This time last year, I was not in a good place. People in missions and ministry often struggle with admitting their low points because of how quickly their support system could judge them. I was ready to throw in the towel, not go back to Haiti and attempt to live a life in a very different way than I ever even saw myself living. When 2014 came around, I anticipated change that did not come automatically. As time passed, however, and 2014 rolled on, I began to confide more and more in the people who were in my community of support and faith. What I found there was incredible.
2014 taught me to rely on community. Really, truly. We were incredibly unhappy and instead of simply whining to ourselves like we had for the past few years, we decided to begin talking. And those who we talked with encouraged us to do some acting. Community, while they aren’t perfect, is one of the ways God speaks and guides us and has been such an unexpected blessing in our lives. From the people who have come around us from the States to the very team of people we work with in Haiti and the DR, when we share the load with one another and allow ourselves to become vulnerable with one another, we are moved to action. We are so thankful for friends and family- these individuals that collectively make up our international and amazing community.
2014 taught us that good intentions are not always enough. In the past, we have spent much of our time in Haiti and the DR with the assumption that if we have good hearts then often times that will be enough. As rough as it may sound, this year we learned that sometimes the words “good intentions” are synonymous with “lazy”. This can apply to almost any part of life- from marriage to helping animals, but came true in our lives in the form of helping these nations. It is not enough to choose to remain ignorant without concern for how your “good intentions” may affect others. It is certainly a more messy way to live, but we believe it is the way we should engage most situations. Even though we have seldom gotten this thing down correctly the first time, we see that when we want to see what’s there- we can. We are excited to show how we care in more ways than the typical ways we know to show them with merely good intentions; we are excited to engage and love those with whom we interact with daily.
2014 taught us that the way is not always easy, but it doesn’t mean it is not the way. Often times, we take easyness as a sign of walking down the right path. While this can certainly be true, this has also caused us to abandon ship in the past when things get rocky. This year, after feeling so strongly and passionately about what we were meant to be doing, it got really rough. The island of Hispaniola is a difficult place to work if you are not from there- there are heartbreaking situations and corruption; there is extreme poverty. And, yet, this year taught us that there are silver linings to be found in the rough parts of the road and that just because they way we walk in might not always be easy, it is right and it is worth it.
2014 taught us to commit. Ooh, commitment. I have so much to say about commitment, mostly because I feel like I learned it over and over this year. I was never one to commit to much. But this year taught me that in commitment is actually…freedom. You have freedom to know where you are, who you are, where your parameters are located and how to proceed and problem-solve and plan. Commitment is not a shady life sentence, it is a way for things to actually move forward. We have seen so much fruit in our lives this year from committing, and we are so thankful for that.
2014 taught us to dream. This year was a year that started with a great depression and guilt and fear and feeling abandoned by God and others. However, the end of this year is filled with hope and excitement as we look forward. God used this year to remind us of dreams past and ignited the same passion in some of our friends in Haiti, as well. For those of you who do not know, we are starting our own non-profit focused on Christian community development, led out by Haitians. This ministry’s name is Konbit Haiti. Justice Water will still be a part of this ministry, but we will also be able to do so much more. While we are still in the paperwork phase, we are excited to be moving in this direction. We already have some agricultural production and look forward to business creation, family support/orphan prevention and discipleship- all coming from Haitians. We believe in this dream and we believe that 2014 has equipped us to continue to work in harsh circumstances, in exciting times and in the in-between.
I feel like we are looking at the New Year with anticipation and the realistic realization that what we want for the future takes work. And a lot of it. It takes people you trust to co-labor, laugh and encourage you. It takes us choosing to also enter into the stories of others and get excited for their victories and mourn with them for their losses. It takes commitment and endurance, which we have learned from many people, especially those Haitians we work alongside. Here’s to 2015, may it be a time where we continue to pursue God, the light in one another and the hope we can all have. Thank you for journeying with us.