This is my third trip to Haiti. Each time, God has shown me many different things in order to illicit different feelings and responses from me. On the first trip in August of 2010 (7 months after the earthquake), He led me through feelings of sorrow, and made my heart ache for the people of Haiti. He also created in my heart a bond with this beautiful country and its wonderful people. Last year, He led me to experience the reality of spending time with children in an orphanage in a poorer area, and that included both sorrow and joy while building relationships and getting to know them. I was moved to tears several times last year for both joyous and sad occasions. This year, as I am halfway through this journey, I am struck by how much joy I am experiencing and witnessing: joy when I stepped back into this country on Saturday; joy at visible progress being made in the streets as it seems that things have fallen into a ‘new normal’; joy at the true happiness that these children exhibit; joy at seeing the Lord working in the lives of these children. Just turning on music and watching the show they want to put on for you cause’s their faces to light up with such overwhelming joy that you cannot help but to smile. Amid this joy, my heart still aches at the sheer fact that these kids are just a small percentage of the children in this country without homes & beds & rooms of their own. These children, who are the future of Haiti, have to struggle and fight for the attention of their house mothers who, while being incredibly devoted to them, have many children to worry about. Seeing and experiencing the true desire for affection from these children can cause even the strongest heart to break. But an integral part of this journey is to seek out the joy amongst the sorrow, and I believe that is what God has placed on my heart to learn and share this week. Yes, there is sorrow here. Yes, there is sadness. But there is also joy: An overwhelming, abundance of joy that can only be found through Jesus Christ, and He has sent us to share His love and joy with these children.
Working with kids in the past has shown me that in order to experience and share joy, sometimes you have to put yourself out there and just do it. Yesterday, the ‘just do it’ part involved me facing a pretty big fear of mine: spiders. One of the older boys, Noel, came over to me and grabbed me by the arm and said he wanted to show me something. I knew what he was referring to because all of the kids were playing with tarantulas all morning, so I knew what he was up to. I told him that spiders TERRIFY me, and that since I was bit by a spider on our first trip in 2010, I try to stay away from them here. But he ensured me that he would protect me and I would be fine. So, I let go and just did it (and brought Kate with me), and followed him and a few other boys to the field with the spider holes. A few minutes and a lot of poking later, out crawled the hairy & scary scurrying creatures. Obviously, I jumped and ran and acted like a girl, which gave the boys that pure joy I was talking about. They just love to run up to you with a bucket of tarantulas and make you squeal. However, that didn’t happen this time because as soon as they started towards me with them, Noel jumped in front of them and told them no and protected me. Remember that joy thing again? This is when I experienced it. This young man, who has known me all but three days, stood up to a friend so that I would not be scared. It’s always when I truly let go that I am able to experience true joy.
One last joyful experience I would like to share with you was also caused by me just letting go. At one point Noel came up to us and told us that they had prepared something for us. We thought, of course, that this meant they were going to perform for us since they love to dance so much. Just kidding! Apparently, they prepared music for us that would “make us want to dance as soon as we heard it”. So what do I, who really cannot dance (but do it all the time anyways) do? I step up, let go, and get taught how to ‘dougie’. And both experience & witness joy. Oh, and be recorded doing all of the above.