Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Following the Leader?

Haiti. How do I describe this place that has both equally repels me and attracts me at the same time. A small island by the world’s standards, but huge in the disproportionate amount of poverty and pain that reside there.

I just finish leading my first team to the Caribbean island. It was an amazing trip that took us through orphanages, through the ridiculously slow and corrupt government offices of Haiti, to gorgeous albeit litter filled oceans. I went with two objectives: to inspire the team members to have a heart for missions and to assist the orphanages in Haiti with their needs.

When I first arrived back in America, I knew one of my next trips would be back to Haiti. I have many relationships there that I love to commit time to in the form of work. Many times the missionaries that live there full time need help to get things done like paperwork, tech support, cleaning, and even laughter. So as I began to make preparations to go, I mentioned to several people the details of the trip. Surprisingly several people became convinced that they should be on the trip. And the team was born.

Having never led a trip in its entirety by myself- this proved to be a great exercise for me. The typical system for me is: land, look both direction, chose one and go. I am not sure if this is right or even good, it just is. I usually wing everything. Not so with other people- especially those who have never been out of the country before. It was wonderful, and I truly mean that, to practice being organized and prepared. It is a ridiculous exercise in such a chaotic country as Haiti, but it was a fun practice anyway.

One of the members of the team had never been on a plane before and it was an incredibly turbulent ride and as we landed we were greeted by the typically extremely hot air that floods the airplane as the hatch opened. Our luggage was missing and the people outside of the airport gates were reaching with outstretched arms and pleading eyes. And there we were, home and not home at the same time. Inside, each of us knew that this is what God created us for. Yet, our hearts cried out for relief for both the people and for ourselves.

Pulling up to the orphanage, we found children everywhere. The director told us there were 3 sick children. When I say sick, I mean sick. These children were in desperate need of surgery and now. As we dealt with the multitudes of beautiful children all around us, the main focus of our attention went to the babies whose lives hung between life and death. Our energies were focused on paperwork to get these kids out to other countries where they could get the surgeries they needed.

We also worked on getting data entered into computers for the missionaries. Keeping up to date on technology is an ongoing issue on developing countries and I am so grateful for the skills I have been accumulating for this task.

So that was the week. Long, hot, sweaty, beautiful, and fulfilling. They were long days where we collapsed on the makeshift beds at the end with a smile of fulfillment plastered across our faces.

When I asked the team what stood out to them the most about the trip, the answers were almost universal. They loved seeing lives changed, especially their own. I was reminded it is never really the easy things that we remember- it is the things we invest time, energy and sweat into.

So another trip is in my immediate future. I am going to be returning with some more willing folks to fix some mechanical items (this team had no electricians or mechanics on it) and I expect that it will change me. I am amazed that God has invested so much into this vessel. Daily I am struck by my own inadequacies but blown away by God’s willingness to use me anyway :)

Enough for now. God is good- excessively. I still have tons of plans for the future that are dreams that are way bigger than my heart can contain. I will let you know as they grow out of their “container”. Until then……..