I often refer to my life as an “adventure.”
Since I gave my life to Jesus several years ago, I feel like that’s what it’s been.
By no means do I mean to imply that He’s prevented me from experiencing any hurt and my life has been a painless, carefree journey. Although the Lord promises He will never leave us nor forsake us, He does not promise a life without difficult times. In fact, He promises that we will face persecution and hardship because of Him.
Before Christ, I had many dark places in my life. I have done things and have stories most wouldn’t believe about me.
Since meeting Christ, I’ve continued to face many struggles, including being wounded and humiliated beyond my worst nightmare when abandoned by my husband… but the beauty about my relationship with Him is that He has not only completely redeemed those horrible, dark places in my past, but since knowing Him, when I have faced hardships, He has provided me with supernatural strength and hope to move forward and bring glory to Him with my life. It is my prayer that my life speaks for Him this way on a daily basis.
When I refer to my life as an adventure, I speak with a freedom and an excitement because I know that even when I face hardships, Christ is with me… and blessings are coming. There are even blessings in and because of the hardships. Blessings beyond imagination. Seeing my life this way leaves no room for anxiety, fear, or worry. He’s got me in His hands, and I experience so much JOY living in His presence!
[As a side-note, while writing this piece, it was at this time I paused in writing to read scripture before bed, planning to finish writing in the morning. I have been working my way through the Psalms. This is what I read just after writing these first few paragraphs:
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11.
Wow. His timing is always perfect.]
On Wednesday, I flew back to Haiti after a much-needed extended break in the States, visiting family and friends, making preparations for my next few months in Haiti, and attempting to find rest in order to prepare myself mentally, spiritually, and physically for the months ahead. I was late getting to the airport for my international flight, and was afraid I wouldn’t make it. I was leaving just my friend’s house 20 minutes after I needed to already be at the airport, and I still had to stop and fill up my rental car with gas prior to returning it at the airport.
I managed to get away with speeding down Briley Parkway in Nashville (shh!), and arrived at the airport 30 minutes after I needed to be checking in. Not too bad, I considered. However, I still had a LONG walk ahead of me and was alone to carry my two carry-ons and two 50-lb checked bags, one with a handle that didn’t work. So for nearly 20 minutes, my 130lb body struggled, sweated, and strained to carry over 130lbs that wouldn’t roll straight, kept falling over, and didn’t have a handle (forcing this Amazon woman to bend way over to reach it). My back was aching and my hands were cramping. Three ladies dressed to the nines and wearing wide-brimmed hats walked by me carrying their cute little carry-on bags and laughed at me, saying “You got enough stuff there?” If only they knew that hardly anything in the suitcases was for me, but the families in Haiti that I serve. I laughed along with them instead of allowing bitterness to creep in. They had passed me by, but I prayed that God would either give me supernatural strength to make it by myself – and in time – or He would send some help.
I finally made it to the airport building from the car rental facility and stared ahead at an escalator. I managed to push all the bags on to the escalator with my huge hiking backpack and computer case on my shoulder. Before I knew it, they were crashing down on me, and had knocked me all the way off the escalator. I had made a scene. Luckily not hurt, I picked up the bag that had fallen on me, and headed back towards the escalator, where the rest of my bags were making the journey to the top without me. Because of the scene I had just made, a couple of people gathered around me to ask if I needed help. I am sure that my exhaustion was easily read on my face, and I was breathing hard from such a grueling morning workout (this should be a challenge on ‘The Biggest Loser”). The Lord had sent help. A sweet lady took one of the big bags and helped me the rest of the way to the checkout.
I had made it. Check-in was smooth, and my bags were 50.5lbs and 49.5 lbs. Score. Right at 100lbs and I didn’t have to leave anything in the trash.
I made it to my first flight in time, and had a pleasant flight, spending most of my time with my nose in David Platt’s new book, “Follow Me.” It was another one his books, “Radical,” that challenged me in the first place to radically follow Jesus, which led to moving my life to Haiti to serve Jesus. Now, I was living this radical life, following Jesus, and so thankful for the adventure.
When I landed in Miami, I made my way to my gate. They had announced on my flight that the gate for Port-au-Prince was D-24. As usual. After grabbing one last Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks, I casually made my way to my gate. It was unusually empty. Flights to PAP are usually full, and I am always sure that I’m in the right place because American missionaries in their matching t-shirts as well as Haitians surround the gate and suddenly I always feel more at home. I asked a TSA employee at the desk if I was at the right gate, and he said yes, that the next flight out of this gate was to Port-au-Prince. I sat back down, but still felt that something wasn’t right.
I was texting a long-time friend of mine who checks on my flights for me and casually mentioned that it was past boarding time, yet few people were at the gate. Sure enough, from Kentucky, he had more accurate information than the airport employee at the dang airport! I ran to the new gate I was supposed to be boarding from, and it was already boarding! I couldn’t believe it. If I hadn’t been talking to my friend, I would have missed my flight. (Thanks, btw.) 🙂
My next flight was pretty uneventful as well… until landing. As we started our descent towards this beautiful country that has captured my heart and taught me so much about God’s love, I decided to pray. I wanted to prepare my heart for the months ahead and truly fix my eyes on Jesus… because I know I cannot face the tasks ahead of me without Him. As soon as I said “Amen” and opened my eyes, the girl across the aisle from me jumped and pushed my arm to alert me. The landing was pretty rough; the overhead bin just above my head had opened, and a bag was about to come crashing down on me. She had saved me from a massive headache.
We laughed and introduced ourselves, learning that we live just about 20 minutes away from each other in Haiti. She shared that it was a pretty eventful landing… I had missed it with my eyes closed, praying. She said that the bathroom door just ahead of us was swinging open and shut the whole time. As we continued talking, we saw a frazzled-looking Haitian woman hobble out of that very bathroom.
We weren’t the ONLY one with an eventful landing! Haha!!!
I made my way through customs, relieved that they let me back in the country, and found my two (dreadfully large) bags. Looking around at the airport entrance for a familiar face or blue and orange myLIFEspeaks shirt, I saw no one. I attempted to turn on my Haiti phone, but it was dead.
The airport personnel attempted to make me go outside. I resisted stepping out into the blistering heat and waiting for my ride alone and out in the open on the blacktop, but I went. Thankfully, immediately as I stepped out, a man that is deaf that works at the airport saw me and a huge smile filled his face. He always helps our teams and staff when we fly in and out of the country and took my bags and led me to the parking lot. What a sweetheart. What a relief to not be alone. We looked for the familiar yellow of the myLIFEspeaks school bus with no luck. Once, we thought we saw it, so he walked all the way across the expansive parking lot for me (and saved me from having to haul my bags again), only to discover it wasn’t our bus.
I was alone, and had no way of contacting my team.
I was mad at myself that my phone wasn’t charged, but I remembered shutting it off when I left Haiti, and it had plenty of battery, so I just had to accept it as the reality of my current situation.
While waiting, the girl that I had met because of the crazy landing walked past me towards her ride. She asked if I had a ride and I told her I wasn’t sure… that my ride wasn’t there yet and I wasn’t able to reach him. She said she had to go check on something but would be back to check on me. It’s not good for a white female to be alone in Haiti.
Another Haitian came to stand with my deaf friend and me, and asked if I could call someone to see where my ride was. I told him my phone was dead. He then saw that I had the same phone as him and – get this – took his battery out of his phone and handed it to me!! I am amazed at the generosity of Haitians and their willingness to care for others. I was able to call and learned that traffic had been really bad, and no one could get ahold of my driver. No one knew where he was. My new American friend came back by, and after exchanging numbers between the staff at myLIFEspeaks and this group of Americans offering me a ride, we decided it best I leave with them and meet up with my driver along the way. At least then I wouldn’t be alone.
They led me towards their bus – which happened to be extremely comfortable, complete with shades to block out the harsh sun, and… AIR CONDITIONING!!
(Thank you Jesus that my driver was stuck in traffic, haha!!)
We were able to contact him and come up with a meeting place. It was a blessing that he didn’t end up having to come all the way to the airport. (For him and for me!)
After talking to them for a while, I fell fast asleep leaned over on my bags. My day had started at 3am and after a crazy day of travel, I was exhausted. My new friend awakened me when we were almost to the meeting point with my driver.
I was so excited to see that big, yellow school bus, and gave him a huge hug. I was home again. I was joy-filled and content. I was excited to be on this adventure with Christ.
Before my life with Jesus, my eventful day would have left me feeling frazzled, stressed out, anxious, and upset, blaming whoever I could for all the things that didn’t go smoothly in my day. But because He lives in me, I was able to face my day with joy. I realized that standing alone in Port-au-Prince with a dead phone and no familiar faces was potentially a very scary situation. But the Lord had provided – even through a turbulent airplane landing – new friends as well as protection.
I feel strengthened and encouraged that He is with me. Life here isn’t easy. Life anywhere isn’t easy. I can’t bear to think of facing it without Him.
I know that I have some major tasks ahead of me during these coming months as I continue to train my assistant to take over providing therapy services when I am gone, and as I seek the Lord’s will in making the Three Strands program all that He intends it to be in order to change as man lives as possible. I want to pour out myself and love each person here with all that I have – which is limitless when Christ lives in me. I want everyone to see that I am different because I am filled with Him, and because of Him, I face each day with peace and joy. I want to live in such a way for Him that I have no regrets that I didn’t “Live to the hilt every situation (I) believe to be the will of God” (Jim Elliot).
Most of all, I want to see others come to know Him so that they can experience this adventure of life with Jesus as well.
There’s no greater adventure.