Late Sunday evening we pulled into the St. Jean Paul II Center with our entire mission team. Life Teen has established a vibrant mission post here on the coast. The compound includes a small chapel, several dormitories, dining area and a pebble beach. Daniel could spend all day splashing in the surf, but the girls’ favorite spot are the hammocks. Three hammocks are strung under shady trees perched on a cliff overlooking the aquamarine ocean. Our time here on retreat is a true blessing.
Fr. David is instructing us how to serve the poor while maintaining a balanced life. He is a missionary priest from France who has lived in Haiti for a full decade.
Fr. David reminds us that Christ has called us here to serve the people of Haiti, but we ourselves are not Christ. We are fully human and must establish and keep boundaries and set priorities. Jesus is the one who saves, not us.
Our current Team Leaders, Dave and Andrea Quinn, are sharing from their own experience as missionaries in Haiti for the past four years. They stress over and over that our identity as beloved children of God is, and must remain, our primary identity. This identity is explicitly unconditional.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now.” -1 John 3:2
As beloved children it is good to dedicate time to foster our relationship with Our Good Shepherd. How can we know His voice if every time we pray is essentially a monologue of us telling Him all the things we need? Our daily prayer could be a time of quiet recollection, of reading Sacred Scripture, of listening for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
Our second identity is whether we are married or single, then mothers/fathers, sisters/brothers, etc. Yes, we are currently serving a role as foreign missionaries, but the fruit of our mission work does not define our worth.
The Lords knows me. He knows how I have longed for this day to serve Him as a foreign missionary. And yet He called not only me, but Matt and I, together. And not only Matt and I, but also Josephine, Coryn, Mallory, Gloria and Daniel.
Life for a family of seven is seldom easy or comfortable or uncomplicated. Most days it is noisy and challenging and complex. And now we are in a foreign country where we can’t yet speak or understand the language!
But the Lord in His great mercy blesses us with grace upon grace each day. He has ordained this time and place for our family to serve. We are in Haiti alongside veteran missionaries who are helping us to learn how to live here. We are here in Haiti alongside men and women single missionaries who love me and Matt and all our children. We are here in Haiti buoyed by the powerful prayers and financial support of family and friends Stateside.
We are not alone. We are beloved. Thanks Be to God!