I have started many a blogpost since we returned to Haiti 3 weeks ago. But somehow, they don’t accurately describe all that has happened in a mere 21 days. And so I scratch the paragraphs I’ve written, time and time again. And retry. Until those re-tries, too, become outdated and inadequate.
Getting back to Haiti was a task in and of itself. As we sat on the O’Hare tarmac (our Miami-bound flight significantly delayed) we should’ve realized then that this was the precursor to how our start in Haiti would go. Delayed by a day, trying to get our checked bags in Florida, and overnighting in a hotel were only the start to our adjustment back to Haiti.
We hit the ground running when we arrived in Limbe. With so much happening on the compound in our absence, we struggled to adjust and keep up with all that was going on. Stephen’s parents came to visit a week later, and we had the chance to show them Grace Mission and the small chaos of our lives here as we continued to settle in.
Since then, Haiti has had a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that gave our buildings here a good shake, and left everyone on edge with its aftershocks. The most recent one being Monday night. “The shakes” are becoming less frequent, and less intense. Over the course of the last 2 days, Haiti’s people have taken to the streets, in riots and protests over a government money scandal. Limbe has been a hot spot of burning tires, firecrackers, and the sound of gunshots the last 2 days. This morning is quiet, and we are praying it lasts.
I feel like I keep waiting for things to be normal, just for a few days.
Our new normal here is fairly quiet mornings— prepping for Bible studies, mopping our floors and doing laundry, running out to the market, having one-on-one time for Mikey. The kids are all in school until 2:30/3 o’clock, which gives us a chance to tackle projects we otherwise wouldn’t ever find time for. Once 3 o’clock hits though, our door receives continuous knocking.
Shaggy constantly has boys begging and pleading to do driving practice with the 4-wheeler, motorcycle, or dodge. I spend most of my afternoons feeling like the little kid/baby magnet for the infamous diaper twins (who actually wear clothes now) and the 1st grade class. Every night is a mad rush of kids begging, “Can I cut your carrots tonite?” Dinner prep has become a scene of slight chaos, with the tv on for David and Joshua, kids at the table coloring or playing with the little ipod, the speakers blaring music, and another 2 kids wanting to help me cook dinner. Little Jenni is my shadow— quite literally. She follows me as close as my own shadow, even when I’m walking 3 feet from the table to the freezer.
We’ve picked up our Fun Nights again, as well as our Bible studies for the boys, girls, and Young Adults. Surveying such need on this compound alone, much less throughout all of Haiti, we are reminded that all our hopes for these kids are through God working, and through the kids having a personal relationship with Him. We definitely feel a burden for that— to have Bible studies, to answer questions, and to help and encourage the kids to get to know Him personally.
So often I think we are tempted to believe we need to be doing, doing, doing. But God has been teaching us just the opposite. In his “My Utmost for His Highest” Oswald Chambers reminded us Tuesday morning.. “The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor medicine, civilization, education or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer.”
It is easy to believe the lie that doing more will help Haiti, giving more will help Haiti, starting more programs will help Haiti. Even on our compound, I feel an overwhelming urgency, like success for the Kingdom is depending on how much I accomplish in a day. The thought, when written on paper, sounds quite ridiculous.
Oswald Chambers later writes, “Prayer does not equip us for greater work. Prayer is the greater work.”
The words have struck with me since I read them, the thought continually coming to mind. God is working. Not us. And so, these days in Limbe are spent trying to learn just that— that we are tools and instruments in His hands, made useful when we are connected to Him.