You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Lena's (first) mission trip toCan't wait to see what God has in store next.....
Haiti turned into our
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
We are the body....
Yesterday, I was reflecting on my recent trip to Haiti during some quiet time. Actually, I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep and not succeeding because too much was going on in my head.
I remember being so overwhelmed at first. The sites, the sounds, the smells, there was just so much to take in. People have asked me if it was as bad as I expected. I'm unsure how to answer that question because this was my first mission trip I didn't really know what to expect. The reality of Haiti was worse, so much worse than I expected. And, at the same time, it was also so much better than I expected. The poverty, the despair, the pain, the suffering, the need...everywhere I looked I saw someone who was in need. Real people. Real need-not just for comfort but for survivial. And at the same time, I saw people praising and worshipping God with their whole hearts. I saw people praying and reading their Bibles. I saw laughter and joy in their eyes. I saw beauty. I saw love. I saw hope.
During the first day or two, I remember having a conversation with God about my feelings of being overwhelmed and thinking about what I am doing here-feeling doubtful and inadequate. How could I, in one week make any sort of impact on the huge need in this poverty stricken place? Where people don't have enough to eat, don't have clean water to drink and where most are barely surviving. People are sick, children are dying. The need is so great-it is truly overwhelming and hard to comprehend, let alone explain. Words are inadequate.
I felt overwhelmed and like I was kidding myself into thinking that I could make a difference on this trip or change/save the world. I'd like to tell you that I had some awesome insight or that God spoke to me clearly and explained everything. But that is not what happened. As is more often the case, for me, anyway, God revealed Himself to me bit by bit. And somewhat after the fact. Maybe I'm just a slow learner.
Looking back, I recall some of the American's we met. There was the group that stayed at the guest house with us. They were working on a project to get solar (free energy) cookstoves to the women of Haiti. There is a lot of cancer in Haiti, in part because they cook over open flames and spend hours each day tending a fire. There's also concern about what the cutting down of so many trees for fuel to burn is doing to the environment and concern about food poisoning from improper cooking/handling techniques.
Then there was the lady we met at church and at the airport, who was there to work with pregnant and nursing women and newborns to teach them about breastfeeding. Apparently there is some stigma and superstition associated with breastfeeding among Haitian women. I learned that the rich women in Haiti use formula, and the poor women use flour and water, because it looks like formula, and their babies get sick and die. Ugh.
We met a family at church that were taking their adopted children home from another orphanage. We had one adoptive mom, and an adoptive big sister as part of our group-each adopting two children from Three Angels. Do you know that almost all of the 30+ children currently living at Three Angels have forever families? They are just waiting to go home, while their adoptive families wade through the paperwork and process.
There were the pastors at the church we attended. There were the young Haitian teens who came to the orphanage and led a church service, complete with praise & worship music for the children on Saturday. There was also another large group at the airport when we arrived-all wearing blue tee shirts that said something about God being the God of justice and had images of the island printed on them. There was another group of short term missionaries from the east coast that overlapped with our visit to Mother Theresa's hospital. They visited with the children there, and were on their way to another city to help with the problem of sanitizing the drinking water. There were brochures and information on child sponsorship from a couple of different organizations at the guest house.
Then there's Kaitlyn, a college aged woman who is spending her summer living at Three Angels and ministering to the children, playing with them, holding them.. She's not there because she has to be, but because she wants to be. And Sandy, the orphanage/house manager who also lives at Three Angels and keeps things moving-working with the nannies, and all the staff, organizing the supplies, entertaining the children, teaching the children and so much more. And there are all of the Three Angels board members and volunteers in the United States doing so much for the children through the Orphanage, Three Angels Christian Academy and the Halos Medical Mission.
There were the 23 of us. A painter, a nurse, college students, high school students, postal workers, hair stylists, salesmen, business owners, a counselor and so much more. People with very different careers. People from all walks of life. People from different churches. People from different states. Very different people all united by Jesus Christ. Brought together by God to do His work. To play a part in His plan.
As I was reflecting on the trip and all of these people, God revealed several things to me. First, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. Clearly, I am inadequate for the task at hand, but God is more than enough, more than capable. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Phillipians 4:13) And He cares-He cares deeply for all who are lost and all who suffer. (Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45) I have a part to play in God's adventure and I must do what I can. Jesus said if you love me, obey me.
Second, the Bible tells us that we are the body, Christ is the head (Romans 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Ephesians 4:4; Colasians 2:19). We all have a part to play-and that was clearly demonstrated in the variety of missionaries I met and the variety of projects that are being worked on to improve life in Haiti. What a cool thing, to be able to see the Bible in action-a real life demonstration through a diverse group of people united by their desire to serve Christ by helping and loving others.
And lastly, God brought to mind that story about 2 friends walking along the beach that was just covered in starfish. Every so often, one friend would stop to pick up a starfish and throw it back into the ocean. The other friend was incredulous and asked why are you bothering with that, there are so many, you'll never make a difference. And the friend who was throwing the starfish said simply "It makes a difference to this one" as he tossed another one back.
So during the trip, I took action. I changed one diaper at a time. I held one (sometimes two or three) child(ren) at a time. I gave one a drink of water or one snack. I picked up one crying child at a time. I rocked one child to sleep. One at a time, one need at a time. One bit of obedience at a time. All for God's glory. Did I change the world? Probably not. But maybe, just maybe, I changed the life of a child. Maybe some day that child will change the life of another person and therefore change the world.
I want the children to know that Jesus loves them. No matter what happens that is one thing that is True and cannot be changed. (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). I'm grateful to have had this opportunity. And I'm grateful that someone else obeyed and served, and shared this Good News, this Truth with me. And so now, I do my part and serve willingly, joyfully, gladly. (2 Timothy 1:8)
God willing, (Proverbs 27:1) I will return to Haiti soon to play my part. In the meantime, I will find ways to serve and play my part at home.
~~~~~Thoughtfully composed by Lena Just Lena at 9:28 AM