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A Season of Grief

I arrived home early this morning. Many of you didn’t know I was headed home, neither did I until two days ago. I planned to be in Haiti for three months straight, but I am going to be spending an unexpected three week break home. 

I feel vulnerable writing this, but I need to take a moment to explain. January 2019 has been one of the hardest, if not the hardest, month of my life.

During the past two weeks I have spent sleepless nights and felt more broken than I ever have before. I’ve been angry at myself for my weakness, as I try to comfort those around me who have suffered far greater loss than I. I have cried until my eyes burn and there are no tears left, questioning everything, and reaching out to people in my life to just remind me that God is good.

There were hours where distraction would come and I would muster up the strength to put on a smile. Sweet friends spoke comforting words, took me out to try and enjoy myself, or gave me food. I truly love them for trying to help me in that way. It made it all a little more bearable.

The days got better but night would come and I found myself alone in my room. All the tears and feelings would return. I have struggled to be involved in daily activity, struggled to get out of bed. I have found it hard to go on. I wanted to erase the stabbing scenes of grieving loved ones from my mind. Everything and everyone else around me continued on. I watched life resume to normal in that little town after the screaming funeral crowds scattered to their homes. And it hurt. I didn’t want things to just go on. I needed more time.

I reached out to three people who I greatly trust and who know me well. They strongly urged me to come home for a few weeks to rest. I fought. Part of me didn’t want to admit my weakness or give in so easily to retreat. Or to leave behind my Haitian family in their grief. I had so many excuses why I should stay. But in the end it was clear that my staying wouldn’t benefit anyone around me or myself.

I plan to take these three weeks to breath. To sleep. To cry. To be with my family. To seek the Lord, beseeching Him for His peace in my breaking heart, crying out to Him for healing of my sweet brothers and sisters who are dealing with this loss. Lord willing I will return to Haiti February 27th with a renewed joy and purpose, better equipped to serve in the mission God has placed me in.

I am so grateful for my parents and others who have sacrificed financially for me to take this trip. And for my sweet Nelson who saw me off to the airport despite the risk of growing tension in Port Au Prince. 

The back story

For weeks I sat beside pastor. Twice a day I gave him pain injections to keep him as comfortable as possible. I was the only one available and I wanted to help so I was given the task. I got to know his family over the slow drip of IV bags. I prayed for healing, and listened to his entire church pray powerfully, his family believed so strongly that those prayers would be answered. 

The final night I went to his bed side at 8pm. It was dark and rainy. There was a larger crowd than usual for that time of night. I remember them singing this hymn “Sing Hallelujah, I will have confidence in Jesus, I will walk His path. When I die, I will live again…”

Pastor couldn’t speak at this point. He hadn’t eaten in over two weeks. His eyes were frosty and distant. I wanted to turn and run, I knew the end was near. But I walked up to him, crouched down as always, and whispered “Pastor I am here to give you your medicine.” He did not acknowledge my presence for the first and only time. I did what I came to do. And I grasped his cold hand for the last time. I couldn’t say anything for the emotion building in my throat. His wife thanked me through loud cries. 

As I got to the moto to carry me home the tears began to fall with the rain. I sat in the yard of Grace House weeping into my now fiance’s shoulder into the night. I told him, “If pastor does not go tonight I will never go back. I will never give another injection. I can’t. Please, please don’t ask me to.” He said “No, no more.” I went to my room but I don’t think I ever slept. I sat on the floor begging God to intervene. Begging him to heal pastor or to take him that night. Because I couldn’t bear to see the pain any longer.

At 10pm I got the text, “Rachel, I am sorry.” He had answered. 

Pastor was taken by a slow and painful cancer that plagued his body for over a year. I first met him the summer before. He was a kind and wise man. Even before my Creole was well developed he spoke in such a way that I could understand.

Once he as in the hospital and a group of us went to see him. He told a story of how GSA had so impacted Boyer and how he had seen the ministry lift so much of the heavy darkness that used to reside in the community. I greatly respected him. He was an amazing pastor, a loving husband, a gentle soul, loved by so many. At his funeral there were so many people I heard it was said by authorities, “We can never again have a funeral of such size here, the town cannot contain it.” The Roads were blocked by the crowds.     

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Hi! I’m Rachel. Through a series of God orchestrated events I ended up in Haiti, in 2017.  Through years of serving with a ministry there I came to love the country and its people. I met Nelson and we got married in 2020. It was the best decision of my life! 

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