I have decided that the life of a missionary is just slightly insane. I have taken a good chunk of the fall off to rest up and get healthy. I am heading back into Haiti tomorrow for just three weeks and will be back in the states for the holidays… another 5 weeks. This is the most time I have spent at home in the last three years so you would think that I would be chomping at the bit. Right?
As always, I am torn right down the middle. While I cannot WAIT to get back to Haiti and especially to the prison, being home for almost two months has allowed me to fall into routines. Routines with my family and husband, my friends and even my dogs. These are routines I am not used to having but a few of them have been incredibly wonderful and have me questioning my call to be away from my family so often. Things that so many people might take for granted like our Friday family night and the gift of getting to go to church (our new church home!!!) with my husband and children. The routines that I fall into helping my sweet hubby with his own daily routine. Doing laundry and buying groceries. Cuddling with my dogs and making sure they have their weekly baths. You know… “normal” stuff.
As I have spent some serious alone time with the Lord this past week I have been flooded with stories and faces. Images of the people that keep me going. A reminder of why I love what I do so very much. Some have been well timed posts by my mission family and others are reminders of people like my sweet Maeka and of my newest friend Jean Paul. I haven’t told his story yet and I think it’s about time.
Jean Paul is a 21 year old boy that I met while he was in prison. We were able to baptize him this past April in the courtyard of the PdP prison. I didn’t know much of his story while he was behind bars but what I have learned since he has gotten out is amazing. He was easy to connect with even while he was in a cell with 50 other men. He has just one leg so the guards put him in a cell filled with elderly prisoners… he sort of stuck out! He has the most beautiful smile and and unbelievable sense of peace that covered over him even in the midst of chaos.
His story is shocking…. but beautiful. His mother is a voodoo priestess. A pretty big deal in Haiti. When this sweet boy accepted Christ his mother was so upset that she attacked him, burned down their house (including all of his belongings) and then had him arrested for the crime. He spent over a year in prison with almost 400 other men and women. Here’s the kicker… he is HAPPY to have served his time for Jesus!
He showed up at our mission church on a Sunday morning in early August. He had just been released from prison the day before and knew that if he went home his mother would kill him. Jean Paul didn’t know anywhere else to go but to try to find us. He had nothing with him but the clothes he was wearing and the Bible I had given him. I didn’t know what to do! Magdala (in the photo above) brought him to me after church and asked what I thought we should do for him. It wasn’t an easy fix as he is unable to really work due to his disability. Magdala asked me to pray with her about it and then she told me she wanted to take him in.
Take. Him. In.
Magdala is who I want to be when I grow up. Seriously. She is such a strong woman of God, a leader in our church, a leader in our community and in our mission, she’s my partner in the prison ministry… and her heart is HUGE. She knew that this boy needed her and that was it. She and her husband have agreed to take care of him and he gets to come to the mission regularly so I get to see him too! This sweet boy who stood up against his mother and family because he knew that he wanted… that he NEEDED to live for Christ… here he is… living in an unbelievable family of believers.
God. Is. So. Good.
So how do I pick myself up and keep going? Because of stories like this. Because I am lucky enough to work for a mission with leadership that GETS IT… that’s making a difference. And just like that… I go from being overwhelmed by fear and sadness to being completely overwhelmed by God’s perfect grace and by GRATITUDE at the ridiculous craziness that God has chosen me to actually get to GO and be a tiny part of this beautiful dance.
Thanks for taking this journey with me.