Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Thankful Heart

The tears fall.  And I let them.  As they streak down my face, they are a sort of testimony to how these people have gotten inside me.  Deep inside.  So the tears kept coming as I said my goodbyes yesterday and today.  As I hugged Natilia, maybe for the last time until heaven.  As I hugged the 3 guys who were God's greatest gifts to me during this 6 months.  As Yvrose, who so graciously took me into her orphanage, drove away from the airport this morning.  As I sat on the plane to Port-Au-Prince picturing the sweet little faces of the children I have completely fallen in love with.  Even right now as I'm writing this, they're falling again.  Not necessarily from sadness, since I know I'm coming back in September.  But more out of thankfulness to the Giver of every good and perfect gift for such a glorious season, for so much love, for so much grace.       

My heart is overflowing.  I look back over the past 6 months and I thank Him...

I learned Creole.

I fell in love.

God gave me dear friends.

I watched God heal hearts.
I got immersed in a culture.

God made His love tangible and real.

We sang His praises.

He sent a team.

God ministered to my heart in such precious ways.

I could go on and on.  His goodness rocks me to my innermost being.  I thank Him.  Over and over, I thank Him.

Now it's four months at home to plan and prepare and pray and return in September with the team God is calling to Jeremie.  This six months was just a foundation, just the beginning.  Thank you for your prayers, your love, your encouragement and support.  I felt so covered and blessed.  I can't wait to see what God has in store.

Psalm 96:4a
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Graces from God

Today I took Natilia’s 5 year old neighbor to the health clinic because he’s had a big growth on his neck for 12 days and his mom is too poor to buy medicine.  We took a motorcycle taxi on the way there.  I think it was maybe his first ride on one, because he shouted out greetings and waved to about every person we passed on the way there, and then sang the whole way home.  It was the most adorable thing in the world.  I just sat on the back smiling the whole way watching him.

After that I was walking on the street and saw a blind man sitting on a step all alone leaning against his cane.  I’m always praying as I walk, asking God who He wants me to stop and minister to.  I ended up buying the blind man bread and butter and returned and sat and talked with him.  (Praise the Lord, my Creole has really improved with serious discipline over the past couple months.)  He was so delighted about the bread.  I prayed for him on the step with a small group staring on from the sidewalk. 

Two days ago Sara and I took 4 of our street kid friends out to a restaurant for lunch.  One had bare little feet under the table.  They were so smiley as the bottles of cokes and sprites came.  We played games at the table while we waited, prayed, and then feasted on chicken, french fries, fried bananas, and rice.  Two of them saved the drumstick in their pockets for later.  They were just so smiley the entire time.  I feel like they’ll remember that day forever.

When Natilia and I arrived to the hospital yesterday to drain her stomach again there was a lady sitting on her hospital bed crying while all the other people in the room just stared at her.  I walked up to her and asked her why she was crying.  She said her medicine fell and broke and spilled everywhere- it was all over the floor- and she didn’t have money to buy more.  I told her not to cry anymore because God had sent me to her today and that I could buy her more medicine.  After I returned with it, cleaned up the floor, talked and prayed with her, she was smiling so sweetly and so thankful.

Every bed in the women’s hospital room was occupied that day, so Natilia ended up in the men’s room while her stomach was draining.  An old man across the way was being bathed by his wife on his bed, all hunched up and crying.  In the other direction was a man in nothing but an adult diaper, every bone is his body showing.  The room was full and depressing.  I felt drawn to 2 men, the only ones in the room without a visitor there with them.  We shared my almonds, talked, and prayed. 

This is just in the last 3 days.  There are many more stories.  And sometimes it all just feels like drops in a bucket.  Four kids out of thousands.  Three patients out of a hundred.  Nothing earth shattering appears to be happening.  No one has been healed yet.  Salvations aren’t rolling in.  But I know better than to be discouraged by these thoughts that come sometimes.  Because I know God often works in these ways.  In small moments, in little actions of love.  And although they may feel like drops in a bucket, in a sea of so many people, it always seems that God leads to a certain few, and these are the ones I must love with His love.

I think of Paul’s God-inspired words in 1 Corinthians 3-  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”  God is letting me plant in people’s hearts.  He’s letting me water in others.  Others have come before and will come after to continue to process.  But it’s all God orchestrating the entire thing and the outcome.  Only He can make people grow; only He can draw someone to Himself.  So I just take joy in the little part He’s allowing me.  Such a privelege, such a grace.