Guest Blogger Judi Martin: Haiti Mission Trip
This week’s guest blog comes from member Judi Martin who recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti. This is here story:
Anticipation, excitement, stresses, praying overtime; all feelings before you leave for a mission trip. Trying to get so much work done before you leave. Most of it busy work… stopping mail and paper, making sure things are being handled at the office, family… do they know how to contact me in case of emergency… Why do we worry so much about things? Then you have all the planning and preparation leading up to the mission trip: planned activities for the kids, projects around the orphanage, packing of supplies, gifts, materials for all our projects, and oh yes… team snacks. We must keep up our energy!
Team captain Dusty asked us all to share a bible verse before we left… mine was 1 John 3:16. This is how we know what love is: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” We were also asked to journal daily and to be in the word.
Okay, not the best at journaling, but I said I was going to do this faithfully on this trip. I did and I loved it. In it, I wrote down what my daily word was and why I selected it (more on that later), what was the Lord saying to me, shared my ups and downs during the day, and what I was learning from Proverbs. I selected Proverbs to read while in Haiti. I was ambitious, thought maybe I could get through all the chapters, NOT, but I did do one chapter a day.
Back to the daily words, it was a really cool way for our team captain to engage us. At our evening team meetings, we would share this one word that shared our feelings for the day. Each day was different and therefore each word we selected varied. They ranged from “welcomed, relieved, balanced, blessed etc.” Haiti is so different from where we come from as is life in an orphanage. My emotions were all over the place; love, sadness, weariness. While in Haiti, time is very different, things don’t happen in our time, but in Haitian time. You are there to love on the kids, share your faith, and let them know Jesus loves them. But, you end up being the one the kids love on and they blow you away with their faith and worship.
Little kids raising their hands and giving praise to the Lord for the small things in life. I am in awe of these kids and their love for the Lord, but on the other hand, I feel so sad for them, their country, and their futures. It is so important for them to continue to build and strengthen their relationship with the Lord because they are going to need his strength and comfort when they leave the walls of Christian Haitian Orphanage (CHO). You want so badly to have them understand this, but on the other hand, I just want them to know they are loved and for that moment, that day, have fun and have a smile on their face.
You don’t need sleep aids in Haiti… I would get so tired from working hard, playing hard, praying hard, yet I slept so sound. Funny, no feelings of stress, and no indigestion. Yes, I would get extremely hot and feet all bloated. But, I felt at such peace. No worrying about latest news at home (except the Boston Marathon bombing), politics, office, worrying about my family or parents… couldn’t do much about it anyway while there. Why can’t I declutter and remove stress from my life back home? Looks like more training and teachable moments from God!!
The kids are what this is all about. God wants us to love all and help those less fortunate. Pastor Mark said which I know to be true, that team members get more out of these mission trips than the kids. I know the Lord is working on my heart and has plans for my future. My constant prayers include ”Lord I am here with heart open waiting for you to reveal your plans”. I did not leave Haiti with clear direction, but I continue to wait and listen.
Fun, yes you laugh a lot and it is very contagious. The kids love unconditionally. They don’t care what race you are, if you are fat or skinny, young or old, what job you have or how much money you have or don’t have. Yes, they get caught up in the moment of all the added playmates (us), new games, new devotions and activities and gifts we bring, but what kid doesn’t. They were right there to help with the CHO projects. Nothing touched me more than to see a handicapped child and the “littlest” little girl with paint brushes in their hands standing right next to team and staff to paint their home.
My fellow team members all come from different backgrounds, each processes different spiritual gifts, each with unique emotions and experiences. What we had in common, we all fell in love with the kids and love the Lord. For some this experience helps fill voids, for some it makes us more appreciative of our own lives. Some experience a spiritual awakening never felt before bringing you closer to the Lord, and for others, it is their way of helping those less fortunate.
For me, I probably experienced all of these emotions and more. While there, I celebrated my wedding anniversary with my late husband and gave thanks for healing from a serious medical condition involving cancer that I was dealing with before I left. I was overcome by feelings of being blessed just to have been there at that moment in my life doing God’s work with this particular team. I know what it means to have experienced a “ah Ha” moment. With an open heart, I pray for continued obedience and guidance of God’s direction and plan for my life.