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Friday, September 11, 2020

For the Newbie

It was the month of June. A Monday afternoon. The girls were playing outside. It was 3 months into our new normal of staying inside our 4 walls while the mysterious virus raged through our world.

There was a “knock” at the gate. From that simple knock, we knew something was wrong. All the girls were rushed into our safe room. I stood on the porch, watching, while texting a friend and calling another. Someone needed to know what was going on in case things escalated. Tensions rose, demands were verbalized, guns were shot. And time stood still, again. It shook me to my core and this instance by far wrecked me more than any other from the past. Or, perhaps, all the rest of the traumatic experiences were finally catching up to me now and my mind was acutually accepting the results of trauma and its triggers. Desperate times call for desperate measures and La Limy√® was the chosen target. My name was the target. On that Monday afternoon we received a not so lovely visit from the local gang.

So, for the newbie wanting the "adventure" of being a missionary...
When you ask if its “hard”, here is what I’ll tell you:

Yes, at times it is hard. At times it’ll be really, really hard. You’ll cry yourself to sleep and when mama texts you’ll say you’re too tired to talk. When in reality you know it’s better for everyone if you just cry alone. It’s better to save the fear and stress and worry from them and just keep it all to yourself. It seems easier to deal with the trauma alone then try to explain it to friends 1700 miles away surrounded by the comfort of enforced laws and a justice system.
At times, you’ll watch helpless babies suffer day in and day out and then they’ll die. And it might happen more times than the fingers on your hand. If you were responsible for that child, you’ll be left to pick up all the pieces in a culture and language that you never quite feel like you fit into. You’ll never quite be one of them. If it’s the neighbor’s child that dies, you’ll have to listen and watch as everyone cries and screams in disbelief for hours while trying not to let the knowledge of having limited healthcare being the reason children die from preventable causes over here cause you to panic every time your own child has a simple fever or cough.
You might have guns pointed at your head or guns shot at other people 2 feet from your car as you’re pushing the kids heads to the floorboard as quick as possible. You might have gangs surrounding your vehicle pounding on the windows as you pray like never before to escape, having already hid your most precious piece of gold-your ticket out. A United States of America passport.
You’ll no longer have that sub-conscience knowledge of being able to rely on the justice system or the police if a problem arises.
You’ll see injustice and hate and crimes like men being dragged from the backs of motorcycles for torture or set on fire from stealing as you drive by and only see a burnt up body on the side of the road as people casually walk by. You might watch as your neighbor casts voodoo spirits into souls and from your roof you see young women wailing and rolling around on the ground as possessed. You’ll cry out to God in sadness that they went to him for help and healing and not the ministry next door who knows the Ultimate Healer. You’ll see the aftermath of undercover agents that busted a huge sex trafficking sting at the hotel where you have your visiting mission team staying. You’ll crave burgers and sweatshirts and mascara that doesn’t melt.
You’ll go home to the States and try to fit in but realize you’ve changed. Fireworks sound like gunshots and make your heart skip a beat. Going miles and miles with no one jumping on the back of your car for a free ride and driving like robots never getting over the yellow line will feel just… dull. Then there is the fact that you can go all day without seeing a beggar, or poverty, or even a motorcycle with 6 people on it plus a goat. It's calming and boring at the same time.
You hate having to beg for money but that’s the only way to feed the ministry that feeds the community and you’ll be nervous about posting that beach picture like somehow we aren’t allowed to take days off too. You’ll miss birthday parties and weddings, holidays and get togethers. You’ll see pictures of lake days posted by friends or campfire cookouts or Christmas morning jolly. You’ll roll your eyes and lie to yourself that it’s all overrated when in reality you desperately want that fun communion with friends without a care in the world sitting on the front porch drinking sweet tea without misqitoes or voodoo music distracting your peace.

BUT

You’ll also watch malnourishment miraculously fade away from being intentional in providing prayer and nutrients to the one year old in newborn diapers who literally feels like a sack of bones. You’ll witness the power of God strengthen up believers from seeing a toddler walk for the first time after being told she couldn’t. You’ll feel on top of the world when the baby finally has the strength to sip milk from a bottle instead of being fed by a syringe.
You’ll see people give their life to Christ wholeheartedly with no turning back. You’ll be surrounded by women who don’t just say they trust God, but actually tangibly trust Him and you’ll yearn for that same confident trust amidst so much challenges. You’ll get to experience a brand new vibrant culture filled with new traditions, new foods, and new adventures. You’ll get the honor of sitting at the house of new friends while speaking a new language as they welcome you into their family as you learn the beauty of different cultures and the reality that sometimes it’s not right vs wrong, but just different. You see differences as a unique gift that makes us all beautifully made in HIS image. A different way to live, different foods to eat, different ways to do life. A way that is so much more down to earth, relaxing, simplified.
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You’ll watch God transform ideas and passions to fit His perfect plan to make His name known. You’ll be able to see good from every bad thing and purpose from every disaster because you’ll be so in-tune with the Lord that you hear from Him. Worldy distractions like movies, 24/7 unlimited internet, hangout spots with friends, will be limited so you learn to cling to Jesus and find peace there. You’ll give, and sacrifice, and help, and serve, but you won’t be burnt-out, you’ll be filled up pouring over with peace from God. You’ll get to be right where Jesus would be if he were here. Feeding the hungry, helping the widow, accepting the outcasts, teaching the children. Living and loving the humans on this planet without a worry in the world of what it’ll cost. Because you know Jesus is worth it. You'll witness the most majestic sunsets that America's streetlights always take away. You'll see the smiles and the laughter and the love from your neighbors as they pour blessing after blessing upon you. You'll witness the Holy Spirit working in churches like never before because there is far less distractions stealing the stage. You'll work with some of the most loving, caring, and helpful employees that show you time and time again that they truly care for your wellbeing. Yes, missionary life is hard at times, but it is so worth it if you do it for the sake of Jesus. It is worth every tear, every ounce of pain, every sacrifice that won’t even feel like a sacrifice, it’ll feel like an honor. It is worth loosing relationships over and losing a stable job and income over. It is worth being called crazy or ridiculous or yes, even a Jesus freak. It is worth being an outcast and not fitting in. It is worth every want and desire in your life. Because in Him, in Jesus Christ, living out His will for your life, somehow, miraculously, you find yourself. Your complete self. To die to self is to live. To die is to gain. You find joy. You find strength. You find purpose. You find love. You find Jesus. There’s nothing in this world more precious than being in his will doing what we’ve been called to do. And then somehow, someway, after 7 years of living on this island, you might just call it home. You'll accept the good and the bad that *EVERY* country and culture gives and you'll find yourself uncomfortably comfortable in this beautfiful thing called life. Whether overseas or down the street be in His will. Be a missionary-one who spreads the name of Jesus in the hometown where you grew up, in the next State over, or across the world. We are all called to make His name known.

- I pray for those men every day. A mixture of anger and fear was within me until I looked into the eyes of the gang leader outside my front gate and all I saw was a lost soul. I didn’t see a murderer as some call him. I didn’t see a kidnapper or a robber, all I saw was a young man that was utterly lost. My heart hurts because the devil has a grip on him and all I can picture is his entrapment.

I wish he could feel the peace found in Jesus. I want him to know he won’t be defined by his past if he will just surrender it all to God and ask for forgiveness. I want him to know I truly forgive him for trying to hurt me and this ministry. I so desperately want others to know that peace. To know that love. To know that even if I have a gang wanting to destroy my mental health out of what seemed like just a love for money packed with a lot of confusion, that I still will forever worship my God. Because HE IS GOOD. No matter what, He is good, and He is worthy.

The last few years in Haiti have been tough. And I know I’m not alone. I know of many missionaries right now being attacked by the devil and getting weary of this long season with Haiti’s constant unrest. A friend of mine sent me a message to say he was praying for me. He and his family live here too. He said “it’s a one track mind to make it to Port (the city) to get all you can done and safely make it back home in one piece in the same car.” His words are true and they reminded me that so many missionaries are going through this long season of unknowns too.
But you know what, if my life brings others to Christ, it is worth it. If through writing about my pain and my fears and my struggles and my hurts, and my failures, others see the power of God or the miracles from God or the peace in God, then I’ll keep pressing on. I’ll keep my chin up and dig my heels in and wipe away the tears and find strength from within to battle through.
“Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.”
2 Corinthians 4:10-12
---- "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months, or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions." -MayoClinic. According to the American Psychiatric Association it is estimated that PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. Let's join together and pray for everyone that has ever experienced PTSD and its symptoms. Everyone is fighting a battle. Everyone could use an extra prayer.

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