They say “experience” is the best teacher, and that statement held true to the cause while on the mission trip with “Team Blanc” in Haiti just a couple of weeks ago. Sure, I could read about these things in a book, but to actually see, touch, feel, and live among the people in Haiti and get to experience these life lessons — WOW!!! Thanks for allowing me share a few of these simple truths — my “life lessons” — with you!
Life lesson 1: You don’t need a clothes dryer to dry clothes. The sun does a wonderful job, and it even gives you “sun bleached, fresh smelling clothes”! Note to self: Quit the griping and complaining when the dryer doesn’t work for a day. God gave us the sun and it works way better than a clothes dryer! Besides that, the sun never breaks down.
Life lesson 2: Beauty can be found everywhere — even among the most difficult times of poverty, depression, sickness, or anguish. God has not forgotten us and gives us beauty to enjoy at all times. We simply have to look around us. Note to self: Stop thinking God has forgotten me. He hasn’t! All I have to do is look outside to view His glorious creation and be reminded that if He cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, He tenderly cares for me, too!
Life lesson 3: Fancy cookware and a top-notch state-of-the-art kitchens are not requirements for preparing delicious, nutritious food. Cooking over an open fire in a big iron kettle will get the job done marvelously! (I wish you could have seen how this pasta was cooked! It was amazing!!! Note to self: Stop feeling sorry for yourself that your kitchen and cooking utensils are old. Instead, use what you have and be thankful!!!
Life lesson 4: Kids will be kids under any circumstances. They know how to enjoy the simple things in life. (This little boy sliding down the railing at Tabitha’s orphanage reminded me of my kids sliding down the banister at home hundreds of times squealing with laughter as they had “races.”) Note to self: Kids don’t need hundred dollar toys and a room called a “play room” to make them happy. They just need an opportunity to be a kid! Every child is born with a super creative mind! A little bit of encouragement to use their minds goes a long way!
Life lesson 5: Not all kids own a $200 pair of hiking boots, but they still manage to climb mountains and enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Note to self: Quit stalling when it comes to getting outside and enjoying nature! Tennis shoes or flip flops from Walmart will take me where I need to go in order to exercise and take in the beauty of nature that surrounds me each day. I don’t need to wait until I save up for that expensive pair of walking shoes! Feet work just fine!
Life lesson 6: Fancy conference rooms, a PhD in Psychology, and the most current forms of advanced technology are not needed for heart-to-heart conversations about life, faith and God. A simple sit-down in nature with a friend and time spent in prayer and God’s word are calming to the soul. Note to self: Focus on reading more of the Bible, spending time with Christian friends, and spending quiet time in nature because these are the things that will give me life-sustaining nourishment right at the moment when I need it!
Life lesson 7: There are flowers that are survivors and can thrive, bloom, and give beauty under any condition because God made them that way. Note to self: Stop thinking that circumstances have to be better in order for my life to be filled with joy. Remember that I can bloom and thrive anywhere and at any time because God made me that way!
Life lesson 8: Laughter is a universal language and can be understood and appreciated by everyone! (This lady lives in one of the aziles we visited, and she was overcome with joy as she enjoyed the food, the sanitation pack and the hugs that we gave her! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger smile!) Note to self: Laugh more! Smile more! Relax more! There are tremendous blessings of joy given to us in each and every day — no matter what our circumstances. Remember to share a smile with someone every day!
Life lesson 9: No matter what your financial situation in life you can keep yourself neat, clean, and find a way to share something with others. (This man is part of Tabitha’s orphanage and used a machete to cut and prepare coconuts for us, the visitors. Look how neatly he’s dressed! He sure puts many of us to shame!) Note to self: Take care of what you have, and stop wishing for more. Always, always find something to share with others!!! And, share with a joyful, giving heart! “A cup of cold water given in His name to the least of these will not be forgotten.” Matt. 10:42
Life lesson 10: This is one beautiful world in which we live!! This beauty was made for us to enjoy, to take care of, and to be used as a blessing! (This was a daily scene in Haiti, and one that gave great peace and a sense of belonging to God.) Note to self: Never, ever become too busy to enjoy the gifts found in nature. God created this world for us to enjoy, and when walking among nature we can really connect with God through our meditation and prayer.
I could go on and on with the life lessons learned while in Haiti. I took well over a thousand photos and there is a lesson and story to go with each one! (Don’t worry! I’m only sharing ten for now — not a thousand!)
One of the most important life lessons of all I learned was this: You don’t have to travel to a foreign land to learn life lessons or to enjoy close communion with God and others. We have opportunities for this right where we are every single day of our lives. That being said, sometimes people need reminders and encouragement and they need our help in pointing out the beauty in the not-so-beautiful parts of life. And, that’s why seven very ordinary people prayed so fervently to make this mission trip possible — to be messengers of hope to those who sometimes feel forgotten and lost in a world of poverty and darkness.
Let’s be a light that shines for others! And, quit worrying if you’re a bright light! Any light is a bright light to the one living in darkness! When we share God’s love, we’ve shared the most meaningful light of all — an eternal light of hope!
Love to all,