Going to visit my home state of Louisiana is so bittersweet. It’s always difficult to leave Gressier, Haiti and especially my girls- but getting to see my family and friends is always refreshing and exciting.
But this time home was extremely difficult…I guess though the longer I’m in Haiti the harder it is to leave even for one week or 10 days.
I heard someone say that after living in a foreign country for a while that you reach the “time and place” where you aren’t home until heaven (when I’m back in the United States I miss Haiti and when I’m back in Haiti I miss the United States). That’s where I am, and it’s hard…
After speaking at a church last weekend many people came up to me and my mom and stated, “I could never do that”, and they’d look at my mom and say, “How did you let her do this?” I loved my mom’s graceful answer of a gentle smile and a laugh because she knows that this is not something that she “allowed” or didn’t “allow”. Instead it was a deep embedded burden from God.
Being from a close-knit Southern Louisiana family (who ALL live in Lafayette- very close to each other) that STILL gets together with about 30 people every Sunday at noon for “Sunday dinner” and gets together for everyone’s birthday- it’s hard—I’ve missed birthdays, holidays, births, deaths, weddings…
Being here is not just giving up one thing OR making a choice that’s easy and that I believe in ALL the time…100%.
My decision is not a place. My belief is not a calling “I feel”. My decision is following Christ, and my belief is being in His will, wherever on earth that is and whatever that looks like.
I KNOW God has called me here to Gressier, I KNOW I am where he wants me, but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break when I only get to SEE pictures of my twin cousins that were born,…or that my heart doesn’t jump in my throat when I get the emails about my family meeting for Sunday dinners, birthdays or celebrations. (especially when they are having roast and rice and gravy…or crawfish etoufee!)
But sometimes, as much as I want to just turn around and head home to where I grew up, where I am comfortable and feel safe…I then read Luke 12…
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate His own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even HIS OWN LIFE He cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
“Hating…even His Own Life…”…
What a challenge. A huge challenge.
Trying to get back into the swing of things after only a few days here in Haiti is challenging…it is hard to “Hate my own life.” ESPECIALLY when I have just returned from my “old” life….And especially When the world of America is so appealing…simple pleasures- beautiful grocery stores (with TONS of selections of cheese)…wonderful things like coffee shops and Target …Chick fil a…hot showers…no bug bites…
The truth is, I love my family, more than anything…I love my friends, more than anything…I miss them, more than anything…that is anything, except for Christ…and HIS plans for me, for Respire Haiti, for the children and families of Gressier, Haiti.
What an impossible decision to make…to choose fighting for others families and children when I feel at times I am neglecting my “own”, biological family (and friends). It is a challenge. And many times leaves me disappointing others and in a place where I KNOW I am where God wants me but sometimes I ache to be with my family and friends.
The most important commandment….”And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Matthew 12:30
If coming to Haiti was simply a “decision” I made to move away, then I can tell you there is NO way I would still be here…
Simply because I in and of myself, am NOT that strong.
I am NOT strong enough to handle the overwhelming need, the poverty…the hurting, abused, neglected children…the enormous amount of slaves, child slaves, domestic servants…the young pregnant women, younger than me….
It would seem like because I am actually living here in Gressier, fighting for these children, building a school…living the day in and day out challenges…that I am unwaveringly following my “call” to Haiti…
The truth is, in the midst of such difficulty, sometimes my flesh cries out to run away…to be comfortable…to not be so “radical” in living…but then God calms my nerves…and reminds me what “Fighting for the Fatherless” looks like…he reminds me what “visiting orphans and widows in their distress” looks like…and then I am grateful.
Grateful to be used by Him. Blessed that HE, a God who is SO big and doesn’t NEED me, has chosen little, imperfect, broken ME to be His hands and feet here.
God then reminds me that BECAUSE of my family I am able to be here in Gressier showing children what it is like to be loved. Showing families what it means to be a family. Reuniting lost, stolen children with their mothers and fathers. HE reminds me because of where I came from and the love my family has for each other…that HE used THEM to show ME what unconditional love looks like. And now, I have the amazing journey and gift of passing that forward.
To my family: THANK YOU for your support, prayers and encouragement. Even when sometimes what I’m doing looks crazy, you’ve been the first to be my board members, cheerleaders, encouragers and prayer warriors…I would not be here in Gressier building this school, feeding these children and being their voice without you. I love you all!
In Memory of my Grandmother who recently passed away (9/23/23-8/21/11) As she battled with Alzheimer’s her daughters and sons were an amazing testament of unconditional love- through thick, thin, stubbornness and humor. I love you Maw Maw and thank you for giving me your stubbornness, your strong will and MOST importantly your vigorous belief in prayer.