We must never let the sound of our own weeping drown out the comfort of God’s Word.Ryan Chase*
February began with a funeral. The fifth funeral I’ve attended in my life. My first in Haiti.
Pastor’s last week was painful for me. The last words were spoken, the last hand grasped, the last shot was given, and we knew he didn’t have much time left. The breaking moment crying to a friend that I couldn’t do it anymore. The midnight hours when I got the call that he was gone. I struggled. I thought I would be able to handle the sadness because of the truth I had to hold on to. Because I knew that God is good.
The funeral day arrived February 2nd, a week after his passing. I didn’t want to go. His family wanted me there. I have come to know them and love them greatly. I see them as my family, so I went out of obligation. The emotional display at the end of the service broke my heart. That time it wasn’t for my sorrow that I cried, it was for theirs. They grieved all the things they wanted Pastor to be a part of, all of his wisdom he could never impart to them, the conversations that never happened of which they felt deprived. I had never felt other’s pain so deeply. It weighed me down.
For the next several days I tried to go on as normal. Prayers turned to weeping. I faced sleeplessness, loss of all joy, and heavy thoughts. His family thought I could help him. They loved me from the first moment. Accepted me in their home. Called me “daughter.” We prayed for him. They believed for healing until the end. But… I couldn’t erase the cancer from his suffering body. My prayers didn’t change the outcome. I felt I had let them down. That thought was too much to bear. Darkness hung over me. I felt I couldn’t do ministry anymore. I couldn’t bear to have my heart broken again. The decision was made that I should come home for a three-week rest. To grieve, gain perspective, seek the Lord, and to decide if my commitment to ministry still stood.
I returned to America on the 6th of February. I was sorry to leave, but I wasn’t able to help much. I begged God to remind me why He had brought me to Haiti in the first place and to give me the strength to go on in ministry. Peace finally came. I know Haiti is where I am supposed to be. God forbid I let my disappointments keep me from His call.
Pastor’s family reached out to me in gratitude for trying, for caring enough to walk through the journey with them, to cry, sing, and pray with them.
This experience opened my eyes to the truth. I don’t have what it takes to live in Haiti. I don’t have what it takes to be a missionary. I am weak. I am tired. God has brought calm into my heart. Looking back I see the good in this dark season. I see how my relationships in Haiti have been strengthened through this. Many have taken on a new depth. I recall the sweet moments, the many blessings in the sadness. This is not the outcome I wanted for Pastor, it is not a path I would have chosen for his family to walk, but God is good… always. Even when we cannot understand.
I am just a “lump of clay,” an “earthen vessel.” (Romans 9:21; 2 Corinthians 4:7) My strength never comes from within but from my God who never loses His power.
The day after coming home (February 7th), Haiti fell into a crisis of protests and violence. This has resulted in at least ten deaths, countless injuries, and widespread suffering. It continued for ten days, and everything shut down. I was unsure if I would be able to return to Haiti. Thanks be to God, things have blown over.
February 27th I arrived safely back in Haiti.
The plan is to continue with training. We are developing and growing as a ministry team and forming and growing relationships in the community– which is what ministry is all about! I will be striving for language fluency, as well as taking any and all opportunities that arise to go out into the community or assist medically.
Please pray for peace in Haiti, for light to dispel darkness, and for the strengthening of the Haitian church. Pray for the purging of corruption, relief from poverty (with increased violence over the past year tourism is significantly low and badly hurting the economy), and continued comfort for those grieving.