Some may look at the blogs and what we did and say that it was vacation and not much of a ministry, but I want to dispel this notion. How this team ministered:
- They blessed us by bringing in supplies, and treats chosen and purchased because they knew we enjoy them.
- They were willing to experience our lives and to get to know us better. This enables any visitor to enrich their understanding life here, and I feel helps them to pray specifically and more fervently for our family, the ministry, and the people. While the written word can touch us and teach us in some ways, every additional one of the five senses enhances the experience making it more real, more memorable The seashore when hearing the waves and smelling the salty sea air while the breeze cools your sun warmed skin is more powerful when experienced in person that when reading about it.
- It encourages the Haitian people to see foreign visitors praising the Lord with song and prayer in their church.
- Playing with children and letting them rub a white arm or touch a silky strand of hair helps to teach them about God's world and expand their horizons. Practice a bit of English or Creole and watch the smiles burst forth.
- Return home with truth stories that can help to educate family and friends about Haiti and counter some of the negative, often exaggerated stories that the news folks like to share.
- Fill us in on family news or share bits of personal stories-how the Lord is working in their lives. Letting us learn how to pray better for them and be part of their lives even if from a distance. Helping us connect.
- Sharing devotional times at the end of the day is a special time. Not only hearing insightful ways that God touched them that day but being reminded of parts of Haiti that we no longer see in the sharp way we did in the early days. This is especially true for me with my first trip to Haiti 40 years in the past!
- Allowing us to share hopes, dreams and prayer requests in a way that is impossible through e-mails, letters or social media.
- Visits to local homes and praying for people's requests. Only the Lord knows the impact of this simple act of sharing His love.
- Celebrating and mourning with individuals at a depth that comes from experiencing another's country personally.
- Meeting our friends, our pet, visiting our projects. Taking interest and asking questions. Planting ground cover in the rehab garden. Helping us take a new picture for our prayer cards. Always very encouraging and validating.
- Having folks who will be watching out for Eli in college and being able to anticipate some of the adjustment that he will need to do because they've been here and know some of the experiences that they had with culture shock or adjusting outside of one's comfort zone. This last point alone for me, mom, who also grew up as a 'third culture kid' is more than enough of a reason to take the time, energy, 'risks maybe' and cost to travel to visit a missionary family. It is a gift to have people who know how our children were raised, what their home 'town/village' was like without having to explain.
- And then there is the whole issue of the impact on those who come! Like our niece who's interested in missions who discovered that one can work in social work or counseling as a missionary. Like my own story as an eight-year-old deciding that the Lord wanted me to be a medical missionary.
A dear missionary friend in a closed country recently expressed thoughts to mine, so I'll share hers with permission. [I added the underlining for emphasis.]