Wake up early to make it to the gym. Speed through the workout so you can make it to work on time. Rush out from work to avoid getting stuck in 5:00 traffic so that you have time to cook dinner. Mindlessly eat dinner, and pass out early so that you can wake up early to make it to the gym. Repeat.
If you’re anything like me, routines are a necessary part of staying alive. I’m the kind of person who schedules a meeting to make a plan. This can be good and bad… The bad side of this is we get stuck in these routines, until we are forced to change something. I was stuck in a routine rut that desperately needed to be changed, and I didn’t even know it. As I mentally prepared for my first mission trip, there were so many unknowns in my life, and I needed answers, fast, like as in yesterday. I have to have a schedule, plan for everything, and know all of the answers. As you can see, patience is something that I’ve always struggled with, and often pray for.
I used to wear a bracelet that said “ask for patience”, and it was on the verge of breaking. I knew my patience would be tested on this mission trip, so I made sure to wear it. After our flight landed in Port au Prince, we settled in for the 3 hour bus ride. After about an hour, we encountered a bump in the road… literally. At this point, our luggage cart broke off from the bus, and we couldn’t leave it there, because that would be the last time we ever saw it. You can imagine the chaos running through our minds. It was at this point that my patience bracelet snapped in half. If this wasn’t a direct sign from above, I don’t know what is. We (the men) were forced to load 26 sets of luggage into a bus that was already at capacity. A wise person once told me, “If you pray for patience, God will give you tough situations to grow your patience.” (Mental note: never pray for patience). It was at this point that I knew I had to forget my own agenda, and wait for God’s lead. If you’ve heard anything about Mission Renew, it probably has a lot to do with not having a plan, because God’s will is much greater, and will prevail.
For me, this trip was about so much more than “just helping the kids and the community”. Don’t get me wrong, the children were an invaluable element of the experience, but I was seeking something different. I was excited for a chance to disconnect from all of the hustle and bustle of my life, and worries that I thought I had. Whenever you immerse yourself into a civilization such as La Vallee, you realize that your “problems” are the most insignificant thing in the world. You quickly see what should really be your priorities. We think we need all of these possessions, and be amongst the elite. It’s not an unknown fact that possessions won’t fill that void in your life, but sometimes we need a little reminder in the most innocent form. Those children just wanted to feel love, and that’s what we did.
“When you give yourself, you receive more than you give”; and WOW! I received more than I could have ever hoped for. The spiritual growth that happened was truly indescribable. We were there to help them, but the funny thing was that they helped us even more. I often think back on that last night as a group, and the love and support that was present between us though Christ was so real and tangible. Just writing this reflection gives me goosebumps. I can’t give you any more clues… You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
I left Lafayette in a state of mental disorder, and returned with a sense of peace and hope. Soon after, all of my ducks magically flew in from different countries to get in a row. When you take your focus off of yourself, and make time for God, he will reward you in more ways than youcan imagine.
God will provide the answers when you are ready for them, even if you aren’t sure what the question is.