Tag Archives: expectations

Investing in tomorrow

Sometimes you hear people refer to ‘seasons of life.’  This journey with World Concern is interesting because I feel like Martha and I are experiencing several small seasons within a relatively short amount of time.  As I look back on our journey thus far (primarily from the beginning of this year), I am reminded of some of these small seasons.  There was the season of preparing for our short trip to Haiti in June and then actually arriving and spending a week getting to know the people we will be working with and serving.  There was the season of travel in July, where we attended two family reunions and spent time with both of our families.

Well, today we begin another small season.  Martha and I arrived in Colorado Springs today where we will spend the next three weeks taking a course with Mission Training International (MTI).  This course is a “pre-field training program, which focuses on strengthening your skills for cross-cultural life and ministry.”  I would say that each of the small seasons we have experienced this year have, overall, strengthened and encouraged us as we prepare for full time ministry in Haiti.  I hope this will also be true of our time here in Colorado with MTI.

Before I go on, I have to tell you how awesome it is to be in Colorado again.  MTI has a really cool facility where we will be living and eating and learning for the next three weeks, that is nestled right up against the mountains.  What an amazing place to train, fellowship, and grow.   We are certainly blessed to be here.

Honestly, I was originally skeptical of how beneficial this training would be for us.  Not because it was not a solid program, but because at this point in our support raising process it is easy to place a higher priority on meeting with people over coffee and making phone calls to share about our work than spending time learning how to integrate into a new place.  Although I have only been here for an afternoon, I am glad to report that my skepticism is already wearing off.  I was reminded today, that it is equally important to invest in developing habits and learning skills now that will allow us to serve effectively for the long run.

There are a number of other individuals, couples, and families participating in this training as well.  We had our orientation meeting before dinner where we learned more about what the next three weeks will look like.  I expected that.  What I didn’t expect was to be assigned homework!  Martha and I have been up since 5 am and spent several hours on planes today so homework sounded like the last thing I wanted to do tonight.  I reluctantly opened my binder and flipped to the page that we were assigned.  The title is “An Inventory of My Spiritual Life.”  Not the first thing I would choose to explore after a long day!  However, as I began to read I realized how great these questions being asked are—questions about my prayer life, spiritual disciplines, and the role of scripture in my life.  Wow.  I must admit that in the busyness of life I probably would not take the time to consider these things.  So despite my original skepticism and tiredness, I am thankful for the opportunity to be here at MTI for the next three weeks.  This spiritual inventory will help me see where I am and where I can grow.  Hopefully in a couple more weeks I can say that I am at a stronger and healthier place spiritually than I was before.  If so, praise God.  I know that remaining healthy spiritually is what will sustain Martha and I whenever we do arrive in Haiti and begin our ministry.

 

Haiti for the first time

Can you remember a moment, even recently, when you experienced something for the first time?  What was it like?  Maybe beforehand there was joy or butterflies or anxiety or eagerness or excitement or questions or…

I like “firsts.”  I appreciate the freshness and newness that accompanies firsts.  There are new perspectives to witness, new lessons to be learned, new opportunities to give and share and listen and see.

One week from today, Martha and I will experience a very big first.  We will be in Haiti for the first time.  This place that has been on our minds and hearts for the past 8+ months.  This place that we’ve read about, studied, and decided to pour ourselves into.  This place that we are committed to.  Our one week trip (June 3-9) will give us the opportunity to see our future home, meet co-workers, and witness the real and tangible work World Concern is doing.

In her classic book about the fall of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier and the subsequent events in Haiti during the late 1980s called “The Rainy Season,” journalist and author Amy Wilentz describes what she thought her first time in Haiti would be like…

“When I went down to Haiti for the first time in the early days of 1986, I thought I knew what the place would be like: I would fly down and the Tontons Macoute, Duvalier’s personal army of pampered thugs, would search my bags, confiscate my notebooks and my copy of The Comedians, Graham Greene’s banned novel about Haiti in the 1960s.  I’d walk through the cardboard slums in the daytime, shadowed by beggars.  At night I would retire to the hotel veranda and drink ten-year-old rum.  The Macoutes would spy on me, the rare foreign correspondent.  On the walls I’d see cheerful, encouraging frescoes of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the young President-for-Life, and his beautiful wife, Michele.  A handsome voodoo priest would guide me to a temple in the hills, and I would watch as the peasants played the drums and Baron Samedi possessed his worshippers, his serviteurs…I was wrong.”

It is nearly impossible for us as humans to not create some imagery in our minds about what a new place or experience will be like.  This may come from something we read, what a voice on the radio told us, or even purely our own imagination.  Although it is important to be informed and educated, Wilentz’s experience reminds us not to expect everything to play out as we think it will.  Basically, expect to be surprised and perplexed and amazed!

Like most things in life, moderation is probably best.  Therefore, a week before arriving in Haiti for the first time, I am at least attempting to do two things; ponder what I’ve learned about Haiti from a distance and prepare myself to be surprised by the things I could never have experienced from a book.  How effective this will be, well we’ll find out haha.

Martha and I are excited, curious, ready, and yes, a little bit anxious.  We are thrilled to have this opportunity.  Following this trip, we will surely be more prepared to return later this year affirmed in our calling and ready to get down to work, walking alongside colleagues and community members in creating a stronger and healthier Haiti.

We encourage each of you to pray for us and return to our blog next week as we share photos and stories about our trip and what World Concern is doing in Haiti.  Thanks for all your support and generosity.  We couldn’t do this alone!