Shoni Glasscock has been a close friend of mine since we originally embarked on our first mission trip to Haiti last summer. As bunkmates and morning devotional partners, we formed a bond that would not be broken and have continued growing in Christ together in ways I can hardly believe since that first trip. God used her to speak life and leadership into my life and I am changed for the better because of her presence. I asked her to write this section of our story and she so beautifully articulated what ended up being the theme of our week – Just Build the Road. This theme, spoken by the Holy Spirit to Grant Jones, another of our team members, will stick with us for a lifetime and be held as one of those moments in time that can only be explained by encountering the authentic, sweet, presence of God. Using an excerpt from Grant’s journal, please welcome Shoni to the blog today. ~Angie
“Ladies and Gentleman, now that we have you onboard and seated we regret to inform you that we have been notified by the tower in Dallas that we will be in a ground stop upon arrival there so our takeoff time has been delayed by one hour…”
You have got to be kidding me. That was the thought running through all twelve of our minds as we sat on the plane at the Fort Smith airport. Quick calculations in our heads told us what we already knew in our hearts – an hour delay would mean that we would miss our connecting flight to Miami which meant there was no way we would make our flight the next morning to Haiti. This was just the latest of what seemed to be a never-ending string of battles trying to keep us from reaching our final destination – a tiny village on the coast of Haiti where many of us had left a piece of our hearts just a year before.
Our hearts were ready, our minds focused. We’d built prayer teams, and support groups and bonds among ourselves. Yet while we didn’t speak it, there was something else building within us that we wouldn’t fully acknowledge until we finally made it to Haiti…
Fear and Doubt.
It had been 100 days since we had our hearts broken. 100 days since we sat in a room at the church and were told, “I’m sorry it’s just too dangerous for you to go right now.” Civil unrest in this country we loved had forced the cancellation of our mission just 2 days before we were to leave and there was no timetable for when or if we could return. 100 days of uncertainty and wondering if we’d ever get to go back and build upon those relationships we’d formed with families so near to us. 100 days that seemed like an eternity because we had already been preparing for this trip for 7 months. Then word came that yes, FINALLY, we were cleared to go! Dates were set, a week in October where somehow it lined up that all but one of our original team was available to go. Our spirit was renewed as we started to pack and plan. Then the attacks came.
For one of us it was a family health crisis, one the painful resurfacing of past mistakes. One of us was dealing with a move, a new job and trying to find their way in the world, one of us wondered if we were even qualified or equipped to do God’s work. Some of us were just wondering why – why am I going on this trip? Is it just an excuse to “go do something for God”? Among the questions asked of us were “why don’t you just send money?” and, “Are you actually making any difference?” Then on October 6th, another huge blow, as a 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti just days before we were scheduled to leave. We were left wondering yet again if we’d get to go, what we would be facing when we got there, and if this would change our mission. As we faced every one of these battles, many of us found ourselves asking if we should even be going. Fear and doubt crept a little deeper into us, slowly and almost unnoticed, until we found ourselves sitting on that airport tarmac thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding me!”
After what seemed like an excruciating amount of time on the runway, our captain announced that we would be departing Fort Smith. One ungraceful sprint through DFW and a very uncomfortable few hours of rest on the floor of Miami International and we suddenly found ourselves on a bus, departing Port au Prince airport headed for the Mission of Hope campus in Titanyen. The excitement was palpable – we’d actually made it to Haiti! After our long bus ride, made longer by a roadblock, we arrived at the MOH campus sweaty, tired, hungry, and most of us wondering if the scheduled strategic village time was even going to happen. Once we were settled in and fed, it was decided that we would indeed head into Labodrie to begin our ministry.
We entered our village with excitement and anticipation. Those of us who had been here before eager to see the changes from last year, hoping to see familiar faces of families we loved. The new team members just ready for whatever God laid before them with open hearts. What we encountered was far more than any of us expected.
As we moved toward the back of the village where many new homes have been built over the last year, we encountered a group of Haitian villagers working with shovels and they asked if they could share their story with us. It was explained that just that week, the road we were on had been expanded to allow for more homes to be built. While this was a blessing the road was just a simple dirt road so when it rained, it became muddy and impassible making it impossible for people to get to work, school, or to see doctors if needed. They told us how as a village, they had pooled their resources and funds to purchase truckloads of rock mixed with more dirt to pour onto the road in an attempt to make it better. They asked us if we had any ideas on how to fix this problem.
The truth was we didn’t – not here in Haiti. In the US, the solution would have been simple. Have the road paved, add concrete, rent a road grater; the solutions and resources would have been endless. But here on this dirt road in an impoverished country the answer wasn’t that easy. Yet standing there before this group of villagers, as the guys in our team picked up shovels to help ease the burden of the work, the purpose of our battles and the timing of our trip suddenly became clear.
Just Build the Road.
Just as almost none of our original plans to get to Haiti had been carried out as we had planned, our initial plans for the afternoon was diverted in an attempt to meet this village’s needs in a real way. We didn’t have the answers for them. We weren’t sure how to best help them. But we knew in that moment that we would do whatever we could to walk beside them in their struggle and help however we could.
How often do we, as Christians, feel that we are inadequate because we don’t have all the answers? So often we forget that the problems aren’t ours to solve and the battles aren’t ours to fight. We consistently look at the end product and think we’ll never be able to achieve that, realizing that we don’t in our own strength, have all the resources to get there. We do not know how to solve or heal the hurt within people, but we can place their interests above our own and we can know it’s not up to us to solve. It is up to us to let God’s will and work within us. It is our job to give Him room. To pick up a shovel and help someone build a road. Whether that road is a physical road like the one we built that day in the village or a spiritual one to the Fathers heart. Let God bear the fruit, let us pick up the shovels and find our contentment in all He has already done and promised to do and nothing less. The gospel is our Hope.
It’s not our job to bear the fruit.
Fight the battles. Build the road.
Let God carry people across it to schools, to churches, to conversations that may alter the course of their life and in some small way the course of eternity. Always remembering that our “not enough” in the hands of our God who is more than enough will achieve victory. You just have to be willing to pick up the shovel, and build a road.