A year ago today, I boarded a plane, with a one-way ticket to Haiti, and set out for the greatest adventure of my life.
I had no idea what to expect. All I knew, was that my heart was ready for adventure, and an unquenchable thirst that had been burning inside of me for so long, was finally being satisfied.
I knew I was prepared to see, feel and experience things that had previous been foreign to me. I knew my heart and mind would changed, but I didn't expect just exactly how dramatically they would.
To say that Haiti has merely “changed me” would be the understatement of the century. I find it quite difficult to fully articulate just exactly how my life has been turned completely upside down.
For most of my life, I have been on a quest.
A quest for purpose, a quest for meaning, and a quest for significance.
It seemed like time and time again, doors would simply shut in my face, attempt after attempt. But then I realized, that closed doors merely lead the path to the one door that’s been waiting to be opened.
Haiti was my unexpected, unexplored, and frankly, unimagined, open door; and it was the most perfect door that could have opened.
It’s been a terrifying, exhausting, challenging yet, altogether remarkable, incredibly and exhilarating year.
There have been moments so intense, that when I have the time to sit and process everything that transpired, I’m literally blown away by the reality of it all.
There has been civil unrest, with street riots protesting government misdeeds.
There have been times of sheer danger.
I have been sick more times in the past twelve months than ever before in my entire life.
I have to pray every time I get a mosquito bite that it won’t give me a horrific virus.
I have cried myself to sleep wondering if it’s even possible to scratch the surface in making a difference in someone’s life, and if my motives are even right for wanting to do so.
I have had the opportunity to witness, first-hand, actual miracles. Physically, spiritually and financially.
I have held dying babies in my arms and watched as they regained life in their bodies.
I have encountered some of the most beautiful people I have ever met, whom have had some of the most significant influences on my life.
I now take photos of people I have sincere, genuine relationships with, and their stories astound and impact me that much more.
In so many ways, Haiti has restored far more broken pieces in me, than I could even attempt to restore in her.
But most of all...
Jesus has become so real.
So tangible, beautiful, He has fully come alive for me.
You see, before Haiti, I was asleep. Asleep in a mental and spiritual fog, cast under the spell of a life hypnotized by control.
Everything was changeable, moldable and could fit perfectly inside a planner.
But this is not how Jesus operates.
Jesus strips away everything you look to for purpose, for value, for significance and definition.
He removes away all of the chains we voluntarily bind ourselves to –-- and truly sets us free.
He takes us to a place we don’t understand, with a language we can’t speak and food we’d rather not eat. Where toilets are a luxury, and clean water is as priceless as a fine jewel, but it is in these places where we find everything we’ve been in a painstakingly, desperate pursuit for.
He doesn’t ask us about our five-year-plan, or where we’d like to go to grad school, or what color eyes we’d like our future spouse to have.
He doesn’t abide by regulations and obligations we strangle ourselves with.
He’s a Beautiful Outlaw, who doesn’t play by the rules.
When you stop chasing after everything that is going to leave you emptier than before, and look to the One who actually gave His life for you, He takes you on the greatest escapade you have ever embarked upon.
I spent years trying to figure my life out. Years calculating brackets and projected time frames for just how long certain seasons of my life should last.
And door, after door, after door would close in my face.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from being in Haiti, it’s that I had to learn from scratch.
I had to be taken to a tiny island in the Caribbean, and then to an even tinier fishing village, in the literal middle of nowhere, to stop and listen and realize I had to relearn everything I ever thought about anything.
From speaking the language, to cooking the food, and how to function on the most basic of levels, I had to learn from scratch.
I had to admit subconscious prejudice in my life towards the people I was now being called to serve.
The kindness of beautiful strangers, the innocence and beauty in a child’s eyes as they run and laugh, without a care in the world; these were the faces, the moments and encounters which ripped me, open and rebuilt me, from scratch.
This was when I realized how I am far more impoverished, than they ever could be.
So as I celebrate one year of being an ex-pat, a wanderer, a missionary, what can I say?
What should I say?
I’ll say that learning from absolutely ground zero and working your way up, is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
Learning to speak a second language, as alluring as it sounds, comes with far more moments of sheer embarrassment, than any type of glamour.
However, letting go of everything and saying yes to God, means that He will take you into a new level of depth and enlightenment.
When I was a little girl, my mom read me the story of “Hinds Feet On High Places.” The book’s main character, “Much Afraid” goes through her life completely oppressed by sorrow and suffering, discouragement and fear. Yet one day, she meets the Good Shepherd, and together they set forth on a journey that transforms Much Afraid into Grace and Glory.
He takes her from all of those places of failure, abandonment and defeat, and sets her feet on High Places.
He puts her into the fire and burns away at all the chaff, and from scratch, remolds her into something completely new.
I came to Haiti afraid of things I didn’t even know I was afraid of. I came with bits and pieces of sorrow and suffering that I still bore the wounds from. And through it all, I see now how the tender and loving hands of my Good Shepherd, were placing my twisted, broken and crooked feet, as hinds, and revealing a grace and glory far greater than I could ever ask or think.
And it has only just begun.