My last post & the one you are about to to read, back to back, are a great reflection of life here. Why?
Things that people tell you/assume about you working internationally:
- You will give up pizza & your favorite restaurant, and it is a tragedy that “they could never do”.
- You will miss your family, and possibly be single until Jesus comes back.
Things that people don’t tell you/always see about you working internationally:
- The favorite restaurant wasn’t too bad to give up – but hours of prepping food with no quick fix is something that you didn’t expect.
- Dust. No one tells you or thinks of the dust.
- You will have the highest highs & the lowest lows. Now – I don’t think this is an “international” thing – this is a gospel thing. But still not something you expect before you start saying “yes” (the REAL, all in kind)…because any other life doesn’t offer the adventure waiting and the extremes waiting on the other side of your yes.
So the hard and the amazing of Haiti is talked about back to back, Cedar point style. It hits like your favorite roller coaster some weeks (days) (hours) – highest highs, lowest lows.
Poverty still sucks. But God still and always is bigger, better, & working within the “stupid” & “sucky”. I don’t want you to miss these amazing, wonderful, beautiful, awesome things DESPITE poverty (of all kinds – not just material).
I’m going to share one – just one – story when I could share countless. Some days we feel useless and like we should go home, but honestly – so much is going on. Almost a dozen people, almost all TEENAGERS, have made all in decisions for Jesus just this week and will be connected to a healthy, youth focused church. Young Lights had two baptisms and an all in for Jesus this week – two of those people have been prayed over and poured into for months and years – including prayer from you. Compassion Corp is ridiculous in how awesome these young leaders are. I’ve seen women open up on true, “lock it down and don’t share it” pain and I’m seeing cultural traditions be broken for the sake of making disciples. I have so many exciting interactions with individuals, I could write a book a month on the awesomeness and history of why it’s awesome, as well as the dreams for tomorrow.
Instead we will do one:
We have a 12-year-old friend who hops between sticky-sweet & straight rotten…but no matter what, you can catch him in the center of attention. Dancing, mimicking, helping, shooting a soccer ball. Let’s call him L.
L has done the VBS thing with multiple missions in the area and been encouraged by dozens if not hundreds of people in saying “I love Jesus” as he has grown up – and therefore, he says it. Sometimes sarcastically and oftentimes as a chant or expected saying rather than any depth to it. He is not interested in church and that makes sense when he is young in a family of a lot of cool older brothers who would never walk into a building soaked in religion.
L doesn’t know it, but he has taught me over time in pockets all over.
He has taught me about today’s influence and paying attention to how you use it. I’m not a “kid” person, but L is always around the gate. And L is a kid today – but he was 10 two years ago. He will be old enough to be a dad in Bercy in just two more years (not responsibly, but with teenage parents all over, statistically). And one day, L and I will have known each other 5 years. What am I doing with?
He has taught me to pray when I am frustrated with objectification and broken cycles in families with absent fathers. I am praying for the boys we know to transform to men…that’s my place in the battle as a 25-year-old young woman who isn’t about to be that father figure. Also, how am I going to compete with society, peers, life experience, and MULTIPLE swagged out older brothers that a boy naturally idolizes?
He has taught me that relationship matters in cycles changing. One time there was a demonstration going on & he started to head to the front to join in, rocks in hand. (Here, rocks are everywhere and naturally get used all over – including throwing them when you are mad or intimidating something. It’s modeled and I’ve seen kids who can’t talk yet who naturally reach for rocks.). I didn’t know this, and I was on my way out of the gate to see what was going on….some other missionaries were present, driving out of the community. They saw him drop everything and back up as soon as he knew I was coming. Rotten? Yeah, that sounds rotten. No heart change and just doing it to keep an image? Maybe. But caring at all? That says the relationship means something. After years of talks (hard ones sometimes, giving me a mad respect for parents) of how things are different around our house and that we will not compromise on how others are treated, he will come back even after the hardest talk and the most sullen reaction – knowing that the boundaries are rules do not negate the love we have for him.
He’s taught me about why God said five years (or whatever this first five turns into). Teams, who ADORE him, come and go. Like family friends or the fun uncle – anything goes with them and some major spoiling goes on. He loves them, remembers them, can’t wait for time with them, and is a total center of attention. But they all go. This is GOOD – teams, keep loving on people like L! In the midst of that, God has taught me about the power of staying.
I’m going off on rabbit trails, so let me reel it in.
Today, L blew me away. He and a young girl who is getting surgery tomorrow came over, and we were talking about her fear for the operation.
This girl was not in Young Lights last night, but L was. The youngest in the group, and always on the edge of being a distraction, we honestly aren’t even sure if he is paying attention. Silly us.
I am not in Young Lights as Compassion Corp runs with this amazing movement, but I had been with Olivia as she planned to do David & Goliath yesterday.
So L, out of left field, starts talking about God and our fears. Our giants are nothing compared to Him. He did not talk about facts like a sunday school story – but instead the HEART of the story – “Li te gen tout bagay, men yon bagay li pa’t genyen se Jezi”. Goliath had EVERYTHING, but the one thing He did not have….Jesus.
I reminded him that this girl had not been in Young Lights, and asked if he wanted to tell her the story. With a slow grin and bright eyes, the response was “wi”.
L then proceeded to explain the heart of having Jesus alone when our giants seem to have everything – and who is going to win every time.
WHAT?! Guys, I CANNOT emphasize the craziness of this. The “God factor” of this is through the roof – it’s ALL God. And nothing about it was because I was there or for show…we all know there is a difference when it is what is expected. This was not an expected – this was an overflow of the heart.
All morning, L has been around. Not the plan for today – but Jesus was great at interruptions and therefore I need to work on that as well. L is also talking about empowerment with me, learning what he is good at and doing things with it. Teens that are about 6 years older than him are accepting Jesus and starting to thrive in how they were created to be – He is seeing that and asking questions.
He would love the “cool experience” of going out with a team. Well – that experience is because people have skills and gifts they are working on and serving with. Once again, those auburn eyes light up as we talk about his potential and dreams of learning what he is good at, discipline to work in that “shape”, and being a part of going out one day because he is using his strengths to add to the team in those outings.
Can you imagine?
As prayers continue to be answered that honestly, I was starting to “recite” as opposed to “believe”….I can.
I can imagine it & tell you that the suckiness of poverty is no match for empowerment, investment, prayers, and believe in transforming broken cycles as we dream for the future. Boys WILL become men, and L will be a leader in the pack. Not because I know the future or because ONE good day is a determining factor…but because when we pray, we have already received it. I KNOW that my Father’s kingdom is full of men, of empowerment, of breaking cycles, and of cheering friends on as they discover and learn to thrive in who they were created to be.
Poverty is still stupid.
But it’s no match for us coming together.