www.lalimye.com

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Life in Haiti during a Pandemic

I feel guilty for writing a blog about my life when it seems the world is falling apart all around us. This is just for my supporters and prayer partners through the ministry who have asked for an update.

So here is where I've been the last few weeks:

"Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm." 

Isaiah 7:9


From the time of hearing the first case of Coronavirus had arrived in Haiti until 10 days later when the last flight would leave Haiti with no others authorized to come or go until the unknown future, I cried out to God for an answer. 
Literal tears in almost frustration towards God that I didn’t feel like I had a clear answer as to if I was to stay in Haiti, or go to America. Deep down I knew the answer. I knew what I had to do, but fear shook me to my core.

 Every few hours the embassy would send out an email: 

American citizens who wish to return to the United States should plan to do so immediately.  The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any flights from Haiti to the United States after March 30, or if any flights will be authorized in the future. U.S. citizens who do not return to the United States while commercial or commercially available charter flights are available may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite period.”

Many expats have left, many have stayed, all with legit and understandable reasonings... but I had such trouble deciding. I was contradicting everything- every pro and every con. They all weighed so heavily. And as human as I am, I was wanting the answer that led to safety and ease yet neither answer had that as an option because both countries were in trouble and my heart knew as a disciple of Christ I can't chase safety and ease. Haiti has been on lockdown so many times in the past 2 years and I never once struggled with wondering if I should leave. But this time, I have. 

Is it wise in the eyes of the Lord to leave for a season while so much is at stake for the ministries sake and the health of the world? To take a break, save myself so that I can continue on fighting for this ministry from the sidelines?
Or is it faith in the eyes of the Lord to stay with the knowledge that there is not much healthcare to lean on in times like these? Deep down knowing that America had adequate healthcare was my biggest comfort in all of this. 
I knew it was faith to rely on God and continue on with the ministry trusting in Him NOT healthcare, but sometimes He gives us wisdom to take a different route in different seasons and that is what I wanted to be made clear.

What is wise and what is faith and which decision is both...or neither? 



I opened my bible and read Isaiah. 

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”

Well there you have it, El. You can’t stand firm with your decision if your faith is constantly shaky, worrying, wondering, blurred. 
The devils fiery darts were the “what if’s” and it took many days of freaking out and letting my dark thoughts overtake my peace to realize yet again, I had let the devil in. 
I knew the Bible said "do not fear” over and over again and I know Gods promises ring true that He is our protector and provider and He hides us under the shadow of His wings...Yet I realized how shaky my faith really was when it came to actually having to count the cost. To actually accepting that I might be stuck in Haiti for some time with limited...everything...and not knowing when I’ll get to see my family again. 

I knew what verses spoke loudest to me and the convictions I personally had about only half way serving Him in the shallow end, or the risks of letting fear over faith rule my mind, and yet I was trying to navigate all the “what if’s” and if I was truly hearing the Lord correctly and not just hearing what I wanted to hear. 

If I leave I’d forever feel guilty for leaving the girls and the employees in such a potential mess. 
If I leave there’s no telling when I’d be allowed to come back. 
If I leave it would probably be out of fear not faith. And that’s where I landed. 
•Fear•
I was told there is around 130 ICU beds but maybe only 30 in good condition with the ability to ventilate 64. Sixty four! That’s it for the whole country. And I turn on the news and see warehouses and boats being turned into hospital rooms because America’s state of the art hospitals can’t accompany all that is pouring in day after day. I see the turmoil that this is causing America and felt so guilty that I was even stressing over what I should do when so many are already on the frontlines fighting for the sick while potentially getting themself sick as well. So many don't have a choice to run to safety or stay at home and quarantine.  I hear how more and more people are loosing their jobs and can't pay rent and struggling to eat. I hear how New York is like a war zone and how businesses have had to shut down and my heart is heavy for the country I was blessed to be born in.

Then I switch countries  like a tv station where both of your favorite shows are on at the same time and you can't decide which to pick..
Haiti. Where I've lived for the past almost 7 years. Where my house is and my job and my calling.
I hear on the radio 800,000 Haitian deaths wouldn’t be an exaggeration. 
I hear of an orphanage getting attacked because someone inside tested positive and some people react with harm towards fear. Foreigners had been yelled at saying it was our fault the virus landed in Haiti and all of this causes thoughts of how this virus could cause hate and anger to spread faster than the virus itself. We've already been on lockdown so much in the past 18 months. Now in BOTH countries? Both countries are having their own struggles and it hurts to watch.

6 million out of Haiti’s 11 million live on $2.41 a day according to the World Bank. So no, stocking up and staying in doesn’t work here just like it can't work for everyone in the States either. Social distancing doesn’t work because so many in my area make their money by selling at the market. An outdoor market with thousands of people buying and selling. They sell, then they eat. And as you can imagine $2.41 a day doesn’t exactly buy Tylenol to stock up, toilet paper, bags of rice, or even drinking water which rarely flows in houses where I am located. Many have to fetch the water at crowded wells. Most houses in my village are made up of only 1 or 2 rooms and that's it. Housing 4-6 people inside with a community toilet outside and an outdoor makeshift kitchen as well. There isn't space for spreading out. 
So yes my nerves were heightened as was my anxiety as I cried out to God to remind me of His peace, and His plan, and His voice. At this point neither country was attractive. Both would suffer deeply. So for me, it all was in Gods hands. "God, remind me the reason I came here in the first place. Remind me who’s in charge here and who is just the servant." 



It’s April 2nd 2020, I am in Haiti and God has given me an abundance of peace in this decision. There are no more flights out for the time being and so far there are only 16 (confirmed) cases in Haiti. 
Through the past week I’ve regained my peace, I’ve actually practiced trusting God and not just saying it, and I’ve been more aware of when the enemy is trying to attack. Because he will continue to try especially in times like these where the future is so unknown to us.

So I say all this to say, this is just my journey. This is not to downplay the intensity of the virus in advanced countries, or just to display the reality in developing countries. This is not to say all missionaries should stay in Haiti, this is just what the Lord had for me. This by NO MEANS makes me a saint or a warrior so please don't even say it. I'm just doing what the Lord has planned for me, reluctantly at times too. I am quarantined at my house like you are at yours. And whether someone is staying or going from life overseas, that is between God and that person. Neither is right or wrong as long as the Lord is the leading factor to the decision. 
This is just my story. Leading up to the decision my faith was tested, my commitment was tested but I’ve learned so much more on a deeper level on how God works, and for that it was worth it. So if you struggle in actually believing, if you struggle in hearing the Lord's voice, if you struggle with worry or fear, I'm right there with you. It's ok, we've all been there. I hope this blog shows you my struggles and that it's ok to not have it all together. It's ok to not be as strong as people think you are. We will get through this and we will come out stronger on the other side. Just keep the faith. Keep God at the front of your mind. Know when to turn off the news and open the Bible. 
Cry out to Jesus.
He hasn't left the throne.

But those who obey Gods word truly show how completely they love Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 
1John 2:5



To all those who have lost loved ones from this virus, to all the healthcare workers, factory workers, grocery store workers and everyone else who's job we are all dependent on to keep living, you are in my prayers. You are our hero's. We all have stories. Everyone is going through something and everyone is going through it differently. Your story is no less or more important. God sees you. He knows you. He is listening. Nothing is too petty for Him. He cares.




5 comments:

  1. Phil and I love you precious woman of God. We are praying for you regularly. Thank you for these powerful/frank words.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to put your experience into words. It is comforting and a very good reminder that He is in charge and we will be ok- no matter what! All the best you all of you in Haiti! GOD SPEED

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  3. Continuing to pray for you, sweet Ellen!

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