With every end, there is always a new beginning; something new, something challenging, something beautiful, something unknown, something prayed for, something answered. A dream that has been a constant prayer for as long as I was capable of dreaming dreams, yet when my answered prayer finally became a reality, I found myself at a crossroad; a crossroad where a choice between two paths had to be made. I deeply desired to do only the will of God, but I didn't know what the will of God was regarding this particular decision.
Sometimes it seems like the most mundane decisions are the hardest in our lives, yet this was not a mundane decision on any level. The process of making the decision to move to Haiti for a year and teach was challenging, close to demanding and prolonged. There came a point where I realized that the only thing that was holding back my yes was the fear of the unknown and the fear of physically saying yes because of what would come next; but what always comes next when choosing to follow God's leading is always blessing after blessing.
When I look back on how it all came to be, the whole process was only out of the righteous right hand of God. God is a GOOD and FAITHFUL God. From the day I looked at the email that stated "teaching opportunity in Haiti", it caught my attention; however, I still had a couple of months left before school came to a close. The idea of moving to Haiti to teach was still in the darkest part of the tunnel; unseen yet never fully absent. Even in the darkest parts of the tunnel, there was a light that still burned brighter.
School was finally slowing down and decisions about what to do after school crept up fast. I distinctly remember the evening when I recalled the email that I had skimmed over long ago, and searched long and hard in my thousands of emails to find the one about teaching in Haiti. After I finally fount it, I visited the Mission Haiti website, read Paul and Bethany's and the Mulder's blog, explored pictures, pictured a life there, mentioned the idea to Cassie, and sent an email to Paul all in the span of about a couple days.
Before we knew it, we were filling out applications to teach in Haiti; a place that had crossed my mind in the past, but never a place I had pictured God placing me. I knew God had a purpose for me, and I knew it would involve teaching, but the rest was unknown, and multiple times I asked God, "Why Haiti?" One thing fell after another kind of like gentle water droplets dripping from a water faucet; steady, gentle and constant; much like the Hand of God. After we visited in March for a week, I was expecting to have a clear answer of whether or not this was where God was leading, but I didn't. With many feeling of uneasiness and fear, the week came to a close and we were on our way back to Canada. I remember the drive from the compound all the way back to Port au Prince; long, bumpy, terrifying, heartbreaking, joyous, and exhilarating. The words, "You'll be back" rang so clearly the full four hours. I still had no idea what those words even meant and truthfully, teaching in a country where the language is near to foreign seemed next to impossible. God uses what we think is impossible inside of ourselves to glorify Him, and that is exactly what He was and still is doing. Still, sometimes it seems impossible, but impossible is not a word when Christ dwells inside of us.
I realized the precious gift that God had so faithfully placed right in front of me and it only took one simple, firm, confident, trusting "yes" to God, and the dreams and desires of my heart were aligned with God's; it's a beautiful experience when we align our lives and everything in them with God; a divine revelation. This is the way it is with God. The picture may not be clear. The "how-to" seems incomplete, but the vision is compelling. It touches you deep within your heart and there is only one choice; the way of obedience. Am I willing to move forward, believing God and His Word about faith, or do I sit on the sideline until all the questions are answered, all the doubts are cleared up and all the risks are eliminated? The answer is clear, and I know what I have to do: I will be obedient, and I believe He will be faithful.
So now the time has come to embrace the change that has come my way. I know that change is inevitable when it comes to walking with God, sometimes change that gently rebukes us and softly edifies our character and sometimes change that takes us out of what is comfortable and allows us to experience God in a whole new realm.
And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." He said, "Come!" So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29 AMP).
It is nearly impossible for me to explain in mere words how these two small verses tucked away in one of the most well-known Bible stories has tilted my world. Shattered it, really. Who would have guessed that Peter would become the disciple that my heart would come to relate to the most intimately.
To share my journey to the fullest measure with you, I need to rewind to last summer- for even then God was weaving the tapestry of my life to prepare me for my calling to Haiti. I'm sure many of you can relate to the feeling of [finally] graduating from university. What I was not expecting was facing teaching interview after teaching interview with [seemingly] no hope in sight. It took trusting through five "no's" to finally hear a "yes" from the school that God knew He wanted me at all along. [I'm sure God can't help but laugh at us sometimes when we insist His timing can't possibly be right for us]. So fresh out of school, I started my teaching career with a grade 1&2 split class.
However, let me just say that it does not take long for a class of 6 and 7 year olds to bring out every fear, insecurity and "I have no stinkin' clue what I'm doing" that you have hidden deep down inside of you as a new teacher. Never could I have imagined how God would challenge and stretch me beyond what I thought was possible to endure over the course of this past year. To make a long story short, God used my first year of teaching to deal with some faith hurdles that were standing in the way of the fullest life He wanted to give me. I'll spare you the list and highlight the top three.
Number 1: fear. Number 2: perfectionism. Number 3: trust.
Fear. Yes, I am panicky afraid of spiders and snakes and creepy bugs, but I had bigger fears to contend with: fear of the unknown, fear of uncertainty, fear of not having control, fear of not knowing if I would be able to handle what was coming next. I can say now that there was without a doubt a spirit of fear over my life that made anxiety my everyday normal, which was notched up full blast with the pressure of being a new teacher. So dealing with my fear was the first thing that needed to happen before God could let me know that He was sending me to Haiti.
Perfectionism. I could write a novel on this topic alone. For different people I think it looks like different things, but for me perfectionism took the form of always needing to be over-prepared. God taught me though, that the root of this problem was that I didn't know my true identity in Christ, and so perfectionism was the way I coped with deep-seeded insecurity [not an easy thing to realize about yourself]. God needed to reveal to me who I truly am- a daughter of the King who has access to the power of God through the Holy Spirit who walks with me each day. If you don't know Whose you are, you'll never know what you truly have access to in Him. [Another step towards Haiti].
Trust. This is where Peter the disciple enters into my story and Haiti is first whispered to my heart. Fear and not knowing my true identity together created this barrier- this invisible wall- that prevented me from fully being able to surrender my life and trust God [no matter what He called me to do]. Complete surrender was a thought that scared me to high heaven six months ago, which is about the time God started to plant Haiti in my heart.
This past December, I was spending Christmas vacation at my parent's house with my sister who was still in Teacher's College. One day, she showed me an email she had gotten regarding teaching positions at a new Christian academy that was opening in Haiti. If I'm being completely honest, Kristen as always been the more adventurous one out of the two of us, so the thought of moving to Haiti after having just relocated to a city five hours away from my family to start my first teaching job seemed a little too... ridiculous. My response was something along the lines of: "Krist, you have got to be kidding me. I just moved to Kingston, I am not moving to Haiti. You can apply if you want to though." Fortunately for me, God wasn't going to let the plans I had for my life trump the plans He had for me. The entire following week, thoughts of Haiti plagued my mind- awake, asleep, you name it. So finally, after a week of unrelenting Haiti thoughts, I decided to apply as well, and "just see what happens- after all, they might not even like us."
After this one small seemingly unimportant "yes", it was as though God threw open the floodgates of heaven and sent us sailing straight towards the heart of His will. In the following weeks, plans snowballed and culminated in an invitation to spend a week in Haiti over March break so we could decide if that's where we were supposed to be. I cannot explain to you the spiritual attacks I endured in the weeks leading up to the decision to visit Haiti. The enemy of our souls was trying to fill me with every doubt, fear and insecurity he could come up with to try and stop me from visiting.
[One of the most significant life lessons I've learned came from this battle for my destiny, and it was this: whenever an area of your life or a particular decision at a crossroads fills you with fear or doubt, it could very well be that Satan is using every lie in his book to keep you from making that decision, because on the other side of that decision lies the full blessing and abundance of Christ. And every time I thought about teaching in Haiti, this lie filled my mind: "What makes you think you can teach in Haiti? You're not qualified or special enough for this kind of calling. You hardly know what you're doing teaching in English- how do you think you'll be able to teach in French and Creole?" Lies can be powerful things if you can't recognize them for what they are].
So evidently we decided to visit. It's worth mentioning that Kristen's and my experiences in Haiti were completely and utterly different. As soon as we started the descent into Port au Prince and Haiti started appearing through the plane window, I felt like I was coming home [a strange feeling for someone to have who had never been to Haiti before]. I felt this overwhelming need to cry, which I did not do or the flight attendants may have thought I was losing my mind. In the five hour drive to the missionary compound, I felt like I was visiting a people that I didn't even know I had been missing. The entire week I didn't think of my life back home once [except when we went on a hike to visit mountain schools and I thought I was going to keel over and fall off the side of a mountain]. That trip was like a floodlight to my soul- sweeping the darkness and doubts out of the corners and confirming what God had been trying to whisper to my heart since Christmas- this will be your country, these will be your people. these will be your children to teach and nurture and raise up.
So here I am- an imperfect daughter who's not afraid to step out of the boat onto the waves like Peter to experience the full power and glory of Christ- a child who's not afraid to leave everything behind to say yes to the One who has bigger dreams for her than she could ever have for herself. Sometimes you have to let go of the life you pictured, in order to have the life that God has planned [Pastor John Hagee].
I may not be the most qualified, the bravest, the strongest, or the most adventurous, but God uses those who are available, those who are willing, who are brave enough to say, "Here I am Lord, send me", just like Isaiah.