"Do you love me?" This passage from John 21 has often confounded me. Jesus asks the question to Peter three times despite the fact that Peter always has the right answer--"Yes, Lord!" It is almost painful to read, dialogue sounding like a broken record. Why does Jesus ask three times?
This week, I may have discovered the reason. In preparing for this trip to Haiti, I had many fears. Thoughts about all the calamities that could befall us--whether from heat, illness, or safety concerns--at times overwhelmed me. There were moments when I desperately wanted to back out. But I am so glad I didn't.
God's question to me has continually been "Lianna, do you trust me?" Whenever I face a new, intimidating experience that is the question: "Do you trust that I will take care of you? Do you trust that I will be there with you?" And each time, my answer is "Of course!" I always know--on some level--that He is faithful, that He will bring me through, and that my worst fears will not come true.
Yet in spite of knowing the right answer, the doubts and fears still ring through. Each time I come up against an unknown, I tremble. Then, each time I persevere through the challenges, I see God's provision in even greater ways. I need to be asked "Do you trust me?" repeatedly because through the process, God is growing me so that each time my answer resonates on a deeper level. Maybe it was the same for Peter.
Having returned in one piece, I am in awe. In awe of how God answered my every fear and made this trip the smoothest our team leaders have ever experienced. In awe of that I was actually, physically in Haiti with people who have been on my heart for so many years. That I got to hold their hands, hug them, make them laugh, see them make me laugh, and have meaningful conversations.
One such conversation I will never forget. Noel, one of the older boys who spoke English, sat down and talked with me for a long time. I got the chance to ask him whether he thought was worth it for the American teams to come down for such short periods of time. All week I had wondered, "Are we only making it harder by coming into their lives for such a short time and then leaving?" So I asked: "Is it worth it for us to come?" The confidence in his answer surprised me: an emphatic "Yes!" It was hard to say goodbye but absolutely worth it, he said, because if it weren't for the teams coming down the kids would be hanging around all summer with nothing to do. Plus, he wouldn't have gotten the chance to learn English!
I feel like we did so little this week and the kids did so much for us. But Noel's words will forever echo in my heart. Yes, it was worth it. It was worth it for my sake, to persevere through my fears and see God's faithfulness in new ways. It was worth it to receive love, laughter, and joy from the kids. And it was worth it for their sake, because it made their summer a little more exciting, a little less boring; because they received a little more love, laughter, and joy.
I am truly grateful and humbled to have been a part of this experience. Thank you to our leaders for making it a flawless trip, to our teammates for creating an incredible week of bonding, and to all our supporters back home who helped make this possible. God is good!