I spent 5 days in Haiti last week. 5 days that I'm guessing will forever change my life. So I wanted to spend 5 days reflecting on my experiences and what I learned. Today is day 5. I'm still processing all I saw and experienced and I'm still figuring out what that means going forward. But here are the 5 big take aways I brought with me from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
1. My priorities are way out of whack. Prior to my trip I really thought I had it pretty together. I thought my priorities lined up with what scripture said and I thought my life generally reflected that. Now I know better. I have let too much of my life be consumed with the distractions of my culture and surroundings. I worried about what others thought of my hair, my clothes and my home, about what they thought about me. I woke up each morning, wrote out my to do list and got it done. Usually at the cost of sitting down with a friend and building a relationship.
I had hoped I could just sit back and process this week but of course life was waiting for me as soon as I stepped off the plane. For all intents and purposes this should have been a stressful week for me, but it really wasn't. I asked myself every day, with every thing that filled my schedule, "would THIS be a priority to a mom in Haiti?" And I have to say, this really put things in perspective. It highlighted what was important and what wasn't. And the things that weren't important I could let roll of my shoulders. My priorities have changed, and that is a good thing.
2. There are too many kids in this world with no one to hold them. My "baby" turned 5 this week. We have been telling him for weeks now that once he turns 5 mommy isn't going to pick him up and carry him around any more. I certainly didn't carry my other two this long and frankly he is getting heavy. But you know what? I think I'll keep carrying him. For as long as he wants. There are too many kids in this world with no one to carry them or hold them.
3. I'm called to love the one in front of me. I may never do "big" things but that doesn't mean I can't do something. I, you, we are called to make a difference in the life of just one. The one God puts before us in any given moment. Whether in Haiti or in my home, whether on the soccer field or in the grocery store I can love the one God has put in my path and I can make a difference in their life. I will be present and engaged with the one God has put before me.
4. I can take care of what I have been given without taking pride in it. Almost all of the ladies I traveled with had bigger more beautiful homes than I do. And EVERY ONE of the people I encountered in Haiti did not. God has given me abundance simply by the geographic location he has placed me in. I did not earn it nor do I deserve it. But I will humbly accept all that he has given and I will steward it in a way that is pleasing to him (I hope). But I will not take pride in what I have, it no longer defines me. Stuff is just stuff, some people will have more and A LOT of people have less.
5. When you live in the middle of Hell, Heaven is so much easier to see. This is the best way to describe the Sunday church service I experienced in Haiti. We were in a 1/2 built church, on wooden benches, with a sounds system that sometimes worked and often didn't. There was no air conditioning, no fans except the ones we made from construction paper, no pretty decorations or a granite alter. We were surrounded by some of the most extreme poverty I have ever seen. Shacks on all side of the church, trash in the streets. Kids barely clothes played outside. To some, this must be hell on Earth.
But inside that 1/2 built church was some of the most reverent worship I have ever experienced. God was fully present in that building and even though I have NO IDEA what they were singing I was somehow singing along. It was such a sweet sweet sound. God must LOVE Sundays when His glory is declared in every tongue in every nation. It brought to mind the verse in Philippians 2:11 "...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,..." Some day EVERY knee WILL bow and EVERY tongue WILL confess He is Lord. I can not wait!