Tag Archives: adventure

on going to Haiti

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For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  I Corinthians 3:9

 

So today I leave for Haiti.

I am joining eMi (Engineering Ministries International) for 10 days in Grand Goave, Haiti.  This is one of those rare times when God very clearly told me “Go!”  I hemmed and hawed and didn’t tell my husband for two days because I knew he would say yes.  While some adventures God reveals are invitations (this blog was one of those – saying no the the invitation would not have been disobedience but I would miss the opportunity to see and experience Him in new ways), this was an issue of obedience.  And I did not want to go.

I have wanted to join eMi on a project trip for several years but circumstances continually thwarted those attempts.  You would think I would be excited to finally be able to go.  Funny thing is, circumstances still provide numerous excuses for me to stay home.  A short time frame to prepare (five weeks!), the financial challenges of paying for the trip, leaving my little man for 10 days, health problems during this last week – all of these real challenges tell me this is ridiculous.  And if I’m really honest, Haiti is not at the top of my travel list.

I will be working with a team of engineers and architects to design a church and conference center for Haiti ARISE.  We will also be developing a master plan for a new parcel of land (which will include a goat farm.  Ha!  I doubt any of my architecture professors imagined the expertise they imparted to me being used on goats!).  I am the team architect, and I feel utterly unqualified to hold this role.  Between the obstacles to leave home, the intimidation I feel at being the team architect, and the challenges of Haiti itself, God has me so far out on a limb I can feel it bounce beneath me.

This is what happens when your word for the year is Brave.

Perhaps this kind of obedience strikes some as radical.  But, really, I had no choice but to say “yes.”  My obedience stems not from fear of consequences if I disobey or because I robotically must do what I am told.  But I love God so much, I am so humbled and grateful at all He has done for me, how can I say no?  How can I turn my back on this God who has saved me and transformed me and who walks so intimately with me through each day, no matter where that day leads me?

It is easy to think that we North Americans have all the answers, from the practical to the spiritual.  We feel so smart and privileged and enlightened – and as architects we are trained to be proud and arrogant.  But then I read the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians and Paul reminds me that, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”  The message of Jesus – the central reason for this trip – can seem so simple as to be foolish and insignificant in the face of daunting physical need or next to the expertise and knowledge our team possesses.  Yet it is all, all about Christ.  It is not about me or what I bring or even the building I design.  I want to come to the people of Haiti with the humility demonstrated by Paul, to have a heart filled with fear and trembling because of the weighty and glorious task that has been given me.  I want to “know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  This is what unites us across distance, cultural and language barriers, life experiences – we all love and serve the same God.  It is an honor and a priviledge to serve these brothers and sisters.  I am their servant these 10 days.  I do not come to fix their problems but to serve them so that they in turn might transform their community and country with Christ’s love.  

There is no way to prepare for the kind of poverty and need I will see.  My heart wants to erect defenses to protect itself from the onslaught of ache that I will experience.  To steel itself, to harden itself from the reality of the Haitian people so that I won’t have to face those difficult, messy emotions.  But I don’t want to spend the week detached and distant.  I want to consciously make my heart vulnerable to hear their stories, to see their poverty, to experience their joy in the midst of tragedy.  I want to love the people of Grand Goave without pretense, without expectations of return.  To see their beautiful, messy stories and then enter in.

Ordinary Adventure

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Adventure.

What comes to mind when you hear that word?  Do you recall a specific experience of heart-thudding wonder?  Are you filled with a longing for something more, something bigger than your current life?

by Noclador via Wikimedia Commons

Webster defines adventure as “the encountering of danger; a daring, hazardous undertaking; an unusual, stirring experience, often of a romantic nature.” Immediately I picture isolated climbers on snow-capped peaks.  Yet the chances of me being one of those fearless climbers?  Slim to none.  I admire their vision and devour stories of their accent, but I have no desire to put in the time, training and money to follow their footsteps.  I am quite happy exploring the endless trails that don’t involve crampons and bivouacs.  But my heart is still filled with anticipation and excitement when I hear the word adventure.  I want to be part of a grand and meaningful story.  I long for daring undertakings and stirring experiences.

My days, however, are filled with bills and laundry and baby drool.  Have I put adventure on hold while I stay at home with my son?  Is this the boring comma between the Interesting Things that fill my life before and after raising a family?  I easily believe that.  I hear Big Stories of women moving their families to Africa to serve the poor, or traveling around the world with their husband and kids for a year and I think – this is what I must do!  To have adventure I must follow in their footsteps.  And this is nonsense.

I am learning instead to see the adventure in the everyday, the ordinary life that surrounds me.  The wonder of watching my son explore and learn about his tiny world.  The challenge of deep and meaningful relationships with the people placed in my life right now.  The hard, beautiful work of forging a marriage with someone so similar yet so different from me.  My unique role within the larger Story in which we all play a part.

“Wedding in the Village,” The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis via Wikimedia Commons

This Story includes all of humanity and it unfolds like an intricate tapestry.  The Hero of this Story is not me.  My ego desperately wants to be the center of my story – and, if I’m honest, a lot of other people’s stories as well.  But the starring role of this Story belongs to Jesus.  After all, He wrote it!  He has been around since the Story began and He is the End after the final chapter.  There is freedom (and a great deal of relief!) when I accept that I am not the Hero.  I no longer have to write an epic tale for myself, but I can join Him in His adventure.  This might mean He leads me somewhere grand and daring and I won’t hesitate with fear and uncertainty because He goes with me.  But He might leave me right where I am and challenge me to be daring and adventurous in the ordinary and anonymous.  God is just as magnificent and wild and bold and dynamic here as He is in a small village in Africa.  He is not tame, but He is good and loving and so desperately wants you to see your true role in His crazy Story!

Perhaps you love to rock climb or kayak churning rivers.  Or you get excited when you travel to countries and cultures far from where you call home, immersing yourself in new places.  Maybe an adventure for you is walking across the street to meet that neighbor you only wave at in passing.  Search out what stirs your heart.  Food, painting, woodworking, sewing, relationships, teaching – any of these can be part of your adventure.  Talk to God.  Ask Him to show you the ordinary adventures around you.  Don’t spend your days longing for the life you don’t have, but uncover those daring undertakings around you.  Join Him in His adventure story and your life will be anything but tame and boring!