved it.
So as a little girl, I idolized her. She loved the 121st Psalm, so I love the 121st Psalm. I memorized it because she said it so often and with such delight. This is the Grandmother who our daughter Carlisle is named for. She loved the King James version. 'My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.' Psalm 121
We begin setting up. A man appears out of nowhere. He's very inquisitive about my camera. Am I a professional photographer? Can he borrow my camera to take pictures? I am so raw. I want to help everyone. But strangely, red flags are going up. You know. The red flag that says. Back away slowly... He is only out to get something....
I want to be kind, but I also make a note not to lay my camera down, at all, today. He tells me that he works for a photography company and that he dropped the company camera and the lens broke. I feel terrible. I want to help him. But I definitely don't trust him. I think about my extra lens back in my room. The one that I never use. The kit lens that came with my camera. An extra. I wonder if he's telling the truth. I wonder if he could use the lens. I ask him what sort of camera he shoots with. A Nikon? A Canon? He seems unsure. Later I see him scooting off on a motorbike. I know he is headed to find out what the camera is.
(Linda dancing with the kids)
I cry. They stare. I wonder what they are thinking. I have taken this time with them so seriously. This may or may not be the only time they hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have I said enough? Did I pray enough? Did they feel Christ's love enough? Oh...I start to feel sick to my stomach. I want to sit. I want to run. Do I have to leave? Should I get the translator and say one more thing? But then God's word washes over me. I can't do this. Apart from Christ I am nothing. Just a girl. This is the WORK OF GOD. Not me. So, I step aside. I leave . I leave knowing that God is working in these little hearts. God has planted the seed.
Jesus said, 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.' John 15:5 Basically, fruit bearing is not only possible, but certain, IF the branch (us) remains in union with the vine (God). But quantity and quality is not promised. But in the life of a follower of Christ, fruit is inevitable!
The work for these children has already been done.
'He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. ' 1 Peter 2:24
I duck under the blue tarp. Leaving the children behind me. I don't look back.
I lean up against an old dirty car. Moments pass. A few of my precious heart kids, whose names and faces I'll never forget, approach. I pull my sweet Wilda to me and pull her to me, against my chest. She pulls away looking astonished. She looks up at me. She then slowly places her hand on my heart. She stares at me as she feels my heart pounding out of my chest. She slowly smiles. She turns to her friend, tells her in Creole that she too needs to feel this. Her friend places her hand on my heart. They look up into my eyes. I nod and tell them in Creole that I love them. They smile. They lower their hands to their sides and stand staring at me MOTIONLESS.
'Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.' 1 John 4:7
The camera guy returns. I had searched my heart. I was willing to give him the kit lens if he needed it. Why do I need 2 when he has none. I prayed that God would take care of the details. Camera guy tells me his camera is a Nikon. I tell him my Canon lens will not work with his camera. He seems to get a little defensive and starts back peddling (all through a translator). I know I am not supposed to give away things like this. How did I even get into this situation? It seems now like true colors are coming out. He is awfully pushy. I give a friend the 'help-me-now' eye. She comes over. I doubt he works for a camera company. I feel foolish. I just wanted to help. Now I am certain that giving this guy a lens won't help. I am starting to understand a little more of the rules of mission travel. How did I so quickly forget the rules? Don't give anything away. He had approached me and made me feel like I was responsible for his camera problem. I firmly tell him the answer is no. I don't feel mean. I don't feel wrong. I know in my heart that I made the right decision. The construction team is finishing up. They all gather for a picture. Wick gives his hammer over to the hardest worker I have ever seen.
***(The next paragraph is an exerpt from the blog of another Haitian team member, Alice.)
His name is Robinson and from the moment he showed up on our job sight he had my heart. He works harder than any person here. I truly believe that if it weren't for the lack of nails he would have continued to work through the pouring rain. The only time he took a break was when Wick or I forced him to drink "bag water."Even now while the rest of us are taking a break, he is still hammering, bare feet, sweat-soaked shirt, soulful eyes. The only time he speaks is to ask for more nails or to say thank you. He watches Wick's every move. Every swing of the hammer. Every step. He doesn't ask questions. He just watches and he never smiles. I wish I could tell you his life story. I wish I knew his wife's name. I wish I could tell you that his life belongs to Jesus. What I do know is that this man served, asking for nothing and expecting nothing. And in his own quiet way impacted not just me, but many of us. His name is Robinson and somewhere in Haiti he will always have my heart. ***
Someone rounds up the orphans and puts them all against the wall of an old building. They stand there. I hurt for them. I snap a picture, then feel guilty for taking their picture. I can't imagine what they deal with. I'm told that church families have taken some of them in. But I have also learned not to trust what I am told.
I ask the pastor of the local church if I can give the orphans something. He says yes. My girls and I had gone through their playroom the week before I left. We set aside things for me to take to Haiti. It wasn't much. I few necklaces. Toys. A few dresses. A pair of shoes. We didn't know then, but God knew. Just who these items would go to. These orphans. These orphans standing uncomfortably against the wall. The dresses were the right size for a few of the girls. The littlest orphan is just about Carlisle's size. I give her a dress and shoes. She puts the shoes on immediately. Did she even have shoes on before?
The week before I left ,the girls argued over a little pink bear. Brian decided enough was enough. He instituted a new rule. If you argue over a toy, he takes it away. It's gone forever. To the trash. To the Goodwill. But you never get it back. So, sometime the week before I left, they argued about a little pink bear. I can still see them in my mind. One on one side of the bear, one on the other side. Both, steady tugging. I took it. They cried. I wanted them to feel the sting. THEY DID. I put it in my luggage. They don't fight over toys like they used to. Now, I can go days and days without hearing them squabbling over a toy.
I prayed before I left that I would find just the right little girl or boy to give it to. Well, here she is, in the flesh. She has NO mother. She has NO father. She has nothing. She's a precious little girl. I squat down. I extend the pink bear toward her. She looks at it. At me. I cry with how happy she is. She flashes the most gleeful, darling smile. Then she reaches out her hand. She takes her pink bear and squeezes it into her little body. She hugs it and smiles. PURE joy. I can't even see what's going on. My eyes are full of tears. I'm hoping that someone takes a picture of these moments. I can't wait to show my girls.
The construction team finishes their work. We pile into the old, squeaky van and head back to the room. During lunch, the rain begins to fall. Victoria and I finish lunch and go and stand in the middle of it all. I feel the Haitians watching us. Wondering. How cool that God gave us this rain on this day. A cleansing. A release. It is just what I need. And of course, God knew that. We are both crying. And the rain comes down. We are both overwhelmed. And the rain comes down. I need the wash. I need the rain. I need the cleansing. I know that the rain is symbolic.
'Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.' Deuteronomy 32:2