I remember the exact setting when I met Laurens and Cheryl for the very first time. We sat at a corner table in Gateway Niagara and they told me their plans of moving their family of 5 to Haiti for a year or more depending on the Lord's leading. I remember a second meeting a year later, when they sat down with me again, this time on vintage red furniture in my Haitian apartment, and they told me their decision to stay another year. I remember months later the emotional talk I had with Cheryl when she told me their family's plans to adopt twins from Good Samaritan orphanage. I remember that same year another conversation about their plans to continue on staff.
Each one of these conversations brought surprise and searching. A new chapter opening. A collision of questions, fears, uncertainties and a quest for purpose that flooded my mind.
This past Saturday afternoon, I sat down with Laurens and Cheryl on their patio furniture with the Caribbean breeze blowing through and they told me their plans for the coming chapter. Please take time to check out their latest post here if you can. As you will read, the vanderMarks have felt the Lord calling them to return to Canada permanently this summer. As a staff, we are all supportive, but realize how much they will be dearly missed.
To be honest, there was always a tendency for me from the beginning to see myself as a package deal with the vanderMarks, even though they never imposed this position on me. As much as I always made a separate decision from them about my plans to stay or go, I often relied on them for direction (especially in the beginning years). This is partly why their pull toward moving back to Canada puts me at a crossroads. I feel like the ground underneath me has shifted and I don't really know which way is up anymore.
This uncomfortable junction feeling was becoming more and more foreign to me over the most recent months. I had established a good routine between school and other ministries, which has become relatively predictable and my sense of 'normal'. Haiti life wasn't very appealing to me at first, but the more miles I've covered on this track, the more comfortable I've become, and the more it has seized my heart.
I think I should know by now that this comfort zone I get in is an indicator of something new having to happen, and so as much as I know that it's good, it's also a difficult pill to swallow.
In my mind, Haiti is hard to picture without Laurens, Cheryl and their kids, because it's all I ever known. It causes me to question if I will stay in Haiti. It causes me to panic and wonder if God is dropping me off a cliff. It causes me to search for possibilities that haven't yet surfaced. I wonder if losing 4 students will still make my teaching role here necessary. I wonder if I will be leaving Mission of Hope for good this June. I wonder if this means I have to prepare to say goodbye to Haiti in a few short months. I wonder if moving back to Canada is my only option or if there is another place on this globe where I fit.
These are the very honest and painful questions that are spinning in my mind, none that I have the answers to. My determined brain does not want to be defeated in this, and keeps me up long hours sorting through variables and possibilities. The truth that I've known all along though, is that through the meetings with staffers and discernment of different options, my best and only hope in the matter is to simply pray and ask the Lord to guide me along as He always has. Once again, I appreciate your prayers in this season of waiting and discerning and leaning hard on the Lord's guidance in where and how I go from here. It is my prayer that the Lord would continue to shed light on my path one day at a time, and open and close the doors that come along so that I can have peace and clarity about what is next.
Words fail every time, but once again I thank you with my whole heart for staying with me on this journey of embracing hope. I cherish your support and look forward to what the Lord has in store for the new normals that await. Please be in prayer for the vanderMark family as they embark on a new chapter, and for many others living in Haiti during this season, who are searching out answers and nudgings from the Lord. May His whispers become shouts, and His gentle hand pull us through to the next chapter, whatever and wherever that may be.