On Friday, I will board a plane to Haiti. I have been meticulously going over details for weeks and as we wrap up preparations, I want to make sure I record what’s going on in my heart. This will be my fourth trip in 3 years… the first I attended a funeral, the second a wedding. Our third trip was in the middle of a presidential election (that never resolved) and this time may be the most devastating in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
But there’s another detail that makes this trip different. This time I’ll have my son William by my side. And because I am a Mom, this makes me so emotional. About six months ago, as Peter and I were praying about this trip, we sensed that God was prompting us to ask Will to go. He has been asking for years to travel to another country, so when we presented it to him and he said yes with wide eyes, it was an answer to both of our dreams.
If you were to peek into my heart and my brain, you would see my swirling thoughts and emotions. Most of my thoughts are just details: food. lesson plans. passports. underwear.
But there are a few other thoughts when I wake up in the middle of the night:
I’m crazy excited. I cannot wait to take Will to the place that has my heart. I can’t wait to see him walk those roads and love those kids. As a mom, more than anything I want to guard against the sense of entitlement that comes with being an American. I want my kids to grow up with a heartbeat for the poor and powerless, to have their hearts break for the things that break the heart of God. I want them to experience the phonemenon that having less does not mean less joy. To have this opportunity to go with him to Haiti is unbelievable.
But I’m also apprehensive, and doing my best to be brave. My default is to protect my kids, so exposing Will to such deep poverty makes me anxious. We’ve done some intentional things to develop compassion in our kids, but we still become so sanitized. On our living room mantle is a big framed print that says, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” (Helen Keller). In my heart of hearts, it’s what I want our kids to live out, but I would be lying if I said it was easy for me. When I get apprehensive about the “what ifs”, I imagine the end. What do we as parents desire for William? We want him to choose the daring adventure, every time. That means that I must be brave.
I’m praying big. We are on the precipice of some amazing years with Will. These are the years he’ll begin to form who he will be in adulthood. So I’m praying that this trip will be formative to him. God has a way of speaking so clearly when so many of our familiar scenes are erased. I’m praying this will bring our close relationship even closer. I’m so overwhelmed with the gift of being able to serve alongside him.
At the same time, I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll just tell you right now I’m so bad at this. I’m the queen of daydreaming something grand and then when it falls flat, I get so disappointed. I know that this trip could have huge implications on Will’s life. I’m confident that he will thrive and we will have an amazing week. But I also know there are going to be some hard moments. As his mind processes so many new things, I’m going to be tempted to tell him how to process. But I can’t. I’ve had some wise people warn me that this trip may not immediately affect him and to not be disappointed with that. The implications will work themselves out in time.
I’m doing my best to step back. When the hurricane hit the country of Haiti just a few days ago, I started to have doubts. But God gently reminded me that our surprises are no surprises to Him. He does the work He needs to do, no matter what. So I’m relying on Him. I don’t know what kind of devastation we’ll face when we get there. I don’t pretend to think we’re going to go and fix anything. My prayer is that I’ll step back and see how God is working. I simply want to be an encouragement to those who are there doing the hard work day after day after day.
I’m packing a lot of food. Seriously. We bring mostly our own food, which usually is not a big deal. But anticipating what a 12 year old boy will need for a week makes me dizzy. He is hungry all. the. time.
I’m asking you to pray. I know you will, without me even asking. It’s why I value you all so much. I will do my best to post to Instagram next week. I’ll share the stories I can, while allowing Will to share his stories also. It’s going to be incredible.
P.S. We will be in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, which is in the northwestern part of the country. While the hurricane did very much hit that region, it was not hit as badly as the southwestern portions. I am quite confident that it is safe and good to continue with our trip. Peter and the girls will remain in Michigan, keeping the home fires burning.
I’m so very glad you’re here. I hope you’ll stick around so we can get to know one another a little more. Go here if you’d like to receive posts from me via email. I have a few printable verses I’d love to send you to encourage your heart. –Sarah