I’ve been back in Haiti for about a month now and WOW God has been doing lots of work both at the school and in my heart. I wanted to take a minute to share with you some of the glory stories and ways He has been moving in this mission. It constantly blows my mind that I am the one who gets to see and witness so many of the glory stories everyday, but it is NOT because of me that they are happening. It is all because of the Lord’s providence and others generosity in supporting this mission. It would be unfair to keep it to myself.
Transitions are not always my jam and after being in my American home for over 2 months I was a mixture of excited and nervous to return to my Haitian home. I missed my friends and community, but I was sad to think of leaving my family and friends in the States. Would my creole come back to me? Did I have what was needed for this year? I was honestly so exhausted by the end of last year that I was just praying the Lord would provide me strength and zeal for the start of year 2. I knew the Lord was going to be doing a lot of NEW. My parents, who are honestly the coolest kindest people I know, came with me to help bring 8 packed bags of school supplies and clean and set up the classroom. It was a whirlwind of week as we got everything set up, reconnected with our staff and school families and prepared to start school the following week.
When I returned to the base, the other American missionaries that I live with (LifeTeen missionaries) were not back yet from their summer break. For three weeks I was the only English speaker at the base. This time was SO good for me. I was stretched a lot. Things that I normally would have asked for help on, I had to do on my own. It was so good for me to have moments to be stretched and either figure it out on my own, or lean into the Haitian community around me to help, rather than the comfort of my fellow American missionaries. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me strengthen other relationships that I otherwise maybe wouldn’t have leaned into. I am so thankful for this time of growth and independence.
I have been learning a LOT already in this second year of Haiti missions. From the very start, my prayer and dream was for our school and ministry to be Haitian run… not dependent on an American to function. This felt like a long term far off goal and I have been pleasantly surprised to see the Lord has started to put this into place much quicker then I imagined. His ways are not our own and sometimes He asks us to do things before we are quite ready for them. For me, it has been asking me to release control.
This has been beautiful and it is what I want… but that is not to say it hasn’t been challenging as well. I have had to cling to humility frequently in this first month back, release control, and recognize that it is okay for someone to do something differently than I would have done it AND in many ways they are doing it better than I could. I have literally had the Lord tell me multiple times in prayer- this other person can fill this role better than you can. Let them. H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y.
One of my friends sent me this quote about leadership. “Leadership is about influence, not control.” Boom. That completely describes the place I have been growing in recently. The Lord has been taking these areas that last year were MINE and asking me to give them to someone else. It is a struggle because while has been and is my dream for it to be in the hands of the Haitians, it is still not easy to release control of something you have loved and prayed for and nurtured and exhausted yourself with for over a year.
Let me walk you through this struggle.
For months and months last year I was confident that the Lord was going to be providing another teacher to help me this year. There were several awesome American missionaries I was praying with and as each person discerned another direction and the door closed, I was at peace about their decision, but still confused on when and how the Lord was going to come through. In my prayer He had made it clear He would send someone. I kept praying and waiting. About three weeks before coming back to Haiti, He provided… just not at all how I thought He would. This year we have a Montessori trained teacher, Marc-Talie, from Port-au-Prince who moved here to teach with me.
Y’all. She has been such a gift! She is incredible! But like I said, the Lord has been majorly humbling me, and it has not been easy to release control. The first day as we set up the classroom together there were a few things she wanted to change. I had to go back to my room and cry for a few minutes before coming back with a smile and releasing my way in exchange for hers. I knew by stepping aside, even though it wasn’t easy, it would empower her to pour herself into this role this year. Each time I give up some of my little desires, the Lord blesses it. She is so good with the children, and they love her. The Lord is literally like “See how much better this is?!” She is Haitian! She speaks Creole! And is teaching the children French which is culturally so important. She has so many gifts that I could never possess in this role and I can honestly say is doing such a better job then I could have with our new enlarged class of 19 students this year.
And, in His wisdom and mercy, I can see how the Lord is using things like my health to help speed along this process of me surrendering my hold. I have been sick on and off over the past few weeks having to miss several days of school because I have been in bed or at the clinic. While last year this would have meant school was canceled, this year it means trusting in the people He has provided to run the school day without me there (and they did awesome! I wasn’t even missed!)
After realizing the gift this was and moving aside I began to question, well, if I am meant to step aside in many ways from being the main classroom teacher… what IS my role supposed to be? This year we have a new room for Catechesis, a beautiful answer to a prayer. I really really love the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program that we spent nearly all last year setting up, translating into Creole and launching in the community. I grasped onto this. I could fully dive into and teach Catechesis! I loved it! This would be my space. After self appointing myself for this role and starting to move in this direction, I felt the Lord speak to me and say this was not where I was meant to be. Uh WHAT? He shared that He had someone who could do it better than me (again with the humility). I was slightly sad to give up that desire, but also truly joyful because He put the name of someone else on my heart. Mitsy is a new missionary who just moved to our base. She is an amazing intelligent woman, mother of two boys, worship leader, and all around incredible human. I love her to pieces and she has SO many gifts. I had been praying about if there was a spot at the school to invite her into. After speaking with her and praying together, she now works part-time for us at school as our catechesis teacher! She just started last week and the children LOVE her!
"To take whatever He gives, and give whatever He takes with a big smile." -St. Teresa of Calcutta
Despite the Lord “taking” from me, He is showing me the gift that it is, and giving me the grace of joy in giving it back to Him. After last year being overwhelmed and trying to juggle a million roles, the Lord is doing so much new. This year I am able to focus on loving the children in front of me, teaching them the best I can, influencing my staff to lead on their own (something that I really love), and managing the day-to-day school operations. There are also several goals that I have had for the future of our school to best set us up for success for coming years; goals that last year I had no time to even consider. This year, the Lord is making space for me to do that. He is so wise & good. I can’t wait to see what else is to come. I can’t wait to see what He will do in this space He is clearing and can’t wait to see Him work in the new people He has brought into our mission.
In other news, I am in AWE that I get to be the one first hand witnessing so many beautiful glory stories. This has been blowing my mind!! I have been able to witness peoples’ very lives being changed, and I am the one that they are thanking, when it is not me at all! It is only through what the Lord is doing and through the generosity of others that this ministry is able to operate at all.
One of these was my two assistants and very dear friends, Rana and Ti Malen, going to start their school year. They are living several hours away for the next 10 months being trained as Montessori teachers. It was a whirlwind getting them packed, ready, and sending them off. I immediately was missing their friendship and presence in town and at school. A few days after they left, Rana called me to talk. She said she had been trying to get ahold of me and sounded very urgent. I thought something may be wrong… but she was only calling to thank me. I had tears in my eyes as she shared with me how grateful she was for the opportunity; how because of me her life had changed, how she was so grateful for the gift this year would be. She was in awe of what the Lord is now doing in her life and thanking ME for helping to make it happen.
Another glory story was that we needed a place for our new teacher Marc-Talie to live. After discussing a few options we decided to rent a nearby house from a friend of ours. The only problem was that He did not have a bathroom in the house. Through the Lord’s providence we were able to quickly install a septic tank, water tower, and fully functioning bathroom into his home. In exchange He is letting us live in the home for three years. This is such a glory story because this is something that would have taken him years and years to save for on his own, but something he desired to work toward that will greatly benefit him and his family. Now he has a bathroom and water tower to bless his family for years to come. We signed a contract with him, and the pride and joy in his smile was contagious. He was beyond thrilled to hand the keys over to us and give Marc-Talie a beautiful welcome. It is amazing to see small yet very significant ways this mission is impacting the greater community.
Meanwhile, my heart is wonderfully happy to be back in Haiti. I can’t really describe my life here. It is simple, it is rich, it is radical, it is adventurous and fun, it is challenging, it is mundane, it is spectacular. It is the hardest thing and the best thing. It is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I am constantly in awe of how much the Lord knows my heart, that He would bring me here… choose this setting to pursue my heart. Give me the GIFT of this season of uncertainty, challenge, and overwhelming joy. Also, I find it beautiful that in His wisdom He brought me here to bring me closer to Himself. How loved I am to be able to grow in virtue in this way… to suffer in small ways but knowing it is helping me to grow to be as holy as the Lord desires for me to be. To have no choice but to lean into Him. Ugh. Sometimes people think I am incredibly holy because I am a missionary in a foreign country. I am far far from it. I truly feel it is because of how far I am from holiness that the Lord had to pull me away from so many things of the world and bring me here to Haiti to have me know Him and love Him. Pray for me! I have so many areas in which to grow.
One last thought, I promise!
I am constantly being asked from people how long I will be here, when I will come home, what next year will look like. It can really make me lose my peace to get swept up in thinking about the unknown future. For now, I am living as much in the present moment as possible. It is overwhelming for me to think about how long God will have me stay here in Haiti… especially because the Lord is clearly moving things along quickly here. I look to the future and I can get easily lost in the months that are unknown. I have no idea how long am I meant to be here, or when I will know it is time to step away. I have no idea what the lord will call me to next. To be honest, I get a little fearful of choosing wrong. Of staying longer than I’m meant too, or leaving before my time is up. Jesus is teaching me surrender & abandonment. “Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.” He is teaching me peace and presence. I am choosing to just be fully where my feet are, knowing this is where the Lord has me right now, trusting in Him, and praying that when He asks me for something different I will have the courage to respond Yes.
Litany of Humility
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected ...Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.