I never thought that the first flight I would voluntarily not board would be the flight to take me to my very first mission post. After a year and a half of praying and discerning and waiting for what felt like an eternity, I assumed that when the time finally came for me to GO, nothing would have stopped me. I had hoped that there wouldn’t have been an ounce of hesitation in me and it would have been the happiest day filled with anticipation, excitement, and a sense of fulfillment. Things didn’t quite go this way.
“The Lord frustrates the plans of His people.” – Psalm 33:10
On Saturday February 9th, Team Haiti was overly excited to be leaving for the mission field after being one of the last teams to set out. We packed up our vans with all different sized and shaped suitcases like a live game of Tetris. Eventually it all fit perfectly and we managed to shut the back hatch without a hitch. We said our final goodbyes to our community in Louisiana and hit the road. Our fun in the van on the way to New Orleans was soon interrupted by news of manifestasyons happening in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and the airport we were meaning to fly into the next day. These demonstrations often include burning of tires in the streets and blocking off of roads so as to effectively shut down the city in protest of a certain issue. Based on the reactions of the veteran members of our team, it seemed that this sort of thing happened with some frequency and it would most likely calm down soon and shouldn’t prevent our team from flying out the next day. We sent messages to some locals in Haiti who had become friends of the team to get a more accurate picture of the condition of the capital, but we went to bed that night very hopeful that we would all be in Haiti the next day, no problem…right?
I’ll spare you all the details and fast forward to the actual moment we realized we weren’t going to Haiti like we had planned. It’s very simple actually. By 10 A.M. we were in Miami, Florida which was meant to only be a 30-minute layover for us. We heard back from our friends in Haiti and they told us honestly that we should not go. We heeded their advice and started canceling our flights. The news started to sink into my heart. “I’m not going to Haiti today. We are staying in Miami. This is what I’ve been trained to do: roll with the punches, be flexible, and move wherever the Spirit leads you. I’m not going to Haiti today. Jesus, I trust in you and your plan.” This is what was going through my head as our plane to Haiti took off without any of us on it.
I have to admit that our group was quite the sight to see in the airport and it brought some much needed comedic relief to the situation: eight somewhat stressed adults, seven very bored children, 25+ pieces of luggage, six musical instruments. And of course our intermission in the airport wouldn’t have been complete without one of the children escaping our reach and quite miraculously breaching airport security and taking the escalator ride of her life as we all watch helplessly behind locked glass doors. Yeah, maybe we’ll all laugh about that one in a couple months.
“We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In this season of waiting, unsurety, trusting in Him, and leaning in to His plan for us, Jesus has been teaching me a lot and speaking a few specific truths to my heart.
1. All of the Lord’s plans for us are good. If I look back in my life, especially to those big moments that made me question what God was doing and if His plan for me was good because it didn’t look like it to me at the time, in the end it was always good. Of course it is hard to see how this major halt in the beginning of our mission in Haiti will bear goodness in the end, but we have to trust the facts and the facts are that the Lord knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for our welfare, not our woe (Jeremiah 29:11). Weeks or months from now we will be able to see clearly the Lord’s goodness in all this, but what if we just trusted in our past experience with the Lord? He has a perfect track record when it comes to being good and faithful to His promises!
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, it’s leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
2. The Father protects His children. I remember being in the parking lot of Kroger when I was in college (I know, super random) and God just hitting me with this super basic truth. I was faced with this question: what if when our plans get changed or interrupted by God, it isn’t that He is teasing us or making our lives difficult, but it’s that He is in fact being Fatherly and protecting us from things unseen. In this current instance I can see what the Father is protecting me from. The situation in Haiti right now is not very good and pretty dangerous and the Father has protected me from that. We shouldn’t be angry or frustrated with Him. We should blush from the amount of love He is pouring on us! The Father has stepped in, the way any reasonable father would, and has preserved His beloved and precious daughter from trouble (Psalm 32:7).
“The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish.” – 2 Peter 3:9
3. The Lord does not waste time. Many of my brother and sister missionaries have been at their respective mission posts for two to three weeks at this point. Meanwhile I was one of the last to leave and the actual leaving part never happened! It has been difficult to see pictures from Ecuador, Taiwan, and Peru. I find myself sad that I don’t have anything to show yet. I’m sad that I don’t even know what Haiti looks like yet. I’m oddly frustrated that I haven’t been able to experience all the hardships of moving to a perpetually hot country and eating unfamiliar food like the other missionaries. I’m embarrassed to say that I find myself telling God, “What are you doing? You’re wasting so much time that I could be in Haiti?!” Jesus has been very gentle with me and has kept reminding me that he doesn’t waste time. “God is always working” (John 5:17). There are no coincidences in life. The Father is always doing something and nothing is done that He is not aware of. I have to believe that this time isn’t for nothing. The Father won’t let this time go to waste. He wants to do something with it. I pray I can be obedient to Him and not waste the gift the Lord is wanting to give me.
It has been beautiful to see the Lord provide for our team in such beautiful ways that none of us could have dreamed up. Our team was in Miami for five days before coming back to our FMC base in Louisiana. A Catholic household of five women welcomed us girls into their home and into their lives. They took such great care of us! They loved us well, let us rest in their home, and encouraged us in our discernment. Their house was walking distance from a Church, so we got to go to mass every day and pray. We were pleasantly surprise to find out that Miami has a large population of Haitians! I loved seeing Haitian Creole written everywhere in Miami and finding out almost all of the girls in the household have been to Haiti (some several times, so they could relate too us even more). We never left the safe arms of our Father.
We aren’t really sure what’s next for our team, but for right now we are going to stay in Louisiana with our community and receive their love and counsel and continue to seek what the the Lord wants us to do! At this point it really is up to Haiti when we can go to Haiti. As soon as the violence in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding towns stops, we will most likely be able to fly there. Until that time though, it is simply not safe.
Please pray for us and our discernment. Obviously our hearts are saddened by not being able to go to Haiti. Even though I have never set foot in the country I already feel as if my heart is Haitian. Please pray for the Haitian people. Pray for those that are protesting and putting themselves and others in danger. Come spirit of peace and truth! Pray for the poor in Haiti especially who are running out of necessary supplies such as food, water, money, and gasoline. Jesus, please work miracles in their lives! Pray for our friends in L’Asile and Port-au-Prince. Pray for the other non-FMC American missionaries who are running out of supplies as well.
Thank you for your prayers and know that our team is so grateful to you and your support!
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