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Lessons from Haiti: The Importance of Relationship

I hope you’ve enjoyed these lessons from my trip to Haiti. This will actually be my last post for awhile. I’ll be on a trip for a week and won’t have much time for blogging. But when I return, I’ll finish out the Lessons from Haiti series. Thank you for your patience! I feel like I’m leaving out a lot of important details from the week in Haiti, but it’s hard to summarize everything that happened into a short blog post. Maybe I’ll have to do some extra posts later about other things that happened, like climbing the hill next to camp and stargazing.

But enough of that, let’s talk about Tuesday.

Day 5: The Importance of Relationship

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This day taught me over and over how important relationship is, not only with other people, but with God. We’ll just start at the beginning. Tuesday morning I began working on my project (the logo of the radio station) or really just priming the walls for the logo. But as I began to work, a little girl who was staying at the camp with her relatives came to watch. It didn’t take long for her to pick up a brush and start mimicking what we were doing. Now keep in mind that it was hard to communicate. I think I’ve said several times that I know little to no Creole. So all I could do was point, nod and say wi, or shake my head and say no. I wasn’t sure how much help the young girl could be to the project, but as we worked her smile reminded me that the reason we were there was not just to finish some project, but to build relationships. And so, to remind me of how much more important relationships are, God gave me a little girl to paint with for the rest of the week.

And it’s not just people that we need relationships with; God is our heavenly Father and we need to be in a relationship with Him. As more frustrations arose that day and we cried to Him in prayer, I saw God’s loving fatherly response. For example, one of my teammates came up to me and told me that the radio station was not transmitting and they couldn’t figure out what the problem was. So we stopped and prayed that God would fix it. Not five minutes later the radio station was broadcasting! I felt so overwhelmed with God’s love and how He will take care of our needs right away and not delay.

That evening we went to another revival meeting at the village church and God broke down the barriers that had been separating us from the Haitian believers. I saw this most clearly through a young woman sitting a few rows in front of me. She noticed that me and a friend were trying to sing along with the music and she started mouthing the words to us and making little hand motions so we could understand what the song meant.

Then one of our team members got up and shared his testimony with the congregation. He told everyone that he felt like he’s coming home when he goes on mission trips because his ‘family’ is in these small remote churches. The pastor said he was trying to teach his congregation the same thing and God was using us to reinforce the idea that we are a family in Christ.

And lastly, we ended the day by sitting in a circle on the pavilion and listening to more testimonies from the group. It was such a good bonding experience that really forced the relationships within the group to go deeper. And the night ended with one team member praying a prayer of thanksgiving for each team member on the trip. He summarized so perfectly what each person brought to the group and encouraged us all that we were meant to be there and our presence was making a difference.

God was growing relationships within the team, within the community, and with Himself. This day was a beautiful lesson in the value God puts on relationship.

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Lessons from Haiti: The Body of Christ at Work

Hello blog readers, I’m still reviewing my trip to Haiti, and all the lessons God taught me while I was there. We’ve made it through the first few days of the trip and are currently on Monday, the first workday of the trip. Hope you enjoy!

Day 4: The Body of Christ at Work

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So far on my journey, I’d felt that I was mostly receiving things. I was given delicious food, time with people, joy, even several valuable lessons from God about prayer and the unity of His church. And, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but our team had spent the previous afternoon at the beach. But it was a Sunday, a day of rest, and we were recovering from all the traveling. Still it didn’t feel quite right.

Thus Monday morning started with a new kind of energy; finally we would be able to work, to do something productive or beneficial, to give something back. In a sense, this is what you go into a mission trip expecting to do, and it felt odd that it wasn’t until Day 4 of our adventure, that the “real work” was starting.

Eagerly we awoke at 5:30am to begin helping with the soccer ministry in the village. We all carried bags stuffed full of soccer balls, cleats, and uniforms to the wide field outside the church. However, once we had handed out the equipment, most of us ended up standing around with not much to do. I’ve never played soccer, so I felt a bit useless as I watched the training begin. I ended up trying to interact with a few of the children from the village along with a few other girls from our group. We couldn’t say much, but we were still able to laugh with the kids.

Soon the training ended and we packed everything back up and headed back to the camp, which is called Jacob’s Well. (I’m tired of calling it the camp, so we’ll refer to it as Jacob’s Well from now on). We ate some breakfast and then began on a fencing project. I didn’t feel like I was doing a lot of work. I mean I carried a few cement blocks, or passed some buckets full of cement down the line, but mostly I was standing around, not knowing what to do, or taking a water break. The most beneficial thing I did was remind other people to drink water so no one got overheated.

So far I had felt pretty inadequate, like I wasn’t very useful for any of the projects going on in Haiti. But as we took a break for lunch, I looked at what the team as a whole had accomplished and realized just how much God can do with very little. I didn’t feel like I had contributed much to the fence, but there it was getting longer and put together. It was a lesson in God’s provision. Even if I didn’t know the first thing about building a fence, God had provided other team members that did, and he used the whole team’s effort to accomplish something I couldn’t have done alone.

Thankfully after lunch, I was able to start work on a painting project that is more in my field of expertise. But I’ll never forget that God uses a body, of different people, with different skills to accomplish His work. We all have purpose, we all have value, and we all can be used by God.

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Lessons from Haiti: A day of frustrations

So I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts about my mission trip to Haiti. I know it’s not what I usually write about on this blog, but I figure I can tell some fun stories, and who knows, it may turn into a novel or book someday. I’m going to break up each day of the trip into a blog post and hopefully come up with one lesson that I learned on each day of the trip.

So feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or any of your own stories or lessons you’ve learned from your own adventures.

Haiti airport

Day 1: A Day of Frustrations

Early Friday morning I set off to the airport to meet the group of 15 people headed for Haiti. But right off the bat, I was hit with distractions, or frustrations really. I hadn’t slept well the night before the trip, or really the whole week leading up to it. In addition, my sister had woken me up, due to a panic attack in the middle of the night. So I was… not rested. In addition, I’m a very time-oriented person, so when I was unable to get to the airport at 8:00 am, and in fact was the last of the group to arrive, I found my attitude about the trip as a whole taking a turn for the worse.

After hugging loved ones goodbye, we set off to check in at the baggage check. And then another unforeseen event occurred, our connecting flight to Florida, leaving from Dallas, was said to be delayed and we were told we would have to take a later flight. This would mean that instead of getting into Florida in time for some dinner and chill time, we wouldn’t get in till 9:30, and probably wouldn’t get to our hotel till after 10pm.

This frustrating stream of events was getting under my skin, but I took a minute to relax and reminded myself that none of this should be unexpected. Mission trips are rarely a smooth process. I released my anger to God and went on with the group, passing through security and making it safely to Dallas for our connecting flight.

When we landed in Dallas, I was surprised and excited to find out that the original flight we were supposed to take was not delayed after all and that our group was in the process of being transferred back to our original flight. Things were looking up, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I grabbed some girls from our group and just stopped to pray. In the middle of the airport we gave the whole situation into the Lord’s hands, and asked Him to show up.

After that moment, I stopped worrying. And God did show up! Our flight was switched without any more hassle, and our whole group made it to Florida in good spirits.

However, the day was not over, and God provided one more lesson in providence before it came to an end. I know it sounds a little weird for a group on a “mission trip” to go out to a fancy restaurant, but we did. We went to the Cheesecake Factory of all places. I’d only been once before in my life, so this was a big treat. However, going to any restaurant on a Friday night with 15 people means a long wait. And I mean a LONG wait. We were told it would take about an hour, but when that hour turned into two hours, all of us were experiencing some impatience.

Now I know this is a mission trip, and I should be expecting the unexpected, but we were still in America. We weren’t in Haiti at all, and this was difficult. We were all starving by this point, one team member even said he was close to “angry bear mode.” But still we were waiting. I started getting anxious thoughts about not getting enough rest for the morning, or maybe even the restaurant closing before we could get something to eat.

And that’s when we did it, finally… it really shouldn’t have taken us this long. We prayed. We asked God to open up the tables so we could eat. It’s amazing what God will do, once you actually stop to ask Him for something. Within minutes the tables were clear and we were being seated.

And that’s the lesson I learned from day 1: Come to God with your problems, and don’t try to handle them alone. Suddenly you’ll find that your frustrations will become glimpses of God at work.