I am excited to tell you that I have made a decision.
I believe that the Lord is calling me to commit to serving another year in Haiti to teach the van der Mark children.
Let me go back in time a bit and tell you some of the ways that the Lord has fit these pieces together.
First of all, I believe that without some of the challenges these last few weeks have brought, I would have made a decision based on a good 'feeling', instead of really counting the cost and leaning on the Lord for peace. In this time, I realize it also would have been easy to make by decision based on other people, instead of truly waiting on the Lord for an answer.
There are people both in Haiti and back in Wainfleet that I depend on, but I felt like the Lord gave me the chance to really start fresh again and not make a decision based on anyone else's opinions, but only where He wanted me.
Laurens and Cheryl's proposal for me to continue teaching could have also been an 'easy' decision-maker for me, simply because of the need, but I didn't feel confident enough to simply make my decision based on them.
This takes me back to a sermon I heard at The Call in 2004, and the speaker said not to choose to do something just because there was a need. To follow the Lord means following His voice where He leads, and not be distracted by anything else. If each person based their whole life on needs, it would quickly lead to burn out because there are needs everywhere. Based on this understanding, I knew that I couldn't make my decision because of a 'need', no matter how great, and I believed that if the Lord was calling me away from Haiti, He would provide someone to take my place.
For days I flip-flopped. Many moments I felt like I needed to just make a choice, so I would decide not to stay, which gave me a temporary feeling of relief, but then I experienced a very unsettled feeling in my heart. As a result, I flipped over to the idea of staying, but this only left me with an overwhelming sense of fear and confusion, and I knew I wasn't ready.
So back and forth I went, wondering if I'd ever be able to make a choice and stick with it.
This past Sunday, everything changed.
I walked down the hill to church in the morning only to be greeted by one of the happiest little girls, who dashed towards me from a considerable distance as I approached the church. She took my hand, blessed me with a giant smile and escorted me into the church. From that first act, there began a chain reaction of encouraging events that continued all day, and I felt a familiar fullness in my heart beginning to return. I thanked the Lord as I fell asleep that night for giving me one of the most uplifting and joyous days that I've had in weeks. I had such a peace and excitement in my heart for being in this place. The next morning, I awoke to a new week of school with such a passion in my heart. I felt like the cloud which had been hovering over me finally lifted and I could see clearly that the Lord was reminding me about the call He gave me to serve in Haiti, and He is not calling me out yet.
This summer I get to come home. I am already counting the days and anticipating all of the wonderful memories that will be made in July and August as I return to refuel and begin planning for another year of teaching.
There is a verse that my mom shared with me last week that has become my theme as I take this next step of obedience, because things in Haiti still aren't perfect. I still long to be home. I still struggle with my role here and what I have to offer. I still have fears and hesitations about my commitment. There are mountains ahead, mountains that I know I can not climb on my own. There are also deserts ahead. Deserts that will leave me feeling dry and empty. But this verse is a promise that I am holding tightly to as I take this step of faith.
When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them.
I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert— cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
~ Isaiah 41:17-20 (NLT)
This verse gives me hope amidst the fear in my heart. It gives me peace despite the storm. I have faith that the Lord will stay true to this promise to me, just like He did to Isaiah.
I can't thank you enough for all of the prayers and support you have shown me over the past few weeks. I have felt your prayers and I am blessed to have such a team of encouragers behind me as I continue on this journey.
This decision doesn't take away the challenges. It actually leaves me with more questions than answers. However, I know it's right because of the peace that I have in my heart and the assurance of the Lord's goodness and blessing as I move forward.
Thank you for praying along with me in the weeks ahead as more arrangements and finalizations continue to be made that above all, He would be our guide.