Haiti: What I Learned

Haiti: What I Learned ~ Our Cozy Den

It’s been hard to sort out my thoughts surrounding this trip. I experienced so many emotions, both extremely joyous as well as completely heartbroken.

 

Before I dive into all that, I want to tell you a little about our family’s personal situation, and our “plan” for the next few years. {I say plan very loosely, as we know that God has ultimate control over it all, and we are open to any changes He makes!}

My husband Byron has been in the military for 12 years. A few years ago, he shared a desire to enter a program called the Chaplain Candidacy Program. Through this program, he left full time active duty service to go to seminary. (He is still a reservist during this time.) Upon graduation in August of 2017, he will need to complete 2 years of full time pastoral work before he can reenter active duty as a Chaplain.

Right now, we are in the process of trying to decide what we want to do for those two years. While I know we have other options in front of us, the two main choices between which we are wavering are:

A) become the pastor at a church somewhere

or

B) move overseas as full time missionaries for 2 years

I have no idea which option sounds better. I love the idea of moving overseas — we are already pretty frugal and we homeschool and I speak a few foreign languages. But at the same time, it would be extremely difficult, and possibly even dangerous.

On the other hand, becoming a pastor at a regular old American church would give us something we haven’t seen in a while: stable paychecks. Not that I would necessarily choose that option for the money, but the last several years have been really hard, and getting a job that would actually pay money instead of costing us money is tempting. {Missionaries have to either raise their own funding or pay it out of pocket.}

 

So one of the things I was hoping to learn from this trip was God’s will for us — and whether that included mission work on a more permanent basis.

 

When I first arrived in Haiti, pretty quickly I felt like the weak link in the chain of our team. If there was an award for “most handicaps”, I would have won it.

I get insane motion sickness. 

I have a crazy specific and limited diet. 

I am deathly afraid of dogs, and have panic attacks near them. 

I am hard of hearing, making it difficult to follow a tour guide. 

It didn’t take long of beating myself up about all this before God reminded me of something vital. He doesn’t need perfect people. He just needs willing people.  In fact, the Bible is riddled with people who God used right in the midst of their imperfections.

Exhibit A:

Haiti: What I Learned ~ Our Cozy Den

This realization gave me the confidence to see what strengths I do have to offer in the mission field.

I’m creative and full of ideas and enthusiasm. 

I’m organized and good at managing projects big and small. 

I love to talk to people, and am comfortable communicating in other languages. 

I used to be in the Army myself, so I’m not afraid of hard work or physical labor. 

Most importantly, I love Jesus. 

 

It’s hard to narrow down the biggest lessons I learned during my time there, but I did learn these things that I wanted to share:

  • Missionaries are some of the most humble and wonderful people I’ve ever met. I have so much to learn from them.
  • The Haitians comprise one of the happiest societies I have ever seen. Even in the midst of dire poverty, they were overjoyed and smiling. It was incredible to see. It’s so hard to even describe in words. But they truly emulate the idea that contentment comes from within.
  • I learned that Haiti is not the place for me. While I really did love my time there, I cried more than once from my dietary options (which were often nothing). My dietary restrictions just don’t work in that country: all the things they eat I can’t have, and all the things I can eat they don’t have.
  • I only took one year of French in high school, but my knowledge of other romance languages gave me a great basis for conversing in a broken mixture of French-Creole. I could also often understand pieces of conversations, and read signage. I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to survive in a country that does not speak English!
  • I want my children to experience life outside the U.S. They did live in Germany for 3 years, but that was on a U.S. military base. They got to see a lot of a foreign culture, but with the security of comforts from home and an English-speaking mini-society. Being missionaries would expand their world to an exponentially greater degree.
  • “Poverty” in America has nothing on poverty in third world countries.
  • Even though they are poor, the Haitians are kind, generous, beautiful, funny, warm, engaging, and wonderful people. They are not defined by their circumstances! So many Americans {in my opinion} play the Blame Game, hoisting their negativity on the world because of the ways the world has “wronged” them. We have a lot to learn from the Haitians!

 

I still don’t know what we will do when Byron graduates from school. Maybe that’s the mission field, maybe it’s not. But I do know that the lessons I learned in Haiti will go with me wherever God puts us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *