March 29, 2012
It is an honor to bear witness to the Mighty One who is at work redeeming and shepherding His creation. I'd like to share with you just one story of many that the Westerly Haiti Team could tell about this most recent trip.
After seeing the Haiti trip mentioned in the bulletin, I penciled in my initials and a question mark, showing it to my husband Matthew. My excitement swelled for about ten minutes and then was quickly overtaken by the fears and anxieties that crowd out anything requiring of me risk and sacrifice. I wrestled with the discomfort of knowing I'd ask others to sacrifice on my behalf to send me, wondering if the financial gifts and prayer might be better used if sent directly to Haiti without the expense of my going. The following month was filled with prayer requests of my small group, family, and friends asking for wisdom: should I go? While praying with my sweet friend and neighbor, Donna Nitchun (who knows the lengths to which I'll go to maintain a quiet, peaceful, small, domestic life), she said that the Lord put on her heart a verse for me:
Isaiah 54:2 "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." I prayed through this verse, finding in it the injunction to go and to see how my fears and doubts might be met with grace.
On our first full day in Haiti we visited a village called Kwa Kok, where we met a woman named Ti Fiyel. She was living with several of her children and her four grandchildren in a deplorable sheet dwelling filled with mildew and ants. Her three month old granddaughter was born in this dark place that had no ventilation and that leaked terribly every time it rained. Our team set to work pouring a foundation for a new home for Ti Fiyel. We knew it would be months--a long rainy season--before her home would be ready. That night as the team discussed the day and prayed for Ti Fiyel, I turned to Chris, an American intern working in Haiti and asked: "When we go back, can't we just bring Ti Fiyel a tent to use until her house is built?" With irony and lovingly exposing my naievite, she said: "Do you have a tent?" In a country with such systemic poverty, one can't just go buy a tent in town. It doesn't work that way. While we prayed her question rang in my head over and over--and the voice asking it wasn't Chris' voice anymore, it was the Holy Spirit's voice: Do you have a tent? Yes, Lord, I have a tent. A nine person tent. It's in my basement in Princeton, and I have a husband who can drive it to my Pastor who is flying to Haiti in a day and a half!
A flurry of international texts and less than 48 hours later, Pastor Matt arrived with a tent, a tarp, stakes and cord to erect for Ti Fiyel and her family a dry place to live through the months of rain. Our team hardly had to lift a finger to pull down the old tent, to make the ground level, and to put up the new tent: the village came together to do that for Ti Fiyel with great joy--one woman cried out in Creole "Halleluia! Halleluia! I know God is real! I know He is here! I have prayed for Him to help Ti Fiyel and her children for so long! Halleluia!" What mercy God displayed to our team and to the community in Kwa Kok that day! But there is more to the story--something private, and something I will treasure in my heart until I see the Lord face to face:
Before we returned to the village to put up this tent, I prayed privately that God would keep me humble, that He would receive all the glory for this amazing provision. I felt so conspicuous when the team learned that our family donated a tent, so uncomfortable with the idea that this act would get me credit for generosity and ingenuity, when all along this amazing trip so far I was being convicted of how deeply I held onto the things of this world, hoarding and idolizing material things, health, and God's good gifts. Here is how God answered that prayer:
* I was not there to see Ti Fiyel's tent put up; I was handing out hygiene kits with others on the team.
* I was not there when the village lifted their voices and arms in praise to God, so no one could point to me and say, "she's the one who brought the tent."
As storm clouds rolled in quickly, requiring our team to race against the rain back to paved roads lest our bus get stuck in the mud, I ran to catch a glimpse of the tent set up. Carine yelled, "get in the tent, Genna!" I stepped inside where it was clean, dark, and dry despite the rain, and saw only Ti Fiyel's silhouette. Carine said to her, "She brought this tent for your family." Ti Fiyel wrapped her arms around me and kissed my face. I wept as she blessed and thanked me, and I blessed her with the few words I could say in her language. Carine tried to capture the moment with two different cameras--both of which worked before and after but simply would not work just then. When she said "Oh, this was supposed to be your moment!" I said with full confidence, "No, this is not my moment. It is hers, and it is the Lord's." You see, Ti Fiyel didn't need to see my face, to know what I look like. I did not need a snapshot of hugs and tears, or of my smiling face in front of a tent to send to my donors. This embrace, this moment was the Lord's and it was holy. His Spirit was healing me, blessing us, answering prayer, protecting the honor and glory that is all His.
We ran through the rain to the bus and our whole team erupted in a hymn of praise in Creole: "Merci, Senior! Merci Senior!" Carine held my hand as I wept and grinned and recalled that verse Donna had given to me many weeks before: "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." Our sweet Lord gave me a picture of a tent being erected. He knew the plans He had for me, for our team, for Ti Fiyel, for the people of Kwa Kok. And He accomplished them bringing glory to His name. Alleluia.
at 10:59 AM