Today is our last day. We leave for Miami late this afternoon and due to the complexities of travel to Haiti, (meaning: cost, flight times, etc.) we are spending the night in Miami and then heading back to the airport at 5am for our 7am flight back to NJ on Sunday. Prayers are always appreciated for international travel, I get nervous going thru customs for no reason at all…not to mention shepherding 23 others thru it. I am, however, very excited (geek) to try out the new “Mobile Passport” app – hopefully that will speed things up. I’m thankful for modern conveniences.
I’ve also developed a rather ripping head cold…yes…in Haiti in July…that is making things a little more challenging. Aren’t head colds something you get in February when it’s 17 degrees outside and you’ve all be cooped up in the house for 3 months?! I’m thankful for Nurse Lisa and her well-stocked medical kit. Mucinex and Advil are helping to keep it at bay.
I’m thankful for everyone on this team. Each one gifted by God in such unique ways. There are a lot of youth on this trip here, thankful for those who lead the way by example and those who are growing in discipleship by seeing God at work.
I’m thankful for being able to reconnect with some children – some we’ve seen for the last 3 trips! Special bonds were strengthened and created. We also made new connections. We had the need for an additional translator and by God’s providence Lisa met a Haitian woman who spoke English and needed a job. She hadn’t been able to buy food recently for her children, and she worked out perfectly. We had several very good spiritual conversations with her, she was very transparent in saying that she believes God exists, but can’t trust him because why would he let her suffer so much? Seeing God’s hand clearly as she had literally cried out to God to provide for her and then we show up from America and give her a job. We are praying this strengthens her faith to trust him completely.
Yet, with all that thankfulness there is still the cloud of sin. Yesterday was a hard day in some senses. Some of the Haitian children knew yesterday was the last day we’d be with them, so they really ramped up their demands for “one dollar” or a “ballo.” [ball] Like other times, this was very hard for me, and I had trouble holding back sinful responses when I was sinned against. I felt like some of the relationships I had developed over the week came down to merely what I could give them. And when they found out I wasn’t giving them what they wanted, some literally cursed at me and stormed off.
Naturally, all of these things cause deep thoughts to swirl in my brain. I realized once again there is not much difference in what hinders Haitians and Americans from perceiving their real actual need for the gospel – materialism. Just different sides of materialism. Haitians seem to not be able to realize their true need of reconciliation with God thru Jesus because they can’t see past their everyday needs and poverty. Americans seem to not be able to realize their true need of reconciliation with God thru Jesus because we can’t see past our overwhelming comfort and opportunity. Same limitation – just two opposite ends of the spectrum. One thinks God isn’t helping them, the other doesn’t see the need for God’s help at all.
Put all that together with that fact that I’ve been drawn to Romans 8 several times this week. Ariana shared from it the other night during our meeting, I’ve been thinking of Romans 8:31 from time to time, and just today in a book I am reading Romans 8:22 and a “theology of groaning” was discussed.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:22–25 ESV)
God’s perfect creation is broken by sin, a sin that we chose to bring into this world when we rejected God’s authority over us, and continue to. Now we struggle, strive…groan. Not only creation itself with all the evil and sin, but inwardly. We struggle to see our true need for God. We groan under the weight of sin and the effect it has on our souls.
We need to be not groaning in hopelessness, but rather in hope. The permanent redemption we will experience one day when Jesus restores the world from it’s brokenness and we will spend eternity with him, without any struggling, striving, or groaning. Without any limitations in seeing him clearly.
Until then, when Haitians or Americans, let us hope for what we do not yet see, and look past the materialism – whether in want or abundance – to clearly see our daily need for God, and his gracious provision of Himself in Jesus.