This marks Haiti Trip #8 for me, #1 for Sarah M.L. from Grace Community, and #God Only Knows for Hu Debo...those of us making up the three-person-scouting team in Les Cayes this week. We left Shreveport Regional yesterday morning making the Dallas connection to Miami where we stayed overnight and boarded for Port au Prince at 5:50 this morning. I say it every time, but really and truly these trips sneak up on me (Not planning-wise, mentality-wise...ok, maybe personal planning-wise too. My roommates will vouch, I'm usually begging for a vocalized check-off list 5-min before we leave for the airport.). Regardless, it never feels like reality until we hit the PAP tarmac. Surely the words of Jim Elliot (whose story that I read in the 9th grade might explain a lot) ring true as the state of mind that I usually find myself in, "Wherever you are be all there; live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." Surely, a richness to be present. Surely, sometimes an unsettled mind to be caught off guard with every new event. Maybe this helps us trust God though. Maybe with spontaneity of thought and resting within the now, we can find ourselves paying less dues to the past and sacrificing fewer anxieties to the future. Potential result? Maybe company in the here and now with the Lord of the people and His people. Maybe joy.
Grace Community's young adult group surprised us at security check at the airport to pray with us before we left. It's been a couple of trips since it hasn't felt routine and that a moment of community within the mission was fresh and connected. It was beautiful. It was a gift. I mean this more than I have in a long time: there are few things more powerful than when we go to God together. Nothing more binding. Nothing more freeing. Nothing more relational. And to think that even that is amplified when we go to God together on behalf of a bigger picture, a larger healing, a wider-spread commission, a resurrecting piece of the world, something bigger than we are. I don't know that I'm ever offended when someone says, "Can I pray for you? Right now?" Therefore, why would I even listen to a whisper that suggests that the same inquiry from my mouth would be offensive in the slightest? Our world, and communities, and siblings, and best friends, and Haiti need us to have audacity enough to grab each other by the hand and go to God. This feels right, right? Thank you for praying.
Today was really just a big 8 hour drive in the back seat of a four-door pickup. My tale bone no longer exists, don't ask me about it, it's not really something I want to talk about. ;) But seriously, it's gone. We ended up driving east to Croix des Bouquets to buy some metal art, then back through the city and north to get the car looked at (a two hour journey for a 2 second "OK"...but se la vi, would rather double check a vehicle in Haiti any day than not), then the 5...6..hour drive down to Cayes, past the anniversary arch and on into home sweet guesthouse. We got out of the car and Hu said, "Well. We made it without hitting anything"...just as the driver pulled up and got his tire stuck on a parked car in the drive-way. Eh...nou pale too soon?
Today on the drive something really significant happened. Other than me falling to sleep sitting in the middle with my feet in the dash, head in a blowup neck-pillow, mouth wide open with gum drying on tongue (heh). I can't exactly explain this, so stay with me. Today a veil lifted between me and a Haitian woman who was sitting on the street in one of the market places in Port au Prince while we drove though the city. She was, for a moment, demystified and therefore less distant. She wasn't a victim, a photograph, or a survivor from the kind of place overseas that one could place in romantically foreign or tragic stories. She was a neighbor. She was human. She was normal and in her day to day. She was there, and I was in a car, and we were in the same world at the same time. She probably has gossiped before, or has a crazy sister-in-law, or has one outfit that is so much her favorite that she'd wear it everyday if she could. She probably has a distinct laugh, and a food preference, and pet peeves. Sure, she probably has a past, and deep wounds, and big questions for God... no doubt. But this coming back thing is etching away (I hope) a glassed-over "these people" perception of this country. Their livelihood is no longer my parade to watch. Something very liberating happened today. And as we drove off and I attempted to recover and wrap my mind around what had just taken place, I thought, "Hm. So if someone imbeds themselves long enough in a peoples' life, getting to know their humanness, their spirits, and their realities...a veil eventually lifts putting us all in the same place, lessening the distance between us, and giving us greater room for understanding and relationship and therefore greater room for healing." And then I thought, "Oh my God. That's what Jesus did." I can't fully explain this, and I apologize for that. But it was a solid, bewildering, and glorious 20 seconds.
"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2Cor3:16-18
Tomorrow, we are going to see the kids at Darivaje and Bighouse...!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhh, those hugs, those hugs, those smiles, those hugs!!! We are all big brothers and sisters now. Tomorrow, I check on family:)
We'll be in country for the next six days and blogging all the while!
Oh. A few last things. We ate Haitian pumpkin soup tonight, mine and Sarah's first time. It was amazing. I saw four guys peeing on buildings today, two of them saw me (a very awkward exchange of glances). Cholera is spreading rampantly throughout the country apparently now, please be in prayer for the halting of disease. And elections are coming up, so we got to drive through a "manifestation" today being held in promotion of a candidate. There were trombones, which I thought were pretty appropriate.
Wanting you, me, and Haiti to take each other by the hand and go to God together...