Reflections on Haiti

It’s the first clinic day in Haiti. What in the world am I doing here? Though I slept last night, I still feel tired after having no sleep for 36 hours before that. I’m rattling along in a sort of metal cage in the back of a truck, through hot and very dusty streets amongst a people that I don’t know (some on our medical and translation team, as well as all of those on the streets). Most of the drive is not through beautiful countryside; it’s through bumpy streets that contain rubble and trash. (Or at least this is what catches my eye on this first day, and for some reason that I’m still trying to unpack it just hurts to see it.) I don’t fully know what to expect at the clinic or how to run my reading glasses station. But I don’t want to listen to the panicky voice in my head, so I talk to God and maintain a calm demeanor (Oh, great, now I’m part of the “Keep calm and…” crowd).  God gently reminds me that Jesus left the absolute perfection of heaven to come to us. Oh, okay, deep breath…I can follow my Savior’s example by venturing into new territory to serve, and I’m certainly not experiencing the contrast that He experienced. God also reminds me to see each individual, not one big mass of humanity. I thank Him for bringing me and ask Him to help me look into the face of each person who comes to my station…to look into their eyes and see a fellow human being. To see a fellow image-bearer of God. The first clinic day does turn into a rather intense work day, and I do begin to feel overwhelmed. So many people come for glasses. Our little area fills to overflowing, and it takes me a while to realize that I can take a break. As long as there’s a person (or 8) waiting, I think I need to carry on. Because they keep coming and my mind plays tricks with me, saying “the line will never come to an end.” Arrgghhh! I’m in danger of becoming task- rather than people-oriented! My experience last November with Samaritan’s Purse comes to mind; our trainer told us to not feel bad about taking needed breaks. We need them to be refreshed and effective. Fouad comes to the rescue and provides coverage, so I can take some of those breaks. (He’s a good man.) Later, the team leader tells me that it’s okay to leave people waiting for a little bit, if I need to step away. We’re not in the U.S.; people in Haiti are accustomed to waiting. She reminds me a few times to not feel rushed. We do have some time constraints, but we’re doing okay.

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Foolish Decisions

Have you ever made a foolish decision and then just had to live with it for what seemed like too long a time? Or maybe you’ll have to live with some consequences for the rest of your life?

Today, as I continued my slow (but good) progress through Jeremiah, I found myself in chapter 29. In the first half, Jeremiah has written a letter to those in exile in Babylon and is telling them what God has to say to them, which is that they will be in exile for quite a while….for 70 years. So, they should get on with their lives: 5 ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease.

They should not give up and pine away or just sit on their hands waiting for a quick rescue from their current circumstances. And not only should they get on with their own lives, but they should invest in their new location: 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’


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What Would You Say?

What if Jesus came and sat down next to you on your couch and said, “Look, I know it’s going to be hard, but I need you to go through a rough trial. Your experience with me in the midst of this trial and your humble and trusting response to it are going to be very important in the life of someone you love. And, please, remember that I’ll be with you always, every step of the way, supplying the strength and comfort you need.” What would you say?

He would present good reasons: What if your child will learn life-changing lessons about leaning on God, by watching you trust Him through a tough time? What if a spouse will be strengthened in their own walk by journeying with you through the fire? What if a neighbor needs to see evidence of your faith, in order to believe in Christ for herself/himself? What if a fellow believer will need to be comforted by the same comfort that you’ve received? (Or what if they need to minister to YOU in your hardship in order to mature?) What if your faith needs to become more fit and muscular by tribulation, in order for you to be useful to God…for you to impact the people around you? These children, spouses, neighbors, and fellow believers are all people that we’ve been called to love. Are we willing to suffer for their sake, as Jesus did for ours? Are we willing to suffer for the gospel’s sake…keeping in mind that the gospel is not just about one-time conversion, but is also discipleship and maturing in the faith?

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