kryptonite

I have a problem. Actually it’s pretty big…seeing as how it includes 8 people…not just myself…

You know how Superman’s greatest weakness is kryptonite? Well…my kryptonite would be having the support, laughter and community of a team around me 24 hours a day…then losing it once we are home. What I still miss is the walks together…you never knew who you’d have a crazy, wonderful conversation with on the way. I miss talking while falling asleep through mosquito nets…quite the experience! I miss team meals…all around one table, talking, laughing, teasing and bestowing each other with nicknames! Which technically happened the entire time…but intensified around meals! Talking over shower stalls…borrowing Chap Stick, sunscreen, bug repellant…everyone had whatever you had forgotten.

Ironically, I also miss the view from the shower…crazy, I know. It was a small cinder block room with a stick over the top for a curtain that was at its’ best while fluttering in the wind. Not conducive for showering…my best MacGyver moment was on a particularly windy day the curtain wouldn’t stay tucked into the bucket of shower water. My shower buddy, who stayed on their side mind you, kept offering possibly solutions when I realized I could thread the Duke bag I’d brought my stuff in through the end. Talk about laughter…our shower times were humorous, how could they not be with a bucket of water and a bag of water hanging from a stick. But the view…lizards climbing on top of the wall…blue azure sky, white cottony clouds, bright green palm trees waving in the evening breeze. Let’s just say, that view is not in my bathroom…

I miss knowing someone will pick up where I left off if I accidentally drop the ball. Someone constantly has your back…where my weaknesses begin, another’s strengths continue. It is one of the best aspects of being a part of a team.

Truly, I thrive on being a part of a team. I don’t like being alone. I mean, I laugh at my own jokes, but it’s so much better when someone else does, right? Eventually, people look at me weird because I am laughing randomly in public places…all alone…

I thrive on the accountability that comes with being with the same people for 7-11 days on a mission trip. Praying before a meal was never ‘normal’ for me…and I am greatly blessed by our community praying together over our meals, at devotions, team meetings…wherever it may be. There is an intense bond that ties mission teams together, and a lot of things contribute to that, but one of those bonds are intensified by the intimate act of praying together as a community…even when not every one is comfortable praying out loud. And even better…we pray with humor, and wholly believe that God blessed us with a sense of humor because he has one! It’s not abnormal for me to laugh out loud while someone is praying…not because we don’t take it seriously…but more because we do take it so seriously that we leave nothing unsaid.

I also thrive on the energy of others, and when you are with a group of people in the international mission field…we are living off a lot of adrenaline, not to mention the undulated joy of serving as a whole team that gives an electric feel to a group. Ever wonder why those looking from the outside of a mission team wonder what sort of ‘stuff’ there are on? Well…the team is feelin’ the no-way-its-human, power of the Holy Spirit and that feeling is unlike any other in the world.

And this isn’t always relegated to international mission teams…it can be a community working for the Kingdom of God, too. The other night I was a part of a phenomenal conversation with some ladies that are walking a journey of mission. We talked about how you cannot truly be used by the Holy Spirit until you are ready to surrender the part of yourself that hinders it. Mission teams have no choice but to surrender that part of themselves…not only for God to use them the way he sent them, but in order to function fully as a community in mission…as does any community working in that fashion.

One of the other things I thrive on is the wisdom of those who have gone before me. And just in case you were curious…the Haiti team had it in spades. I am a believer in multi-generational teams that form a community based in mission. I know I don’t know everything, and I know not everyone would agree with my opinions on things…but I am a listener, and I crave the wisdom that God pours from the mouths of his people. There were moments that I would look at a teammate and thing to myself, ‘Whoa…that’s not them talkin’ anymore.’

It’s been almost a month since we left…so our team finds themselves in that time frame of will we let those moments of unbridled connection to God shape us or will we succumb to the American ‘normal’? Our team is trying to find a day to get together and see each other this week…and it’s difficult once we get back. I always tell teams…say what you need to say to each other before the last flight, because once we get to KC everyone is greeted by different people and heads out quickly. I miss this team…we conquered a lot together, created bonds that will last for years and did ministry in a community that had been ravaged by an earthquake through blood, sweat…I think the amount of sweat increases the bond…and tears.

As we’ve been sending emails back and forth, one of our teammates sent out at the end of a message, ‘One of the best groups I have been with.’ I’ve been a part of a lot of groups, but few have been so equal in all aspects of a mission team. People always ask me, what is your favorite trip? Who was on your favorite team? To make a choice would be wrong…but there are pieces of trips that make up my ‘perfect’ trip, and this team made some serious contributions!

God blesses his people who are forged in relationship and focused on working for his Kingdom…and our team was blessed beyond imagination and expectation. The glory all goes to our Father who not only took us to Haiti, but spoke and ignited a fire in each of us…in so many different ways.

So to my amazing Haiti team family…thanks for being my kryptonite! I love you all, dearly and challenge you to not lose sight of the clarity Haiti brought to God’s plan for us as individuals and as a team, as well as our hearts and souls. After all…if it weren’t for kryptonite how would Superman had known he was alive at all?

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overview…haiti style

Our team with the Haitian workers at the work site.

January 12, 2010 was a horrifying day for Haiti.

The earthquake killed 300,000 people, left 250,000 children without one or both parents, and displaced 1.5 million out of its population of 10 million. As staggering as that all is…it was just one in a long list of natural disasters, political unrest and a myriad of justice issues that have long plagued the country.

Before that day, 80% of Haitians lived in poverty with 54% of that living in abject poverty. One percent of Haiti’s population owned half the wealth in the country, and the largest percentage lived on less than $1 a day. Haiti is one of the most ecologically devastated countries in the world. For decades they have cut down their trees to make cooking charcoal, leaving their hillsides controlled by soil erosion.

“Compassion is the fullest expression of the luminous force of intentional love and kindness. Humanity’s survival hinges on that one word…compassion is our sole hope. Compassion is at the heart of all religious and spiritual traditions. When we enter the heart of compassion, we enter the heart of God,” from Hidden in the Rubble by Gerard Straub.

The ‘girls’ room set up with our mosquito nets.

Armed with compassion and a yearning to enter deeper into the heart of God…plus 3 shovels, random tools, a wheelbarrow, bubbles, soccer balls and jump ropes…our team of 8 was based in Mellier, Haiti, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. All of the buildings in Mellier were reduced to rubble and many families are still in tents, or makeshift plywood buildings with tin roofs. We slept on cots, complete with mosquito nets…no electricity, save for the generator we had to run for about an hour to recharge power tool batteries. Bags of water hung from a branch and buckets of water ensured we rinsed off each day, after sweat poured out from 8 am to 6 pm steadily. This trip was not for the faint of heart…but…

…we were blessed. Phenomenal food on the table 3 times a day from our cook Dina. Bug spray. Haitians that wanted to talk with us, and enjoyed laughing with us. We all stayed healthy. We had clean water to drink. Amazing workers at the construction site. Laughter…lots and lots of laughter, and incredibly blessed by each other.

I asked one of our translators if all the teams he worked with were like us…his response was a definite ‘No!’ It will depend on the team member you ask, but I believe our team bonded so well because of our common bond of Jesus and belief that we were meant to be in Haiti…mixed with the lack of electricity. At night…we played cards by flashlight, and other times of the day we weren’t distracted by the constant connect we have in the States with phones, internet and going places.

The Methodist Church of Mellier.

Terry, one of our teammembers, sent this out to us today that I think gives a pretty great picture of the atmosphere surrounding our team, “Our last night in Mellier we played cards – snacked – laughed – and sang. A young Haitian girl standing in the shadows was invited into our circle. After eating and watching for a short time she fell asleep. The light of our lanterns may have drawn her from the darkness of the neighborhood. But it was the light of our Savior shinning through laughter, song, and love for one another that made her feel safe enough to sleep peacefully in our midst. That night I watched grace extended without hesitation or reservation.”

We worked during the day on the Methodist church that is being rebuilt. We pulled nails, moved wood and spent a lot of time moving gravel from outside the building to inside so the workers could mix concrete. There is a school on the property, as well, and when it was recess time we were talking, running around and having our hair played with until it was time for class again.

Etched in our memories is also the small orphanage we visited twice. It was a 30 minute walk to play with 25 kids that live there, 16 of who are ‘real’ orphans with no living parents. They were hungry to be held, we quickly found out! We played soccer, bubbles, pushed kids on the swing set, and giggled the entire time we stayed.

Joseph is on the left, Peterson is on the right.

Each night we would have devotion time with our translators Joseph and Peterson joining us. One night, devotions started at the dinner table and went until it was so dark all we saw of each other was shadows moving. God’s presence was thick all week, but on that night it was electric. We’d been talking about our observations of Haiti, and Joseph’s words marked my soul…

In Haiti, we have no hope for tomorrow. We have no idea where food for our families will come from. We are poor, so poor in Haiti. We struggle for an education, and then there are no jobs. We want the best for our families, but where do we find it? We know that it won’t get better for Haiti. But what we hold onto is eternal life with Jesus. In heaven there will be no more poor people, no more suffering, no more pain. When Haiti doesn’t have hope, we put our hope in life after this one.

That night as I walked out of our dining area Joseph’s words rung in my ears. I understand why he feels no hope for Haiti, especially when you look at the country’s history. But what rang in my heart was my hope for Haiti. A vision that the educated will stay in the county, and kids will grow up with a desire to see their country change…that their next generation will be different. When Haiti has no expectation for tomorrow we need to see it for them through our compassion, God’s love and willingness to not forget.