by Maggie Robinson
I have gone on three mission trips to Morency, Haiti since last summer. Every time I’ve traveled there, I returned with two main things: Haitian coffee and a well-needed life lesson. Truthfully, they are both so good that it can be hard determining a favorite (especially when I’m tired in the morning).
Telling stories about my trips can be difficult, mainly because I’m terrified of emotions; I am the type of person who is “too tough” to cry—except maybe when a character in a book dies. There is no explanation as to why I tear up when I speak about the people in Haiti and the things I learned. I don’t think there is an explanation even I know about; I just start crying. Haiti just happens to be the only other thing that moves me so much.
On my first mission trip, I learned to let go of everything including stuff, idols, and even some friends. Seeing how much faith people in Haiti had when they owned not even the bare minimum, struck me hard. Really hard.
My latest mission trip to Haiti felt more like a family reunion than anything.
I have stronger relationships with the people in Morency than I do in the States. Few understand what I mean when I say Morency is my home. It is, and I belong there.
Did it Work?
It was on my second trip, last September, where I realized I was called to serve in Haiti. I got baptized there. But it felt as if it didn’t work or something. That was around the time I stopped feeling the Holy Spirit. I heard nothing from God afterward. As someone who previously felt the Spirit often—especially during worship—a void presented itself in me.
Before my most recent trip though, I went through a whirlwind of trials. In February, my father passed away suddenly and, as a result, I slowly stopped quiet time and prayer without realizing. Almost every Sunday I was out of town, away from church and small group, and away from friends that I really needed then. Ironically, I thought I was doing really well.
I’m horrible at recognizing I’m depressed because I like to deny it and feel nothing. So after my father’s passing, I had no way of realizing that God was taking me through the valley because I wasn’t praying. And like we all have at some point, I didn’t take God into that valley with me. Looking back, I made absolutely no effort to stay close to Jesus.
Only a week before I returned to Haiti this past summer, I started having “quiet time” again. I say it like that because it was more of reading the Bible and not taking the Word in, or a I’ll wait until I go to Haiti to learn something about God.
Since then, a lesson I’ve learned is to take God into the valley. Dance in rain. In other words, don’t abandon Jesus when times get rough.
During my most recent mission trip, one of the main things we did was plant beans and trees; the hurricane last fall had wiped out almost all of their vegetation. There were lots of super long worms and baby tarantulas (which, in my opinion, are really cool. I played with lots of worms). After we finished, our amazing team leader Rebecca had us pray over the seeds.
As soon as I began, a cold breeze started to blow. Not being overheated in Haiti is always seen as a sign from God, not even kidding. Immediately, I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I didn’t actually feel His presence, but I knew He was there. Just that little bit of wind taught me a lesson I’d needed: He is always there. He’s more “there” than human beings or dogs. Whichever you prefer. I prefer dogs.
After that, I spent the last two days in Haiti in silence to focus only on God. Something I’ve always struggled with was expecting friends to constantly be there for me, but they almost never are. Having those two days of silence was all I needed to shift my focus back to Jesus instead of people around me, and I advocate everyone to try it.
On the last day in Morency, one of our team members, Aleah, decided to get baptized. As mentioned earlier, I left Haiti in September feeling as if my baptism hadn’t worked, wasn’t completed. But as I watched Aleah get baptized in the same river I had been, everything clicked. It was like I was just baptized. All of a sudden, part of me felt even more closely connected to Morency.
Being renewed so suddenly like that felt as if I had just come out of the water.
If a pastor kept someone submerged for that long during a physical baptism, the one underwater would obviously die. In some ways, during my trials this year, it felt like I was dead. But as I learned since my mission trip this summer, God never gives us more than we can handle. Drowning wasn’t an option He had for me; resurfacing was.
That’s His plan for all of us. No matter how difficult it is and how far we stray from God, we must keep Him close as our only source of hope that we may resurface. In my case, it took three mission trips to realize that, and I hope others learn the same.
For more information on Seacoast’s global missions, check out seacoast.org/missions.