Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unpacking my thoughts

I recently moved (again!). Moving always makes me think about what’s important. As I pack and unpack items, I think to myself, ‘Do I really need this?’ ‘Why have I held on to that?’ ‘If I haven’t used it/worn it since the last move, then perhaps it needs to go!’
As many of you know, I went to Haiti in January for two weeks and then back again for a week in February. I haven’t blogged since. I just haven’t been able get my thoughts to come together to write. I still have troubles thinking about what to share. There is just so much. Where do I start?? These are many of the same feelings I had when I needed to start packing to move. Where in the world do I even begin?
I started my packing process by sorting through items that should be packaged together. Perhaps that’s where I can start this blog-sorting through.

My first trip was January 4-19. I went with 3 other people. None of us knew each other. We all met in the hotel in Miami. In fact Rachel’s flight had arrived really late and so I met her in the morning by rolling over in bed to introduce myself! We still laugh about it. We were each going to Haiti for different amounts of time. Sue (a nurse from Sioux Falls) was going indefinitely to work in the clinic by the orphanage. Richard (a retired wood-shop teacher from Milford, IA) was going for 6 weeks to do carpentry work. Rachel (a student from Washington) was going for 4 weeks. And I was going for two weeks!
Arriving back in Haiti was a spectacular moment. As we drove down the main road into the village, a couple of the youth I had met in July were following us on their motorcycle. Also, some kids jumped up on the top of our truck and road up to the orphanage with us. When a team comes, it seems that almost everyone from the village makes their way out to the road with waves and smiles to see who is coming!

I was so excited to see all the orphan kids again. They greeted me with hugs and smiles. My heart melted. It was also so fun to see Cory and Lynn Grimm and their kids. They are from SD/IA area, but moved down to Haiti in November to do full time missionary work. I knew Cory from my trip in July, and had briefly met his family, but was anxious to see where the Lord would lead our friendship in the weeks to come. Many of the youth also came to the orphanage to see who was on the team. One priceless moment sticks out in my head. The night we arrived, I was sitting around with a bunch of the kids chatting when a few more showed up. It had gotten quite dark out, but I still was able to recognize Junior from my trip in July. I shouted out, “Hey Junior, do you remember me?!” His darkened face looked puzzled, and he replied, “I cannot see who is saying that!” One of the other youth kids shined his flashlight onto my face and immediately Junior smiled, jumped up and ran over to me with a big hug. I guess he remembered me!
The two weeks were filled. Most days were spent working at the clinic with Sue, Rachel and Adrien (a Haitian/American man who helps run the clinic). We saw anything from common colds to broken arms to charred toes to open wounds (many from motorcycle accidents) to crazy high blood pressures, etc. Rachel and I also spent a lot of time with the youth, translators, orphan kids and the Grimm family. We learned Creole, laughed about our language mishaps, went hiking, did house visits, prayed together, swam in the ocean, played with the kids, held tea parties, watched Richard work hard(!!), talked with Cory and Lynn and so much more! The second week we were there, a team from 1st Reformed Church in Sioux Center, IA joined us. Incredible people, with incredible hearts. We joined up together to do vacation Bible school, projects around the orphanage, working in the clinic, praying with people, worshiping with the youth, hiking the mountains, etc. I really enjoyed my time with them and hope our friendships continue in the future!

I better keep moving on…no pun intended.

I went back again to Haiti from February 7-14th. This time I went with three others from my church (The Crossing): Jenna and Kyle Hoff and Michelle Beemer. We joined up with a team of 8 others from Alcester, SD.
This arrival was again so fun. We had plans to do projects around the orphanage, clinics, vacation Bible school, leading youth group, and playing with the orphans. So much to be accomplished in such little time.

However, this trip was so very different than the trips before. The trip was very hard spiritually. I remember upon arriving to the orphanage, Pam stated, “Team, we need to be in prayer a lot this week…there is something heavy around here.” And boy was she right.
The first to get sick was Kyle. He actually got sick in the airport before arriving into Haiti. We think he probably had strep throat or something to that manner. When we got to the orphanage, we soon learned that Cory was under the weather and was enjoying his trips to the latrine. As we were getting settled, Pam soon revealed she was suffering with a UTI. We also learned that Junior (one of the youth) was sick at home. As the week went on, Nestli (one of the orphan boys) had bad stomach pains and fevers, Richard got shingles in his mouth, Jenna had a stomach ache, one little boy got his fingers smashed in the gate of the orphanage and also, I spent about 24 hours in bed with weakness and vomiting.
It was pretty clear to me that Satan did not want us there. And I was so happy to be disturbing his plans!
One of things that had been on my heart before leaving for Haiti was praying for ‘big things.’ I just feel that it’s so easy to put God into a box. And just as it’s easier, when moving, to carry a box rather than other awkward items, sometimes the things we need the most don’t fit into boxes.
Back in November, before I even really knew Lynn, I had felt the Spirit moving me to pray with her to walk(as she is in a wheelchair). As I headed back to Haiti again, I couldn't get her out of my mind. But now, she wasn’t just this woman in a wheelchair. Having deepened our friendship in January, I now considered her a close friend and a woman I admired so much. I didn’t want to force anything on her or bring on any disappointment. I decided to just pray that God would open up an opportunity to pray.
For youth group one night, there were some Haitians that had wanted to lead. This meant it was going to be on ‘Haitian time’ AND go however long they wanted it to go! I was ‘preparing myself’ for an all nighter.
The worship and service was all in Creole. They sang many hymns and had a few speakers. I’m not sure what they talked about, but it was clear that they loved “Jezi” Jesus :)
After I thought they were about done, they invited Starlon up for prayer. She is a 12 year old girl that we had been praying over many times before. She was supposedly ‘demon-possessed’. We had prayed over her when I was there in January, but hadn't seen any demon manifest itself.
Many people gathered around to pray over Starlon. It seemed like we prayed forever and weren’t getting anywhere. I had just closed my eyes when “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” was shouted out before me. I quickly opened my eyes to see Starlon being thrown all over the place. She was soon rolling on the hard, dirty cement floor, screaming, and clearly possessed.
Lord, forgive me for my doubt.
We continued to pray for the demon to be bound in the name of Jesus. There came a point when she stopped and the guy that had been leading the prayer time went up to her and asked her what her name was. With a grimaced face and a growl, we quickly knew we needed to keep praying. As we started up again she again started screaming and flailing herself all over the place. I’m not sure how long we prayed again before she came to another halt. This time she got up, looked around the room and went to sit down in her chair. Her face spoke loud enough to have said “What in the world just happened? And why am I covered in dirt?” The man that was leading prayer again approached her and said, “Who are you?” In her normal voice, she responded “Starlon.”
The man then invited Lynn to come up for prayer. My mouth probably dropped a little. Was Lynn really coming up to be prayed over?! Lynn wheeled up for prayer and we all surrounded her. I looked around as we started praying. Many team members surrounded her. Also, some of the youth. But not just any youth. Some of the vital parts of the youth group were praying with all their hearts. Many of the orphan kids gathered around Lynn's feet. Their big brown eyes staring up at Lynn with wonder and hope as they prayed. Lynn’s husband Cory stood behind Lynn, along with their daughter DD. I thought to myself how special it was to have him in that position. No matter what happened that night, he was standing behind his wife with prayer and trusting in the Lord’s provision for their lives.
Then there was Lynn in the middle. Her head bowed, tears rolling down her cheeks, and her hands open to receive from the Lord whatever He had for her.
As we prayed a couple of people shared thoughts, visions, and words they were receiving from the Lord. I think this all brought us a lot of hope…at least it did for me. We never did see Lynn walk that night, but I felt a certainty on my spirit that Lynn was going to walk. I didn’t know when. I didn’t know how. But there was a reassurance.

I feel somewhat hesitant to leave those words on this blog. Even to type them was somewhat difficult. I’m not sure who will read this or what they will think. However, I remember what I felt that night. I remember KNOWING that the Spirit of God was surrounding us. And as I said before, it’s been on my heart to pray for ‘big things’ and to let God out of this box I try to keep Him in. So I continue to pray for Lynn’s deliverance from the wheelchair. And until she walks, I won’t stop praying for it.

I’ve been able to unpack many thoughts on here. Thanks for reading. Whether or not you are in line with what I’ve said, I pray that you would open up the box you’ve been keeping the Lord in, and allow him to show you even bigger things. Maybe it’s time we all clean out our spiritual closets, invite the Holy Spirit in to fill the gaps, and then just sit back to watch Jesus move.

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