We spent a week in Haiti, Saturday to Saturday. There were 12 of us on our team... 8 high schoolers, 4 leaders. Our teens changed in that week. They grew by leaps and bounds, in boldness, joy, maturity, and worship of the Lord. Our nightly prayer meetings reflected the day's work - these kids pushed during the day, and they pushed at night. They love our Jesus with a fiercer love than before - and I am so very proud of them.
Philippians says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." That was proven this week - with a reminder of the opposite... I can do nothing, at least nothing of consequence, without Him. This is my prayer - that I remember this in all things... That HE is the source of all my abilities AND my inabilities. I can do nothing without His power working through me, and all things should point to Him.
Have you ever sung in Creole? I have... I LOVE it. Worship at the Mission of Hope church was infectious... even if you didn't know what you were singing, you knew you were glorifying the Lord - and joining hundreds of other believers, belting out the lyrics. These people show no restraint in their worship. If they want to praise the Lord, they do so with every ounce of their being. They sing loudly, dance exuberantly, and shout His praises from the beginning to the end.
On Tuesday night, we had a worship service... Mostly songs, some prayer--a lot of time praising the Lord. After an hour and a half or two hours, it came time to take the offering. After about 5 minutes of worship, things started to be dying down... a few of us looked at each other, ready to take our seats. All of a sudden, the music ramped up again--louder and a little faster. Something was happening. People began pouring out of their seats and into the aisles, dancing, singing, laughing, until sweat was visible on every single person there. On and on and on the music played, increasing intensity, building joy and laughter. After about 10 minutes, Justin stepped out to video the intense worship, as the rest of us just kept moving with the music. We were clapping and laughing, singing all of the "Oooohs" and as much of the Creole as we could figure out. Our students joined in a conga line. The people around us danced and sang, shouting out thanks to God - "Meci, Jezi! Meci, Jezi!" 20 or 25 minutes in the music finally finished... worshipers flushed and hoarse, filled with laughter. I suspect it will be a long time before I experience this intensity in worship again!
The things that seemed so little when we started this trip out became vitally important. God planned each of the 4 leaders to head to Haiti with these teens--2 men, 2 women. Each of us was needed, with our own abilities and strengths. Who knew that we would need the expertise of each at one time or another? Only God. I feel so very honored that I was chosen as one of these leaders, and that I was able to serve Him not only by ministering to the Haitian community, but also to the youth of our own church.
There were other times when I was amazed at how God would place one person in a position to minister and it would be the perfect person. One example: We were in a village on our last ministry day, talking to the people in the street. The afternoon was hot and muggy (as all are in Haiti). Women were washing clothes in the river on the other side of the bridge. Children came running to us calling out, "Blan! Blan! (White! White!)" A group of men were resting in the shade of a huge tree, right next to the river. One of our students, an evangelist at heart, grabbed one of our translators (yes, they're interpreters, not translators, but down there that's what they're referred to as), and began asking these men if they were Christians, if they believed in Jesus, if they wanted prayer. He made the rounds... then stopped at one man sitting by himself. The older man lifted up his left arm to show our teen the scars from where the bullets of a gun ripped through his body. Our young evangelist adjusted his shirt to show where the bullet of a gun ripped through his own body--putting him in a place to recognize the reality of Jesus. Young boy and old man--connected with an awareness of how precious life is and how it needs to be used by God. The old man gave his life to Christ that day. God used two very horrible situations to bring His glory into the lives of His children.
Greetings and Language
When I see someone here in the US, I still want to greet them with "Bon Jou" or "Bon Swa!" I want to tell people, "Meci!" I want to ask, "Komen ou ye?" I still hear our teens shouting "Jezi vivan!" In telling stories to some of my Deaf co-workers today, I signed things in ASL, but mouthed them in Creole--because things happened in Creole.
OK, it had to be mentioned. At multiple points during the week, everyone's shirts were soaked with sweat. It was hot. And working hard in the hot means that your pores start leaking. I can still see David on the ladder inside the school, painting the corners and edges, both shirts soaked and hair plastered to his face. There were shiny faces all week long - but loving Jesus means you get to sweat sometimes - it was worth it!
We serve a God who likes to do miracles. One of the teens on our team went to Haiti with very bad asthma. While there, he had a massive, get-him-to-the-hospital-or-he-could-die asthma attack. Those on our team who were with him at the time started to pray - and instantly he was healed. Not just healed in the moment, but permanently healed. There is no more asthma in his body. God is amazing!
The last night we were there, God told me to ask the teens for prayer for my knees. I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my left knee, and there are times when the pain is debilitating. This was their trip and I didn't want to take away from that, plus I'm so dang prideful, but God was clear... so I asked. They prayed. I stood up and went to the stairs... going down about half of them, turning around, and coming back up... Something was different. There was no grinding. No grinding. My knees have been grinding every day since last January - and often before that. The grinding was gone. I had no idea how to respond. My knees felt weird, different than they ever had. I yelled out, "There's NO GRINDING!" I went up and down the stairs - again with no grinding. How do you respond?? My prayer the whole time was, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!" It still is!
See... There's still pain in my knee--specifically my left knee. but... it's different. I'm not sure how to describe what's different about it. The grinding is gone. I'm going up and down stairs now and not crunching--something I wasn't sure I'd ever experience again. I have an appointment later this month with a knee specialist--something that got scheduled before I left for Haiti. My endocrinologist (who made the appointment) suspected that there may be more than just arthritis in there. I'm tending to agree... I'm wondering if God DID specifically heal the arthritis, so the doctor will be able to see what the OTHER problem is clearly. I don't know how our Lord works - I just know that I will continue to pray and thank Him and be so very excited!
That's all for now. God is GOOD. He is FAITHFUL. I am so in love with Him.