Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here we go...

I am beginning to type this post while on my flight to Haiti. During the first part of the flight I watched a movie and drank a small cup of coke zero then coffee. Now, I feel more relaxed and collected. Upon boarding the plane I began panicking. I called Mary Katherine, Ashli, my brother, my mom, my sister, and my grandparents before the plane took off. Hearing their voices brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I knew it would be the last time I spoke to them for a little while.
No doubt came to mind, just fear and anxiety about the upcoming year. I have been conversing with God on the plane- telling Him of my fears, asking Him to calm me, making sure He knows what is happening (like He didn’t already know I was flying to Haiti), and just telling Him all of the thoughts that were running through my mind. It is amazing how He works. The movie I watched, Hop, distracted me, the coke was very cold and tasted excellent, and the coffee was soothing. Here is another sweet gift from God… the gentleman next to me just stood up. I thought he was trying to get out and go to the restroom so I scooted my legs into the aisle creating a semi-walkway for him. When I faced the aisle, however, a sweet baby with a pink headband was being handed to him. He sat down with her on his lap and she looked at me with her big eyes and smiled. I obviously had to smile back and couldn’t resist touching her little arm. He told me the baby was his first child and she is 6 months old. My heart was instantly joyful. I have missed my niece, Eden Grace, so much since I said bye to her yesterday. On my flight today, each time I heard a small baby cry, my heart sank because it made me think of Eden Grace- how much I already miss her, how bad I want to hold her, how much of her life I will miss out on, and how big she will be the next time I see her. To have this sweet bouncing and giggling child next to me now is special.
We are going to land in the next 30 minutes. I will continue this post later this evening or tomorrow once I have safely reached the orphanage. At this point, my heart is racing for many reasons (mainly because I know am about to have to juggle 5 huge/heavy suitcases). I know the Lord will provide assistance with them. He will provide assistance with my luggage. He will provide me with help. He will. He will. He will. In the meantime, I know people are praying for me, I know my mom is following my plane to see when it lands, and I know that God has gone before me. I also know I cannot wait to see my kiddos at OLTCH.

This morning I woke up to the sweet, yet very loud, sound of little boys singing, stomping, yelling, fighting, and playing in the room next to me. The floors are made of plywood so the sounds coming from their room were even louder. “Here we go,” was my first thankful thought as I pulled out my Bible and read.
All of my bags made it to the airport yesterday and though many Haitians were fighting over who was going to help me and who was going to get paid after their job was done, I was simply grateful for such spirited assistance. A man named Michel picked me up from the airport, and he taught me Creole as we drove to the orphanage. Once I arrived to OLTCH, I was greeted by many happy faces. There are several couples here right now spending time with the children they are planning to adopt. Many of the babies have grown and changed so much since I last saw them in June, and several of the kids have matured a decent amount since June as well. It is good to be back.
Today the clouds have been somewhat protecting us from the scorching sun. Though we are grateful for the coverage, the heat is still very present and the day is very long. My body is constantly craving water and the climate here makes my body feel heavy. It takes such effort to simply walk.
All day I have been working on my classroom. The kids are so excited to see all the new materials people have donated for them to use, but I tell them they will be able to touch it and use it very soon. They will also know that many people from the states love them and donated these items so they can learn and "become..."
Jasmine is so happy to have me here. “Now I have someone to pull my hair out with! We can go bald together!” she said. I am just happy to be able to serve her and the others. One lady here at the orphanage for the week asked me how I am able to commit to live here and stay for a whole year. I just looked at her in a confused yet totally typical manner. What I wanted to say was, “Why are you even here? What God do you serve? What a selfish mindset,” but I refrained. Many people cannot understand and have told me they could NEVER do what I am doing. Others have told me they can’t come down and visit Haiti this year or go on a "mission trip" because they can’t afford it. These particular people spend all of their money on their extremely nice house/car note. Why not downsize then???
Do we really think that feeding Jesus’ sheep is an option? Caring for the least of these should only be done if WE are comfortable and in our comfort zones? Do we honestly believe we can stand before God and say, “Well, I know your Word told me to care for the least of these, serve the orphans and widows, and make disciples of all nations but…
-I had a house note to pay.
-I had to wash my car and take care of it because I paid a lot of money for it.
-I have a family to care for.
-You didn’t give me a neon sign that said I should go!!
-I prayed and prayed and prayed about serving, but I never received a clear 
 answer from You.
-It’s just not what I was made to do.
-I would miss my family.
-I am too young or too old.
-My job.
-I’ve been on short-term mission trips before and that is enough.
-(insert any other excuse we’ve heard or made ourselves)”

I know what I am typing sounds judgmental and for many people there
are grey areas when it comes to serving- therefore the statements I’ve made above are wrong. For those who disagree with me, I want to challenge you to spend some time with the Lord and in the Bible. Read it, lay yourself and your entire being before the Lord and ask for the Holy Spirit to quiet you. Pray for all distractions and voices to be removed. Put aside any preconceived ideas and beliefs. Seek Him and His heart for His people. Tell Him you want to be a part of HIS plan that was set in motion before the beginning of time. This may not be a onetime action to be done for your eyes to be opened, but may need to be and, in reality, probably should be consistently carried out.

Take a look around you. There is so much need.

            Trust me, I understand the desire to feed myself and cater to my desires. My dreams. My cravings.  But when I gave my life to the Lord and began the process of sanctification, He instilled in me a desire for more in this life- a desire to bring others to Him and share His name. The more I study and read His Word, it is so clear. I do not serve that I may boast about all I have done and show my “trophies” and... blah blah blah. I do it because that is what a child of God is to do. There is no other option. Why waste my life serving myself? Why try and justify serving myself as long as I serve others everynow and then, or justify serving in a way that suits MY lifestyle? The Holy Spirit moves me and God is faithful to honor my commitment to Him.
God, never let me lose what you’ve shown me. Help me to humbly and clearly encourage others to follow you whole heartedly NO MATTER THE COST!
For the next few days I will set up cell service with Digicel, finish setting up and organizing the classroom, get my "nook" unpacked, spend quality time with the people God brings in and out of my life here in Haiti, and serve with the strength of God Himself.
Please continue praying for me. Pray for endurance, commitment, and patience. The kids have heard and will continue hearing about all of the people who love them back in the States. Hopefully, they will be able to meet some of you if/when you come to visit!
All for His glory.

Monday, August 1, 2011


This morning I woke up with a sad, weak heart.
My biggest fear about leaving the country for the year (and maybe longer than that) is that people will forget me. Life will go on without me and while some people send their financial support (which I am EXTREMELY grateful for) and pray for me (which is SO needed on a daily basis), my relationships with people will diminish. I woke up extremely burdened with this fear that I am also giving up, along with many other things, probably the most important thing to me in my life- my relationships. Already I have seen my relationships with friends and even family change since this life-changing process began, but why did I not include my relationships in my list of things I am counting as lost? (Not that I really have a list, but in my head I figured I knew what I was giving up)
I called my sweet friend and roommate for the past year, Ashli, this morning and was discussing some of this with her. Her honest and true words hit me even harder. She explained how the changing of my friendships is inevitable. Because I won't be conversing with people and seeing them as often, or at all, we will grow apart.
She told me about her friend Kate, also an acquaintance of mine, who was in London for a semester. When Kate returned to the states she explained to Ashli that one of the most difficult parts of being away for the semester was that life back at home went on without her. Her friends had new friends when she got back, and people moved forward. She said that while that was difficult, however, she could rejoice in the Lord knowing that He cared for her people back home and allowed Kate's life to move forward as well, even in London.
I either wasn't ready to hear all of that, or I had not thought about this particular aspect of moving to Haiti.
I knew fellowship would be missed and I knew I wouldn't be conversing with friends and family as much, but I knew myself well enough to know I would trust the Lord for that need.
What I hadn't handed over to God yet was my relationships. I am fearful of my relationships dwindling. Who wants that?
I called my sister and began crying to her about all of this and naming specific people I didn't want to forget me and she comforted me the best way she knew how. She reminded me that the people who really and truly are my friends and who love me will NOT forget me and I will not lose them, and vice versa- no matter how our relationships undoubtedly change some. Then she stated the best thing I could have heard at that moment. She said, "Laura, you just don't even know how God is going to draw you to Himself for HIS friendship."

It was almost immediate relief. How right is she? What better friendship to be engrossed in than with the one who knows me and my heart? He knows my need for relationship better than I, and HE created me that way. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit dwells inside of me and is ministering to me. He prays for me and oh, how I need His intercession.
Romans 5:5 "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 8:26 & 27 "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

God quieted me with His love then and there as He reminded me of my protection and assurance in Him through His son Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit IN ME.
1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."

And how much more am I gaining at the cost of what, to my humanity, seems like much?

Therefore, I will walk boldly and persevere because my God is faithful. Friends or no friends, family or no family, money or no money, fellowship or the lack thereof, I will move forward and obey my calling to teach these precious children in Haiti and whatever comes after that. I will pick up my cross and daily die to myself. I will take this life one day at a time and make the most of the opportunities that come my way. I am willing and longing to serve- no matter the cost. And I can only hope that someone somewhere sees Him through me, despite my weak self. 
There is a great deal of work to be done. God's divine plan will be carried out and I don't want to miss out. 
To God be the glory.
To God be the fame.
Good thing God understands us and is in control, right?