October 10th marked the one year anniversary of our mission team moving to Haiti and beginning mission here at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization! I can’t believe it has been a year, but I am blessed and encouraged by all that God has done in these past twelve months. I have been reflecting a lot on the past year and the things that God has been opening up and changing in my heart.
When we first realized that God was opening the doors for Life Teen Missions to come to Haiti, my first response was fear.
Fear of helping to begin a new mission where there were a lot of questions and unknowns.
Fear of my own weaknesses and incapabilities.
Fear of failing and letting down many people in Haiti and America.
I chose to come here despite those fears, knowing that God was calling me and I could not say no. Many of those fears continued well into our mission. Some even grew and multiplied.
Fear of speaking a language that I am not fluent in.
Fear that something could go wrong in bringing mission groups to Haiti.
Fear of my own weaknesses and faults being too much for the mission and community to handle.
Fear of how we saw the enemy here in Haiti and fear that maybe our God wasn’t big enough to protect me.
Fear of feeling alone.
As often seems to happen in life, many of my fears were realized.
In the first month of our mission here, we experienced a hurricane during which we lost running water. The Lord took care of us and we came out completely unscathed, with the added knowledge of where every leak was in each roof, and the added experience of taking bucket showers with rainwater.
I have said many things wrong in Haitian Creole. Sometimes I sound like a child. This is humbling. Many people have laughed at me for things that I have said. Thankfully, most of the time it is good-natured laughing. On the occasion that people remember and repeat to me the silly or wrong things that I say, it is always someone that I trust and love and can laugh with at my own mistakes.
I have failed over and over and over again at loving my community members. God has used this trial to help me understand mercy as I experience the mercy of God and the mercy of my brothers and sisters each time they continue to love and accept and encourage me despite all of my faults.
I have found that I really am weak and incapable, but that is not a victory of the enemy. That is a victory of the Lord. I did not come to be a missionary in Haiti because I am brave or holy or capable. I came because I am weak and small and because I serve a God who for some crazy reason wants to use the little ones of this world. I have accomplished nothing in this past year, but somehow God has accomplished many great things, and I have gotten to be a part of His mission.
Mission groups came. Tires popped. Our truck broke down. Delays on finishing the truck that we bought caused us to have to borrow and rent other vehicles. Plans changed often and God rocked us, because HEARTS were changed as well. Watching teenagers, parents, young adults, core members, and youth ministers work together, love together, and minister together was beautiful. Their eagerness to use their few Creole words was inspiring to me. Their love for the poor not as a category of people, but as their brothers and sisters in Christ, was beautiful and encouraging to me. Their willingness to be hot, sweaty, tired, and dirty for the Gospel, with joyful hearts, brought joy and new life to my own heart, over and over and over again.
I have seen the enemy try to rear his ugly head in Haiti through voodoo, at prayer meetings, and in our mission, but I have seen our mighty God conquer over and over and over, because the victory is ALREADY His. Christ has risen from the dead.
I have felt alone at times, but more often that not, I have felt loved and blessed and encouraged by my community here and by the teens here, despite the language barrier. I have felt blessed and encouraged by every person who is praying for us, every person that has visited, every person that has been cheering us on, every youth group that has raised money for us, and the many people and groups of people who want to be a part of what God is doing here in Haiti.
Through all of these experiences, I have realized that fear is useless. It does not help me plan for anything. It does not make me smarter or more prepared. It is a weed that the enemy plants in my heart to choke out the glory that God wants to accomplish. Fear is useless. I will not let it dictate my life. I will not let it creep in with all of its questioning and doubt.
I will choose to trust in a God who is bigger than my fear, whose love conquers my fear, and who will never leave me alone.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20