I was looking through old pictures today and I came upon pictures from the very first “overseas” missions trip that I took, all the way back in 2001. In retrospect I see that my call towards cross cultural missions was in many ways begun and solidified during this trip. It was just a week and a half trip to Ouanaminthe, a village in Haiti, right on the border of the Dominican Republic, but my eyes were opened to the reality that much of the world lives in a very different way than I had ever known, and I was intrigued by that. We worked with a school there run by a Haitian, Hugues Bastien, who had the advantage of an education in the United States, but felt called to go back to his home town in Haiti to start a school. His school, Institution Univers, has grown immensely since I was there, and it is cool to see what God is doing there. We did vacation bible school camps with the kids and carried cement blocks to help with the building of a gymnasium/auditorium for the school.
While I do not remember all that many details from the trip, I did keep my first ever journal while I was there, and re-reading those entries brings back some of the thoughts that started swirling through my young mind. Here are a couple tidbits of what I wrote 11 years ago. 🙂
My thoughts on the Haitian church service we attended: “They get into their worship. We need more of this in America. They are having fun worshiping, they don’t care about things, they are just having fun.” “God is alive and well in churches all over the world. More alive than in America as far as worship goes.” I remember being surprised by the building the church was held in because it didn’t look like what I thought a church should look like, but after experiencing the enthusiasm and life that was inside, it was obvious that the building didn’t matter. The picture below shows the church, I’m not sure if it was still in construction, or perhaps the scaffolding was just a permanent fixture.
On the missions experience as a whole I wrote: “I could easily see myself doing this for my life. It isn’t the selfish life I have dreamed about, but I think it would certainly be fulfilling. I think God can use me. I want to wait and see exactly where he is calling me.” Then a few days later, “I feel called to missions, but I don’t think to [working with] kids. I really have problems handling them for any long period of time. I’m tired it has been a long week and I have done work.” Haha so I guess that summed the trip up pretty well. I remember that the only Haitian Creole word that I remembered after the trip was “be quiet” because I had to tell the kids that so many times during the bible lessons.
My heartstrings were certainly tugged on by the poverty I saw, and I wanted to be able to help in tangible ways. I still do. And I think that it is awesome that God has now given me the skills to do that. The Bible is clear on its position on the poor and needy. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31. I am so excited that after all this time I am finally close to being able to head overseas long term to help the poor and take the Gospel to the needy. If you ever have the chance to go on a short term overseas missions trip, DO IT! It’s amazing how God works as much, if not more, in our lives on these trips as he does in the lives of those we have gone to serve.