Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three lessons on Haiti -- A reflection by Advent youth . . . led by Claire G!

Clearly, we all had experiences we’ll never forget in Grand Goave. We met some of the most amazing and humbling people, and everyone there was always so eager to say Bonjour or Bonsoi to all of us. Haiti was an amazing experience, but what was even more amazing was watching all of the girls I went with use their gifts and talents and sometimes discover abilities and passions they never knew they had in them. Some of us might have even found our callings while we were there.

Haiti was my first mission trip out of the country, and even out of my little corner of the United States, and it was perhaps one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had or will ever have. We came to Haiti to help its inhabitants, but ultimately the people of Haiti taught us a much more important series of lessons that I have tried to keep on my mind and in my heart as a part of my time in Haiti.

Lesson one: The gift of knowing God is the best gift you can give a person. 

If you don't know much about the country of Haiti or its economic standing, especially after the earthquake of 2010, I'll give you a brief history lesson that we were taught upon arriving. When Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti and the Dominican in December 1492, he nicknamed it the Pearl of the Antilles, and his reason behind such a nickname was clear. However, since then, Haiti has used up nearly all the resources it has, and it has since been declared a fifth world country, meaning that Haiti is not expected to ever be able to rise out of its economic turmoil. Most of the men and women we worked with had next to nothing, and nothing at all to give, and yet they were the most giving people I have ever met. The two-bedroom house we built that week was for a young man we met named Alain and his six siblings and his mother and father, and each day Alain was on the job site helping amateurs like us complete all the work that needed to be done, but more so, they taught us about God. All the people of Haiti really have to give is their knowledge and love of God, but they give it so freely. From the moment we stepped foot on the job site, they were teaching us everything they'd learned in church. They recounted Bible stories and asked us why we loved Jesus all week, and really made us reflect on our lives throughout our time spent with them.

Throughout the week I kept thinking of my favorite verse, one I learned in school once: John 13:35 says "By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another." I hope that our group left more behind in Haiti than the supplies we brought in extra suitcases and the home we helped build. I hope we showed this place and its people the love of God, because that is what sticks with people, and that is how God is truly revealed through us as his servants.


Lesson two: Allow God to park your heart somewhere. 

Chris, our group’s leader for the week, told us this before we left Haiti, and it has stuck with me ever since: God parks everyone’s heart somewhere. Of course, to assume that going somewhere like Haiti to serve is the only way to take a big risk for God would give this message an ineluctable flaw. It is necessary, as Chris told us, to recognize that God does not call everyone to Haiti, nor does he call everyone away at all. Because sometimes, the riskier thing to do for God is to stay exactly where you are and keep doing what you’re doing for the time being. Sometimes God calls us to go, and sometimes he calls us to simply allow our feet to sink in a while and stick with our current involvements.


Ecclesiastes 11:6 says “Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow—perhaps it all will.”

I’m learning that sometimes it’s actually more God-honoring to stay. Deal with an uncomfortable family situation, help people in need in our own community. Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t a need in Haiti, where we spent our summer, or any other place. For many people, this is a calling. We were blessed enough to be called to Haiti this summer and, speaking for myself,  had I not gone, I would not have grown so much in my faith and learned so much about my passions as I know now.

However, a problem arises when we are made to feel lesser for opening our eyes to how God might be wanting to use us right where we are, embracing the uncomfortable in our midst. Maybe God wants to use you as a change-agent at work or in the church, as the glue in your neighborhood, as the light in your social circles and family.

So, if God is telling you to drop everything for the big risks, don’t ignore it. Our trip to Grand Goave, Haiti taught me more in a week than I have learned in all my math classes and history classes over the years combined. It is, however, to say that your passions and your calling, though perhaps not as glorified as some of these major “risks for God” is no lesser in stature. Read scripture, pray, and learn where God wants you to be. 

Lesson three: Don't let yourself conform to culture. 

Haiti showed us a culture and a lifestyle that I have never known before, and in leaving Haiti, we were reminded that there would be temptation to forget all the little life lessons that we learned that summer as we slipped back into our regular routine and the culture that we’re blessed enough to know in our world. We were read the verse Romans 12:2, which says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will." We were shocked when we heard this verse that this could have been written in Jesus's time, because it is so fitting for right now. Haiti taught us so much and made us better people, and I also believe that for many of us, it opened our eyes to the direction God is pointing us in for the rest of our lives.

I don't yet know whether that place that God has parked my heart is in a place like Haiti or Nashville or somewhere entirely different, but I do know that the Lord has placed in me and all of these girls a passion for serving others. Haiti, for us, has a face now. A face of love and compassion of the men who worked alongside us and of the sweet children to whom we taught Bible lessons, and a face of the sense of community we shared with everyone there. I think it’s safe to say that God has parked a little piece of each of us in Haiti.
Claire G

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