I wish you could have walked with me tonight.

I went to visit a girl and check on her foot, which had a big cut that was so close to infection that I just prayed out loud as I cleaned her up on Friday, knowing that her healing wouldn’t be just from medicine.

On the way I waved to Janine, crossed a field, and then didn’t pass more than one house before getting called from Cassensia as she bathed behind her house. She asked where I was going, I promised to walk the same way on my way back home.

Next house I passed, I waved in greeting – to be called over. In all honesty, I sigh to myself when this happens. When I get called over, 9 times out of 10 it’s for an ask. Half of those times it’s a complete stranger doing it, and only about 2 of the 10 times do I actually have a way to help them right then. And if they don’t call me over, it’s mid-conversation. Everyone has an ask. I don’t always have a great attitude about it.

I put on a smile for this family, their relationship with me is one of my newest in Bercy, and walk over to the grandmother who has been wondering how I can help her every time I pass. The conversation was about a child enrolled in school that isn’t going right now – I talked to the mom about how I wished I could do something right now, but I couldn’t. As I talked, a woman who talks “Jargon” with me all the time (see: she talked it AT me until I started to catch on. Think Pig Latin.) started to ‘translate’ for me – this happens sometimes. As I talk Creole as a beginner in the language, someone who knows me will repeat what I said to another person that is not used to talking to me.

But she didn’t translate it how I said it.

Instead, she listened with an empathetic face that I am not used to from her, and translated what I said sandwiched in between her own comments of how I wanted to help, my intention was to do what I could, and everyone asked me this same question. She translated my heart, that I wished I could do something and I understand that it’s hard to put a kid through school in Haiti. With a surprised smile I thanked her for “translating” and offered a final “I’m sorry” to the mother (by the way, that doesn’t translate in the culture, saying you’re sorry when there’s no way that it’s your fault – but I can’t let go of this phrase!). The mom nodded, much more understanding than I’m used to, and said “Thank you for listening to me.”

Wow.

Thank you for listening to me.

Not only do I never hear that here, but God has been drilling the idea of “You don’t have to solve it all, sometimes people just need you to listen” in me for the past few weeks. And the way she said it. Wow.

I told them that I was happy to see them, but I had to find the “foot” girl. They had seen me with her on Friday and they nodded, accepting my reason for leaving so quickly with a respect for the excuse and an understanding for my purpose.

Okay, passing the next house. One full of strong women, a few that have done their fair share of mean mugging me, and a crowd of young boys who are a crazy active bunch. This is where Ti’Yuyu lives, and I’d been using a burn on his arm as an excuse to visit this home and build relationships all week. I yelled my “Bonswa” at the gate and walked in, waving to the boys as they all lugged a truck bed around (…? Boys.) and going to greet the women with kisses on the cheek. They greeted me with smiles and “How are you?”s, and when I saw the young woman that’s been the most wary of me and sought her out for a kiss, she not only accepted it – she gave me a big smile and offered her cheek before I had even reached her. I apologized that I didn’t have time to sit and asked where the girl with the “sick foot” was (I had seen her first while visiting their home), and they pointed to where she lived for me. With a smile I waved and thanked them and headed over to the neighbor’s house they had pointed to.

I walked right into one of the women from the house I was just at, she smiled as she asked “You visited when I wasn’t home?!”, I kissed her on the cheek as I smiled and let her know my “mission”. She understood my reasoning “the sun is almost done and school is tomorrow!” and let me pass to find the girl. About 8 kids rushed over to me, none taller than my waist, and dear little Ti’Yuyu (he’s the cutest, most socially awkward little three year old) decided to try and lift my skirt up in the middle of the craziness. The woman I had just talked to had my back before I was even able to catch up mentally to the crowd, helping me out and stopping Ti-Yuyu with a bewildered but humored look on her face at what he’d done. I just laughed and thanked her as we went back to the opposite directions we’d been walking.

I tried to break through the wave of kids as I greeted the mother of the house I was at (really, not just one house – instead, a group of homes where this mother was the top authority, her children and her children’s children were in the homes surrounding hers) with a kiss on the cheek. She scolded the kids who used to be too nervous to approach me and smiled in greeting, asking if I had medicine for bumps all over her body she recently received. I sadly responded no, but she accepted it as I asked how she was otherwise.

The kids started to tug on me again and, nodding at the mother, I walked over to where Daneya was washing an infant’s face that she had just fed. Since Daneya is no more than nine years old, and tiny as most girls are here, she was suddenly overwhelmed as she tried to wash the baby’s face while holding it as well as not fall over in her chair from the swarm of kids following me. We asked the kids to back off (which they did, for two seconds. Imagine the rest of this story with me just inserting “and then we asked the kids to back up again” between each sentence) and I pulled up a child size wicker chair and asked her to put her foot in my lap, assuring her that it was okay even though it wasn’t clean. (You DON’T put your dusty feet on someone’s lap, especially someone in a skirt)

I heard my name and looked over to see a young woman waving at me in her towel (doesn’t faze me anymore), and we greeted each other with smiles. I set to cleaning Daneya’s foot and others passed to greet me as well, joking that they “weren’t good with me” because I hadn’t asked for them. (They accepted the crowd of kids that was on top of our drop in clinic as an excuse) The men passed and greeted me as well, interrupting the kids who were asking for Neosporin for last months scars. I turned and smiled, saying I’d love to shake their hand if I wasn’t covered in medicine. They laughed good naturedly and said it was okay and we passed usual greetings, everyone saying that they were good. It was a genuinely respectful greeting on both sides, something I don’t usually get from guys in their twenties here (whether they’re married or not).

Daneya was much more timid than she had been on Friday or Saturday, but quietly asked before each item “if it’d burn”. I assured her through it and in the end she gave me a gentle smile and an adorable “Mesi”. The girl in her towel had gotten her clothes on (aka, shorts and a bra) and asked me to look at some pictures as she walked over with a photo album, her mother joining as I said yes to pull out a framed picture that she had kept wrapped in an envelope. I looked and told them how pretty the pictures were, smiling with them as they told me details and ages of the different photos. I realized that towel girl was Daneya’s mom as she was pointed out in one of the pictures shown to me.

We talked a little longer, but the kids were crazy and the sun was setting, so it was time for me to go. The mothers smiled and understood, asking when they’d see me again as I promised Daneya I’d check on her again. They turned to make sure she’d thanked me and said they’d see me tomorrow. The kids weren’t the best listeners, but eventually broke away. I started the walk home and waved at the houses I had stopped at on the way, wishing everyone a good night as they yelled back “you too!”

I stopped with Cassensia, who had finished bathing and was undoing her hair for fresh braids for school, and helped her de-braid her hair as we talked about her day. I love this strong-hearted (is that a word? I’m making it one) little girl and reminded her that she was beautiful after she responded “no” to me asking if she knows she’s beautiful. I joked with her mother and sympathetically talked to her aunt, who is sick with what pretty much everyone gets in the dry season (allergy symptoms) and headed out. Cassensia wanted to walk me home, but I asked her to sit so she coul

d finish her hair in the light since I wanted to give Janine some time anyway.

I sat next to Janine and her boyfriend for a few minutes in front of her house and headed in, going through thoughts and memories tumbling all over in my head in relation to all I’d just experienced.

  • The grandmothers serious voice as she mentioned “Yes, his arm looks so much better” in reference to Ti’Yuyu.
  • The “translator” who not only actually saw, but communicated my side.
  • “Thank you for listening”
  • A seriously rude dude who now greets me with just a pleasant “Good afternoon, cherie”. (I could do without the ‘cherie’, but I’ll take any improvemet)
  • Cassensia’s serious and heartfelt thank you for a very small gift of food I’d left for her while her mom had to suddenly leave for a death in the family. She used to ask (with attitude) for toys and candy, and is now overly thankful over basics she needs.
  • No more mean mugging from three more houses in the community.
  • The real change that happens from helping one illness, from people seeing the time put in for something that may not even help keep another malady from coming next week – but they see the heart and intentions. They welcome me with a chair, they hush the visitor who asks for money to “test the blanc”.

I mean, this describes just two months ago at Daneya’s house:

“Aren’t I a little old to feel thirteen again? I felt like I was in junior high, awkward as I was judged from the top of my head to the tips of my toes (and the color of nail polish on them). Except in junior high, you can understand what everyone around you is saying. And no one is assaulting you with demands for money, food, games, the nail polish you used, the shirt you’re wearing, and medicine. No one is asking, “why aren’t you dancing to the music?”, as they laugh hysterically (because they don’t know that you know it’s vodou music playing).

I had no idea why Nadine insisted to bring me here and have me sit while she picked up Westhalineda and then visited with friends, but it took everything in me to stay. Especially as she kept walking away! No exaggeration, I was surrounded by women my age and none of them were mu number one fan. Most talked to Nadine about me, asking her what they could get from me or random questions about me. I was only five minutes from home and wanted to stand up and leave – but that would cause attention, laughing, questions, and who knows what as well…PLUS I’d offend everyone if I didn’t have a good answer for why I was leaving.”

I was sure I was wasting my time and I honestly went home exhausted, sure I’d thrown away an hour for no reason. Multiple times, I felt this way.

But God doesn’t waste a thing.

I wish I could have shown you that tonight, I wish you could have walked with me tonight. To sit down with you afterwards, hold your hand, and let you know that every ounce that you’ve spent of yourself has not been in vain. Every conversation, every act for someone, every wave in passing – God doesn’t waste a thing.

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“When You’re Here, You’re Family”

Forgive my shameless cheesy title. I couldn’t help myself.

Cause that’s the best way to describe changes I’m seeing. In the close relationships, the ones that lift my heart up on the hard days & remind me that there are a few people that are finally building trust, it can feel like you’re family.

Trust is huge. I mean everywhere, it’s a buzz word, right?

But I’m talking trust in a country where the term has been shattered.

Here’s what it meant to me today:

I was visiting with Janine (our next door neighbor) and her cousin when Kiki got home from school, accompanied by his big cousin Bethsaida who sometimes comes home with him. After they both kissed us all on the cheek in greeting, Bethsaida came over and stood in front of me, with her back to me.

…? Okay? I’m used to kids just standing by me here, so I figured that’s what she was doing. But I wondered why she was, because the first thing you do after school is get your clean uniform off to keep it pristine. Then Janine told Bethsaida “get closer so Stephanie can undo the buttons for you”.

Then I realized that Janine had sent her over naturally (she didn’t tell me) to help her with getting the uniform off, and five-year-old Bethsaida had seen this as natural and come over. I went ahead and helped her and gently said “you’re good, go change!”

Kiki started running around (he does that) and Janine gently scolded him, “Kiki! Go over to Stephanie so she can help undo your buttons on your shirt!” – Which he obediently listened to, respectfully waiting until I said “It’s done!” to take his shirt off dramatically and run to the house.

Bethsaida was already there and they started fighting, I sat for a moment until a meltdown was clearly on it’s way and Janine was about to have to stand up mid-feather plucking (she was preparing a chicken for dinner). I went in and took Kiki out to gently tell them to just change separately, and Janine yelled to Kiki to show me where his clothes were so I could help him get a play outfit on. Walking through a door I hadn’t been to, I went in alone with this three-year-old to the back room of the home, walking through other rooms to get there. We were in there for who knows how long, as I helped him get an outfit and wondered if Janine would think it was sketchy that we’d been in there so long (I don’t just walk in people’s homes alone, and I know that I don’t let others do that in my home).

We came out and Kiki showed off his outfit as I sat back down to have Janine ask him about what he learned in school – “anyen” – nothing.

Kiki's photo skills today: getting a shot of Bethsaida after she got play clothes on.

Kiki’s photo skills today: getting a shot of Bethsaida after she got play clothes on.

She had been plucking a chicken for dinner and asking if I knew how to do it, insisting along the way that she was going to give me a big plate of the food she was making. Because of her insistence, I came back hours later after doing more rounds in the neighborhood. She was with Kiki, a picky eater, and said “Steph will feed you, then” as she asked me to watch him eat.

Okay, now I need to interrupt here so you read this story how it’s intended. Janine is NOT a lazy mother, in any way. She is my age and happens to be one of the mom’s who has it all together. She wakes up early in the morning to take care of Kiki and both sells from a stand all day, including selling phone minutes, as well as sells dinner food at night (she’s trying to start a restaurant). Kiki is her only child and he is the absolute apple of her eye, she adores him. The money she works hard for goes to get him awesome shoes, a secure future, and healthy food all day long. He loves to cuddle her, as does she, and her time is more than dedicated to him. She reflects the Haitian proverb that children are the wealth of Haiti, as that is totally how she sees her son, and she in no way pushes him off on me.

Anyways, I tried to creatively get him to eat (his mom makes amazing food, so it shouldn’t be hard) and Janine plopped a plate for me on my lap (in a basket so the heat didn’t burn my legs) as I helped him. She had even picked all the beans out for him! But he found one and called me out for trying to sneak it into his mouth with the spoon.

Kiki decided to take his shirt off in the middle of dinner. Cause....that's what he does.

Kiki decided to take his shirt off in the middle of dinner. Cause….that’s what he does.

We got him to eat the plate (minus one bite) and he went back to dancing and fighting invisible bad guys. I worked on my plate and Janine gave me a Limonade, insisting I drink it. We talked today about how we’ll miss seeing each other while I’m in Ohio in the spring. We joked about things and she both helped me with my Creole as well as defended what I was saying as her cousin threw the marriage questions at me like many others do on a daily basis.

Rice, Beans, and Bird straight from the yard! My plate was given with a basket to keep my legs from burning.

Rice, Beans, and Bird straight from the yard! My plate was given with a basket to keep my legs from burning. And hi, Kiki.

Now, my point –

First off, teams love kids, but have you ever come on a team? Imagine a kid standing still for you and waiting for you to help them with your uniform (that their mother naturally said you’d help with). You can’t imagine it, the kid would be too busy climbing on you (and getting in trouble for not taking off their uniform to climb). Sometimes I sit back and think, “I’m a white girl doing this. That is NOT normal.” I say that not because I think it, but because everyone else – including the cousin visiting Janine today – think it. They can’t get over the idea that I’m sitting down to talk, let alone the fact that Janine would choose ME to take care of the after school routine. That’s just a part of this to point out and help understand my heart, as I’m so thankful that this is where I am with my neighbor.

More importantly, let’s go to one of our favorite buzz words: trust. I said that Janine does not push Kiki off on me – and I mean it. There is a big difference in how you hand off a child, and to who….I wish you could meet Janine and see her heart (you wouldn’t quickly, she holds back), so you could really understand this friend of mine. Her sending the kids said nothing about her parenting and everything about how she views me as well as how the kids view me. I’ll repeat the idea that children are the wealth here, and it’s true! And Janine trusts me with what is mot precious to her, and on top of that for me to just walk around her family’s home alone with a three-year-old! Trust is not easy to come by, especially the kind that puts itself on the line to defend a friend in front of family like she did with her cousin today.

Going to bed thankful tonight. For Kiki’s personality, for a belly full of Janine’s rice, and for what I can’t believe I get to do. God has created relationships that seem so hard for nothing some days, and then I get to see what he’s doing from a perspective like today. I don’t know why it’s me, but I’m thankful for what He can do when we say yes.

Pieces of the Long-Term Puzzle

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We’re on the topic of change, of course I need to update you on my dear friend Nadine.

Life isn’t easy for her right now. It seems like it never is, doesn’t it? I’m praying for her heart continually as I know that God is chasing her down.

Despite a rough living situation (she doesn’t really have a place to call home, more of just friends and half siblings who are willing to open up some space that Nadine knows she cannot count as permanent for her), Nadine has changed since I met her last June. Like Maxon’s unstoppable laughter, she’s more prone to joke with me, smile at the details, and come off overall as a happier person (on the good days).

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The baby who used to sit in the corner is now the literal center of attention, climbing onto Jessica’s lap as nails are attempted to be painted around her.

But more than that, there’s a soft side that has revealed itself. The vulnerable side that comes to me in tears, “I don’t want to put my daughter in an orphanage.” The seventeen year old mother who feels that it’s her against the world and doesn’t know what to do about her daughter for normal occurrences for an 11-month-old that she has no one to advise her on.

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Nadine loves updating me on the newest teeth to emerge, and showing off the six that Wes has off to new people. Everyone adores Westhalineda’s pure joy and laughter, and as they talk about this and how beautiful her daughter is to each other, Nadine will sit in the background with a quiet smile on.

She is paying someone back who fought with her over a phone issue, she’s asking about every detail in Wes when we have teams here who can possibly help.

She’s taught me so much about the culture that we jokingly call her my mother, and she gently redirects me when I need it – not because I ask or she needs to, but because she wants to help me. Sometimes she’s blatant about it “Stephanie, you pronounce that word wrong every. time. Now repeat it for ten minutes with me until I correct it enough that you’re right.” – but even then, it’s because she “wants me in Haiti a long time” and “wants me to do it right when I’m out.” (You know when you tell your friend a hard truth, for their sake when they’ll go out in the not-so-forgiving public? That’s Nadine.)

Amanda wished her Happy Valentines Day with a kiss on the cheek and her entire face burst open with a huge smile.

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She proudly poses Wes for pictures and asks me to send them to my mom, she gets in the picture too and asks me to send it to Jessica, my sister.

God is so good, isn’t he? I’m so excited that I get to be a part of her life. I may not say that out loud in the middle of the harder days, but even when I’m at the end of my rope I’m so thankful that our lives get to be intertwined.

You see, I’m just a piece in Nadine’s story, and she’s just a piece in mine. Just as Maxon’s story explains waiting on the Lord instead of controlling a situation ourselves, Nadine reminds me that I’m not the main player in the story anyway – the One who CREATED Nadine is. I’m simply a piece to be used with my “Yes”.

I didn’t even know Nadine existed for the first sixteen years of her life, while he stitched her together in her womb.

My prayers are being raised up after a lifetime of prayers have already covered her, including a woman who took her in when she was an infant but died in the 2011 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Unexpected, that caregiver would never have known that she would not come back from market that day – but God knew. She was a piece.

My time with her is building on time from years past in a church of our friend Enoch. Imagine my surprise when Enoch was in Bercy with us and greeted her with a big smile and asked where she’s been over the past few years – she used to be a member of his church! As pastor, he’s wondered where she disappeared to! She used to come to his house with others after church and attend the services on a regular basis. That body, that pastor, those services and the people around her in them – more pieces. I was shocked and praising God for his long term plan as I processed that encounter.

I am not the cause or source of change, but instead a piece of God’s lifelong plan for it that gets the joy of seeing some happen in front of me – then I shout what God is doing from the rooftops. Nadine’s life didn’t start in June – a fact that sounds laughable at it’s simplicity but honestly slips our minds in the middle of serving people or watching them transform (or waiting for it). It’s not up to us, and we’re not the one who moves hearts when we enter a situation. God created the situation and He, the maker of hearts, has a plan for lifelong change.We don’t get to see the big picture and all of the players or pieces, but we do get the promise that he hears our prayers and does not waste a thing, especially our faithfulness to Him.

Waiting for Long Term Results in an Instant Culture

This week I’ve gotten to pause and realize there are huge differences to be seen here. Things that have filled me with praise, things you can’t help but share in your joy. This is the first of a series of these stories, where change has never been seen in a moment – but compared to snapshots of months ago, real movement is happening.

I stop to say hi to Sian’s family & hear a two-year-old babble “Staff!” (That’s what ‘Steph’ sounds like from Maxon) squealed to me. I look over to see my tiny friend naked & sitting cross legged in a tub of bath water, splashing as happy as could be with wide eyes and a toothy smile laughing as I look over and greet him.

I bubble over in joy as I can’t help but remember the non-respondent little walker from six months ago, covered in dirt and clearly in his own world – while I now feel water drops splashed on me from a boy who literally can not stop giggling. His brother even tells him to stop playing and get out – which Maxon laughs hysterically at!

I watch him and flip through my mental scrapbook of the past two months. The boy who used to act as if I was not there has now learned to call me by my name (the best that he can) as I walk near his house and he runs (runs!) to come cling to my leg. He splashes in water and offers me a bite of his potatoes when I visit in the afternoon. After his bath, he ran to grab a school book for his older brother and confidently pointed to objects and talked about them (in a babble talk that didn’t create real words) with me.

Rewind, you need some background here:

This is a story that’s been tumbling around in my brain today. My plans always seem better than waiting on the Lord. I’m sure waiting on the Lord has always been tough, plus we’re in this instant-gratification culture that everyone is always talking about. But when we choose to wait, to force ourselves into dependence as we release our own control, the results are so beautiful in the long term. I’m blessed to get to experience just the beginning of the long term as I can so vividly think back to July.

My heart was broken. I mean, into a million pieces. After walking about five minutes through the dry land between the Bercy hospital and CPR-3’s property, I hiked up the stairs with my last bits of strength and gently placed a skinny, silent, and angry (if he had the energy to express it) little boy on the ground.

I felt shattered inside. I tried to lose myself in the task of finding some food. As I tried to come up with something (peanut butter was the solution in the end), Amanda came in to ask how the doctor visit had gone. She was pleasantly responded to with me trying to get words out as I started bawling.

“Well, we’re adding both malaria and parasite meds to his pneumonia prescription from Monday. And then basic vitamin syrup too, because he needs those basics on top of being sick.” This one-and-a-half-year-old little body was wracked with a cough that took over his body, exhausted from malaria and a parasite, and was malnourished to top it all off. This was Maxon last July.

I had to get a moto to Cabaret to pick these up, but couldn’t help myself from first taking the detour to our house first to try and get some food in a belly that possibly hadn’t eaten at all yet that day. I’d made the decision as I’d carried him back from the hospital, praying over him in my wrecked emotions with no idea where to start.

And you know what I wanted to do in that moment? I wanted to keep him. I wanted to buy some clothes (except for the hospital, he basically always walked around naked. Actually, he just stood), keep him with me all day, and hold him through the four prescriptions he had to take three times a day. I wanted to hug him and wipe tears away. I wanted to see real life in him – the only reaction I’d ever seen in him after two months of knowing him was the fierce crying that burst out from the blood work taken to test for malaria. I wanted to feed him three times a day (with food made in a clean, parasite free environment) and make sure he was always bathed. 

How often do our plans sound better than waiting on the Lord? Maybe we don’t even realize that the other option is to wait on the Lord, we just think that our plan is best. Better than waiting, better than Maxon’s own family was offering him, better than having to depend on anyone but ourselves to solve whatever issue is in front of us.

I didn’t want to take him back home to a room the size of mine that served for a house to over half a dozen people. I didn’t want to place him in an environment that he’d “get so many colds untreated that they eventually turn into pneumonia”. I didn’t want to see him staring, emotionless, standing away from people with crusts on his face and no pants.

But that choice wasn’t really mine to make.

So I prayed, and I prayed hard. I tried to get him to eat some peanut butter – which took at least ten minutes of coaxing. I took him home and found his fifteen year old sister, we went through the medications slowly and repeated the instructions back and forth. She smiled and reassured me, I thanked her profusely for what a help she was.It hurt to set him down and walk away.

But our Father didn’t leave his side, just as he walked back home with me as I asked why. And I wasn’t just asking why, but pounding down metaphorical doors in my questions, wrestling all night long in the why.

My adorable friend Maxon!

My adorable friend Maxon!

And here I am, six months later, seeing that it was better to wait on the Lord. That Maxon was seen before I even knew he existed, and God had a plan the whole time. He broke my heart and created a prayer warrior for Maxon, he used my little friend to break my want to control that situation. There was nothing I can do, I can’t just keep him. And who am I to keep a child with his own loving family?

That’s what’s beautiful to see in the long term. I get the rearview mirror perspective to see Maxon go from non-respondent to thriving in his own environment. Lifted by his creator, filled with joy, and with a future ahead of him.

The Difference.

I love when people come down and ask questions, because it means two things: They’re jumping in, they care and want to know about what is going on & They’re learners. Something that I could learn from to do even more and something that is so key in a cross cultural context.

One friend was asking questions about teams, and my mind returned to the question as I observed and walked beside the fifteen individuals for the week.

There’s never been a team I “can’t wait to leave”, and I’ve never had people that I have a problem with. But there is this difference with some teams. Groups that come down that are more effective: but you can’t put your finger on it right away. It’s not in the schedule, or the projects they decided to take on. It can’t be found in the personalities or the denomination of a group, the way we want to group people. Instead, it’s in something that I feel could ripple out into all areas of life for the most effectiveness, the greatest impact, the best in what we do all over life (not confined to six days in a new country).

The difference is a servant heart. 

It sounds fancy, but isn’t unreachable. It starts with the little things, like your “yes” to go and your willingness to help, no matter the job. It’s fueled by wanting to serve, not wanting to be credited. Seeing yourself as less is key – not that you aren’t important or valued, but that your wants are not the most important. One step out of your comfort zone for the sake of someone else is huge. The longer you’re in this attitude, the more natural it becomes. It starts to become the heart you want to rest in, as opposed to being forced to rest in, and it flows into other areas besides some ministry you volunteered for.

That’s why I mention it. Imagine if we could grab onto this difference not just for trips or the church environment, but for life? That’s what Jesus is asking for. He’s not asking for your schedule or your tasks, he’s asking for your heart. He’s offering to walk beside you and transform your heart, which will flow over and shine in your schedule, tasks, relationships.

Just this week, I saw…

  • Hands jump to be raised to own dish duty, making lunch, and carrying luggage and heavy Culligans of water to the site. I mean, I’m pretty sure no one would argue against seeing this in their home?
  • Strangers embraced in hugs, children with never ending energy picked up and played with, no hesitation and no going off to avoid them after hours in the heat, dust, and crowds of friends jumping with no warning.
  • People weren’t turned away just because they didn’t fit the schedule. This includes the people that came outside of clinic hours, the girls that knocked on our gate uninvited, and the friends of Pastor Samedy’s children who scraped their knees. Days that the team wanted to go out in the community, people kept showing up. They were seen.

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  • James was seen by Matt, a dentist who rocked it all week. It wasn’t just the time sacrificed, but the attitude. With James as well as everyone else, a sensitive and compassionate heart was communicated despite the language barrier. Matt worked hard to create a comfortable environment, reassuring patients and recognizing each individual’s dignity and worth. You could turn to his corner in the clinic to be met by his big smile & caring eyes – or concentrated face giving the best services he could – any time of the day. You guys have heard about James, and I loved the contrast of care he received from this team compared to the community that continues to try to discourage me from trying to talk to him.
  • Not just Matt, but every team member exuded love, a servant heart, and dedication to each patient seen. The skills of each member were used in the way that this community needs the most, and the WAY that it was carried out exuded the attitude of servant hearts.
  • Learning. A key difference to a servant’s humility is a spirit eager to learn, ask questions, listen, soak up information. After this, the knowledge is used to talk about how to best serve. The only way we will ever effectively serve others is being learning about them, teaching ourselves, understanding them first.
  • Prayer. Every day, every clinic, every person was covered in prayer. A servant recognizes where real success lies, where the real control is. Trusting God & giving the week to Him was a clear difference in the week, one that created good things. After all, each prayer was heard by the One who is Good.

Why did I write this? I mean, this blog is about life in Haiti, and this sounds like a PSA for short term missions.

I honestly believe that the same difference that can define a trip, can define your life. Your impact on your family and friends and workplace, your impact on the world. Don’t underestimate this. I know that I can too often, and I miss out when I do.

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I still have $22,000 a year to raise. Want to be a part of what’s going on? Please e-mail me at steph2haiti@gmail.com or check out my “Partner With Me” page. I need partners!