When Mommy’s On The Mission Field

The dust is still settling on another mission trip to the orphanage in Haiti. Your emotions run high; my heart has been brought low. This is a side of our lives very few understand.

People have been talking (I’m sure you’ve overheard) about Mommy’s choice to work as a part-time missionary, while I’m busy raising you. Not everyone likes my decision to follow this call God’s placed on my life. Not everyone understands how I can manage to serve both you at home, and the children of Haiti, well. I’m here to tell you where my heart is at, though some people may never understand it. I want you to hear it from me…

I live and breathe you. You are my greatest calling; to care for and nurture, not just your bodies, but your hearts…to mold them into hearts after Jesus. I’m called to love you so much that it hurts, to give selflessly in order to equip you; lead you into the life God’s called you to. You are my greatest adventure and my wildest dream. You are pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, and nothing could ever stop me from fighting for you. I have dreamed of and longed for you since I was a child myself, and no one else will ever take your place in my heart.

My life before you was dark. Without Jesus coming to my rescue, I would not have survived it. Today, all that I do for others is the least I can do for Him. Serving my family, my friends, His children near and far…it is one small way I can give back to a God who’s never let go of me. I owe Him my life, and I will always strive to live it for His glory…because He loved me when no one else would.

Because of all that I went through before you were born, I know that the only way to find healing and deep, real joy is to open up your heart to The One who created it. This is why I do what I do. This is why our family makes the sacrifice of my time at home when I am on the mission field: The hearts of the world are hurting, longing to be noticed and cared for, just as I was when He found me. For some children, children just like you, the only chance they may have to feel that life-giving love is through us. We are His light in the darkness.

When I am away from home, my heart remains with you. Nothing can separate my soul from yours; we are intertwined in a way that distance could never impact. Yet, I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. It hurts me too. I miss you terribly and worry about little things I normally do for you when I’m at home. I cry all the way to Haiti, never wanting to be so far away from my babies. The pain can be big. Our God is bigger.

I don’t want to raise you to believe the lie that a mother is “just” a mother. Mothers are capable of so much more than they’re given credit for. It is the most important “job” in the world and, as your mother, I need you to understand that you can be my everything…and I will still have love left over. God’s love, through us, is endless. It covers our family at home, and our “family” in Haiti. It’s because I love you that I want to show you what it means to be compassionate, understanding, charitable, and open-minded. I love you enough to make you aware of the pain and suffering of the world, along with the truth that we, not only can, but need to do something about it. We can make a difference. All we need to do is step out in faith, choose love, and watch God do the rest.

Because I love you, I give you my testimony and my lessons learned. I give you my time and my strength. I give you all that I can and then a little bit more. Because I love you, I give you Jesus…and I try my best to live a life modeled after His love for the lost and the broken. I pray that you will find joy in serving others, that you will see the blessings that come from obedience and determination. The world may never understand or support you when you step out in faith. Don’t be afraid or discouraged…the reward is greater than anything this world can offer.

We never leave the mission field. It exists at home and across the world. When I see you share what you have with the needy so willingly and watch as you comfort those in pain… it fills my heart with indescribable joy.

You are my reward. I love you fiercely, no matter where He calls us.

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The Why: My Heart For Haiti

I’ve always admired missionaries; anyone really, who’s willing to leave the comfort of home and serve the lost and forgotten in places the rest of the world would rather forget. I always longed to be one of those people myself, but I grew up believing I had no place in that world because I wasn’t good enough. I was raised to believe I was a worthless burden and continued to be treated as such well into adulthood. My believing that that’s who I was meant I also believed there was no way I could bring any kind of goodness to anyone. I prayed constantly that God would free me from the abuse and, in exchange, all I’d ever ask for is a healthy family of my own. Today I’m able to say, out of His deep love and tender mercy, He’s given me all I’ve asked for and more.

With that being my background, when I went on my first trip to Haiti, I fully believed I was doing it for my daughter, who had joined our team. In my mind, I was simply giving my child, who has a heart for serving others, the opportunity to learn and grow in that passion. I had no idea that God was going to use my plan for my daughter to reveal His plans for my own life. During that first trip, I had all the joy that comes with serving the kids at the orphanage, but I also had a deep terror knowing that I was being called to more. (Leaving my own family at home is torture, every time.) I could see the same pain in the eyes of those children that I’d lived with my whole life. The more I learned about their stories, and the more I discovered about how they see themselves, the harder God pushed for me to commit to action- Because He’s not a God who sees devastation without building something new out of the ashes. If not for Jesus, my past is just an evil mess. It’s just pain and darkness. But, because He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, my past is now a weapon against the evil that seeks out the souls of the children in that orphanage. My experiences put me in the position to reach these kids for Christ through the power of “Me Too”.

…And that is my heart for Haiti…

God has instructed me to take the trauma I suffered, combined with the trauma training I’m engaging in now, and use it to draw these kids to Himself through relationship. Through connection on an individual basis. Through prayer and play and teaching and suffering alongside them.

In the past, even as a Christian, I had suffered a pain so deep that I felt the need to take my life. And the root of that pain was loneliness. I felt so utterly, completely, hopelessly alone that I wanted to die. There is nothing quite like the pain of feeling unseen, unheard, and uncared for.

Most of these children feel that, in some capacity, every single day.

Knowing what that feels like, and the possible results of that going unchecked, I refuse stand by and do nothing. Especially when God’s commanded I take the leap of faith and dive into the messiness of their situation.

All of Haiti is traumatized. Traumatized parents raising traumatized kids, generation after generation. Much of the reason for this being that the research and knowledge on trauma and it’s effects has not been shared or is unavailable there. If we go in and teach on trauma, educate the staff and caregivers of the orphanage, and help them apply what they’ve learned to how they interact with the children in their care… it would change the lives of the 130 children who live there, who would then grow up to change the way they’d interact with their own children. There’s a ripple effect of healing that could be felt across the entire country, if a few people would simply take the time and effort to invest in caring for God’s people there in this specific way.

Of course it seems like I’m not doing much now… but my hand is in God’s and He’s guiding my steps, one at a time. I’m likely to never see the ripple effects God’s plan for trauma care in Haiti will have, and that’s okay. Faith means trusting in what I cannot see; leaning not on my own understanding. Being in a faithful relationship with Jesus means I walk out on the water, even if my own storm is raging, and trust that He will not only catch me, but will use the storm to further His Kingdom in the lives of those around me.

To Him be the glory.

My heart for Haiti is aligned with God’s heart for all of His children: To see them. To serve them. To love them…because that’s what He did for me.

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Haiti And The Heart Of God

It was my third mission trip to the mountains of Haiti, where an orphanage full of children hold pieces of my heart that I know I’ll never get back. My specific reason for traveling there had been to continue my work individually with a group of children who not only have special needs, but have experienced trauma above and beyond our deepest fears and nightmares. I thought I was at least a little prepared for the week, having begun research on working with those affected by trauma and gearing up for official training on the subject. God had reassured me that, though I still have much to learn, the most important thing I can possibly do is to love them. To hold them and make sure that they begin to understand that someone sees their pain, understands their emotions, knows of their past…and still believes they are destined for greatness. One main goal was to start to build the bridge of hope and trust; to prove to them that I value them and am committed for the long haul. To begin to share bits of my own personal story of trauma and meet them in the pain. There are few words more powerful than, “You are not alone.”

I soon learned that there is no preparation for hearing stories of the devastation of those you love. Though I’ve been through abuse, rape and other physical and emotional trauma myself, nothing could have prepared my heart for what I’d learn about the people of Haiti. Stories of the past experiences of these precious children hit my heart with violent force and, even after my return to the states, have left me with pain that weighs heavy and often overtakes me. To go back to “life as normal” feels impossible. In a matter of moments, everything had changed. I had changed…and there’s no going back.

I have moved through the past few days in a fog. I go from desperately praying through tears, to becoming numb and not finding the words or strength to pray at all. The enemy’s been whispering temptations to fall into old habits of coping with this level of pain. More times than I can count, sudden urges to drink the pain away or put up walls of seclusion from family and friends have felt impossible to resist. Yet, I’m held by a God who is using this very pain to draw me to Himself. And so I remain still and focused on The One who’s called me from darkness to light.

I’m finding it hard to sum up this trip for those who’ve supported me; to express in words what happened and how God worked in and through me. All that I keep coming back to is the reality that, in feeling this ocean of pain for these children, I’m being given a small glimpse into the heart of God. The pain of His people stirring more and more compassion within and transforming me into someone whose past no longer defines her, but glorifies her Savior and brings healing to the hearts of others. This gift is beyond words and worth every sacrifice. I’m humbled that a calling like this would be placed on my life; infinitely thankful that His grace is taking what was once death and destruction and replacing it with victory. My heart will ever belong to Jesus…The One who loved me at my darkest.

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