Thursday, November 16, 2017

Haiti October 2017: Surrender

I’ve sat down several times, in an attempt to continue on with blogging about our Haiti trip. I’m not sure exactly why it’s gotten more difficult. Processing and sharing any trip has always been emotional and in some ways a struggle, and in other ways a blessing. But this time it seemed even more difficult. I think it's partially due to that fact that there was a “wrestling” with God that occurred in my heart and mind as the trip progressed, and in some ways continues to exist at times.
It was tough to experience, even tougher to process, and tougher still to write about and share. So please bear with me, as I try to get my thoughts out as honestly and humbly as I can. 

For the remaining 4 days in Hinche, our schedule basically stayed the same. In the mornings we had "free time", which we spent in a variety of ways which I will hopefully blog about in more detail at another time. 
We would return to the compound for lunch, and in the afternoons I would lay down and rest for a couple of hours, until we would head out for home visits.
We were usually able to get 4-6 home visits done each afternoon before we headed home for dinner.
We would eat. I would shower the girls and I and I would go to bed.
I did very little else than what was absolutely necessary.


And yet, my body was failing me a little more each day.
I recognized the signs. I did my best to ignore them, and cover them up with whatever medications I could. But my body continued on in a downward progression.

A lot of people have asked me, since returning home, what happened? Or what did I get so sick from? And the truth is I wasn’t “sick” per se, this is just something that happens to me. It isn’t common, it may occur two or three times in a year. We aren’t totally sure what the cause is (though we have our suspicions) and for all of you who will ask - I have gotten testing done, and tried a few different things (namely diet and supplements) to help and I have actually seen a lot of improvement, but I still experience setbacks at times. The timing of this, “setback” was very unfortunate, but it was in a lot of ways completely unrelated to Haiti.


At home, in normal circumstances, I would have just stopped. I would have spent two or three days just resting in order to recover from whatever type of “crash” I was having, and I would have moved on.

But this time it was different. This time I couldn’t stop. This time I couldn’t get the rest my body needed. This time I pushed. Because I had to. 

Although I did rest as much as I could, it wasn’t enough, and my body let me know that, loud and clear.

I had come to Haiti with a fairly substantial task to accomplish. As part of my responsibilities and heart for the student sponsorship program I had set a goal to go to as many home visits as I could of the sponsored students. My greatest desire for this trip was to get to know the families in the program better and to build relationships with them.

But this was not the only thing on my heart to do, I was really looking forward to spending time with my friends, and the kids and ladies at the compound. I wanted to spend time in the kitchen cooking, and learning how to do laundry by hand.
I was excited to spend time just BEing there. No agenda. Just hanging out with the people I love so much.
I had really looked forward to spending precious moments with my kids as they were introduced to the country and the people I love so dearly.


I imagined sitting for a while after dinner listening to Lavaud tell stories.
I imagined watching Treyton play basketball with the boys and coloring with Audrey and the little girl who hung around at the compound.  
I imagined teaching Alexa and her new friends hand-clap games and how valuable communication without words can really be.
I imagined racing hot wheels with Titus and the two little cousins that I can hardly tell apart.

I imagined experiencing the “softer” side of Haiti with my kids.

And while in some sense, I was able to do some of these things, and in other ways, I wasn’t.


As the days began to pass by, and I began to realize, I wasn’t getting better disappointment and doubt began to set in.

I continued to try to be open and honest with the group, everyone was so gracious to me throughout the trip, they continually checked in on me, and worked to make me as comfortable as they could.


I felt so loved.
But I also felt like a failure. I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling the disappointment and desperation from what my body was going through.
I wanted to get better for me. But even more so, I wanted to get better for everyone else.

Every trip I’ve taken to Haiti has had some level of spiritual warfare associated with it, nothing crazy or even visible, but present nonetheless. I came to Haiti expecting it, and I recognize that it is likely a contributing factor of what was going on physically.

Spiritually, I refused to give in, and I wasn’t alone, the entire team stood together in our desire and prayers both against the enemy and for healing.


We were daily, hourly even, asking God to heal me. Asking for God to turn the tides of what was increasingly becoming a major problem and setback to the trip. And while, we weren’t immediately receiving the answer we wanted, we were hopeful and expectant for the Lord to heal me before the 9 days were up and the majority of the group (and my husband, aka, my “rock”) left for home.


So what do you do when you don’t receive the answer you were hoping for?
What do you do when the disappointment of “unanswered prayer” feels like it’s crushing you?  
How do you process the confusion of knowing you were acting in obedience, and being faced with seeming failure?
What do you do when you start feeling angry with God for not giving you the answer you so desperately want? 

I struggled. I am still struggling a bit.
But, I wasn't alone, and I'm not alone, and God used (and is continuing to use) my "team" to help me get through it. 


One afternoon (I’m not sure if it was Monday or Tuesday) I was sitting in the girl’s room with Olivia, Donna, and Tim and I was sharing my disappointments and even some of the doubt I was starting to feel, and how I really didn’t think my body was going to be able to last the planned 18 days. We were on day 5 or 6 and my body was feeling more and more exhausted.

After I shared, we began to pray together.
As Tim began praying for me….. the floodgates opened and the tears that I had been trying so hard to hold in came pouring out. All the doubt, the anger, the disappointment became too much to hold onto.

As Tim prayed for both my healing and God’s will to be accomplished, I began to fully agree with him in my heart.  I had been, up to this point praying for God’s will to be accomplished, but I hadn’t really meant it. I had prioritized my healing over His will and was mostly just begging for His will to line up with mine…. Not the other way around.


Tears ran down my face, and down my knees as I pulled them into my chest. I felt my heart began to change, it felt wonderful, and painful all at the same time.  As every tear fell, I could feel myself letting go little-by-little. I began to loosen the grip on my will, my plans, and my goals. I began to picture myself kneeling with my hands wide open, literally laying down my agenda and my wants at his feet.

As Olivia and then Donna began to pray, I realized I was not the only one crying…. We all were. Our desperation was tangible, but so was our surrender. In our prayers we praised our Creator for who He is and we acknowledged His goodness toward us. We all, one by one poured out our hearts before God, and while I can’t speak for everyone, it felt as though once we poured and emptied ourselves, we each one let it go, and trusted Him to do what was best for each one of us.


After the final amen. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I was still disappointed. I won’t deny that. But I was completely surrendered.

In writing this I looked back into my journal from Haiti, I will end with the entry I found there:

I feel so much weight, a fear of disappointing others, and myself. I am realizing that I may not be able to continue on as planned and personally it’s devastating, but I can hardly even think about that part of it, for I am not the only one affected.
My physical pain seems to pale in comparison to the pain of hurting and disappointing others.
My weakness frustrates me: my physical weakness, yes, but I realize that my spiritual weakness is far greater.
I truly believe I heard the Lord and followed Him here in obedience. The plans we made came out of prayer and a genuine desire for obedience. To see it not working out is confusing, and in some ways a challenge of faith.

Lord, I am one of little faith, I am so easily tossed about by the waves that surround me. I’m confused. I’m scared. I long to obey, and yet, my flesh selfishly continues to seek it’s own way.
I give this hour, this day, this trip, and my entire life to you.
Lord, I ask you to use me in spite of myself. May you receive all the glory that is due You.

Psalms 68:19-20
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily BEARS US UP,
God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation.”

Psalms 73:25-26
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
 My flesh and my heard may fail
 but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”