3 ½ years has come down to 2 short weeks.
That’s the amount of time I spent in Haiti the first time I ever came.
2 weeks left in this beautiful country. 2 weeks left with some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
I just sent a bag full of some of my belongings home with a Lexington group.
My shelves are getting barer.
My checklist is getting shorter.
Yet it still has yet to hit me that this chapter of my life is coming to a close.
I’ve sat down to write this blog multiple times and I just couldn’t. I’m already crying and it’s only the first few sentences. Writing these words just make it more real and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet.
So if it’s so hard for me to leave Haiti, then why am I? It’s not because I want to be home to experience the greatness that this season of UK basketball will bring…even though that does make for a pretty good argument. I’m not getting married nor is there a boy I’m going home for… no matter how many Haitians think/hope that’s the reason. You would’ve thought I had escaped all the people trying to marry me off once I left Kentucky, apparently that wasn’t the case. There are several reasons that play into why I’m heading back to the states in a couple of weeks, but the only one that truly matters is that God has given me complete peace that this season in my life is ending as he is preparing me for something new… and that is enough for me.
However, I didn’t know it was going to be this difficult.
I was listening to Taylor Swift while I was riding on the back of a moto to a friend’s house last Friday. State of Grace came on, even though it’s a song about a new relationship and at one time when I listened to it there was probably some boy I was thinking about, this time it made me think of Haiti. She sings, “And I never saw you coming and I’ll never be the same. This is a state of grace, this is the worthwhile fight.”
I was riding on the dirt road right next to the ocean as the dust from all the passing vehicles was making me look like I had an awesome tan and as I listened to those words my heart felt so full of joy yet so incredibly empty as the same time.
Right after State of Grace Taylor’s “Today Was A Fairytale Came On”. Another song about a boy and once again I’m sure at one time in my life I listened to that song and thought about another boy, but not today.
This time I just laughed inside as I continued to ride down this road that had become so familiar to me.
I was the little girl that loved fairytales and loved watching the prince fall in love with the princess. To me a fairytale ending was when the girl found her soul mate. As cliché as it sounds my “fairytale” (which in my mind is something that feels too good to be true) wasn’t me falling in love with a boy, but instead I fell in love with a whole country. I laughed inside, because as I listened to that song it was as if God whispered, “see, I told you to just trust me.”
Haiti has been a complete state of grace. I’ve learned more about myself during my time in Haiti then I did in the 22 years before. It was certainly a fight. There were SO many days I wanted to go back to the states, because it was just too hard. However, God continued to give me the strength to persevere and the fight was completely worthwhile. I never imagined that this is where I would be after college, but I am so thankful for the lessons I’ve been taught, the painful refinement of my heart, the friends I’ve made, and the things God has allowed my eyes to be open too. “I’ll never be the same” are perfect words to describe my time here.
Wow. How incredibly blessed I am. I have thought that so many times as I walked from one friends house to another’s in the fresh mud.
I use to think that I was blessed, because I never grew up having to walk through mud in the rain. I was blessed, because I never had to truck down a mountain to get water and then turn around and truck back up the same mountain so that I could bathe. I use to think about how thankful I was that I got to have a break from the difficulties of living in a third world country and that for two months out of the year I got to experience the comforts of the states. However, over time I’ve realized that those things aren’t why I have been blessed.
We have this saying at my home church, I guess it’s more of a mission statement, either way what it states has always stuck with me. It’s “helping people fully become who God has created them to be.” I LOVE that. What a beautiful way to explain what missions should look like. Instead of trying to Americanize a country/culture, walk alongside it’s people as you both grow to understand one another and as you become friends helping each other grow and use the gifts and passions he’s given you to become who he created you to be. As you come to understand those gifts and passion you can then allow Him to use you to impact a place.
God has allowed me to be a part of a community where I have gotten to see people shine as the embraced who God created them to be. I got to see them gain confidence in who He said they were. I got to pour into others and those same people poured into me. They taught me so many valuable lessons just from how they did day-to-day life.
I began to realize this is why I have been blessed.
I’m blessed, because of the people that I’ve gotten to do life with here in Haiti for the past 3 ½ years.
Whenever you are getting ready to leave a place your eyes seem to be opened in a different way, or at least mine have. I started seeing just how beautifully these people that I encountered on a daily basis shined.
I sat in one of my mom’s houses the other day and watched what an incredible mother she was. We sat in her one bedroom house that is the size of my small bedroom in the states as her children sang praises and recited bible verses. She watched them so proudly with one of the biggest smiles on her face. I told her what an incredible mother she was and how I hoped to be half the mom she is someday. I just know her children are going to do great things in Haiti, because of the way she has poured into them and loved on them.
I sat in another mom’s house as her daughter read the verses for our study that day, because the mom couldn’t read. As I asked questions about the verses her 16-year-old daughter blew me away in the way she answered. I explained to their family that just because I wasn’t here anymore didn’t mean a thing. That God was here before I came and that He would remain after I leave. That he wanted to use them to be a light in their community. That he was already using them as a light. So many families in Haiti don’t have a good father figure and this family does. The way the mom has taught her children who Christ is shines through the way they live. I’ve learned so much by watching them live life so full of joy as a family of 8 in a room made for 2.
I sat in a funeral for one of my mom’s that lost her father last week and I cried as I watched the other moms from the sewing program show up and be there for her. I guess I had felt like I was letting them down for so long by leaving. I would think who is going to fight for them. That day I realized that they will still fight for each other and they will still be there for one another.
God revealed several verses to me at the beginning of this year in Isaiah and I have clung to them constantly as I knew change was coming.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, the will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames with not set you ablaze…
Since you are precious and honored in MY sight, and because I LOVE YOU.
Forget the former things; DO NOT dwell on the past. See, I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I AM making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
– Isaiah 43:1-2, 4, 18-19
I’ve shared these verses with my moms and have prayed them over them. I pray that they realize that anything good that they saw in me was Christ. I pray that they continue to cling to Him and shine Him through all that they are. I pray that they know how loved they are and how precious they are to him and to so many.
I learned a long time ago to be thankful for the time that God gives us with certain people; because there are so many times in life it’s only for a season. How awesome is it that God shares those people with us though. Just think we could have never had a chance to experience all that we did if he had never “loaned” them to us.
One of the ways I have been so blown away by the Haitians is in the words that they sing when they are praising Jesus.
I finally got them to translate one of the songs they always sing and I love the meaning behind it.
Mwen gen rezon pa mwen
Ou gen rezon pa ou
Nou tout gen rezon pa nou,
Pou nou di Bondye mesi,
Si Jodia mwen la tou jou se paske Bondye gran
Mwen pa ka gade sou moun poum pa di Bondye mesi
I have a reason for me
You have a reason for you
Everyone has a reason to tell God thank you
If today I’m still here, because God is big
I can’t see why people can’t tell God thank you.
Thank you Lord for broken hearts.
Thank you Lord for changed plans.
Thank you Lord for new perspectives.
Thank you Lord for new friends.
Thank you Lord for difficulties.
Thank you Lord for lessons.
Thank you Lord for Haiti.
I hope this isn’t goodbye forever. It’s going to be a difficult transition, but I’m excited to see what is next.
As one of the kitchen ladies always says when I ask her how she is, “avek Jezi.” Which translates to “with Jesus” and basically means she is good because Jesus is with her.
So how am I doing with all this?!?