... A new view.
I went for a mountain hike on Saturday afternoon. This was an initiation for the big climb that we are anticipating when some of my family arrives with the Canadian team this month (8 days and counting!).
We ventured off of the mission road, stopped to say hello to our mountain family friends (I playfully bragged that I'd be waving to them at the top and had their doubts I could do it!), and then proceeded through the stone gulleys, thorn bushes, and steep inclines. Each time we trekked to a higher summit, the Mission of Hope got smaller. The world as I know it in Haiti became a little 'Lego' set of life. At the height of our first mountain, I did a slow rotation and took in the small pieces of my life from above. It's amazing how miniscule these buildings that I've been dwelling in seem when compared with the vast land, and how much smaller I am amidst it all.
As I looked down from above at the anthill of my life, the stresses and struggles that I deal with everyday seemed to shrink along with them. It's so easy to get caught up in daily traps along the way, and yet all the while, there is a much bigger picture happening... The openness and space and beauty on the top of the mountain was like a wake up call to not get stuck in a 'little' life.
I don't want to let temporary dilemmas define what my days are about. I want to have a bigger picture. As the sun began to set over the mountains and we trekked back to my 'world', I prayed to be continually reminded that smallness should not be an excuse for shallowness.
... A new light.
5:30am Easter Sunday morning, evidence was everywhere. The grey hues of clouds transformed into bursts glowing of color. Streaks of light poured out from behind the mountains. Progressively, long shadows emerged, and sunlight broke through. It warmed my skin. The rays exposed everything it touched. The once-dark land was brought to life in color.
Beginning the day with the sunrise was a rare chance for me to truly stop. I didn't have to check my watch. I didn't have to oversee anybody. I didn't have to think about my mismatched pyjamas. I simply got to sit still and watch the splendor unfold - Each minute more beautiful than the last.
After the sun came into view fully and I walked back to my apartment, I had a new sense of refreshment. Despite my alarm going off 2 hours earlier than normal, I was energized and enthused about the day ahead, no coffee required! - although I could have gone for donut :). The time of quietness was like a wave of peace over whatever was to come that day, as the rest of the world awoke.
If only everyday could start so well.
But. It does... I'm just not deliberate about noticing it.
Each and every morning there is a light show beyond any man-made display, while most of us sleep it away. Please don't take this as a guilt trip to start waking before dawn every day... I'm not changing my alarm for the long term, but it has made me think about how often I let myself miss out. How I fail to seize opportunities and be amazed at the Lord's beauty around me all the time. These are everyday miracles that the Lord abundantly gives, and most of the time I just take them for granted. I don't want the routine of my life to distract me from these 'whisper' moments. It's in these places that I am given meaning and life.
... A new decision.
Yes, it's that time again. Time to look back on the road I've tread, and time to look ahead at what the next year will bring. As the next few weeks pass, I appreciate your prayers for not just me, but for all of the families here as our year commitment reaches it's finale and the page turns.
I'm facing quite a different scenario this time around compared to last spring. With the flurry of weeks that have passed since the earthquake, I feel like time has been on fast-forward. There hasn't been much time to process what's past or future. I feel like I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg when thinking about bringing closure to what has all taken place. The Mission of Hope has become headquarters for far more than any of us saw coming so fast, which equals more people, more staff, more growth, more change.
I can feel change happening in my own heart too.
I love teaching these missionary kids. I feel so blessed to be in this place where I can use my training, use the abilities and passions that God has given me to be a part of the ministry of the Mission of Hope. It has been a privilege to guide them this year and to see who they are each becoming in the Lord.
And as the weeks turn to months and the months turn to years, more passions have been sparked in my heart. I met this beautiful mountain family, got connected with brothers and sisters in Nashville, and have been blessed by reaching out to Shaylyn, Senson and their families and neighbours.
Relationships have strengthed too. This past weekend, I spent some time with Sadrac and Wicky, interpreters at the mission who have become my Haitian brothers. In our meal conversation, they began sharing parts of their past with me - history of their country, dreams in their hearts - all things that I would have assumed I knew plenty about, but for the first time I really began to understand a depth about their lives. It was such a blessing to hear them confide in me and hear what their vision is as they move forward after the earthquake.
As these situations of relationship-building and understanding continue to cross my path, it's my prayer that I may be a good steward of what the Lord is planting in me and through me... That I may not pass over or neglect anything He is at work in.
On Sunday night I sat on the van der Mark porch with friends and Laurens posed the question - If you were given a blank page where you were asked to write what your life in Haiti is about, what would you put?
The question scared me at first because I didn't know what to say. Where to even begin!?
But as I returned to my apartment that night, I couldn't get the question out of my brain. I found myself taking out a piece of white paper, highlighting the question at the top, and I have been jotting thoughts down ever since.
I don't know what my time left in Haiti looks like. I may be flying back on a one-way ticket in 3 months, or these past 2 years may only be the beginning of a lifetime. Only God knows that far ahead, and right now I don't think it's going to do me any good to get hung up on where my life is going to be in 10, 20, 30 years. He's only going to chuckle at me.
Instead, I can think about where He has led me and what He has established in me thus far, and what He wants me to do with it now. Based on the opportunities that truly make my heart full, I know I want to be about relationships. Empowering people, going beyond the surface, pointing people to Jesus through love and deeds.
I know that this passion can surface in many areas - from the missionary kids I'm teaching right now, to the friendships that I'm establishing through the church. I don't know where it's going to take me in the future, but I ask for your prayers as I discern and anticipate what is to come.
One of the main themes that I never want to emerge as I continue on this journey is a life of complacency. I am often tempted to give into what's comfortable, what I'm familiar with, what I know I am competent in, and leave the risk or challenge for someone else. I ask that you pray along with me that as decisions are made in the weeks ahead, that I would not have a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of confidence and trust that the Lord is guiding me through. He knows the path I take and I don't ever want to forget that His strength will be enough through every high and low.
So there's a smattering of my discoveries and dilemmas and whatever is in between.
Thank you all for your support and unfailing prayers and encouragement not just in the decision times, but throughout the year. I am truly blessed to know you in my kingdom family.