Saturday, October 18, 2014

Songe ~ Remember


A lone boat in a pond just outside Marmalade, Haiti
 
The "feel good" portion of the program is now over.
 
These are the words I hear in my heart this morning after scrolling through photos of my latest trip to Haiti and re-reading the words I wrote here the night before I left...Over.

I know instantly what that means. I have made four trips to Haiti in just under 15 months. I have seen, smelled, tasted, listened, felt, questioned....I have learned SO much; I have SO much still to learn. Yet...

Yet.

Caleb asked me some tough questions, via Dodo our translator, as we sat on a table inside the orphanage walls where he lives 24/7. He asked me about marriage, family, children, loneliness, opportunity, why I come to Haiti, and my dreams. I asked him about his own family, dreams, what he wants most, and learning English. It was tough. Caleb and I have grown close over the past visits, and it was if he had saved up the questions for me...anticipating the time and place to ask them. A painful exchange between us the day before that led to a colossal misunderstanding over a gift he tried to give me...and my enlisting Dodo to help me understand Caleb's mood change the next day was the opening Caleb needed....and he took it. What it led to was a very raw and candid conversation between the three of us, because Dodo weighed in beautifully, and I understand more clearly now some of the things rolling around in Caleb's head while he lays on that metal bunk bed at night inside four concrete walls. I also feel like in some way it was God confirming for me things I have wondered about since that very first day in Haiti.

What if he is calling me to more...for more?

Allow me a digression...

I am sitting in the warehouse of our office while a floor crew cleans and waxes the concrete floors in our office. It has been pushed off since we moved in at the end of April, but it can be pushed off no longer. I scheduled it weeks ago...so here I sit with a very tender back (I pulled/wrenched it this past Sunday morning while in Haiti trying to get a great photo, and even after 90+ minutes with Gail last night after work...it is still not 100%), listening to my Haiti Playlist on my iPod, and mulling over a note left for me last night by an employee whose last day was yesterday.

I feel emotionally and physically raw.

I sense that is about to come out here.

Buckle. Up.

So....when I am away from our firm, my business partner doesn't always handle it well. We started this and have grown this together...virtually in lock-step. The truth is neither of us do well apart, but we need to get away from here and find our balance so we work on letting the other step away. This last trip to Haiti was an #epicfail on his part in letting me step away. In fact, I drafted more than a couple ultimatum letters in my head just so I could break the soul ties and move on from my frustration and continue to be "in the moment" in Haiti. It was tough.

I came back into the office Thursday physically wiped, emotionally a mess, and overall frustrated with my partner and my lot in life. What was I doing here??? Friday we had an important energy conference, and I had been asked to speak on a panel discussion about our firm's role in the overall industry...who we are, who we want to be, and our overall observations of our industry....I was nervous. What no one knows is that since Monday (while still in Haiti), I had been praying for God to restore my passion for my company and my industry OR open the door for me to sell my part and walk away. All of this came out of frustration in being sucked back into my job responsibilities while in Haiti, being in Haiti in general, and seeing firsthand some real needs that I believed I could fix...if only I had the time and opportunity. So, back to the panel discussion...I did my thing, and my business partner slips me a note, "Please don't ever leave me." with a heart next to it. So...I guess I nailed it. ;) The day was wonderful. I felt re-engaged and re-energized in my firm, my partnership, and my industry...so what is the problem?

The note.

"....You glow with the grace of God when you speak about Haiti. God put it on your heart for a reason, and I hope you never ignore that..."

Written by a young employee who I have struggled with leading for several months...I mean pull my hair out, don't know what to do with them/me with them kind of thing...

*Deep Sigh*

Then I saw the one written to my business partner...talking about his dream, etc....

I often joke that I serve at the pleasure of the president because our firm is a manifestation of my partner's dream, not mine. Now I did always dream of running my own firm or someone else's...got a twofer out of this one on that, but nonetheless...this is his dream, not mine. I love our firm. I love what we do. I love our purpose, mission, and vision....but....BUT...

But...it is still not my dream.

So what is?

I have built relationships with a lot of these children and adults in Haiti. I am honored by that...and humbled. The children trust me when I say, "I will be back." and give them a specific month. I don't promise, but tell them when I plan to be back...I tell them I am working on this or that...I want them to know I am, but I also don't want to promise what I cannot deliver.

Calling and purpose.

What is mine?

I have had the stupidest questions since returning from Haiti....about Ebola and where in Africa is Haiti...did you wear a mask in the Dallas airport. *Ugh* I read yesterday of a group going to Africa from Arkansas that is being harassed and threatened. Seriously?! Let me tell you...we all have our callings and purposes on this earth. Some are called to the homeless, some to Africa, some to Haiti, some to their office...I mean what if I told my friends in the Peace Corps...come home and help the homeless here. I hope they would say, "Why don't you?" Because first, why don't I? Second, who is to say that is their calling? Me? Good. Grief.

When did we all get so damn mean and scared and holier than thou? When did I? I am not perfect...I can be mean, scared, and holier than thou with the best of them. What is wrong with me?

I am not walking in my calling or my purpose. That is what is wrong.

I have been studying Nehemiah back and forth and sideways since mid-summer. It started with a sermon series at my sister's church, then I bought a bible study, and then it got referenced again and again over the course of some books I was reading...and it just sits with me like a grandmother at my bedside while I lay sick. It is quiet and every once in awhile it reaches over to check my temperature and my breathing.

The final chapter has been knawing at me for several weeks prior to Haiti...Chapter 13 references "Remember" four times including the final sentence..."Remember me with favor, O my God." Nehemiah's motive throughout his ministry was to please and to serve his divine Sovereign. The same man that in Nehemiah 1:11 stated, "I was cupbearer top the king."

When I walked into Papillon in Haiti on our first full day of the trip, there hanging on the wall at the entrance was an over the shoulder burlap bag that my eyes caught first. It has letters all the way around it, "Songe." I asked someone what that meant, and it is Haitian Creole for "Remember."

You. Don't. Say.

Front of Burlap Bag from Papillon
Back of Burlap Bag from Papillon
 
In Christine Caine's book "Undaunted" she writes of "the challenge" starting on p. 193. I have p. 195 virtually 100% highlighted and the book has been folded at that page and stuffed into the final chapter of Nehemiah (Ch.13) this past month. I carried and toted my Bible around Haiti like that....and as I sit here today in the warehouse looking around at walls and shelves and inventory and a company I helped build...staring at those pages, a former employees' note, Caleb and Tacura's faces, and hearing "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin....I am reeling. 


Undaunted, page 195, by Christine Caine
"He means for us to walk into the gap where he's thrown down the cross, to walk like him, to walk with him." ~ Christine Caine {Undaunted}

I am not doing that. I. Am. Not. Doing. That.

I come closer to doing it in Haiti than anywhere else in my life, but I am not doing that.

What is my motive? Who am I pleasing? Who am I serving?

I need God to remember me...all the while he is imploring...Remember. Me.

I am worrying (Every. Time.) will the children...will Tacura and Caleb..remember me. Each and every time I worry. All the while, they are looking into every bus for a familiar face, maybe even my face...they are wondering if I will...Remember. Them.

They are asking me...how do they change their destiny.

I can't beg some here to live up to their potential...to clean up a conference room...run a report correctly...answer a phone....

Yet I have stared into the eyes of men and women who need jobs and children growing up way too fast who are five years from having to have a job and are already worrying about how they will find one...what will they do....how will they survive...how will they help support their family...a family that had to give them up and put them in an orphanage because THEY could not afford to keep them.

How do I reconcile that? How. Do. I.??

My work here matters. I know that. I am frustrated at times, but I would be frustrated at times anywhere...even Haiti...even more in Haiti I am sure. What are the lessons though that we can learn from Haiti and implement here? What bigger question(s) is God asking me to consider about my own purpose and calling? Who am I? What breaks my heart? What are my gifts?

I am being called into more....different. I don't know what that means or looks like, but I know that God's expectations for me and my life are changing. He has opened my eyes and heart, but now he expects me to act on what I now know. Unafraid. Unflinching. Unstoppable.

I lost my noodle on our last night in Haiti trying to express how the message of something was being missed. Lost. My. Noodle. I know that these are big issues. Complicated issues. Orphan care. Orphan prevention. Sustainability. Family preservation. I get it. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I have read all of the history books. Reviewed the stats. Seen the film. I. Get. It. That doesn't prevent us from being able to be a force of change....of hope...of love...dream builders. Haiti is a country of strong men and women. Haiti's children are stronger (in backbone and will) than many adults I know...than myself. I am not willing to walk away and give in that the battle is too hard...the wall too tall....and I cannot bear to hear, "...this is the way it has always been..." anymore. I can't bear that in my own firm's industry, and I can't bear it in Haiti. How it has always been is a sure-fire death to the same old same old. We need new ideas, fresh minds, renewed people at the table. We need them at the tables dealing with Haiti just like we need them at the table dealing with energy in Arkansas. We need them at EVERY table.

Remember.

Our motivator cannot be solely profits and statistics, but the individual beating heart of the people impacted by our good and bad decisions. The people who pay ridiculous utility bills in Arkansas and the people who are struggling to find work in Haiti. The common denominator is that these are people. It is time to stop paying Russian Roulette with people's lives....with Caleb and Tacura's future.

Tacura looked me as I peeled myself away from him, and said, "I love you." so simply and quietly that I could not bear it. I can't bear it now. These children...this country...is not asking me to save them...they are asking me to love them, play with them, laugh with them, and give them hope...for a better day.

They give me courage and hope for that better day...Every. Day. 

Photo Bomb ~ Haiti Style, Source de la Grace East, Croix des Bouquets {Note: me, Tacura, and Caleb are all standing in fire ants...right after this shot, the kids started imitating me jumping around on one leg. LOL}

Who gives you courage? Hope?

For more information on the organizations I am working with in Haiti and how you can help, please check out the following websites:


All of them are all over social medias where you will find additional links to projects they also support or work with, the individual orphanages around the world that The Global Orphan Project works with, etc. I implore you to approach all of this with an open mind knowing that these are individuals in unimaginable situations and sometimes locations working to make a difference. If there is anything I have learned in the past couple of years as I prepared for, made, and now have made multiple trips to Haiti and learned more about orphan care...it is that knowing what to do, how to do it, and with whom to align, is like navigating a field of land mines. It is impossible. You must be willing to fail, correct yourself, change your stance on something, look like an idiot, learn...You. Must. Learn.

I say all of this with the great hope that you will dive into orphan care, your local foster care, homeless, or anyone who is in need (or as Jesus states in Matthew 21:45 "one of the least of these")....knowing that in helping them you are closer to Jesus and his will than at any other moment of your day/walk. It is in helping the #leastofthese in my state and in Haiti, that I have come to recognize the deep void in my own life. They have helped me more than any help I have provided to them. Through them, God has healed many broken places deep inside of me. He continues to heal me still.

I write this with deep love and hugs for whatever journey you are on, and to humbly ask for your prayers as I continue the journey God has started in my own life. We are all called to different walks, but we are all called...Each. And. Every. One. ❤️☀️

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)