I'm not bringing make-up. That would be foolish. There is no need for perfume or hair dryers where I'm going. Even what I have - minimal by normal vacation standards - still seems way excessive.
I pack gluten-free granola bars, since I am one of those people. Except I'm not. I have a medical condition that requires a special diet. If I don't eat right I won't be any help to anyone. And yet, how do you feel good about yourself with a bag full of food, walking into a country that has none?
I stare at these items and think, "what am I doing?"
I have no business going to Haiti. It is not my country. It is not my problem. I live here, in the United States. I have children and a mortgage and an electric bill. I have a child in a grave without a headstone. And the reality is, she may never get one. We are not people of money. We live paycheck-to-paycheck with never enough. We don't have any retirement savings to think of and we're not getting any younger. The dog is still not properly housebroken (as evidenced by his actions this morning on my living room rug). I have my own problems here. I should be trying to fix my own problems here.
I have children that are healthy. And if they happen to run a fever, I can go to the local Walgreens, a three minute drive in my comfortable, affordable compact SUV (currently ranked number 3 by US News and World Report) to pick up some Children's Tylenol with its safety seal properly intact and maybe a magazine, some new nail polish in a bright pink, and a candle that smells of lavender. On my way home I can run through McDonald's and pick up a Big Mac Value Meal and a hot fudge sundae, just because I can. And I'll drive home without any threat of a military ambush or angry mob surrounding my car and threatening my livelihood. No, instead I will pass by quaint homes with cute landscaping and pull into my modest two car garage before walking into my cozy home. It will be warm in the wintertime, cool in the summer. There will be fresh water that comes out of every faucet in my house. I will never worry that the water is unsafe to drink. I will simply grab a glass and let the water run until it gets nice and cold. A luxury I will never contemplate. Who would waste such precious water? Who would simply stand and watch it go down a drain when there are children in the world who haven't tasted clean water in their entire lifetime?
As I stare at the few shirts rolled and packed in a Ziploc bag in an effort to stay dry, I know that, although I can't explain it, this is where I'm supposed to go.
This is a medical mission trip. I am surrounded by doctors and nurses and optometrists. I wonder what, if any, special skills I possess that could possibly benefit this trip. I have had numerous people ask me what I'll be doing on this trip. "I don't know," I answer. Because I don't. But I do. Deep down inside. In the places I hold sacred. I know.
Haiti is Avery's country. Filled with too many orphans and widows that somehow her soul connected with, even though I could not have located it on a map if you had asked me. Avery's passionate pleas to Help Haiti rang constant throughout our home and I felt just as frustrated as she felt desperate because I didn't know how to help. What do I know of helping?
If you think God is only where the people succeed and drive fancy cars, you're wrong. If you think the size of a paycheck is a direct correlation of God's love for you, you are mistaken. Because here's what I know about Christ: I know he is everywhere. Everywhere. On my block, on yours. Across the ocean on a tiny island ravaged by an earthquake and political unrest. He is everywhere, my friends. But He gets hard to see when He's shoved aside by our second mortgages and the new swimming pool we're putting in. And He gets hard to see when He's shoved aside to make room for our new furniture and planning our trip to Disney and He is really hard to see when we're complaining about the way the local grocery store rearranged the food aisles and now we can't find where anything is anymore. And He's just about impossible to see when He isn't at the top of our To Do List.
But God is really easy to see when you have nothing.
When you are at the bottom of that pit and it's dark as midnight and you can't hold onto a single thought other than keep breathing, you have two choices: sit there and hate, or search out God's Light. You'll see it. He's there.
When you have nothing but time on your hands because you have no job to go to, no house to clean, no dinner to prepare, you have two choices: sit there and hate, or search out Jesus. You'll find him. He's there.
I know that, yes, for some reason I cannot explain, I must go to Haiti. God wants this to be my problem.
If there's one thing I know about Avery, it's that she knew where to find God. Sitting on our couch, playing on the playground, practicing gymnastics in the gym --- [do you know how many college aged girls have written to tell me that Avery asked them if they knew Jesus? That was Avery. Goofing off, laughing with whoever she was around, making sure they knew the love of Our Lord and Savior.] --- she sought Him out and she heard His voice. Fighting for Haiti as passionately as she did was not without reason.
There is a reason that little girl needed so badly to help Haiti. There is a reason Haiti was on her heart from such a young age and she could never let go of it. There is a reason she spoke about Haiti constantly and there is a reason I'm going to Haiti:
"I'm going to go find Jesus," I whisper before grabbing my leather work gloves and zipping them into another waterproof baggie.
Want to follow along on my journey? I am intentionally not bringing any phones or cameras. (Yes, I know. The girl who takes hundreds of pictures! But I want to be present. Really, really, absolutely present.) However, if you go and "like" the Children's World Impact Facebook page, you'll be able to see the daily posts on what our team is doing. (That is, if all goes well with things like electricity and cellular carriers.) So, "like" their page.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have donated. You have blown my mind! Avery thanks you, too. I can feel her excitement from heaven. Please pray for a safe journey, for wisdom and strength for everyone on our team. Pray for the families at home holding down the fort. They'll have a big job to tackle, too.
In our home, Matt will be left with a wiggly, overactive 4-year old while working full time, coaching basketball (oh, how I will miss those precious girls!) and attempting to figure out a way to keep our bathroom from falling into the basement. Every time we turn around we find something else wrong. Today it was rotten, moldy supports. Trust me, Matt will be tested big time!