It has been one wonderful week - emphasis on the full! Cortney just left after spending a week here with me during her reading break and it was awesome!!! I really didn't know it was possible for a week to go so fast, but looking back on all of the pictures and things we experienced together, we surely made the most of it.
After Cort arrived on Saturday night, we organized a ton of school supplies and children's toys and clothes that were purchased by students that I worked with during my teaching block at William E. Brown School last spring. They fundraised and gathered materials that were shipped to Haiti in December, so last Sunday Cort and I along with the van der Mark children and the Sunday School teachers passed out all of the stuff in Kids Church. There were over 200 kids present, so we tried to make it as organized as possible by setting up all of the materials in a separate classroom. Then once the classrooms were filled, the kids came about 20 at a time to pick out a gift. I must say that I was especially impressed by the way that Teagan, Grayden and Bridgely offered so much assistance. I was thrilled by the way that they were such great helpers and took leadership by selecting suitable gifts for the different ages and genders of children coming through, and passing them out with such love. It was so fun to pass it all out with them and it was surely a happy day for all of the kids. The picture below shows us passing out dinky cars to the boys. They loved them!
After church, Cort and I went with two of my friends who work at the mission, Sadrac and Wicky, to Pain Plus, a Haitian-American restaurant. Cort got to experience her first tap tap ride, walk through the Haitian market and try sugar cane. It was so fun being able to tour her around and share my new life with her. On Monday and Tuesday I had school with the van der Marks, so she came and checked that out as I taught, and then we had the rest of the week off! So, much to our excitement, we headed off to Kaliko beach and spent Wednesday and Thursday in paradise! We stayed in our very own 'bungalow' which was pretty fun, and soaked up some Caribbean sunshine.... Maybe a little too much, as the past few days have led to some sore skin! Oh well, it was worth it! :)
It also worked out really well for us on our trip home to get dropped off at Good Samaritan orphanage to meet up with the van der Marks and Cheryl's parents who are visiting for a little over a week. I was so happy that Cort was able to the see the kids that I have become especially attached to, and they absolutely loved her!
Our last days were spent exploring the mission and last night was the kickoff of Youth Camp at the Mission of Hope. Every year during 'Carnaval' week in Haiti, which is kind of like a party week in Port-au-Prince, the mission offers an alternative program for young people in the area. Last night Cort and I watched as young people beginning at age 10 up to age 25 arrived with their bags and gathered in the church for their Friday night session. It reminded Cort and I of a youth retreat like Pitch and Praise.... Lots of loud music and laughter with a ton of young people... Probably close to 400! So it was really cool that Cort and I were able to witness the beginning of that together and now for the next couple of days I will be participating in the many other activities going on. Evening sessions are always my favorite because of the worship times. It's so awesome joining the voices of so many passionate young people and singing and clapping together!
Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to Cort just a few minutes ago, and it was definitely hard to see her go. I'm happy to say the sadness hasn't hit me as hard as saying goodbye to the Canadian team a few weeks ago, but I really wish that the time spent with family never had to end. Life is so good and full of life when I have someone that I can share it with, but when people leave the loneliness sets in.
Which leads me to the title of this blog... When Cort arrived she brought a few different leisure reading books, and one of them was the currently popular novel called 'The Shack' (I'm sure most of you have either read it or heard of it). I've heard many different accounts of the book from friends who have read it, and have lately developed an interest to read it myself, so while Cort was here I began to dive into it. I'm not going to get too much into the story, but I wanted to share a part of it that I have really connected with so far. At the end of one of the first chapters, the main character is having a talk with Jesus, and based on the pain of his past he has a lot of unanswered questions. During the talk he tells Jesus that he feels lost. And Jesus responds by taking his hand and responding with words that really spoke to my heart. He says, I know you feel lost but remember, I am not lost. And I am with you. You are not lost.
I know that 'The Shack' was written by a human being, so I cannot take what it says with more authority than the Bible, however during this portion of the text, I felt the Lord really speak to me and it paralleled with what I believe about Jesus from the truth that comes from the Bible. The words that Jesus spoke to this broken and confused man is just what I needed to hear.
There are many times I have here in Haiti when I feel lost. Times when I wonder what I'm doing here and why the Lord would ask me to be in this place. I lose sight of who I am and my sense of stability is gone. It is then when I start to look back through the photo library on my computer with pictures from home, and I try to bring myself back to who I was before this journey began. I try to find hope in the place where I once was, but many times the pictures seem foreign and I can't seem to find my way back.
These 2 lives that I am somehow a part of seem to twist and blend together in my head and then separate again so fast and I find myself losing hope. Losing hope of ever doing what I was called to do. I wish I could just crawl away and leave this mess of emotions and expectations to someone who is better qualified. But through the words in the book, I was able to remember the truth that even in the deepest and darkest places in my heart, Jesus is here and he's holding out His hand to me. I am not lost. I felt such a peace because even though I feel lost, Jesus isn't. He knows the way and He isn't afraid. All I have to do is trust Him. I may feel confused and alone, but as long as He is with me, I am found. And I am given the freedom to live abundantly.
I appreciate your prayers in the coming months as I attempt to live out these new truths that are beginning to permeate my heart. That I would be open to the life I live here, and that even in the storms of doubt and confusion I would remain found in Him.