I'm not looking at these images from a tv screen or the pages of a magazine.
These are real people in front of me, with lives and dreams and hopes and fears. Just like me. Who are reaching out to me and grabbing my hand, asking to take pictures with my phone, and smiling at me like we're old friends.
Their faded, ripped American t-shirts and my dusty pale feet, standing together in community.
Brooke Fraser sings, "Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead. Now that I have held you- with my own arms- I cannot let go."
My first trip to Haiti haunted me. Kept me up at night, brought me to tears on the way to work as I read notes from my friends in Haiti, realizing that the only thing separating us is the country where we were born. I'm no different than the friends I made in Haiti. We're similar- we have goals for our lives, we get our feelings hurt, we go through trials. But the trials for my Haitian friends are greater. In turn, they're stronger, more resilient, more likely to laugh in the midst of turmoil in their lives. They teach me much about true religion. They teach me how much more I have to learn about the important things in life. They live in poverty outwardly but are much richer spiritually, because their circumstances forced them to be. I may have won the lottery geographically, but having all the things that are important in America sometimes misses the mark.
Last time I went to Haiti, I worried about the clothes I wore, I worried about financially being able to afford the trip, I worried about everything. This time I'm not concerned about clothes or what I pack, and my faith has strengthened through trials and I now know to never worry about finances on a mission trip. I now say don't worry about fundraising- if God is calling you to a mission trip, He'll provide the means for you to go. My friends and family have been so incredibly generous- and I've gotten donations when I least expected it. For that, I'm incredibly grateful.
For this trip though, I feel overwhelmed. For those who know me (and let's face it- you probably wouldn't have made it this far on this blog if you didn't!) - you probably know that I recently started a new job in a new city. All great, wonderful changes. But I'm still trying to get my "sea-legs." I'm still trying to develop a routine. And going on a mission trip three weeks after I start a new job- although I feel incredibly happy and blessed to have the opportunity- is a little overwhelming.
I think of the apostle Peter a lot- especially the story of him getting out of the boat and walking on water. To be totally overwhelmed. To feel like the crashing water around may drown you. Such a familiar feeling for me lately- completely overwhelmed. To be right on the cusp of sinking and - on the other side - something totally awesome. Because Jesus lets us get in over our heads- so He can be the one to reach out a hand and let us walk on water. We just have to get out of the boat.
As Mumford and Sons sang- "I know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears.... I'll find strength in pain, and I will change my ways. I'll know my name as it's called again."
Thank you for supporting me on this journey. Thanks for your well-wishes, your prayers, giving of your time and your finances. This isn't just my trip- it's our trip. Only through the community of friends and family am I able to go. Please keep my dad and me (and more importantly, our friends in Haiti) in your thoughts and prayers next week. Can't wait to see the surprises God has in store!