Friday, January 11, 2013

Ten Things I Have Learned in Haiti

So, it’s a new year.  Time for reflecting on the old one.  Time for looking at lessons learned and ways to make this year even better.

I’ve learned so much during my time in Haiti so far.  Haiti is growing on me.  Haiti is stretching me and challenging me.  Haiti is in my face making me take a hard look at all that I thought I knew.

1. There were lots of things I thought my kids needed to be healthy and happy, but it turns out they didn’t.  How do I know?  Because we’re here, living without many of those things and my kids are still healthy, still growing, still laughing, still learning, still going to sleep at night knowing they’re safe and loved.  Someday, we might be in a place where they can have those things again, but now I know they’re just things.  I’m a lot less attached to them and hopefully, so are my kids.

2. I don’t care how much of a “loner” someone is... or how introverted... independent... etc. we think we are.  Holding hands and sticking together makes a big difference.  Some sort of community is essential.  God didn’t make us to be hermit-like creatures.  He made us social.  When the going gets rough, having people with whom to muddle through it is so very important.  And, when times get easier for you, odds are that there’s someone else who is struggling, and then it’s your turn to be there for them. 

3. Having just come from the Christmas season, when we talk about the joy of giving, this may sound strange...  But, I’ve learned the art of receiving.  Sometimes, it can be hard to accept gifts gracefully.  Without guilt.  Without feeling like a failure for not being able to do it for yourself.  God has given me opportunities to practice receiving gifts gracefully over the last five months, and I’m getting better at it.  I’ve even become more comfortable with ASKING for help when I need it.  And, you know what I’ve discovered?  Many people are thankful for the opportunity to help, and they would have missed out on that joy if I hadn’t asked.  

4. Not all good things that are presented to you are worthy.  Here, there are situations and people that could use my time and energy at EVERY turn.  I could easily fill every minute of every day ministering to those in need around me, and I’d have nothing left for  growing my faith, my family or myself and my own health.  I’ve learned that God doesn’t want or expect me to devote myself to them all.  The biggest challenge has been to discern which ones He does want me to attend to and which ones He doesn’t. 

5. I’ve learned that there are important things to be learned when we hit “rock bottom.”  Maybe what we learn at those low points is different for each of us.  I learned that the “rock” at the bottom is God.  And, there is peace in knowing He is indeed the very foundation of my life.  I always THOUGHT He was, but now I KNOW.

6. I’ve learned that I’m real tough.  My friends will tell you that I thought I was tough even before I moved to Haiti.  But I now know I’m way tougher than I thought I was. I’ve had opportunities to face fears that I had never even considered fearing.  And now, my old fears seem pretty puny.  

7. (I’m choosing my words carefully with this one.)  I’ve learned what it feels like to be a minority.  I don’t have to imagine it anymore.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to blend in and go with the flow of a culture, they still only see your skin.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

8. Sometimes, small victories are all you’re gonna get.  So, a) celebrate them; and b) capitalize on them.

9. I think my parents did a good job of teaching me that there are always consequences to our actions.  As I got older, I learned that there are unintended consequences sometimes, too.  And now, I’ve learned how important it is to THOROUGHLY think through the possible consequences to our actions BEFORE acting.  It’s extremely important to do this when you’re living in a foreign place among a culture you don’t know or understand, with limited abilities to communicate.

10. I’ve learned that there is a “dog person” within me.  (The team of ladies that traveled with me to Haiti early last year--aka “The Haiti 8”--will be shocked to read this.)  I have, in the past, sermonized about what miserable creatures dogs are and how thoroughly I disliked them.  I now have to admit that I was wrong.  They’re not all bad.   They happen to be very efficient rooster-exterminators and they are super fun to play fetch with.  They also clean up after meals like nobody’s business, which is very helpful when you don’t have the convenience of curbside garbage pickup.  It’s good to step out of your comfort zone and give new things a chance. 

Galatians 6:4 "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that." (The Message)

1 comment:

  1. good reflections! I always think I don't want to hit "rock bottom" but if that's what it takes to remind me He is my Rock, I'll do it. You are a good communicator - thanks for sharing challenging stuff. Looking forward to more in 2013. Sharon M


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.