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Cassie: Haiti

During my time in Haiti, I saw in a new, somewhat unexpected light what it means to walk with the Lord and with His people. There are so many stories I could choose to relate, but I have chosen to share one that is close to my heart, although it is simple in nature. God often speaks through the simple—through the mundane, the ordinary, or the seemingly insignificant. He speaks in the beauty, and in the brokenness, and in all the in-betweens.

It was our third full day of being in Haiti, and we loaded up in the van to head to a place called Cite Soleil—the most impoverished place in the Western Hemisphere. It would be difficult for me to describe to you in full the brokenness we witnessed in this place. There was trash everywhere—you could hardly see the ground. We stepped out from the van and made our way across the street to a little school, where we were going to hold a VBS for the students there. We worshipped—singing and dancing and smiling with these kids, acting out Bible stories and making crafts.

I ended up towards the back of the school room, where I sat down on a long bench next to some girls who were around 13 years old. One of the girls—Rosalinda—and I taught each other how to count in our languages. I struggled with the Creole, but she caught on to my English right away. She was so patient with me, and we had so much fun as we attempted to communicate with each other, using the few common words we knew. She somehow got a hold of a marker, and motioned to my arm, asking to draw on it. I held it out to her, and she began to write. I looked down at what she had done, and tears came to my eyes when I saw that she had written “I love you Cassie”. Right in that moment, on a bench in a small schoolroom, in a city filled with garbage and brokenness and unimaginable inequity and lack of physical shalom, I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else. Being there, with these girls sitting close to me on all sides, as we taught each other language and as they wrote love on my arms—I saw the face of God. I saw His beauty in what was broken. I saw His radiant, perfect, inextinguishable light in the darkness.

In Haiti, the Lord showed me that loving His people doesn’t always mean having the perfect words, the right skillset, or the best plan. Our calling and our purpose is to be the hands and feet of Christ, right where we are. On that day in Cite Soleil, I didn’t have anything special to bring to the table. All I brought was a desire to let these kids know how loved they are—by me, by our team, and by our Heavenly Father. Walking with His people means letting go of our urge to “do” more and focus on “being”—and listening for the whispers of the Lord in the everyday.

This is a story that communicated the power of the Gospel to me in Haiti. We often overcomplicate the Gospel, tainting it with our own expectations and experiences, and, quite frankly, missing it because we’re expecting God to speak with a megaphone. And while he sometimes does choose to speak through mountain-top experiences, I have found that his whispers are always there—in a smile shared between two strangers, in the beauty of a sunny day, or hidden in a corner of a schoolroom in Haiti. 

After the VBS, our team had the humbling opportunity to walk through Cite Soleil and pray over Haiti. We prayed that we wouldn’t forget what we had seen that day, and that our hearts would continue to be broken for what breaks the Lord’s heart. It is the most comforting and beautiful thought to realize that one day, all that is wrong will be made right again. All this brokenness will be made beautiful. And our job, as agents and vessels for the Lord, is to love. To learn and to listen. To pray without ceasing. And to walk with His people—our brothers and sisters—children of God.

Grant: A Lesson in Humility

It doesn’t take long for the Lord to work in miraculous ways. The face of Jesus was prominent over the three days on the Island:

As we approached the dock at the island, rain began to pour and we were unable to unload. We waited for around 10 minutes for the sky to clear up and the rain to stop. We know from the Bible that rain signifies a blessing, but I didn’t know that I was the one who was going to be experiencing that blessing so heavily over the next 3 days.

Upon arrival, the first thing we did was go to the respective houses that we would be staying at over the next few nights. I was expecting to meet some nice people who had graciously opened up their house to a group of guys, but they quickly went from being kind hosts to family. I was welcomed by our Bapak and Ibu (Indonesian titles similar to Mr. and Mrs.). They had five sons who you could see resembled the same joy and hospitality that their loving parents did. During the three days, the kids were busy at work and Ibu (Mrs., the mother of the house) worked at all hours of the day to prepare the finest meals and recipes that she knew of (they were nothing short of perfection).

Due to the busyness of the rest of the family, my group got to know and spend most of our time with Bapak (Mr., the father of the house). Bapak is a fighter and a lover. He shared one story after the next about catching snakes that went after his chicken and battling 12 foot sharks on his wooden row boat. We all quickly realized that Bapak was no regular guy, he was a man. However, the tough side to this man did not limit his personality. He was also tender, a romantic, and a servant. He showed us how life was done on the island with no pride and helped us even when we looked foolish at times in a culture that was unfamiliar. When we didn’t hang our clothes well enough and they blew into the ocean, Bapak was there to take a cold dive and save everything. When I forgot my sarong and didn’t have a blanket during the first cold night, Bapak sacrificed his and gave it to me so that I wouldn’t be cold again. It seemed as if it was just one thing after the next. This man never failed to give all that he had and truly serve us at all costs.

The one selfless act I'll remember most was on a hot afternoon. Our team had just finished working on a path for the village and laying concrete. Myself and the other guys in our house walked back to Bapak's to wash our feet and eat a graciously cooked lunch provided by Ibu. We walked around the side of the home to clean our feet off and while doing this I realized the cement on my feet had already dried and it was not coming off. The house was over the ocean so I hopped down and tried scrubbing sand and salt water on my feet to get them clean. Still no luck. Now, the concrete had turned green and had become a rather ugly sight.

I walked back to the house not knowing what to do and whether or not to enter. As I got to the dock Bapak noticed. He told me to wait a second and he went back to the kitchen and grabbed a bowl of cooking oil. He then sat down on the ground and told me to as well. I was very confused and I looked over at one of our translators for an answer. He looked at me and smiled saying, “Bro, he’s going to wash your feet.” I didn’t know how to respond. It was almost too awkward for me to allow and I was a bit nervous and humiliated. I told our translator to tell him that I could just keep scrubbing at it myself. But Bapak insisted that I let him help. As I sat down, I turned to the two translators who both grew up in Indonesia. I asked them, "Is this a cultural thing? Does this happen often?" They told me no—feet are actually considered very unclean. This was something they had never seen. Bapak continued to scrape away at my feet. I thought to myself, this man has worked to prepare a clean house for us, gone out and chopped wood, handpicked practically all of the ingredients for our meals, and now he is choosing to scrub a 20 year old man’s filthy feet. I looked at our translator and said, "I’m a little uncomfortable with this." He replied, “Well, so was Peter.”

Bapak scraped and scrubbed with his hands till my feet were clean and the concrete was almost unnoticeable. He looked at me and said, "You are my son."

Throughout the rest of our stay, we shared the parable of Jesus feeding the 5000, healing the demon possessed boy, the prodigal son returning home, and the true meaning of Christmas. I realized that Bapak knew very little about Jesus, his miracles, and the stories that he told. With this being said, Bapak still displayed the love of Jesus in everything he did. He never hesitated to sacrifice what was his, to serve to the best of his ability, or to even humble himself to get on his knees and wash the feet of someone else.

Continue to pray for Bapak, Ibu, and their five sons. Pray that Bapak may continue to represent Christ and most importantly one day fall in love with Jesus and truly know the person he's been reflecting.

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