My last several weeks in Haiti flew by and before I even realized it I was on the plane leaving St. Nicolas. Reflecting on my last several week I was initially stumped about what I should write about. Towards the end of the summer we had two great groups come to St. Nicolas. Unlike earlier in the summer I became very busy helping lead these groups. The groups were awesome and I cannot express enough how refreshing it is to see people being selfless and willing to come serve in Haiti. Being very busy with the groups really made me realize just how precious my time was earlier in the summer.
Don’t get me wrong I loved having all of the groups come but I really cherished having enough time earlier in the summer to invest time with the boys of this community. Sure things were difficult and discouraging at times but I learned so much about the real everyday life of a missionary. We all have these wild dreams that when we enter the mission field everyone is going to flock to us. We believe that we are going to help these people come to know Christ and see their lives change before our very eyes. But guess what, this dream is frankly usually not a reality.
The truth is that everyday is a struggle. You wake up every morning and have to put on the full armor of God so that when discouragement comes it does not cause your faith to waiver. I know all of my efforts to begin a community men’s ministry were not a waste of time. Jody called it shoveling manure. The funny thing is I am completely OK with that. If I have to spend the rest of my life sharing God’s love only to seeing one person come to Christ than all of my energy and time was worth it! My many hours playing soccer in town were not a waist. I know the boys were watching the way I acted and showed them love. I know they heard the Bible lessons that I shared after playing soccer. They know that I love God and that was the reason why I was there. I trusted and followed God’s calling upon my life and I know that God is at work in the hearts of the young men that I spent countless hours with. I will continue to pray for these young men that they will see God’s light and follow Him.
My last two days in Haiti felt like a dream. It was as if I knew I would be heading home but the reality of this did not hit me until my last day. I couldn’t comprehend leaving the place that had stolen my heart. St. Nicolas became my home leaving a permanent scare upon my heart. The children that live at the orphanage were no longer strangers but my beautiful children. Miss Beth, Morgan, and Emily had become my family. My heart rejoices as I think of all of the lasting memories and relationships that I have built this summer. Getting to spend my summer with individuals that are so in love with Christ and following his purpose was amazing!
Saying goodbye to those I had grown so close to was extremely hard. Tears were shed as I said goodbye to Miss Beth, Emily, and Morgan. Telling the orphans goodbye was very hard but I know they have the ultimate protector. I know God loves each one of them and that he will protect them far better than I could ever imagine. Miss Beth, Emily, and Morgan prepared a bag for me containing letters that I could read on my trip home. These letters provided me with encouragement and comfort when I needed it the most on my trip home.
My trip back home was slightly stressful. My flight out of Port-Au-Prince was supposed to leave at 5:50 pm but did not end up leaving until 7:15 pm. This delay made me worry that I would miss my connecting flight out of Miami and I really did not want to have to get a hotel room for the night. I prayed and asked God to give me patients and reassurance that everything would work out alright. Arriving in Miami at 9:10 pm I had twenty minutes to get through customs, security, and find my next gate in the huge Miami airport. As I was hurrying through customs I quickly acquired the paperwork required and was about to head through security when a Haitian woman tapped me on the shoulder. She spoke very little English but I knew exactly what she needed. She needed me to help her use the computer required to get the paperwork needed to get through customs. Now it was about 9:20 by this time and I was in a big hurry. Isn’t it funny how God has a sense of humor?
Here I am returning from the mission field and serving the people of Haiti yet as soon as I step foot in the United States I am too busy to help someone in need! I had a small chuckle and figured so what if I miss my flight. This woman is more important than my flight. I helped the woman only to learn that she was not a United States citizen and needed to go to another area of the airport to get through customs. I helped her get to where she needed and quickly tried to get to my flight. I ran through the airport knowing that if my flight left on time it was already too late. I arrived at gate 47 completely out of breath and managed to ask the flight attendant if I was too late. She looked at me with a smile and said, “We haven’t even boarded yet.” My flight to St. Louis had been delayed by thirty minutes giving me just enough time to reach my flight.
Stopping to help the woman was God’s little test questioning the intentions of my heart. Are we ever too busy or is there ever anything so important that we cannot stop to help someone in need? I boarded my flight to St. Louis feeling sad that I would soon be home back in my comfortable air-conditioned room. Sitting waiting for my flight to leave I started a conversation with the couple sitting next to me. I explained to them what I had done all summer and how much I love the Lord. As our conversation developed I learned that this couple loved the Lord just as much as I did. Hearing this gave me a lift of encouragement as I neared home. Sitting at my kitchen table writing this brings tears to my eyes. I am astonished at just how great a God I serve. I am a sinner yet He still loves me!
This summer has reaffirmed God’s call upon my life to enter the mission field. I also know that God has put a special place in my heart for orphans. There are so many children in this world that just need love and someone to care for them and hopefully one day several of them will call me dad. As I continue to transition back to living in the United States I know that I serve the same mighty God that I did in Haiti. I know people here need to hear the gospel just as much as on the mission field. I will continue to pursue God whole heartedly and trust in His plan. Haiti has a special place in my heart and I will continue to pray that God transforms this country one person at a time.