My first mission to Haiti was in 2011. I’d never really recognized a push from God like what I experienced before this mission. It was incredible. It was truly a leap of faith for me, I had no earthly idea why God would want me to go to Haiti. And it was life-changing. It wrecked my heart, broke my heart, brought joy & understanding of things I had no idea existed. Mostly, God grew my heart. For the orphaned & vulnerable. For Haiti. I don’t know why God called me into this, I don’t ask. But I’m forever grateful He did! And He’s continued to pull me in this direction 7 years later. I can’t imagine my life not having loved the girls at Strong Tower, the Jacques family, Haitians I now calls ‘friends’ & the village of Caracol!
It was my 7th mission to Strong Tower in Haiti. One starts to doubt what they bring to the mission, and what they really have to offer. This particular mission was one of those times. There were only 3 ladies on this mission, and the guys were working on building & electrical work. Us ladies made sure the construction team had plenty of water to drink, and we spent a lot of our time building relationships. We spent much time with the girls at Strong Tower, and the children from the village. A few nights into the mission I lay there thinking what am I bringing to this mission? (Making it about me…oops.)
Toward the end of our mission, our team went out for a walk through the village (one of my favorite things to do while there). It’s not uncommon for little hands to slip into yours as you walk through the village of Caracol. In fact, we usually have a huge gathering of boys & girls who join us during our walk through the village & out to the beach of Caracol Bay. This walk was no different! A little hand slipped into mine. I look down & it’s a beautiful little girl! I asked her her name, but she was so light-spoken I couldn’t understand her. We continued to walk for a while, sending smiles and saying hi to those we passed. I’m hand in hand with this little girl the whole time. Eventually, this little girl & 2 others made a half circle of hand holding & connected with Becky, another team member. We all walked hand-in-hand like this most of the way through the village. It was beautiful!
We were getting close to the beach, and I felt a tug at my hoodie sleeve down by my wrist. I looked down, and noticed the little girl holding my hand was pulling up my sleeve. I watched her pull a white rubber band from her wrist and place it on mine. Seriously? I made a gesture as if to say, ‘for me?’, and she nodded her head up and down with a big smile. (Having been several times, I knew that items like a rubber band were treasures to the children.) I smiled at her and told her thank you ‘merci!’. A tear ran down my face. It felt like my heart & body were swelling.
This moment, this experience was so overwhelming. I knew immediately that this feeling was a glimpse of just how much God loves us. This little girl took something of hers, a treasure to her, and gave it to me. Immediately God spoke to me ‘this is Me’. This is Me in action. This is LOVE.
God used this sweet little girl to show me how little, tiny actions can translate into enormous LOVE. He taught me in this moment that we may not have big things to offer in the mission field, but he can use tiny, little things & make them BIG. This sweet girl had no idea what her small gesture meant to me, or that God used her in a mighty way to teach me a big lesson on love & missions. It’s not about us! It’s not about what we bring to the mission field. It’s about what God can do through us! It’s about Him & spreading His love. I learned to never underestimate God’s power & how He can equip us! A smile can make a difference. A hug can make a difference. Your presence can make a difference.
These three things will last forever-faith, hope and love- and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
A framed photo sits on my desk & I’ve looked at it everyday for almost a year now. It’s a picture of the little girls’ hand holding mine and a white rubber band. It’s a reminder everyday of how much God loves us. I am forever grateful for this little girl & her small gesture. I know without a doubt that each mission to Strong Tower makes a difference! A lifelong difference.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19