So it has been over a year since my last blog post. Thank you to whoever has followed me patiently waiting for me to write :) It is crazy to think where God has brought me over the past year. I am now married and about to celebrate my first anniversary. I have passed two parts of the CPA exam and looking forward to carrying the momentum into finishing the last two parts this fall.
God has been good to me. I just got off a mission trip to Haiti. I feel like the blog is the best place to list my reflections. It will be difficult to describe a trip that is truly "indescribable," but I will try my best to convey the experience and the work that God has done in my heart.
Jen and I had the opportunity to lead a team of 9 people to Haiti for a week on a Construction Mission Trip. It was rewarding, exciting and a lot of work. We started our recruiting efforts by speaking to our previous mission team from the trip to New Orleans and added a couple friends from Church who we knew wanted to go on a trip. The team was a great joy to be around the entire time on the trip. There were 4 first time missionaries and several people traveling internationally for the first time. We worked with an organization called Love-A-Child, founded by Bobby and Sherry Burnette. They started an orphanage over 30 years ago in Haiti. Our project was building homes for the people displaced by the earthquake. Love-A-Child with the help of Joyce Meyer ministries developed a plan to create permanent housing for a group of 2,000-3,000 people living in a tent city. The housing project is to build 500 homes for these people. Our team's role was to help frame the wooden homes.
We were greeted in the Port-Au-Prince, Haiti airport by Carlos Silvestre, our Love-A-Child, mission team host. This guy was one of the most amazing men of God that I have had the privilege to meet. He is a Dominican Republic native who has the anointing of Jesus Christ all over his smiling face. Carlos, is an example of someone who has laid down his live for Christ and picked up his cross daily to follow Him. He has a contagious smile and the ability to make anyone laugh at will. He just has a "Jesus attraction" that makes you want to tap into him and hear what he has to say. He found his way to Haiti by serving the people in the earthquake disaster. Right after the disaster he used his van as a free shuttle to anyone needing a ride from Haiti to the Dominican airport. He did not charge people for a ride. Instead he showed his heart to the people by serving them without any compensation in mind. He told me that he put 20,000 on his van in 2 months. During that time, one of the Love-A-Child board members took a liking to Carlos because he could see Carlos' generous and humble heart. The board member offered for Carlos to come to Love-A-Child to host mission teams. So that's Carlos' story. Throughout the week, I took every opportunity that I could to try to get in on conversations with Carlos. I gleaned much from the wisdom that God has entrusted him with. He is truly an amazing man.
In Haiti we had 4 and a half hard work days. This was a time to bond by working together as a team, but also to bond with the Haitian natives that were working on the job site as well. I felt that each member of our team really connected with the Haitians. There are some things that you don't need a translator to interpret, and the one that stuck out to me through our interactions was the expression of God's love through our smiles. As I was working with our team, I noticed many smiles being exchanged. By the end of the week, our team had caught onto enough Creole, and their team English to have short conversations. Many members of our team noted that the Haitians have personalities just like ours...They love having fun, cutting up and laughing. Most of all, they love to receive and give love. I truly felt like we established a "brotherhood" with the natives. It is an awesome and eternal experience that I hope to never forget.
Aside from the manual labor, our team had the opportunity to experience the tent cities that the natives lived in. Carlos took us on a couple tours of the villages in Fond Parisien. On Day 1, we went to Le Taunt. Le Taunt was our first experience to see the poverty of the Haitians' living conditions. Many of these people lived in small shacks or tents. Many of the children under 5 years old ran around through the streets naked. We played a game of keep-away with the children with a football that we brought and just tried to show them as much love as we could in the half our that we were able to spend with them.
On the 4th day of our trip we had the opportunity to help with a food distribution in Camp Hope. Camp Hope is a tent city that was created a few months after the earthquake. Our team was responsible for carrying the amputees' food back to their tent homes. Many times, the amputees lived the furthest from the food distribution center. This was probably one of the most impactful moments on the trip for most of the team. This is where we were able to interact on a personal level with the people. I took a man's box of food to his tent and we had about a 15 minute conversation. His name was St. Pierre Charley. He spoke the best English for a Haitian that I had met. He told me all about his plans to marry his girlfriend and asked me all about my family. His sincere gratitude for our team being there really spoke to my heart. The one thing that I took away from our visit to Camp Hope was all of the peoples' thankfulness for us being there to help them. St. Pierre Charley was so excited to meet me that he actually gave me his phone number when I got back to his tent. We had just met and immediately, he wanted to share his life with me.
Now that I am back in the States, I am missing my friends that I made in Haiti. I hope to go back. I am still ironing out how the impact of the trip will affect my life and perspective going forward. God gave me a taste of something in Haiti that I wish everyone in the world could have. I have been on 5 mission trips in the past couple years, but none have affected me like this one has. God really tenderized my heart.
Two main thoughts stick out to me from this trip:
1. I need to spend more time with Jesus one-on-one. I am still trying to figure out exactly how to practically apply this point to my life because I feel like I go through seasons trying different things. The message was clear that I need to get alone with Christ more for pure worship. I plan to go camping more frequently and experience the wilderness.
2. I need to listen to the Holy Spirit show me how to better serve God's people. God really got a hold of me about serving his people. Each one of us was created as a vessel for love and worship. I am asking God to expand my capacity to love and serve His people.
So, there you have it....a jumbled mess of my reflections from Haiti.