When Risking Leaves You Robbed and Disturbed

On January 12, 2010, the nation of Haiti was hit with a powerful 7.0 earthquake that resulted in massive destruction and countless deaths. Upon hearing the news of the devastation and the many people who had lost limbs as a result of the fallen debris, my husband and I felt God asking us to go and serve the wounded using his skills as a Prosthetist and my skills as his team-mate. We kissed our 16-month-old son “goodbye” and left him with grandparents as we headed to Haiti for 11 days. “Mission of Hope,” an incredible ministry just outside of Port-au-Prince, had (just weeks before the earthquake) opened one of the only prosthetic labs in the country in an empty room of their hospital, originally designed as the morgue.  The experience was life changing and played a significant role in our decision to pursue the adoption of a child with limb difference. I recently came across a blog post I wrote shortly after our trip. We returned home from the airport and discovered that, while overseas, our apartment had been robbed and all of my heirloom jewelry, including my wedding rings, had been stolen.  I wrote this post, over six years ago, as a sort of altar to the Lord as I was processing our time in Haiti. It continues to serve as a powerful reminder of God’s heart and faithfulness every time I read it. I hope that it blesses you also. 

Disturbed– May 3rd, 2010

I have sat down at least four times to write about our recent trip to Haiti. Each time I make an attempt, I go blank on what to say. When I try to organize my thoughts I find myself distracted with moments of trial and victory in Haiti, followed by feelings of violation with the home break-in, and ending with the overwhelmed reality of us moving in three weeks. My hands freeze up and my mind goes numb. Kind of like when you’re in the middle of a movie and the power goes out. Just a “bloop” and nothing. So here I am again, sitting at my computer, attempt to write something meaningful and thought provoking if for no other reason than to get my brain moving and processing again.

Our trip to Haiti is hard to explain. I find myself more and more frustrated each time someone asks, “So how was your trip?” I’m not frustrated with the person asking, I’m frustrated with my inability to come up with a sufficient answer. If it makes any sense, I don’t even know that I know how the trip was. I do know that the Haitian people are amazingly resilient. I know that the earthquake destroyed their already damaged country. I know that every Haitian had someone close to them die. I know that 3 to 4 million Haitians are now homeless. I know that the only solution to the restoration of the country is Jesus. I know that the American news stations are no longer reporting on Haiti so people assume it’s all ok now. I know that Port-au-Prince still smells of decomposing bodies that are lying underneath the rubble. I know that God is at work in Haiti and that the number of new believers is astounding. I know that I want to go back soon.

We heard the earthquake stories of a few Haitian nationals and North American missionaries. Many of the scenes they described have put mental pictures in my mind that I wish I could erase because they are so terrible. I have done some traveling and have seen a lot of poverty and desperation. I could never have imagined the horribleness that I saw in Haiti. And yet God’s presence was almost suffocating at times. He is there in that country and He is at work. We literally saw the fruit of His work each day we were there. It was like sitting back and watching a play. We were the stage hands moving the props and helping the Haitian actors while the Divine director/writer continued unveiling His work of art.

A very wise friend who knows me incredibly well gave me the book Dangerous Surrender, by Kay Warren, the day we got back from Haiti. I started to read it yesterday and was overwhelmed by the similarities between Kay’s words and my unspoken thoughts. She writes about being “seriously disturbed” by the reality of our world. Not the temporary gripe about gas prices or republican/democrat stuff that so many people spend their time wrapped up in, but the really awful, evil, dark stuff that we skip over in the newspaper or mute on the television. She talks about not only allowing yourself to be disturbed but then to figure out what God wants you to do with yourself once you have been.

I didn’t expect to be so “disturbed” by Haiti. Like I said before, I’ve traveled a bit and have seen poverty. It always ends with a few prayers of thankfulness for all I have been given and the desire to sponsor another kid in a third world country. Within a few months, I’m back to the outlet malls justifying my need to buy a headband or another cute purse. My prayer is that Haiti continues to disturb me deeply, so deeply that it changes how I live and look at the world in a dramatic way.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Kay’s book so far:

God in His sovereignty decided where you would be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that he has ordered our lives in such a way. The only guilt we bear is the guilt of ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have- the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources exclusively on ourselves and our families. That is legitimate guilt. (p 22)

We arrived home on Sunday afternoon to find our front door jam almost completely ripped off and our front window screen-free and open. They only took a few things from each of our dressers (my jewelry box with my wedding ring, heirloom family jewelry, pearls my dad gave me on my wedding day, necklaces and bracelets from anniversaries, etc.) but tossed our room up a bit. Walking into our home and seeing, first, all the stuff we have, and second, all the stuff that was stolen, created a mess of confusing emotions. I was angry and sad that many of my most precious things were gone but after just returning from Haiti, I was so thankful my husband and child were not lying crushed under a concrete building. How upset could I truly be that I now had less stuff than before?

Though I am upset about my stolen jewelry, each frustrated thought ends with the face of someone I saw in Haiti who has lost everything and now sleeps under a tattered sheet in one of the hundreds of tent-cities surrounding the capitol.

For now, I spend a lot of time praying for Haiti and asking God to continue to guide me in my processing of our trip and the week that followed. I have come to love and identify so well with this quote from Pastor Chambers:

“If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 1


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