This is March Madness at it’s finest.
And let me tell you. It’s been humorous/humbling to see how the Lord lovingly reminds me His sovereignty, faithfulness, & my complete dependence on nothing but Him.
- This “craziest weekend of the year” falls on time-change weekend. An hour of sleep literally disappears from the clock. GONE. I always think Spring Forward is a cruel joke made by people who function with 3 hours of sleep – which is NOT me.
- My home church is bringing a team down! My mom, step-dad, brother, & sister-in-law are a part of that trip, which is SO exciting. I am eager for them to experience what the Lord is doing here. However, this is an entirely different dynamic of exhausting – because it will literally be 24/7 with wanting to spend as much time as possible with my family & church family. It also is exciting because they are bringing lots of treats from back home (& hair color!). ha. which leads me to my next point…
- I ran out of Starbucks Vias this week. Yep. You read that correctly. I. RAN. OUT. OF. INSTANT. COFFEE. 2. DAYS. BEFORE. THE. BUSIEST. WEEKEND. OF. THE YEAR. (I can’t make this stuff up.)
- Both of our campuses are open for March, which means that all of our staff is split between the 2 campuses. Which means 2 sets of everything – Orientations, Schedules, Debriefs, Tours, etc.
- Carnival (best described as Haitian Mardi Gras). This was March 3, 4, & 5. The entire country basically shut down for this massive holiday. How does this affect us? Banks, offices, stores (read: everything) was closed 3 days this week while we were finalizing details for this weekend. Thankfully, I work with brilliant people (EBill & Drew) who thought of this ahead of time, and all is well.
These are a few examples that the Lord has used to remind me that HE IS SUFFICIENT. Eternally, nothing else matters but Him. He goes before us. He ordained this weekend before the foundation of the world was laid. The breath that I am breathing is grace – I am walking in His grace. Teams are going into villages in order that more people would come to know Jesus. I’m unbelievably grateful for the team I get to work with. We are praying that every man, woman, & child we come in contact with (North American & Haitian) will hear, feel, & see the Gospel of Jesus & experience life transformation.
It’s a JOY to serve here. The Lord continually reminds me that we are all ordinary people that He graciously uses to accomplish an ETERNAL & extraordinary vision. He allows us to be a part. He delights in bringing joy to His children. He is joy, friends. He is hope. He is changing the world through His church.
Would you pray?
Pray that we intentionally invest in the men & women that step foot onto our campus. Pray that we (staff) are aware of the needs around us – both in the North American team members & the Haitians that we serve alongside & in their villages. Pray that hours on the clock expand – that God would accomplish a crazy amount of things in a crazy amount of time. Pray that the only thing people can walk away saying is, “God did it.” God gets all of the glory for the redemption of His people. He gets the glory for the changing of a nation. He gets the glory in the softening of the human heart. Pray for holy energy & endurance – that we would carve out time to be with the Lord before we meet with men & women. Pray that the posture & the focus of our heart would be on Jesus, above all. Pray that as team members leave Haiti, they would not view this as a “week long” experience…but that it would be a catalyst of change in their lives & that they would take the intentionality of living life Gospel centered back home with them if this is new to them. For people who may be doing this already back home, pray that they would be encouraged. That they would be refreshed, renewed, & rejuvenated here. That they would see the beauty of Christ’s church around the world & be encouraged.
LET’S DO THIS!
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I don’t always take my “good camera” out into villages with me…but when I do, fun times are had by all. I sure do love these little friends & time spent with them.
Debuston’s “fish face” looks more like he is blowing a kiss. Precious boy!
Hopefully these smiles brightened your day like they do mine!
I’m not going to lie, the past 2 holidays (Thanksgiving & Valentine’s Day) I’ve experienced here in Haiti have been awesome. You can read about my Thanksgiving experience here.
Call me crazy, but I think it is assumed that Valentine’s Day isn’t usually single people’s favorite “holiday” – it is usually a reminder of just.how.single.we.are. Now, I’m not a cynical person who hates the color pink & love – actually quite opposite. I even painted my nails with pink, glitter & a heart. I made valentine’s for the precious women on staff here. I even told people I loved them. I should get a gold star for my level of participation in this holiday.
I love love. But, as a single lady (cue Beyonce), it is a day that I spend some time wondering & hoping – what the future will look like when I get to make my future husband heart-shaped pancakes, go out to dinner & enjoy a night out with him.
But this Valentine’s Day?
The day started like any other day here in Haiti – I woke up pretty early, got some work done & sent teams off to their day in the villages. I came back up to my house to find the internet being fickle, making my usual work day a bit difficult. I got a text message from a friend on staff here at MOH asking if I could run down to 3 Cords later on & take some photos of the 3 Cords Valentine’s Day party. I figured since my normal workflow was interrupted with the non-working internet, I’d run down there, take some pictures, & come back up to the house & finish work.
What is 3 Cords, you ask?
The mission of 3 Cords is to provide opportunities for physically handicapped women & men, & to show them that they are both beautiful and valuable. It is a beautiful place of redemption & restoration. You can read more about 3 Cords & see the beautiful items these men & women make here.
I made it down to 3 Cords around 11:45, said hi to the precious employees, & then we gathered together. After this beautiful woman sang & prayed, this man signed his prayer. The party had started!
A few of the women began serving the food. I was shocked when they walked toward Adam & I and handed us the first plates. First, I resisted because I had food up in my apartment that I could eat. The women asked me why I didn’t want to eat this food, & I graciously took it with eyes brimming with tears & was stunned. It was a delicious feast, & the afternoon was filled with laughter, dancing, & even a few “catwalk/runway” struts.
As I sat there eating this meal, surrounded by laughter & singing – the love of the Lord was so present. I saw the beauty of that moment. I saw the deep love with which Jesus loves His people, and the beauty of the overflow of that love spilling out to others.
On a holiday where it would be easy to get hung up on what I do not have, the Lord beautifully reminded my heart of the grace that He has lavished upon me.
We are richly loved, friends.
Sometimes, the combination of non-working internet, a random photo assignment, & an unexpected feast are just the reminders that we need.
As if that wasn’t a beautiful enough day, we spent the evening having “Galentine’s Day” – girls only – the non married staff ladies & the intern girls hung out at our apartment for the night – & we perfected the art of heart shaped pancakes, watched a movie, & laughed – a lot.
Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I love getting to see more & more of this beautiful country. Last week, we took a staff trip to Fort Jacques (which is south of us) and took a tour of the fort. History has never been my favorite subject, but getting to walk through the fort and learn a lot more about the history of Haiti was great and something I am so glad we got to experience as a staff together. Also, there were some great photo opportunities, so you know I loved that. Here’s a peek of the adventure at Fort Jacques:
Haiti is beautiful.
Raquel & I – thankful for this roommate & friend of mine!
Elizabeth & I in front of the Fort
It was a great day to learn more about Haiti & bond with the staff. The Lord is doing beautiful things.
The past two weeks have been saturated with the theme of darkness & light. Literally, saturated.
You know when you buy a new car and then suddenly realize that everyone else has the same car? People probably didn’t really all go out and buy the same car that you had – you were just more aware of it…you were on the lookout for it.
Darkness & light has been brought to my attention daily the past two weeks: in conversations with people, in Bible study with the girls on staff, and in nature.
The Lord has been reminding me of the depth of the sin & darkness of our human hearts. It is ugly. It is heavy. It is sinful. It is dark. But it doesn’t stop there. The darkness isn’t the end. While being reminded of the weight of sin and the darkness of our sinful hearts, the Lord has continued to bring before me the beauty of the LIGHT. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus. Grace. Redemption. Healing. Freedom. LIGHT.
When God the Father looks upon His people who have accepted Jesus, He sees light that is only given by Him.
The Bible refers to people as dry bones…dead, dry bones. Before we accept Jesus, we are dead in our sins (Eph. 2) and in darkness. So it’s absurd for me to think that I did anything to earn my salvation because I was dead. Dead & in darkness. It wasn’t by any works, actions, or words that I said that conjured up the light. There was an outside source to bring the Light. It is Jesus. Is has always been & will always be Jesus.
By His grace, I see the beauty of the Light. I know the difficulty of bringing our messy, sinful selves to Christ because we feel dirty. We feel broken. We feel dark. Apart from Christ, we are in darkness. He is the only source of light. Light drowns out darkness.
If you’ve accepted Christ & His redemptive work & sacrifice on the cross & made the decision to follow Him, let me be honest – things still get messy. Things will still feel dark at times. I still struggle with sin & I am far from perfect. However, He is perfect. His light is always shining. That’s a comfort that I cannot fully articulate.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
At the beginning of this week, my sweet friend on staff, Amanda, & I photographed the night sky here in Haiti. (She wrote an awesome post about darkness & light too – so you should read that as well). We started with photographing Port Au Prince from across the bay:
Then, we moved to taking photos of the stars:
And then, we saw it. We saw a faint faint glow rising from behind the mountains. We grabbed our tripods and hustled to the top of the hill and literally watched the moon rise from behind the mountain.
I just kept hearing “the light shines in the darkness. The light shines in the darkness.”
The mountainside was lit up by the moon, which is a giant rock that is lit by the Sun. Don’t you see it? The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I know Christ is faithful. He is sanctifying. He is bringing light. He is drawing people out of darkness and into His marvelous light. And we get to be a part. WOW.
It’s been a busy & fun few weeks back in the states visiting friends & family for Christmas break.
It’s a strange feeling, to feel like my life here in the states “on hold”, while the rest of people’s lives are rapidly going. It is not a bad feeling, but it is one that I have never experienced before. I think I will call it “growing up.” That has a nice ring to it…
It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks…these are just glimpses. Christmas services, roof tops in Dallas, NYE road trip to Austin, craft days with my sister, time with my parents, Christmas morning runs with my brother & SIL, great friends, a flat tire & the nice random stranger who fixed it, sitting by fires, & a homegroup reunion…it’s been wonderful.
I am encouraged, rested & exhausted at the same time (I promise it’s possible…ha!), & excited to head back to Haiti and jump into work there. I’m eager to see what the Lord is doing in 2014.
Have I mentioned before that I am just so very thankful? Because, I am.
A few days before I flew back to the states for Christmas break, one of my friends in Haiti lost his little baby girl to pneumonia. It was unexpected, it was unforeseen, & it is heartbreaking. My fellow MOH staff members and I received the news and we were devastated – for his loss, his pain, and the fact that he would not get to see his daughter again this side of heaven.
His beautiful little daughter took her last breath on Sunday, and Tuesday evening at the worship service I saw him out of the corner of my eye worshiping. Hands surrendered high. Tears flowing down his face. Real, deep pain. But in the midst of that real pain? Real worship. Worship for the fact that the Lord Jesus is who He said He is – that He is our comforter, our provider, our peace in a world of chaos, our calm in the storm, our Savior, our Father.
When I saw my friend at church out of the corner of my eye, hot tears started streaming down my face. I was wrecked with the beauty of my friend worshiping God in the midst of the deepest pain. I was wrecked with the amount of trust he has in the sovereignty of God.
I flew home on Wednesday, heart still heavy for my friend and the pain he is experiencing. At my home church in the states on Sunday morning, I learned that a woman’s husband had unexpectedly passed away the week before. I was in the worship service and directly in front of me, I saw her worshiping: hands surrendered high. Real, deep pain. And again, in the midst of that pain? Real worship.
Hot tears flowing down my cheeks again. These people are walking through some of the deepest pain they have experienced, but they know they aren’t walking through this alone.
It’s easy to say we believe in Jesus Christ & His sovereignty, but when the waves come and we are tested – living out our faith becomes much more than words. It’s our response, our actions. It is us looking at the painful, heartbreaking situations and saying, “God, I trust You. I may not understand why this happened, but I trust You. I trust that You will be glorified in this, and that in my pain, You will comfort.” It’s 100% false to say that as a Christian everything in our life is easy, pretty, simple, fun, or even understandable. In fact, there is Biblical support (John 16:33) that we will have troubles, but that Christ has overcome the world.
I refuse to pretend that the Christian life is roses, butterflies, & happy thoughts. That. Is. False.
But you know what the Christian life is? JESUS: Grace. Salvation by Jesus alone. Absorption of wrath for all of the evil that we have done. An exchange of righteousness. The gift of the Holy Spirit – who is a constant companion & intercessor to God the Father on our behalf.
And you know what? Jesus is enough. Valued reader, would you believe that? Jesus doesn’t ignore or downplay our pain. He comforts us in it. Jesus doesn’t tell us to think happy thoughts and everything will be okay. He knows every thought we think and feels every emotion we feel and He wants us to come to Him with our pain, burdens, and questions. I promise you, He can handle your questions. If you aren’t sure about this Jesus thing, would you seek Truth? Would you, from a posture of genuine desire to learn Truth, seek to learn more about God, Jesus Christ, the Cross, and the implications of the Cross?
“Continue seeking Him with seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.”- C.S. Lewis
It is evident that pain is real // and so is Jesus.
Surrender; worship // This has become one of my favorite photos I have taken here.
Also, my fellow Mission of Hope staff members & dear friends The Johnson’s wrote a great post about some of the challenges and also the beautiful things they have seen here in Haiti. Would you mind reading it here?