Allison here, writing to you from my ol’ Kentucky home, where we’ve been relaxing and catching up with family and friends for the past four weeks. In three more weeks we will return to Haiti to our home-away-from-home in Cazale.
I can honestly say, as one would expect, after having spent six months living and working at Real Hope for Haiti, my perspective on many things has changed. Some of that perspective change is obvious. I appreciate so many “ordinary” things, like eating a juicy steak or ice cream, taking a hot shower, driving on smooth roads, and having an endless supply of electricity. Some things are more subtle, like enjoying the fragrance of the pine trees in my parents’ yard, the ease of washing laundry in a washing machine instead of by hand, and drinking water straight from my faucet without fearing the consequences.
It’s the little obscure things, though, that have really opened my eyes. I now have a very different way of seeing several aspects of my life and the world around me. That is what I’d like to share with you right now, just a few of these new revelations that I’ve acquired.
*When I pick up my young nieces and nephew, I don’t feel their ribs under my hands. I don’t fear I might break them just by picking them up because they are so frail. They are well nourished. Healthy. Their parents are able to give them love and affection, helping them to develop normally, because they aren’t consumed by desperately fighting for survival. I am so thankful for that.
*Life in the United States is excessively comfortable. The focus is not about survival, but being entertained. Pretty things, fun things, anything and everything that would make MY life “better.” It’s all about me, and I deserve it….at least that’s what my society tells me. I deserve to spend lots of money on stuff to make me happy, because happiness is found in stuff. The thing is, I’ve discovered the truth of where real joy is found. My happiness is found in taking my eyes off of myself and focusing on serving others. And I’ve also realized that when I’m busy doing that, I don’t even care about stuff anymore. Pretty cool, huh?
*A surprising number of people are so oblivious to the suffering of others. I was, and I still am to a certain degree. But you know what? I want to understand. I choose to learn, to open my eyes. And I pray that God will stir my heart and guide me to what He wants me to do about it. But I have also come to realize that I cannot put that desire (to understand, learn and respond) into anyone else’s heart. That is frustrating, I’ll admit; but I’m so thankful that God pricked my heart to love the people He loves and hurt for the people He hurts for……and I’m thankful that he didn’t allow my stubbornness to cause me to miss the blessings and joy of compassion and serving.
*Hear me on this: ice cream is deliciously refreshing; a long, hot shower can seemingly wash away the day’s stress; cruising around town in my comfy Honda and going to my favorite stores and hang-outs is fabulous. These are facts. Even better is spending time with the people I love, my precious family and dear friends. It’s priceless, absolutely. But nothing, NOTHING compares to being in the center of God’s will, obediently serving Him by loving others. The center of God’s will…there is NOWHERE I’d rather be, and NOTHING I’d rather be doing.
That being said, I suppose you have figured out that I am eager to return to Real Hope for Haiti at the end of this month. I anticipate the good, the bad, and the ugly. I look forward to being spit up on, sweating like crazy, swatting mosquitoes, a never-ending to-do list, navigating through mud on my walk to work, and random bouts of diarrhea. Why on earth would I be happy about these things? Because for all the hard and yucky stuff I have ahead of me, I know I will be blessed beyond my wildest imagination with profound experiences, new wisdom, incredible love, and peace that surpasses all understanding. True joy.
On so many occasions during my first six months at RHFH, I have looked into the eyes of children and adults…..and I’ve seen Jesus. It has been, and continues to be my prayer, that they see Jesus in me.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” -James 1:22-25
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Galatians 5:14