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The One Where I Tell You How I Got Here (Part Two)

Read part one and part three.

I was home for nearly 2 years. When the Philippines trip came around again, I felt a need to stay. It hurt. My natural self wanted to ignore what I knew God was asking me to do, go where it was easier, and cling to my idols. There was still a lot for me to learn at home. So I prayed I would get a chance to see Filipino soil once again, some day, and I stayed.

Somehow I started thinking about Mexico. Every day I would pray for an open door to go. I read all the books I could find about their culture and began taking Spanish classes from a Venezuelan woman. It was all I could think about. While I was finishing up my last year of school I was saving and dreaming of Mexico. Every opportunity at home, in my mind, became a training ground for serving on Spanish soil. I was at the starting line just waiting for the shot to be fired and then I would be off to Tijuana. I had purposely chosen the red light district. I was ready to get my hands dirty again, this time with a one-way ticket south.

Around this time, my older sister, Sarah, went to a discipleship training school in Colorado, it was early 2017. I was sorry to be left behind. I felt alone. As we grew older we weren’t super close. We were opposites in every way, but going to the Philippines together, the location of what I felt was the awakening of my heart to my life calling, made me feel understood by her more than others. We had a shared experience that no one else knew. Again I was in a season of wanting to go but having to stay. I tried to focus on my Mexico preparation and long-term goals, but I was restless.

The Detour That Changed Everything

March 12th of 2017 Sarah called us. She told me His Little Feet, an orphan choir, was visiting the school. They passed out flyers for different ministries. She thought one of them might be worth looking into. It was called Go Be Love International.

Right away I pulled it up and set the search results to upcoming Mexico missions trips. To my dismay there was only one, it was centered around sports ministry, and they were looking for coaches, people in sports, athletic people, none of which fit me. I was disappointed, so I closed the web page.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. My mind was far away. I wrote in my journal:

You say you will go? You will go to the Philippines, or to Mexico. But Rachel, what about North Korea?” North Korea! No God! It’s not safe, it’s dangerous, no one would go there! Then it hit me, if no one goes, they don’t have a chance, they’ll die in the dark. I’ll go, God. He impressed on me, “So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things we have never grasped the true meaning.” (Lilias Trotter) Make me willing to go anywhere, Lord.

I knew I was headed for Mexico and there wasn’t a place for me with Go Be Love. But the Holy Spirit was pressing me, I opened the page again and the first thing that slid by on the top bar of upcoming trips was, “Haiti Extreme Team”. Well, I was willing to do extreme things… now. I knew God was not calling me to easy. So I clicked to learn more. If my dreams for Mexico could speak, they would have screamed, “Don’t!”

I read about what the trip would entail– a children’s home that also had a school in a local farming village that fed 300 children daily, and a 5 hour hike up mountains, bringing building supplies and funds to a little church/school that sat hidden from the outside. I was immediately excited at the possibility of it. The funny thing is I didn’t know where Haiti was. Up until this point I didn’t know it existed. The pictures showed smiling black children and tropical landscapes. I looked at the map to see Haiti was actually very close to Florida, a little island in the Caribbean.

Haiti It Is

I told my parents I was considering going to Haiti for a week on my own. They both thought I should go, so I signed up. Once again, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Satan began to attack overtime.

Replace my fears with Faith, Lord. Give me joy that overflows. Give me a love for Haitians whether they be warm or cruel.

I had no idea what Haiti would be like or what to expect.

It was 8 months before I would go. I was a mixture of excited and anxious. I wanted to get out into the world again, experience another culture, spend a few days away from all the materialistic distractions of America, and give myself to ministry. While at the same time I was wondering how my heart would hold any affection for Haiti when it was already so full of love for the Philippines. I felt I had so little of my heart to offer and I couldn’t bear to go half-heartedly. I’d rather go with passion or not at all.

A friendship was developing and through it I was being challenged to grow in the depth of my faith. It was a season of development, strengthening and sweetness. It was then, when I felt I could settle down and begin a relationship that I had always wanted, that I made a decision. I decided to let go of the possibility and tell the Lord that I would give my life to cross-cultural ministry, even if it meant I would never marry. But if I was to marry, he would have to bring along a man who did not have his feet bound in the US.

A month later I wrote:

Across the wills of nature, leads on the path of God. Not where the flesh delighteth, the feet of Jesus trod. O bliss to leave behind us, the fetters of the slave, to leave ourselves behind us, the graveclothes and the grave. We follow in His footsteps; what if our feet be torn? Where he hath marked the pathway, all hail the briar and thorn! Scarce seen, scarce heard, unreckoned, despised, defamed, unknown, or heard but by our singing, on children, ever on. (Tersteegen)

First Time In Haiti

It was November 9th. I had spent hours in airports and met my team in Atlanta. There were 5 of us. One guy and 4 girls. I was 18, and everyone was significantly older than me. The first thing I remember from Haiti was the smothering feeling when we stepped out into the sun. The smells of trash and exhaust was a sweet reminder to me of Manilla. Then came the welcoming arms of the missionary whom I would later come to know as Mama Kellie. And that peaceful ride up the mountains in the dark under brilliant stars because we had gone to a store and then got stuck in Port Au Prince traffic. All around me I thought everyone was speaking French.

I woke every day at 4am to roosters crowing and goats crying. It was humid. There were eggs and bread and giant avocados for breakfast. I heard the kids below. We were staying in an apartment above the orphanage. Meeting the kids was overwhelming. They all wanted attention and there were so many of them and I had no idea what they were saying or what they thought of me. It was so different from when I was in the Philippines and nearly everyone I met spoke great English.

At the school we got to witness the feeding program and join the students at P.E. A new mother brought me her baby to hold. She walked away and I looked down at the little bundle in my arms, warm sienna skin, fluffy black hair, deep chocolatey eyes, and round cheeks. She was perfect. I loved her delicate little hands and soft lips. It was a memorable moment for me. I didn’t know she was the first of many many Haitian babies I would hold.

Hiking six hours up Michelle Mountain was the hardest physical feat I had accomplished in my life. Once there, the Haitian men would not allow us women to help them with the construction project. So, our one man worked with them and we women told the kids a Bible story of Jesus leaving the 99 sheep and taught them songs through a translator. I felt like that one lost sheep. God had searched me out, pulled me out of a pit into the daylight, and set me on that mountain where I could finally breathe and see clearly.

When I Knew I’d Be Back

Haiti, though beautiful, felt dark. The people I was around were welcoming, my team was awesome, and I loved Kellie from the first. But under the surface there was this tension. I liked Haiti, but it felt hard. It was a gorgeous landscape, but it wasn’t as fun as Asia. I was loving the new experiences I was gaining and all the thrills of travel, but at the same time wrestling to lay down my ideals of the ministry I would like to do versus what I felt God may be calling me to. In His sense of humor, the Lord was drawing me to an African culture outside of Africa.

The pinnacle experience of that trip was when I knew I’d be back. It was nothing unusual, it wasn’t even at the top of the mountain, so I’d have this cool story of how God called me back out of a voice in the clouds that were passing right through us at that altitude. It was the last day; we were leaving in the morning. My team and I went out to the school again with a woman named Beverly who was living in Haiti at the time, and helping out in the organization. She was a musical woman and loved to sing. To close our time out there she suggested we sing.

She asked Nelson, the moto chauffeur and handyman I had seen around, to play some worship music on his phone for the group. He played God of This City by Chris Tomlin. The words came loudly through the squeaky blown speaker of his old LG phone. He sang along what words he knew and the group also sang.

“You’re the God of this city, You’re the King of these people. You’re the Lord of this nation, You are. You’re the light in this darkness, You’re the hope to the hopeless. You’re the peace to the restless, You are. There is no one like our God, there is no one like You God. For greater things have yet to come, And greater things are still to be done in this city.” Tears came to my eyes. The words were for me. Somehow of all the songs he could have played he chose this one, not knowing its meaning.

God used it to confirm my growing suspicion that Haiti had not been a detour after all, but where He had always meant for me to go. All my running from international mission work, all my misled desires for an easy and fulfilling place. All my feelings of weakness, like I could never make it here, none of it mattered.

I didn’t notice anything or anyone else around me. I think there were more songs but I didn’t hear them. God spoke to me “Greater things are yet to come for you here, you will come back to this village” It wasn’t an audible voice but I knew it was the Lord. I was broken but it was ok. My heart opened and I knew I had found that place that I had been searching for. I’ve heard it said, we are each called to a unique group of people. Not that we are excused from serving and loving those around us who do not fit the group, but ministry is often built around a specific group that God equips us to love well. For some it is the homeless, or disabled, others Indians or Chinese, persecuted Christians or addicts, or immigrants. For Paul it was non-Jews, for David Israelites, for Jesus Jews. For me it is Haitians.

Other Confirmations

November 16th of 2017 we headed to the airport. It had rained the night before and the streets were muddied and flooded. I hadn’t found a moment alone to share with Kellie what was burning in my heart so I wrote her a note. I don’t remember exactly what it said but I had asked her if she could find any use for me if I returned to intern with the ministry and learn under her for a while. She folded the note in her pocket when we parted at the airport. On the trip down the mountains we shared our highs and lows of the trip.

Kellie shared something different; she shared a little of how she saw God working in each of our lives as she had observed our week with her. I remember mine vividly. She hadn’t read my note yet. I wrote this in a journal about it:

She said she noticed I was searching. Every time she turned around I was there and she asked God why He showed her this was the start of something new for me. Like a looking glass I was looking into what God had for me. She didn’t know if it was in Haiti or maybe somewhere else, but God burdened her to pray for me.

Then she ended by saying, “if I ever come back; next week, next month, next year, call her and she will come to the airport and get me.” I was crying at this point and she was too. It was a huge confirmation for me. At the airport she whispered to me, “Be bold, God is calling you to great things.”

It was a crazy resemblance to what God had laid on my heart the day before “greater things are yet to come for you here”.

Coming home felt different than last time. I wasn’t depressed or discontent. It was the beginning of a new season, and I was excited. I prayed for 3 days in silence, treasuring what I had learned in my heart and waiting for Kellie’s response. After praying for what felt like an hour early that third morning, a message came through “You have displayed a depth of love and longing to follow Jesus that is very unique to your age. Please come. Your skill set is probably much deeper and broader than you realize and your help would be very valuable…” I wrote in my journal:

Oh Jesus, how long have I labored to feel your guidance. For the first time in my life I KNOW You are calling me. This is not my own idea. Thank You that you have planned in advance a path for me to walk. Thank You that You have prepared a work for me to do. Even while I pursued my own path and wanted my own way.

One Response

  1. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you should write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but typically folks dont talk about such issues. To the next! Cheers!!

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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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