6 years ago today I took a few small steps off of an airplane and unknowingly changed my entire life.
I didn’t come to Haiti thinking it would be a big deal. I didn’t come with the expectation that my life and my passions would change. Quite simply, I came to Haiti to fulfill the expectations of the American church. Mission trips are what you do when you are a “good Christian” and I so badly wanted to be thought of as good. I felt the heavy weight of all those secret areas of my life that fell outside of the boundaries of acceptable Christian behavior and so I set out to do this thing that would lift it. I wanted to be on the list of the good kids that come from the good school in my small town in a corner of the richest country in the world.
The grace of God found me, a broken and weak little girl, longing to fit in with the “perfect” Christians that surrounded her, and rescued me. It filled up every corner of my searching heart and overflowed into a passion that my small town in a corner of the richest country in the world just couldn't contain.
It’s been 6 years and I am still finding the pieces of my story that God captured and scattered all those years ago and I am uncovering them in the most surprising places. A little bit in the crumbled buildings of Leogane, where I first became a mother… a tiny fragment in a red suitcase turned coffin buried in a place no one will ever visit… a small sliver in a crippled old man who lives and loves more fiercely than any able bodied human I've ever met… there is a chunk on a distant beach, where my best friends serve and grow and graciously let me peek into their lives, a place I dream of joining them someday… there is a fraction in a little girl who’s file reads patient #0001, she changed my mind about everything to do with malnutrition and loving a child that isn't “your own”… There are tiny sprinkles in the delivery room of the local hospital where I found a new passion and learned to welcomed new lives… And there are the biggest pieces I have found so far, in 3 people who have changed every single aspect of anything I have ever known, imagined or believed. 2 sleep in the room next to mine and one remains my first thought each morning and the last prayer on my lips each night.
I could try to put all of these fragments together, to form them into the picture I trust they are making up but I know that is pointless. The glimpses of this blessed life are still too tiny, too scattered. Every single morning when I wake up I am faced with the possibility of finding another one, never knowing in the moment if it will be just a small corner, or a bursting with color and hope, future and path changing, huge segment. I know that there are countless more to discover and I have no idea where on this island I will be asked to travel to gather them.
I feel almost no connection to the person I was before I came to Haiti, sometimes visiting my own memories feels like reading a book that someone else wrote. And yet my life, both the secret corners and the live out loud parts that I share with the world, still fall so very far outside of the boundaries of the Christianity of my youth. I don’t walk the streets of the slums evangelizing the poor, I don’t hand out plates of food to hungry masses. I don’t always wear shorts longer than my finger tips and I sit on the corner, in broad daylight drinking a cold beer on a regular basis. Actually, come to think of it, I’m probably not many people’s idea of a good missionary.
Thankfully, of all the things that have changed in the lifetime packed into 6 years, one of the biggest is that today I am no longer in Haiti to impress anyone. I am not seeking to get on anyone’s list of someone special. Today, I am not in Haiti to be a Christian, every evening I go to bed barely deserving of the title. I am in Haiti to wake up again tomorrow and beg God to bring someone to my door who needs love, and for the strength to give it. I am in Haiti to search every moment for an opportunity to extend a bit of the grace that I have been given to someone who needs to hear that they are worthy, they are loved, they are ENOUGH because speaking those words engraves them into my heart. I am the least of these, the worst of the worst but even when I do everything in my power to be damned, His grace abounds.