Monday, January 25, 2016

For the Last Time

I think everyone has their own ways of finding closure when coming to the end of a chapter in their lives.  For some it may be standing in front of a crowd to tell them goodbye, for others it may be in a good heart-to-heart with a close friend.  It may be in that last tight squeeze right before you drive away.  Or it may be as the tears slowly dry on your cheeks ten minutes after your plane takes off.

I deal with the big things by writing.  Whether on a blog, in a journal, on a random scrap of paper tucked in a book buried in a heap somewhere, or to a friend - if there's something major going on in my life, it will be written about somewhere.

Robert Frost once said, "I write to find out what I didn't know I knew."  So please bear with me, as I do a little sorting through the tangle that makes up my brain.

If I was to leave a word of advice to those who are thinking of going to Haiti (or - as I imagine this could apply - anywhere on a foreign mission field), it would be the following:

If you are coming because of your burning desire to help others, don't.  That's very sweet - and a wonderful thing - but that is not a good enough reason to leave the place that God currently has you.

If you are not reaching out to those around you in the place that you currently are, then you should seriously consider the possibility that maybe you are not yet ready to step out and go to another country where you will be placed on a pedestal and your every move and word closely scrutinized.

I believe that every single Christian is called to "go and teach", really, I do.  But we (or at least the majority of the readers of this blog) are from the United States of America, people.

YOU DO NOT NEED A PASSPORT TO BE A MISSIONARY.

You don't have to take a flight third-world-country-bound to find someone who needs Jesus.  The nations are coming to us.

And, if I may be very frank, from the looks of things, it is our fellow countrymen who need missionaries now, anyway.

But I digress.

I did want to explain the statement that I made about not going to Haiti to help the poor people there, in case someone out there feels that I am perching on their toes.  If you go to Haiti because you want to change lives, or alleviate pain and poverty, or even if you really just want to lead people to Christ - if that is the reason that you are going - then I believe that you will be disappointed.  Not that any one of those are bad desires.  I, in fact, think that you should want all of those things, but if that is The Reason that you are going -

 That is not enough.

I believe that there is only one thing that should move you to another country, and that is the very clear call of God in your life.

If you go because of wanting to change lives, you will be disappointed when you find that there are people who simply do not want to change their lives, or accept your help.

If it is to eliminate suffering, you may be shocked to find that there are people out there who actually revel in their misery.

You will face discouragement.

If, however, it is because you feel God moving you to Haiti, these things (yes, you will probably still face them) will not affect you in the same way, since it is no longer your sole job to fix the world.  That is in God's hands.  And knowing and recognizing that frees you up to serve Him and glorify Him with every ounce of your might, leaving the results up to Him.

And I'm not trying to say that you will not have any good results, on the contrary, I hope and pray that you do, just that life there may not be the glowing missionary report that you read about.  And if feeling good about all the good that you are doing is what you are counting on to get you through the hard days - well, you may decide to go home a little earlier than originally planned.

I loved working at the clinic.  I loved Haiti and the people there.  We had an amazing team that I was there working with, and a common goal and dream for the mission there.

Going to Haiti was a call that I heard as clearly as I heard my alarm waking me up this morning.  And the way every door opened up to take me there assured me every step of the way that this was God's leading.

Without that knowledge, however, I would have gone stark, raving mad down there.  My niece was in the NICU, my Mom has bone cancer, and my grandmother passed away during the time that I was there.

It was the knowledge that I was where God had so clearly placed me, that got me through the hard days.  I cannot imagine being out of the country and away from my family during those times for any other reason.

You know that peace that you have, when you KNOW you are right in the center of God's will?

There are days that that peace is the only solid and stable thing that you have to cling to.  And I cannot imagine how a person can survive without it.

I am not an aged person that has seen many things and acquired much wisdom.  I am not even a veteran missionary coming back after spending decades on the mission field.  So if my theology is chock full of holes, go on Pinterest and find a pretty pin that says something like "Follow Your Heart" and don't mind me. :o) Really, I won't be offended if you disagree with me.

This is just a little overflow from a little of what I have seen in my time in Haiti.  Going to serve in another country is not something to be taken lightly.  Do your research before you go.  Understand that before you get there -in spite of that research - you. are. clueless.

Be okay with that.  It will open you to the leading of God and you will be more accepting of input from those around you.

And, if you are one of those called to the foreign mission field, you will find it one of the most stretching and fulfilling experiences of your life.  Let me know, and I WILL PRAY.  I've been there, and I know how badly you will need it, even if you don't yet. :o) I wish you the absolute best on your endeavors.

Anyway.

This was not the plan when I started this post.  I was planning on a short epistle thanking my fellow workers for putting up with me for as long as they did, and it just sorta morphed into....Something Else.

But I do want to say thank you.

To Donny and Thea - y'all are amazing.  Really.  You do an incredible job of keeping things rolling smoothly, in an underappreciated situation, while raising two little sweethearts, and attempting to keep a small flock of opinionated adults from...well, bad things. :o) Seriously.  Keep up the good work.  I am praying for you both, that God will continue to guide and direct you, as you guide and direct the mission there.

To my fellow nurses - your love, understanding, and support were so much more than I deserve.  It was truly a pleasure to work with each one of you.  You are my heroes (heroines?).  Never give up.  Keep smiling at the grumpy people, and laughing at Frè Norès' jokes.  May God give you wisdom and grace for each day, and each moment of each day.  You are never forgotten.  All you have to do is send a message saying, "Pray."  I will drop to my knees the minute I receive it.

To the guys - for your patience, as you waited on me as I got too chatty at clinic when you were wanting to get back to the house; Thank You.  You were never un-appreciated.  Hans - for the myriad of things that you do at the clinic, for your input on those confusing cases, for your strength when we needed it, for your willingness to help out with whatever escapades we girls got ourselves into, and for being a friend.  Brandon - oh Brandon, will you ever really know how much it meant to me to have you there?  To have someone that I could talk to without having to explain the history behind what I was saying, someone that knows me and my family for all of my life, and for it to be acceptable for me to ride out to town with you on the four-wheeler. :o) But really, thank you, for all that you do.  For being willing to do so much more than your job description, when it often goes unnoticed, without a word of complaint.  To you AND to your predecessors, thank you for keeping our vehicles working, our water running, the schoolfood hauled, and all things sharpened.  I know how easy it is for us to take it all for granted, but I do want you to know that it was not unnoticed.  You are both in my prayers.

Janell - you thought that I had forgotten you, didn't you?  You may not be listed on the clinic staff, but the clinic staff would not be able to function very well without you.  They certainly wouldn't smell as nice, anyway. :o) Thank you, for the days I came home to clean laundry on my bed.  For cooking for us.  For being a shoulder to bump.  And for being my friend.

And to all of y'all, who have ever sent a prayer up on my behalf.  To those who supported me.  Thank you.

And to you, the person that is still reading here at the end of this ridiculously long post.  Bless your heart.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to do it. :o)

So yeah, that's it.  I'm finished.

Do not waver in your pursuit of God's will for your life, and when you find it, wrap yourself in that peace and savor every moment of it.  Love your life.  Choose to be happy IN SPITE of the rottenness that may surround you.  Pray for those serving as missionaries - you never know when your prayers could be the difference between a blessing and a trial.

Keep the faith.  Live your life with purpose.  His purpose.

-Kindra