Discovering Your Mission Field: Part 3
A modern day parable.
Today, my story concludes, so I will dive right in. If this is your first time reading my blog, you can read part 1 & 2 of Discovering Your Mission Field on the Staff Blog section of the website. During this 3rd and final part, I want to share the final details around my story so that you may continue to see the many ways God works.
In the fall of 2016, Leah Musson (one of our youth) mentioned how she would love to go to Haiti. I jumped on this comment, I had a feeling she needed to go for herself and also as a blessing for the organization I work with, Promise for Haiti. Leah is very talented and I knew she could produce useful videos to share with future sponsors. Unfortunately, my next trip to Haiti was scheduled during Leah’s first year in college. So I decided to visit with my mentor and I asked him if Leah and I could join him for his upcoming trip in January of 2017. He said yes and we quickly booked our trip.
During this past trip, it was nice to attend as team member and not as a team leader. I felt relieved of the pressure of leading a group and instead spent more time working, connecting and building relationships rather than managing.
As soon as we landed, I made arrangements to see grandma right away. My friend Tonton picked us up and we motorcycled out to the countryside. Grandma was surprised and shocked. She didn’t think she would see me again. Her health had greatly deteriorated and her dancing days were behind her. I saw her room and her bed, which was worse than her previous “bed”. It was a frame with slates with a donkey mat laid on top. That’s right, a mat woven together from palm fronds to protect a donkey’s back from a saddle. She rested her head on the raised wooden edge of the bed.
We fed her and gave her water. I told her I would come back with friends the following day and asked what she needed. She requested a blanket. As we were leaving I went by her former home, collapsed and over grown, it was very sad. When we arrived back in town, I asked Tonton to explore the price of a new bed, food and medicine that would last a month. He reported back that the total cost was $225. I quickly raised $210 on a gofund me page. I told him I would like to buy her those things and then send money every month for medicine and food. However, I had a feeling she wouldn’t live much longer. Tonton didn’t really agree with my ultimate decision but he made arrangements to purchase the items. This happened on Friday.
That Sunday after church I took a group from our team to grandma’s. She had received the bed that morning and was very excited to see us. We brought her food, blankets, lotion, medicine and I had brought a few frozen bottles of juice from the house. She gulped the juice down so fast; I was worried she may make herself sick. She showed me her new bed. It was beautiful. A painted wooden headboard, metal frame with springs and full size mattress, it was so tall I had to pick her up and set her on top. (we arranged a step stool to help her).
Grandma was so excited. She was talking nonstop, too fast to translate, she was laughing, and waving praises to God. She lay over Tonton’s lap and said “I’m so happy, I could die right now.” Then, I thought, oh no! I’m going to kill this woman with too much excitement. We said our farewells.
Tuesday morning, Tonton called me, “we have a problem. The Grandma – she dead.” I was stopped cold in my tracks. I was sad for Grandma and at the same time, I thought, what am I supposed to do now? I had spent all the money I raised on a new bed. Were those gifts wasted?
I met up with Tonton and he introduced me (to my surprise) to Grandma’s son, a man who had disappeared from her life years before, but showed up to claim her land. I asked him if he intended on a funeral and he said he couldn’t afford one. I asked Tonton if he could sell the bed and the son said he wouldn’t – the tradition was to pass belongings to family. Eventually he understood that I would sooner get the bed myself and give it to someone in need, than allow him to take claim. He agreed to a funeral. We walked to the Catholic Church together and he took out a line of credit. The bed paid for the band, cemetery plot, casket and transport. The monies raised were not wasted – they were a true gift to Grandma.
That afternoon I walked in Grandma’s funeral procession from the Catholic Church to the cemetery. That evening her neighbors and friends began a 7 day prayer vigil and the food we had bought for Grandma was served to mourners for 7 days. Later that evening, I spoke with two sisters on our team. I told them, I knew I should tell those who donated funds, and my former team who had met grandma – that she had passed, but I worried that that the story would sound made up…. We had bought Grandma a bed, and for the first time in a long time she could rest, relax and not physically have to make sure she wasn’t falling. Her rest transitioned into death. One of the sisters commented that according to Romans 8:28 – God works for the good of those who love him. I was shocked! That scripture was our base scripture for our upcoming Winter Retreat. Literally the day we returned from this trip I was to spend the weekend teaching on this scripture. And, I was living it in real time.
I felt like I had lived a parable, to the extent of it almost not feeling real. Since returning I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this experience. I’ve thought, “Maybe if I were a doctor, the feeling of loss wouldn’t be so strong. But, God wants me to feel this over whelming, heart on fire feeling – I can’t believe He chose me.
So, my mission field… what did I learn? My mission field is youth ministry, its Haiti and it’s the world around me. But, I would never have had a chance to experience it or serve in it if I hadn’t gotten out of the boat in the first place and allowed myself to be receptive to God’s plan. I know this is not a revolutionary statement, but it is to me. I believe we need to constantly challenge ourselves to do and be better. Even, when we think we are right on track and following God’s plan there is always something that we can open our hearts to a little more.
I leave you with the real parable.
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Thank you for reading and being a part of this ministry. I pray you find ways to step out of your boat.