We have been back for 2 weeks now. It’s taken me some time to figure out what I wanted to close with on this site. I have several other reflections going up on my own blog, but I didn’t necessarily want to bombard this site will all of that madness…so its taken me some time to figure out what I wanted to say here.
Short term missions have a lot of value - not only for the staff and organizations that are served, but also for the individuals who are going. Sure, that seems selfish, but it’s a reality that can not be ignored…after all, if you are truly going with a “learner’s heart”, how can you expect to not receive something about God and His Global Kingdom when you go?
I hope and sense that our efforts to serve Child Hope were valuable. The house we provided, the things we built and organized, the care we provided with the kids - all of those efforts were to serve the staff working there for long-term and the community and kids they are caring for.
On a personal level, I came back from Haiti with some conviction that I had to take to the Lord. I’m used to being the odd person out. I usually know how people are going to respond when they start asking questions about my parents or life growing up. I know my story is a little awkward or sad for people to hear, but I’m okay with that. For the first time in my life, and by going to an orphanage, I found myself surrounded by kids who have stories that carry more similarities than I’m used to finding in the people I typically encounter. I didn’t really feel like the odd person out because I knew they too experienced loss and had to grow up far too early. In some cases I felt like I was staring into a mirror - seeing in others tendencies others have brought to my attention (that I couldn’t really see in myself). In other cases, I felt like being there with those kids was God’s way of showing me there was something beyond the mirror into which I was staring.
let me explain…
I don’t for one instance claim to know or understand the full experience of life that these kids have, but in some ways I relate. I know what its like to be abandoned and unwanted by one parent, only to watch the other die at a young age. I struggled to make sense of justice and love in the midst of some really bad experiences. This is the mirror that I’m speaking of. It is different from the lives of these kids, but perhaps more relatable and similar than any other community of people that I’ve ever met.
What I noticed and rejoiced with the Child Hope kids is that regardless of their circumstances, they loved to praise and worship God. I saw pure joy exuding from them at times…simple excitement, thanksgiving, and praise to the Lord. And this is where God started showing me what was beyond that mirror. I think it is best described as “joy”.
Coming home, I was very convicted at my own lack of thankfulness toward God and was led to repentance. Beyond the circumstances that have defined our past or are shaping our current reality, there is God and through His Holy Spirit, joy is possible. There are opportunities to be thankful and to worship God that are not circumstantial. In Philippians 4:8 Paul exhorts us to focus on what is good and worthy of praise. I speculate that we are more prone to look at the trials and difficulties we face than we are to the good things, especially when things aren’t necessarily “good”. It takes effort to look beyond those harder realities into the character of God and worship Him. God challenged me to do that during our week in Haiti using kids who exuded joy. He left no room for the exemptions that I usually conjure up when I see joy alive in the lives of others. I couldn’t find a single “yeah, but…” as I tried to understand what was before my eyes. They have experienced the harder realities of life, but they had something different…something I wanted.
In a place where I expected to see pain and sorrow much more manifest I found Joy…and through that experience God is challenging me to be more thankful toward Him and through Grace, He is ultimately leading me to experience more joy.
I will never forget this opportunity, and I am so thankful to those who helped to make it possible. Every time I share, I tell a different story and realize a different way that I saw God move. The staff of Child Hope do a wonderful job at loving these kids and pointing them to Christ…Maison de lumiere is truly a house of light in this nation.
now stop reading and go PRAISE God for them and PRAY for the work they continue to do there :-)