In the few weeks since Brennon and I have returned home from our first trip to Haiti, we have had many thoughts and emotions to sort through, both individually and as a couple. We both are very grateful that we were able to go on that trip together, because these past weeks would have been very lonely if we didn’t have each other to talk to about our experiences and insight. It has been interesting learning how to contain our excitement and joy about that life-changing week, as we have learned that many folks just aren’t that interested in hearing about it or even trying to understand. In fact, we’ve become very good at detecting the eyes-glazed-over signal that it’s time to stop sharing and talk about something more important, like which movies are playing at the theater this week.
So for about a week, a little thought has been rumbling through my mind that maybe I should write down why we went to Haiti, and now, why we are going back. Oh, and why we will probably be going back many more times in the future. Whoever is interested can read it. Whoever isn’t, well, doesn’t have to subject themselves to it. And perhaps it will be a little therapeutic for me. So we all win, right? Sure. Well, here it goes….
My eyes were opened
January 12, 2010, was my 35th birthday. It was nothing special, but I pretty much had my full focus on myself, because that’s what we should do on our birthdays, right? I didn’t really catch on that just a few hundred miles south of the tip of Florida, in a country called Haiti (which I actually had no idea where it was located), a massive earthquake of catastrophic proportions had occurred. About the time I was preparing to eat my birthday dinner, countless lives were being lost in collapsing buildings as the earth shook violently for less than a minute. Men, women and children were being buried alive, many of whom would never be rescued. Families lost. Orphans and widows instantly created. Survivors would now begin their harrowing journey to try to survive in a country that had very little to start with, and now was total chaos. Survivors – with broken bodies and devastated hearts – that I had no idea existed as I ate my birthday cake. That is, until the next day, when I came out of my self-absorbed bubble and turned on the television. That’s when it happened. On January 13th, my heart was broken for Haiti.
The immediate focus of the mainstream media during the few days following the quake was the orphan crisis in Haiti. The number of orphans in the country was astronomical before the quake, and now it was unfathomable as to how many children would be without parents or family to care for them. As an adoptive parent and having a heart for hurting kids, I zoned in on this aspect of the crisis. Brennon and I would certainly consider adopting a Haitian child if we were called by God to do so, so I started looking into the matter to find out what, if anything, we should do. Where to start? Google, of course. First thing I found? God’s Littlest Angels Orphanage (“GLA”). Ok, so I found one orphanage; I knew I should keep digging. So I dug. I dug a lot. Everything I found came back to one thing: GLA. Some lady named Dixie from GLA was being interviewed on the Today Show, my favorite source of news. I found Dixie’s blog, as well as the blogs of some of the GLA staff, and began to follow them on a daily basis. I quickly began to focus in on this orphanage, which I soon learned was a place of miracles and healing for broken children. God was at work at GLA, without a doubt, and everything at GLA was being done for the glory of the Lord.
My spiritual life went from lukewarm to hot in 2010. I began pursuing a closer relationship with my Savior and sought to understand Him better. I stopped vegging out in front of the television so much and replaced that wasted time with reading. The books I began reading started a fire within me that I hope never fizzles. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel, Radical by David Platt, Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado, just to name a few. I also started to read one other book that I hadn’t really invested too much time into: the Bible….by God. He’s quite an author.
I began to open my eyes to some concepts that I had toyed with, but never really examined too much in depth. Concepts like: the Creator of the Universe would love for me to join Him in His plan, God really meant it when He said to love and serve others, and my life would be so much richer and fulfilling if I stopped living it focused on myself and started living it modeled after Jesus. Scriptures began to come to life in ways they never had before. I studied the nitty-gritty teachings of Jesus that Christians like to say, “Oh, Jesus didn’t mean that literally. He doesn’t expect me to live for him that hard-core.” In 2010, Romans 12:2 became my pursuit: “Do not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
My radical living began to blossom throughout the summer. I met Bola and her family, a Muslim family that had relocated to Nashville from Somalia, where their people group faced near-genocide conditions. For a few months my focus was lifted from Haiti and placed on ministering to these precious lost people, all in the name of Jesus. This journey (an entire story of its own that I’ll save for another time) helped shape me and prepare me for what was next.
Next: Honey, we gotta go to Haiti