Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
We have packed the suitcases, have swallowed the pills, have whimpered over the long needles, have welcomed the TV guy in the front door for a quick interview with the girls.
We have prayed more than we’ve worried, and that’s worth something.
And now, the time has come.
We’re headed to Haiti. With our miniatures. Yes, we’re taking two girls, ages 11 and 8, to a third-world country, poorest country in the western Hemisphere, where abject poverty throws its arms around you and won’t let go.
It seems like I should be scared.
This might be the craziest thing we’ve done as parents. But we trust that it’s also the most right thing.
Before we go, there’s a few things we want you to know about us,
and about Haiti,
and about you
and about God:
1 — We’ve been asked, in the kindest ways, if Haiti is safe. We believe we are in very good hands with our conscientious Haitian and American hosts. We believe we are in good hands with our God. We know that bad things can happen anywhere, but today, we consider other dangers, such as: turning our backs on our friends in Haiti, ignoring the call of God, being numb to the pain of others. But this is not an indictment of any other person who is NOT going to Haiti because ….
2 — You don’t have to go to Haiti to do God’s work in this world. You are not a bad parent if you don’t take your kid to a third-world country. There is plenty to do right where we are. A person’s mission field is most accurately described as the spot where she is standing. (If you’re looking for great ways to change your world, right where you are, visit Amy Sullivan’s blog now and then. Follow along with Jen Hatmaker and her book 7. Pray your “Anything” with Jennie Allen. )
3 — You are not doing something wrong if you take your kids to Disney World or a beachside vacation. We thought you ought to know that. We don’t want our trip to Haiti to be a source of guilt for you. We love Haiti, but we have also enjoyed our visits with Mickey Mouse and Cinderella in Orlando. We think pixie dust is the best.
4 — Our girls are normal American kids. Yes, they raised a lot of money — with your generous help! — for a new playground and basketball court. But it looks pretty normal around here most days. They fight over the last Oreo and who gets to play the iPad first. They leave stray socks everywhere. And their mother sets a poor example by rarely making her bed.
5 — We’re still trying to figure it all out. And we’re not always doing it right. The other night, despite my personal pledge NOT to do this, I used Haiti as a way to get the children to do what I want them to do, as in: “You’ll meet kids in Haiti who would give anything for that piece of chicken.”
6 — We fully expect that Haiti will have a greater influence on us, than we do on Haiti. And we think that might be part of the point.
7 — The only hero in this house is Jesus. And we prayed that when the camera guy came, we would put the spotlight on our Savior, not ourselves. (I will link to the KELOLAND-TV story after it airs.)
8 — The Haitian people are not our charity projects, but our friends. And we’re going to Haiti to do what friends do: listen and love and laugh a lot. We’re going to pray together, hold hands, worship at top of our lungs and the top of our hearts, hug, cry, find silver linings, remind each other that we matter to God and we matter to people.
9 — We will expect the unexpected. We will try not to take ourselves too seriously, will not watch the clock, will consider the interruptions to be our real work, will spy Jesus in the faces of the poor (and hopefully in our own mirrors), will listen more than talk, will need your prayers, will wish we could do more, will fall short, but we will give our very best anyway.
10 — We will be on the ground in Haiti, but you go with us. You know that, right? This would have never happened without your prayers and encouragement. We still need both.
This is the Bible we’re taking for our sponsored children: The Jesus Storybook Bible in Haitian Creole.