But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Back from Haiti!
Lauren and I arrived home with our team last night. I have so many stories to share about our adventure but for now, I want to share this story of giving and receiving.
The picture above is of Pastor Amos and his sweet wife Ellie Anna, our hosts during our week long stay in Carrfour, Haiti - a suburb of Port Au Prince. After the earthquake, this couple took in 3 other pastors and their families who lost their homes. Altogether around 30 people live in their compound.
Ellie Anna was up each morning by 4:00 a.m. to begin preparations for the day's meals. She selflessly spent the greater portion of each day preparing 2 meals a day for our team. Each day, she served our team with a very sweet, humble and joyful servant heart.
Later in the week, I learned that the dinners that she prepared for us each evening are meals that are only prepared for VIPs. We ate like Kings and Queens during our stay. The rest of the families living in the compound I'm sure did not eat near as good.
We were blessed beyond words!
Prior to leaving for our trip, I packed clothes that I purchased at the local thrift store and some of my own. I had only found 1 skirt at the thrift store that would work for my trip so decided to pack one I already owned, about the only skirt I own.
One day, Ellie Anna came and greeted me outside my tent. She did not speak English and I of course did not speak Creole. So, we communicated through hand gestures. She appeared to be asking if she could have my tent when we were done with it. We had planned on leaving our tents in Haiti anyway, so I told her I would be happy to leave my tent with her. She asked me something else, which I didn't quite understand but I assumed she was asking about the tent again, just to confirm that we understood each other. I said 'yes' to her again.
The second to the last morning of our stay in Haiti, I gathered up all the clothes I was going to leave behind in one bag and gave the bag to our female translator. She was grateful to receive these clothes and was going to give them to a sister who was in need of them.
That evening, as we were packing to leave, Ellie Anna and her husband approached me and asked for my clothes. Her husband, who knew very little English informed me that I had offered to leave my clothes with Ellie Anna. Whether I did or not doesn't matter. This is what Ellie Anna understood and I did not want to let her down.
While in Haiti, we heard over and over that groups will come into an orphanage, church, school or wherever, make promises and not deliver on their promises.
Ellie Anna and her husband were staring at me waiting for a reply. I stumbled with my words, which caused them to look confused. I knew I had to act quick.
I had packed up all the clothes that I wanted to bring home with me, which included a skirt that I did not want to give up and a shirt that I also wanted to keep. Without waiting a moment longer, I dug for the skirt and the shirt, found them rolled up in my carry on and presented them to Ellie Anna. I have to admit, I felt my stomach lurch as I handed over my favorite skirt and one of my favorite shirts. But I would have felt worse leaving her with nothing. She kindly smiled and accepted my offering.
Then something unexpected happened. No more than 5 minutes after I handed these pieces of clothing over to Ellie Anna, someone from our group came in the house with a bag full of clothes and wanted to know whose they were. It was the bag of clothes I had given to the translator that morning. Our transltor must have forgotten to take it with her when we saw her for the last time.
I feel extremely guilty about this now, but at first I could not help think about how I would still have my skirt and top that were difficult to give away if I knew about my bag of clothes that was so easy for me to give away. I'm especially ashamed of my feelings despite all that Ellie Anna had sacraficed for our team.
I can't help but think about God's perfect timing in this situation. He had planned all along that I would give my best skirt and shirt to Ellie Anna.
To be honest, if I would have known about my bag being left behind, I would have handed this bag over to Ellie Anna instead. God knew this too. Thus, his perfect timing caused me to be obedient.
God does not want us to give only when it is easy.
Earlier in the week a few of us girls from our group volunteered to sing 'Blessed Be Your Name' up front during a church service. This was not a coincidence.
Now I know truly what it means when we sing the lyrics 'I give and take away' and 'There is pain in the offering'.
God wants us to know and feel the sacrifice of giving. If it's too easy to give, it's not a sacrifice.
The morning we boarded our bus for the airport, I looked out the window of the bus one last time before we departed and standing there in the early morning hours, waving good-bye, was Ellie Anna, wearing my shirt.
I am so grateful that God has taught me the lesson of giving until there is pain in the offering. Seeing someone in much greater need than I wearing my 'valued' pocession brought great joy to my heart.
This is just the start of God breaking me down. He tested my obedience. And this was just a small item - a piece of clothing. It now seems ridiculous to even allow pain through this kind of offering. Because no doubt God will test me on much bigger things to come.
I love being a mom to my 4 beautiful children and wife to my wonderful husband. I don't write to draw attention to myself but to glorify God. What a blessing to have this opportunity to share my testimonies through this journey we call life.
"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people." --Martin Luther King JR., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
"..and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (Isaiah 58: 9 - 11)