It’s day 12 of Mission Haiti, and I’m running out of clean underwear. It’s ok though because we’re leaving to go home now, right? Nope, we bought one-way tickets to come here! Eleven days is probably the longest I’ve ever been on a foreign mission. I usually don’t have to worry about keeping clothes clean and making shampoo and toothpaste last because I usually leave after a week or so and just leave everything as donations. So right about now, it’s sinking in that this is going to be a lot different than any experience I’ve had before.
Even though I’ve experienced many of these living conditions in the past, I guess what’s making it harder is the fact that this time is a little more permanent (and a baby is involved). This is going to be completely different than your average mission trip. On short-term missions, everything is pretty much figured out for you once you get to where you are going. However, we are part of getting this new Life Teen mission base started, so there are many things to be done in order to make this place livable and for us to be able to welcome guests and organize events.
The electricity is only on for about 5 hours per day, which means no consistent refrigeration, poor lighting in the early mornings and evenings, and often showering and using the bathroom in the dark. Nathaniel wasn’t able to sleep because he was so hot and we couldn’t use the fans without electricity. We were getting very little sleep until recently, because the only way to get him to stop crying at night was to put him in our bed, which is a full size and difficult to sleep in with a baby considering we’re not very small people. For now, we are hand washing the baby’s cloth diapers, as we are waiting to get a washing machine and solar panels.
We have to purify all of the water we use to drink, brush our teeth with, clean Nathaniel’s bottles with, and bathe him in. After a few days of being here, a water pipe broke in the town and we had no running water for 3 days. Mosquitoes bite the baby and I most of the day. Somehow, they pretty much leave Paul alone. Before I got pregnant with Nathaniel, I could eat and drink almost anything on foreign mission, even the things I was told not to, and not be affected at all. This time around, my stomach hasn’t been too happy with what I’ve been eating. Not to mention, my postpartum hormones are making it feel like it’s 120 degrees here at all hours of the day.
If you asked me what I thought within the first few days of being here, I probably would’ve said I’m not sure how long I could handle this. But, I offered up my suffering and asked God to change my outlook. This experience will help me to be one with our Haitian brothers and sisters by living only a fragment of what they live from day to day. I am going to be stretched and made uncomfortable quite a lot over the next few years, but it will all be worth it. Plus, because this is the Lord’s will, I know He will make a way.
Pray for us: that we grow stronger in our dependence and trust in the Lord, and that we may lovingly and humbly offer up our little sufferings for the people of Haiti. Also, pray that we will find comfort in the example of the missionary family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.