In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Ayiti Mwen

When I got to JKF airport yesterday, I was suddenly overpowered with anxiety. Maybe I did need a visa to get into Haiti after all. Maybe the Haitians would send me back to New York. Oh how awful it would be to get so close, and not reach my destination!

Although Christians are supposed to be able to give their fears over to God, and trust him to take care of things, and although God has consistently shown himself to be faithful to me, I couldn't shake off the worry. I sent up an apology and a plea that my calm would be restored.

I got more than that; as the aircraft began its decent and I caught sight of the rippling, chiseled mountain landscape, I was filled with excitement, and all doubts melted away.

When we touched down, the Haitians cheered. I knew they would, and it was special and wonderful to celebrate my homecoming with them.

A hot wind swept over me as I left the aircraft. And as the crumbling colour and throngs of people and rickety vehicles and garbage of Port-au-prince spilled out onto the streets around us, I fell in Love, once again with the uncontained, honest broken beauty and chaos of my Haiti.

Monday, 27 April 2009

New York, New York

Well, I made it to my New York hotel room 2 hours ago. Getting here proved to be a real mission.

Just minutes after I checked in at Edinburgh Airport this morning, there was tannoy announcement asking that I to report to the airline's security desk. When I got there, I was told quite categorically that I would not be allowed to fly because I did not have visas to enter either the US or Haiti!

They (security personnel) smiled and told me that while their computer system had told them I was eligible to travel to both countries, they'd had 'nagging doubts' and had done some further investigations. They were adamant, based on (their misinterpretation of) the information they had turned up, that US immigration would not admit me on their visa waiver programme because my return journey (through the US) is more than 90 days away.

I knew that the US and Haiti absolutely would let me in, but the security staff wouldn't hear me. After all this preparation and a few tears, here I was ready to go, and now I was faced with the very real possibility that I might not get to Haiti this week, and maybe not for several weeks. I had quite the battle on my hands. My mind and heart were racing and it took everything I had in me; all my calm assertiveness and persistence, all my intelligence, persuasion, intuition and a sincere prayer to get a breakthrough

Finally, after several calls to US and Haitian embassies I was allowed to board. The head security lady commented that the Haitian Embassy were 'useless' and 'couldn't understand what the problem was.' Uumm, maybe because there wasn't a problem? She was 'not happy' because she should not have had to 'do all of this.' Thankfully, the words that expanded in my mouth at that point, popped before they left my lips and I found it in myself to deliver grace instead of sarcasm.

There were further delays when my carry-on went through the scanner, but I made it to the gate just in time. I am so thankful for that seemingly unexplainable urge to get to the airport early today.

The journey itself was quite rough, but I'm not complaining. I am happy to have made it here, and i'll be happier still, God willing, when I land in Haiti tomorrow.

Emma: I received your message. If you are interested in volunteering at GLA, please contact Jean Bell at the US office. She deals with with all initial inquiries about the volunteer programme and she will probably refer you to someone in Haiti who can answer specific questions about how your skills could be used at the orphanage.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A Personal Word

Five years ago, I was in a difficult place. I had lived under attack for 3 months solid. I had been faithful to my promise, and kept my eyes on God, but all my strenght was spent and I wanted out!

I said, 'God, if you want me here, you are going to have to keep me here,' and although I asked him to show me a sign, I was filled with dread at the thought that his will might be for me to remain where I was.

I had planned to fly out of the nearest city with a budget airline, but so desperate was my desire to go home that I booked myself a ticket with a more reliable carrier!

I flew out of Durban, only to find that my onward flight to the UK was delayed. Everything in me rebelled against what that might mean. If this is your doing, Lord, you are too late! I'm on my way home now!

Six weeks ago when I left GLA, there had been no such attack. I was full of sorrow to be leaving, but I wasn't feeling well, I was tired, I missed home and I wasn't a hundred percent sure where God wanted me.

In the yard, bags in the car, I said my goodbyes, trying to ignore the whining of the vehicle that was supposed to get me to Port-au-Prince.

GLA's drivers tried everything they could to get the truck started, but it was to no avail. I was remembering that talk between God and I five years ago. This time, the tone was entirely different. As people around me joked that God obviously had a hand in this, I retorted playfully that God wasn't necessarily the cause; some of them had been threatening sabotage for a few weeks. I told God I would be back if that's what he wanted, but I asked him if he would please give me some time in Scotland.

I made it to the airport in the toddler house vehicle, and reached the gate just as my flight started boarding.

That next day, I learned that the first truck started after I left GLA. You can't say I was too late with the message this time, God seemed to be saying!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Four Weeks Today

For 8 years, my heart burned with a desire to work in the developing world. For 4 years, I prayed fervently that God would open up a path for me to serve long-term in missions. Two months ago, out of the blue, he did just that.

When Dixie Bickel first put the proposal of a permanent contract in front of me, I couldn't believe she really meant it. When she told me she really did, I was quite incredulous, and drew back in fright at the vision taking shape in front of me.

In my defence, I had surrendered to God's timing. I'd thought he would grant my prayer piece by piece over the next few years, not all at once, and I was caught unprepared.

I said no. I said I don't know. I said let me think about it. It was a book of Acts Chapter 12 moment. So many prayers sent up without really expecting God to come through. And then he did.

Thankfully he has seen it all before, and is gracious. Actually, come to think of it, there have been patient, understanding people all around me. There still are, and I am so thankful to them all for giving me time and space, when I needed it, to think, and pray.

For several weeks, I slept fitfully, but that has passed now. God spoke to me in his still, small voice and calmed every doubt and addressed every fear.

Four weeks today I expect to wake up in Haiti. I will stay there and do the work I love for as long as I want, because I asked, and God said yes.

Now, please pray that he would sanctify my heart, my mind and my will, and that he would bless me with all the love, patience and gentleness and all the knowledge, wisdom and skill I will need for the task ahead.

"I have made no secret of your faithful and steadfast love....You lord, have not withheld your tenderness from me." Psalm 40:10-11