My brother is on his way home from his first trip to Haiti as we speak. So, I decided it’s time to try to put into words my love for missions. And my love for Haiti specifically. It’s been hard for me to think of human suffering as “real” for all my life. I learned about the Holocaust and slavery in school, but it always felt like a movie. Distant people, long ago. A story. It wasn’t until I stepped into the country of Haiti that my soul was faced with suffering. And driving into Port au Prince, my heart was ripped in two. People living like animals, and absolutely everything covered with filth. I remember my first emotion: rage. I was angry at God. HOW could I live comfortably while these sweet souls knew only hunger and need? WHY was I chosen to live a life of excess? and WHAT made me any more deserving? The next emotion that rocked me was pain. The scenes scrolled by the window, and my heart ached for each and every one of them. It takes a while to move past those first two feelings. To sort things out with you and God. That takes time. I began praying for answers, and searching for understanding.
It wasn’t until the next morning, as I was walking through the tiny village of Neply, that I began to see God’s hand in this broken place. When you take away all the noise, when you simply living down to the very essentials, that’s when God’s voice gets louder. Which, I think, is how God intended it to be all along. These people don’t have a grocery store, so they pray to God when they need nutrition to survive. They don’t have doctors, so they pray for healing. Each need is hard to meet, and hope is a part of every day life. Here in the United States, I sometimes forget to come to God until I’m backed into a corner. Until I actually NEED something. Another thing I noticed immediately was the stars. They were like nothing I had ever seen before, and I never knew they existed until that moment. Billions more than I had ever laid eyes on, like sand dusted across the sky. When I stood on top of the building I was sleeping in and looked up, I felt smaller than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I caught a glimpse of the vastness of this universe. I thought it would make me feel like I could never make a difference in Haiti, or anywhere really. Instead, I felt empowered. Like I had to come here to set myself aside.
In the less of me it is you. Increasing as I fade away, your Light for all the world to see.
Those words rang true in my soul, and I knew that I would spend the rest of my life trying to improve this world, one beating heart at a time. The next thing I saw took me a long time to understand. Joy. I saw joy in a place that, in my mind, should have been void of all positive emotion. I could not understand how these people could be content, even happy, in conditions such as these. But, I think all of us who live in excess should experience what it is to live simply. These people have joy because they choose too. They wake up when the sun comes up, and go to sleep when it goes down. They don’t have social media, so they have never experienced what it is to be constantly connected. Too connected. They know joy because they choose to. And it makes them so beautiful. I have never seen more contagious smiles in all of my life, and human touch warms hearts. So where was God in Haiti? More present than I could have fathomed in my first minutes there. He was in each heart. Holding each person in his arms. Whispering love over each of his Beloved children. Having possessions doesn’t mean God loves you more. Those are the ways of the world. The Lord pursues the heart.
Many ask me why I chose to go to another country. “There is suffering right here,” they tell me. And that is absolutely the truth. But I can’t explain why God puts journeys on people’s hearts. I just know that when I decided to go to Haiti for the first time, I knew it was God’s hand who placed me there. Right where I was needed, to love on the exact people he knew needed it. And trust me, he knew I needed it too. He chose to use me when I couldn’t have felt more undeserving. In the height of my selfishness. When I thought Jesus only wanted the pure of heart to work towards his goals. But I AM pure of heart. As my friend Wiley told me, Jesus is my purity. Jesus uses those that are undeserving, the ones that are broken. Putting each piece of me back together as he used me to put the pieces of Haiti back together. And we’re all one big puzzle, forming quite a Masterpiece.