Reflections from a Haiti Mission Trip
This past March I had an opportunity to leave my work and school projects to go to Haiti for a week long service trip, with a small group of people mainly from the Baltimore area. I took the opportunity, even though I knew it would be difficult managing my work before and after the trip. I gave it to God, as something told me it would be blessed and life-giving.
Unlike past Haiti service trips (I have gone twice before), this time around I felt like I was able to be truly present (not thinking of work or people back in the U.S.). I was given the grace to remain in the present, which enabled me to connect with people and pray in a much more tangible way. I walked into this experience with the prayer: “Lord, I am here, make of this what you want it to be.” What the Lord showed me blew me away.
Upon arriving at the orphanage, after about 10 hours spent traveling, we were exhausted. We were surprised to not only be greeted by the orphan children and the caretakers, but also by the organization’s founder and some of his friends. It was an unexpected blessing and felt like another confirmation that I was supposed to be there.
That night I remember walking up on to the roof and seeing the vast array of stars in the sky, as there was very little competing light for miles around. It was quiet and I had a sense of the Lord’s presence in that moment. My mind drifted to the complexity and the beauty of the galaxies visible from this humble place, and the Lord whispered to my heart that he had a plan for me — just as he had planned every star, every galaxy and comet, and even as he had planned the earth. The plan would be meaningful, but also intricate and beautiful, challenging, yet joyful. I found peace in that moment knowing that I didn’t have to be in control, that I wasn’t in control, and that everything would turn out good, as God intended it.
Through-out the rest of the trip, the Lord presented opportunities for me to connect with people in seemingly small ways, but ways that were monumental for my heart. For example, during some of our down time, I was drawn to interact with a girl, with multiple disabilities, who was confined to a wheelchair. Her name is Marguerite, and no one seems to know what is wrong with her; she has almost no facial expressions, is unable to talk, and generally just sucks on her fingers and makes random noises throughout the day. As I started talking to her, I saw her eyes light up at different times; I clapped my hands a few times to capture her attention, and to my surprise she mimicked my actions by taking her fingers out of her mouth and clapping her hands. I was able to do this multiple times before we had to leave for one of our service projects. Another encounter I had was on the truck ride back from an ocean trip. We had been waved down by some women carrying large baskets, and we had offered them a ride back to the next town. As we drove along, I was touched by the warm smiles and gentle bantering between them. When one of their baskets started to fall over, I helped them pick up the items. Even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I feel like they were my friends. The Lord showed me my heart, by the way he made it come alive through these small interactions. He showed me what it means to have a heart that is fully alive. The Lord’s gentleness and patience with me, as made apparent through these various encounters, had a great impact on me. The Lord’s generosity and his kindness quieted anxious thoughts and brought me greater hope.
On a more personal level, I felt an affirmation of my existence and my heart in a way that I had never felt before. For the first time in a long time, I was able to look at my heart with honesty and clarity, with a sense of soberness, as I recognized that God could see it all anyway. I saw the wounds in my heart, the stubborn pride, as well as the places where I had given up hope, and the places that I was afraid to go because it hurt too much to go there. The Lord told me that he loved my heart, even with the sin and pride that had seemed to darken it, and especially because of my sin, that he had died on the cross to lay claim on my heart. My heart had a prior claim, and it was Jesus Christ.
I walk away from this trip with a deeper and stronger sense of identity and value for myself, my heart, and my future. I know that whatever comes, I will not be overcome because the Lord is with me. I know that the Lords sees me, and that he loves me even in my darkest places; he loves me in a deeper and more profound way than anyone else could ever love me. I walk away with a sense that my heart has found a trustworthy friend, someone who will never forsake me, and someone who is devoted enough to my heart to die on a cross for it.