The Lessons I Learned
- Listening to God’s voice is the best decision you will ever make. God told me, plain and simple, that it was time for me to go. And I had no doubt in my mind that yes, He was right. There was so much peace about it to me. As I went about my daily life, all of the signs pointed towards Haiti, even though I was pretty “meh” about it. But He kept affirming it, and in the end, there isn’t a better place he could have sent me. I could have ignored that small voice in my head- I often do because of fear. But God has much bigger plans than I could ever dream up, and what a plan it was! I have forever left a piece of my heart in Haiti- and it is the greatest gift He could have ever given me.
- Zippro is better than Imodium. No details necessary. Just get Zippro.
- Education is THE BEST gift we have been given here in the States. In Haiti, school isn’t free. And many families can’t afford the cost of education. Therefore, many of the children don’t get to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Here in the States, we are given free public education, and there are some families who can afford private school for their children. We are so gifted! But what makes my heart hurt more than anything is the amount of complaining I have done about school or that other people have done about school. There was no way I could have looked into the eyes of one of the precious children I was holding and say to them, “Eh, I don’t like school. The dress code is dumb, too much homework…” etc.. My entire perspective on my high school education has changed- I now view it as a gift and privilege, rather than a chore or a hoop to jump through. If there is any chance as a reader you feel led to help, please consider checking out this website. OMS is the organization that sent us to Haiti, and I got home and immediately felt led to participate in what SHEEP is doing.
- Prayer is so, so powerful. One of my favorite things that we did throughout the entire trip was prayed. When we went to orphanages we would pray with the children after; we prayed for some of our leaders and for the homeowner on the worksite; we prayed for each other (when I was sick the whole group surrounded me and prayed for me, and it meant so much to me); when we went to Bon Repo we talked with the people in each home and asked how we could pray for them and prayed right on the spot. There were moments when we prayed where I swear to you, Jesus was in the room with us and you could feel it. I think I have always taken prayer for granted and didn’t realize what a gift it was. I’ve been working on getting better about it- actually talking with God rather than just bringing a list of requests to him, and also praying for people on the spot rather than saying the flaky “Oh I’m so sorry that X is happening to you, I’ll be praying for ya!” and then never praying for them. If you have something that needs prayer and you tell me, I’m trying to get in the habit of stopping and praying right there for it- take that as an invitation or as a warning…
- Bananas in Haiti are UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS and there is not a single place in Oregon to get bananas like that.
- We are not necessarily better off here in the States. Upon returning, so many people would say to me, “It’s so sad how little they have. We really take for granted what we have been given.” While this holds a lot of truth, I think we are missing the point… I think when we say that, we are measuring it in material terms rather than in spiritual terms. If we measure it in spiritual terms, are we really that much better off? We live in a country that is murdering unborn babies, complains about their education, filled with gluttony, so overly sexualized, so money and power driven, and is making it that we don’t get to talk about intelligent design or God in public school- and yet we consider ourselves the rich ones? In material terms we for sure are! I have a bigger room than most of the houses that have 8 people living in them. But my faith is nothing compared to the faith of a Haitian. They are so much richer in spiritual terms than I consider myself to be. But this shouldn’t make us feel guilty- you see, we live in a different kind of spiritual warfare. They have to live with the thought of the possibility of not being able to feed their family for the week, we have to forcibly avoid the sexual temptations of social media. They had to have faith during the earthquake that God would take care of them through the aftermath, we have to continue to fight the good fight for the rights of the unborn. And this leads into my next point:
- There is a reason that we are born where we were born. It is so hard for me to swallow that I am going to the college of my dreams while doing the sport I love most, while there are children who will never learn the basic skills I learned. It breaks my heart. But if I sit around and be sad about it, what good am I going to do to anyone? I need to go, get my education, use what I have learned to make a difference in this broken world, and most of all follow the plan the Lord has set out for me. I will never be able to answer the question of why I am here and other people are elsewhere. But God placed me here in Oregon for a reason- and Lord, I can’t wait to find out what you’ve got planned.
- Quiet time with God is so rare, yet so important. One of the times I loved most throughout the week was the time I spent alone with God. I grabbed my journal and wrote or spent time reflecting. I feel like I came home and ditched that alone time with God for a while. But it is so important to spend time away from screens and away from other humans and spend that intimate time with God. If you think about it like a marriage situation, does a wife/husband not talk to one another all day long and then at the end of the day have a 30 second conversation so this way they can check another box on the “Good Spouse” list? No, of course not. That’s not how relationships work in any situation. I’ve been working on trying to find ways even in my busy schedule to find room for alone time with God. Even if it’s just some quiet time on the drive to school and just talking with Him, it’s still time spent with God.
- God is faithful, we must have faith in Him. There are a lot of times in life when things really don’t work out the way we planned. I look immediately to Job- he went through some really rough times. While I was in Haiti, a continuous theme was having faith, because God is faithful. I heard so many personal testimonies when I heard how faithful He was, especially stories from the earthquake. God was faithful to them through the most terrifying times in our life. It has been my hope to return home and have, what my sweet friend Maddi said, “Faith Like a Haitian.” Whatever we are going through, we need to be still and know that God will be there for us.
- My mission is not over just because the trip is. I fell into some very depressed days when I returned home. I came in my room and just looked at my bed, and when I got in it, I was so uncomfortable from the guilt of lying in a bed that was so soft. It took a solid week to get back into a semi-normal state, but I still struggle with guilt or with nostalgia. But this question has helped me: What can I do here in the states that I learned while I was in Haiti? I don’t want to be a missionary just in Haiti, but I want to be a missionary here, too! I want to love people to the absolute maximum capacity, serve people to the best of my ability, give generously and with a heart of giving, spend more time with God, and assist in bringing more people to His kingdom. I’m not done with my work yet, and I know without a doubt that God has a plan for me. I just need to have faith.