When I was a young girl, at the age of 7, God placed in my heart 4 clear desires and one clear message for me. He created a space in my heart that longed to be an artist, to be on Broadway, to travel the world to help people, and to live in France. And He told me that I was destined for something big. Something bigger than where I was, which at the age of 7 wasn’t a far stretch. But I believed it.
Then the ebbs and flows of life came through, as they always do, eroding my shoreline that lacked a proper seawall. The experiences and words of others somehow became louder than the desires of my heart. “You should probably just study art history in college”, ” You are f*@!ing up the whole scene!”, fear, fear, fear. Then complacency settles into the space in your heart, like an unwanted guest squeezing the desires out of the space that was once so sacred.
After years of turning the complacency to regret and then regrets into resentments and resentments into self loathing and BAM! somehow you let the enemy win. You end up with two choices; wallow or fight. And you choose to fight. And some days it feels like what you can only imagine that they felt at the Battle of the Bulge; one step forward, two-no make that three, steps back. And then some days it’s all quiet on the western front and you are filled with a cup full of hope. a re-charge to your ammunition supplies. And what can seem like forever, eventually you start making progress and then one day you are walking in the glorious light of God’s love. Because you started to replace the words of the enemy with the words of God. You are worthy. You are loved. You are enough. Basking in the warmth and the space where your desires once lived is swept clean and renewed and slowly you let those desires back into the space to open up, like a budding flower returning in spring.
But don’t be naive into thinking that the war is won. Because the enemy will continue to push on and the harder you press into God the harder satan will press into you. But you have your secret weapon, your Father, the King of Kings, fighting this battle with you and for you. You see, God isn’t really interested in letting go of what is His. He is a jealous God and you are His. And He will fight for you and with you. You are His. He calls you child. He calls you beloved. He calls you worthy. But He also calls you something special. A name that is designed just for you and for all those special qualities and desires He put in you while He knit you in your mother’s womb. And if you ask Him, He will reveal that name to you.
When I asked God what He calls me I heard nothing. I can only imagine what my face looked like while I was trying with all my might to keep my thoughts at bay and to listen-like I was listening for the sound of a worm crawling-so intently, yet the outside noises kept invading until I gave up. The old thoughts came bubbling back up, “you are not worthy enough to hear from God” “Do you really think you are special enough for that?” I turned to sulking and then to just forgetting about it. Until He told me. I was sitting there amongst all my co-workers, getting ready to begin praise and worship as a family at our annual retreat and I heard Him. Like an audible voice. I turned to the person next to me and said, “Did you say something to me?” with a blank stare on his face, “No.” I figured surely it was my imagination or I just caught words from someone else’s conversation. Then I heard it again. So I turned to the other side of me and asked, “Did you say something?” This time I got a look o surprise and another, “No.” So I asked, feeling like Samuel as a child, “God is that you?” And again He spoke my identity. And immediately I asked but what does that mean, and immediately He filled me with the so many things it meant and I suddenly felt complete in that moment. He calls me “Creator.” Creator of life, of art, of experiences, of characters, of dramas, of connections. Creator.
Now I danced about in that for a few months before I got comfortable in it. because that is what we do, we get comfortable where we are until suddenly it doesn’t feel so magical or awesome and we start to forget. Or we start to hear others identities and they suddenly sound way cooler than ours, “Warrior” “Healer of Hearts” “Leader of Men” and we fall prey to the tar-pit of comparison. It just sucks you in and throws you back into the vicious cycle of self loathing. And we begin again. But this time I have the name that God calls me and I cling to that. And when I marinate on the word Creator I think of our all mighty Creator and all that He has created. From the tiniest of molecules to farthest reaches of the universe, He created them. And He created me and calls me Creator. You see, we are created in the image of God and He gave me a portion of Himself. His Creator self. How can I not be humbled and honored and in awe of His love?
If you are interested in understanding more about your personal identity in Christ, this video can help you walk through it. If you need more, message me in the comments and I can give you more.
I seemed to have gotten incredibly busy after I blogged day 5. Working in ministry, the closer it gets to Christmas, the busier you get! As I have been prayerfully considering and listening to how God wants to use me, I was reminded that I have left a work unfinished.
When I left off at the end of day 5 I forgot to mention a moment that seemed to sum up the dichotomy of which we live in. While planting trees, we were at one home which had its own well and backed up to a field of corn. The soil at this home was very moist and fertile. As we began to dig, I discovered an earthworm. I picked up the worm and held it in my hand and showed it to the village champions we were working with. Their reaction, to me, was at first hilarious. But then I realized their frightened faces held a true fear for them. You see, they can die from parasites and worms that enter into I tried to explain to them that this earthworm would not harm them and that they were actually a good sign. That earthworms denote healthy soil, but they were not truly convinced and not one of them was willing to touch it! The things we take for granted.
In any case, our 6th and last day was spent checking out other campuses of Mission of Hope. One right on the beach, used primarily for the school and during really busy times of the Mission. They were in the process of building a conference center there as well.
After leaving the campus we proceeded to the village of Leveque. Leveque did not exist prior to the earthquake of 2010. The Haitian government gave the land to Samaritans Purse to resettle people from Port-Au-Prince. The village was planned for 500. The Blue sided shelters so often seen provided by Samaritan’s Purse lined the hillside. But those blue sided shelters have turned to homes. Homes in groups of 4-5, sharing a well. A school and a church have been built and there is a large community of deaf individuals that live here. The community has already exceed 500 and, to me, it was a pretty little village. All of the houses painted in bright colors with tropical plants and fruit trees interspersed .
People still using donkeys for transport.
The Haitian community is a vibrant and colorful one. Although the people are lacking in basic essentials that we take for granted, they have a genuine love and joy of life that we rarely see in the United States.
People have asked if I would go again: yes! What would I change: the only thing I would like different, would to be connected with just one or two families for the entire length of the stay. I think relationships are what we are built for and designed for and what makes us thrive. So yes, I would have liked to get better connected .
If you have considered a mission trip but are feeling intimidated, Mission of Hope is a great place to start.
Day 5 was a day of work. We planted fruit trees, mostly cherry trees, at various homes among the village. The provide fruit (obviously), shade and sometimes a commodity. When we asked the homeowners how they would use the trees, they all said that they would feed themselves, but also their neighbors. The Haitian community that I have been witness to are some of the most generous people I have ever met. They have so little and yet live so largely and open handed compared to our country that has so much yet clenches their fists so tightly.
Our day was filled with a lot of digging in high temperatures. I did not take a lot of pictures that day, as I was getting my hands dirty but here are a few:
While many people can look at what we did was to simply plant trees, it was much more than that. When we planted a tree we explained that the tree, while providing multiple things for them, it should also serve as a reminder that a tree cannot bear fruit unless it is firmly planted in the ground. Just like ourselves and God. If we are not firmly planted in God, we cannot bear the fruit of His love. And like all trees and vines, we need to be pruned and watered and given much light.
After lunch we headed back to the village for a kids camp. It is basically like a one day VBS. There is a lot of singing and dancing, a short skit and a quick talk about the skit and its meaning. The kids then get a free meal and a craft. We were in this small school room, with resembles more like a lean to, with 100 kids. Here are some pictures of it all.
Peter and his posse.
Rrrrrro Rrrrrrro one of our Village Champions!
Katie getting her groove on.
Patty showing Ro Ro how it is done!
“And that kids is how you take a selfie!”
After the kids camp we went back to the compound and had some down time. We ventured over to Madame Cheap Cheap’s market stall. Madame Cheap Cheap is actually a whole family that sells wares and souvenirs and they are all related. However, they each have their own section and they try to out sell each other. It is quite comical. There is the matriarch, the original Madame Cheap Cheap, seen here:
Then there is her daughter, her son and all her grandchildren.
Michael was given the name “Big Booty Cheap Cheap” . Here he is getting his braids that they promised would make him look like Justin Bieber…..
The moon is creeping……
Kelly, our worship leader and jam-master K, also known as the “preacher!”
One of my favorite pictures, Port-Au-Prince at night.
The morning of our 4th day in Haiti we were taken on a tour of the Mission of Hope complex. Here are some photos of the complex, as well as a few of some more Strategic Village Time.
The morning light.
Souvenirs from nature.
Basketball court that doubles as a movie theater on campus!
All of these images are part of the orphanage. Mission of Hope does not do international adoptions, as they want the children to be raised in Haiti to become leaders of the next generation.
The next images are of some of the school buildings.
Mike Two Two
The interior of the church.
Paula trying to wash clothes. I did say trying. A for effort!
After hearing about Michael’s broken washing machine, the locals gave him a lesson on doing it himself. Not really, we all know Michael would just go buy new clothes.
This family ran a small market out of their home and this little girl was taking care of the customers and taking their money. I am thinking her math skills are superior to my own!
Heading in for lunch! The rest of our day was an adventure that will be continued in the next post!
Normally on these mission trips the last day is reserved for a “down day”. Meaning a day of rest and bringing one down from the service “high” that occurs while going on one of these trips. Its meant to help you start the re-acclimation process for when you return home. However, Haiti’s presidential elections were taking place during our trip and it has historically been a violent time. So our schedule was altered and we headed to our down time a mere 32 hours after we arrived. Here are quite a few pictures of our time at Wahoo Bay Resort.
Our view behind us, evoking the “Lava Song”.
Michael Two Two.
Like the goat, can you find the crab?
Paula and Patty!
Glass bottom kayak and we never tipped over. Thank you Michael for not wearing your Speedo.
How serious were they about the elections? UN and armed military everywhere. They are not messing around.
Just some traffic in the market. Not Kroger’s parking lot.
Double rainbow to wrap up the day!
And probably one of my best shots of the moon I have ever gotten. Now I need a telephoto lens……
Among the poverty there is so much beauty.
Michael with a couple of the kids.
This is Billy, Patty’s sponsored child (not really a child anymore!). We spent some time at Billy’s and this is where I met Woud Lyi. (pictured below) Woud Lyi, pronounced ‘Ooood Lee”, is a soft-spoken boy who was incredibly sweet. Sometimes you meet people and you just connect. I was not quite sure if it was just me that felt the connection and after that day, I felt pretty doubtful that I would see him again. When we returned to Mission of Hope, I asked the various Village Champions if they knew who he was, but no one did.
And this is Jerry, Billy’s brother and Woud Lyi’s friend.