“Although I didn’t realize it then, before even leaving, God was preparing me to learn how to let go and let God.”
Where are you going? What are you going to be doing there? Who are you going with? All questions I was being asked prior to leaving for my trip to Haiti. You would think such a simple question would be easy to answer. However, for me, these questions hit me like a ton of bricks. In all honesty, the answer to all of them was, I’m not really sure. I knew I was going to Haiti but had no idea what city, had no idea where we were staying, nor did I posses any geographical reference of the country itself. I honestly had no idea what exactly we would be doing. As far as who I was going with, all I knew was that I was going with a group called Mission Renew and I knew 1 person from our 35 person group. To say I was nervous and unsure is a complete understatement. I am a complete type A person and for me to not have all of these questions answered made me a nervous wreck. Although I didn’t realize it then, before even leaving, God was preparing me to learn how to let go and let God.
Not only was I unsure of so many trip details, I was completely skeptical as to why I was going. A week prior to leaving for Haiti, I unexpectedly quit my career of 5 years, moved home with my parents, and I kept asking God, “ok, what’s next?” I did not feel that my mind was in the right place and I was completely unconvinced I should be going. Although I couldn’t quite pinpoint the answer, I felt God was whispering to me, sometimes shouting, and I couldn’t help but listen. It was at this point I had to forget my own agenda, and wait for God’s lead. While I left Mandeville in a complete state of mental disaster, there was something inside of me that pushed through all of the fear and unknown. What I didn’t know then was that this was all part of God’s plan.
After stepping off the plane in Haiti, I was welcomed by smothering heat and what seemed like thousands of people surrounding me. I felt trapped and scared, and I tried my best to toss the negative thoughts out of my head, but they kept finding their way back. I was in a land so foreign from what I was use to, I didn’t know but 1 person, and I began to somewhat panic. Fast-forward about 7 hours, we finally made it to our hotel, and although I was completely nauseous from the up-hill, bumpy bus ride, I felt a sense of relief that I would finally get to rest. Little did I know, that rest would not come until the next day. I was so relieved to unpack, get settled, and at least lay down, however, just as I got out of the freezing shower, I was asked to change rooms. The one person I knew on the trip had a bit of panic and as she was preparing to head home, I was asked to change rooms. I had a mental breakdown and began crying. I was completely unaware of where I was, I was moved to a room with 2 of the moms (who turned out to be my Guardian angels), I was tired, and I felt trapped. What am I supposed to do now? As I finally lay down in the suffocating heat, I began praying. I prayed for answers, I prayed for God to talk to me.
Following a sleepless night, I realized there was no turning back, and I decided to tackle the day head on. I told myself to make the most of it and just see where it will lead you. And make the most of it I did. After that first day in Haiti, I had already met the most incredible group of kids that stayed with us, helped show us around the mountain, held our hand, prayed with us, taught us Creole phrases, and laughed with us between all of the silliness. These children had little to nothing and wore only the clothes they had on their back. Although I could not process the poverty I witnessed, these children showed me something greater than any physical possession could ever do. Happiness. The lack of material possessions did not stop them from loving one another. I’ve never witnessed someone with so little have more happiness than I could ever dream of. The children became my saving grace that week. They would greet us every morning with hugs, lead us all over the mountain, and even laughed at our American accents. Among the silliness, fearlessness, and strength these children displayed, I felt myself adapting these same attributes. No one was a stranger to one another and everyone welcomed each other with open arms. Surely we spoke two different languages, but it was as if the language barrier did not exist because all that was needed was happiness and the love of God.
One of the most memorable days in Haiti was Sunday when there was a small group of us who were unexpectedly late to mass. The rest of our group was already seated, and as I looked around unsure of what to do, I decided to stand. However, two of the children that were with me took me by the hand and people began making room for me to sit. I was no stranger to them. They welcomed everyone with opened arms. Halfway through mass, a Haitian man sitting nearby holding a baby, made the notion for me to hold the child as he had to leave briefly. It was then I realized the importance of trust. This man completely trusted me to hold his month-old child and his trust was so contagious. It was then I realized the importance to let go and let God. This man’s small gesture to let go of his child and let a complete stranger watch after him was just the reminder I needed. Fill your heart with love, and you shall receive the same love.
Throughout my trip, I would often think about the struggles I was dealing with back at home and it would cause the same sense of panic I was dealing with before I left. As the trip went on, however, I felt God truly speaking to me, telling me to completely let go and let Him be in charge. The minute I was able to let go, there it was. God was taking charge. Prior to leaving for Haiti, and after months of inner struggle, I decided to pursue my career as a teacher. I have wanted to teach forever, but there seemed to always be a reason because of this or that, which held me back. Through several tears and trembling, I quit my job. Although completely challenging, God’s timing of this trip was more than perfect. When you take the focus off of yourself, and make time for God, he will reward you in more ways than you can imagine. I was scared of what was to come when I got back home, but I told myself I was going to give this one to God. The night before we left Haiti to come home, I received a call from the school board confirming my application had been accepted. When my dreams and wants about becoming a teacher wouldn’t stop, I knew God was relentlessly pursing me.
I left for Haiti expecting to help and change the lives of people, but when I got to Haiti what I realized is that they changed mine. We tend to forget that happiness does not come as a result of getting something we do not have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have. The children of Haiti showed me the love of the Lord and the happiness I needed to grow as a person back home. Upon my journey home, I began to see the fruits of trusting God. I began to understand just how wise the Lord is and ultimately how imperative it is that I trust Him and His plan for me. I finally was able to see why He placed this trip in my life and I am eternally grateful for the experience.