Earlier this year, I heard about a missions opportunity that had never been done at Blue Ridge before. It was a “family trip” to Haiti over Thanksgiving. As I sat there listening, I could feel my heart beat faster and a tiny voice say, “Would you consider this?”
My immediate response was, “But, I’m not going to be a ‘family’ if I go.”
See, this year was my second year without my children at Thanksgiving, having gone through a separation and divorce over the past two years. My holidays now meant splitting time with my children between two homes and two schedules. “On” years and “Off” years. But as I sat there and argued with God about why I shouldn’t go, I could feel the pull in my heart grow stronger. Maybe this was exactly what I needed. Something outside the norm, outside myself, and outside my first-world limitations that I sometimes put on God.
So, after praying about it, I said yes. I said yes to going out of the country for the very first time on a mission trip. I said yes to abandoning holiday traditions to embrace whatever God had for me in a third-world country. And I said yes to what seemed like a daunting task of raising support.
But, even in that, God blew me away. Through simply posting my story on social media, sharing via word of mouth, and a few small fundraisers, my trip was fully funded within four weeks. That’s it! God had met my need. In fact, He continued to bring people to me that wanted to give even though my portion of the trip had already been paid in full. By the time we left for Haiti, I’d been blessed to be able to contribute extra funds to help another person meet their goal.
During a team meeting, we were sharing our “why’s” for saying yes to the trip. When it was my turn to share, I briefly explained my new normal as a single mom of three kids, the losses that I’d experienced in the past few years, and the, frankly, scary moments and lies that the enemy has tried to whisper to me in the process. But, the biggest thing that God had been asking me to claim for 2018 was a simple phrase—“fear is a liar.” A dear friend had donated bracelets with that phrase as a part of my fundraising, and I was able to pass one out to each member of our team. I didn’t realize it when I shared, but other members of the group were wrestling with tremendous fears. It seemed that God was threading us together as a team.
Financial fear gripped many of the team the closer we got to departure. There were 23 of us going and we were thousands of dollars short of being fully funded. Our trip leaders kept encouraging us not to give up faith that God was more than capable of meeting our need. The Sunday before we left, we met to pray. We still had $7,000 left to raise with less than a week to go before departure. Our team leader prayed and said, “Even now, would You just make a way for that money to be covered so that we won’t have to worry about it this week?” Simple, straightforward, and full of faith that God could do it. The next day we received a text stating that someone had completely paid off the balance plus some!! Isn’t God amazing? He provided in exactly the right way at exactly the right moment.
This theme that continued throughout our trip. When we arrived in Haiti, we were met with major unrest and rioting and were taken straight to the Mission of Hope compound where we ended up being on a “lockdown” of sorts for most of the week due to safety concerns. To say that we were disappointed was an understatement. But God had a bigger plan. We ended up being able to fulfill some needs on campus that otherwise don’t get attended to during normal trips. Collectively, painted several facilities including the guest house, kitchen, and intern apartment. We held sports camps for the orphans on campus, organized the clinic, and packed medicine packets to be distributed to villagers in need. We landscaped overgrown areas and even built a fire pit area for the staff.
A highlight for our team was packing meals to be distributed via Convoy of Hope. This partnering organization distributes the contents for entire family units to have six days worth of meals. Our team helped pack nearly 12,000 bags—which meant that over 400,000 individual mouths would be fed as a result. This was also a service to the Haitian workers that couldn’t get on campus to do that job due to the unrest. They would have fallen behind had we not been “stuck” on campus for the week and able to help.
Thanksgiving morning, we prayed that we would be open to whatever it was that God had for us that day, fully expecting another day on campus. Several prayed that if there was ANY way we could get out to the villages…would God please open that door? Minutes later, we were informed that we’d been cleared to go out to a nearby village and that we’d be able to spend the day meeting the local people. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!
We were able to spend the remaining days of our trip going into villages, meeting Haitians and learning more about their culture, their needs, and their faith journeys. As the beautiful Haitian people welcomed us into their homes and offered us the best of everything they had, my heart simultaneously broke and filled with hope. Our large team of adults and children walked into a different culture and watched God meet us in powerful ways. We held sick babies, did laundry with women in courtyards, danced and played with children, laughed and sang, and ultimately saw several people accept Jesus.
God expanded our vision of what it meant to live purposefully and met us in our weakness to give strength for the moment. It sounds cliché, but I left a piece of my heart in Haiti that week. I came home with a renewed vision for what sacrifice, thanksgiving, and servant leadership look like. I also came home with a burning desire to not return complacent.
I don’t want to be the same.
I’m not the same.
And, I can’t wait to see what that translates into as God leads in the future.
Here am I, send me.