Event after event.
Normally when we hear things like this, we assume things like “Life is crazy!” or “I’m just so busy.” However, while in Haiti, I was reminded that this doesn’t have to be the case. I was reminded that a full schedule doesn’t have to be a hurried life or a busy life. As I think about our days, we sure packed a lot in… On Tuesday and Thursday of the week we worked on the cabin all morning, then would get cleaned up and head into town for a Vacation Bible School in the afternoon. On Wednesday we did all of the following: walked down to the beach behind the orphanage, went to S.E.E.D. Ministries, took a tour of the hospital, had lunch and saw where the guesthouse/orphanage was pre-earthquake, shopped from the vendors by the church, went to the market, visited Centre Lumiere (A ministry focused on Bible teaching, embroidery, crochet, sewing, cooking, and health), and made over 400 friendship bracelets as a team. Friday we took a boat to Ile a vache to do a VBS at that church as well. These days were packed!
The one that stands out the most for me though as I think about this lesson I’m learning (that full doesn’t have to equal busy/hurried) was Saturday that we spent with Pastor Paul Touloute. Our first stop was to a church in Bergeaud which also happened to be just down the street from Pastor Touloute’s home. After doing VBS there we walked down to his home and stayed there for a while before heading back to the orphanage for lunch. After lunch we visited the site of a church in Charlotte before he drove us out to the beach at Port Salut. Another full day. But this also didn’t count the fact that Pastor Touloute went to a neighbor’s funeral that morning and after dropping us off at the guest house for dinner around 5:30, was headed to a wedding with his wife. A full day, but not a busy or hurried day.
This day, like many of the days in Haiti just happened. We of course tried to plan, but planned in the fact that our plans would change. Here in America, our mentality in a day like this would have probably looked more like let’s see how quickly we can get through everything so that we can get to the wedding on time, etc. Most of us would have probably taken the way out when we told Pastor Touloute it was okay if we didn’t make it to the beach. But he insisted that there was plenty of time to do both. He could have hurried us along so that we could get back earlier, but instead, he invited us into his home as he and his son went out hunting for a good 20 minutes to find coconuts that were the perfect ripeness to share with us. Not only did they get us coconuts but a fruit called sweet sop and a species of bananas called ti toto bananas (which by the way were THE BEST banana any of us had ever had!). He pointed out a cashew tree and Jean, his wife showed us around their home.
This full day was never hurried (despite how much any of us Americans may have tried to push it along for his sake). At one point Pastor Touloute got out the invitation for the wedding that evening and said, “Oh the wedding’s not until 4. That means the bride probably won’t show up until at least 5. If we get there by 6 we’ll be fine.” Not exactly how things work here in America, huh?
As I said at the beginning of the post, my week in Haiti reminded me that a full life doesn’t have to be a busy or hurried life. Even in this past week I’ve seen the difference it can make when we focus on just simply being wherever we are. In reality as I look back at the past 7 days, I normally would have described my life as NUTS. Got up at 2am Monday in order to catch the plane out of Haiti. Got up at 3:15am Tuesday to catch the plane out of Florida. Left the house at 9:15 am Wednesday and didn’t return until 10pm. Worked 9-8 Thursday. Had our first Young Adult event for church Friday after work and Saturday I had Youth Band, Rock Climbing with the high schoolers, church, and went to see the musical at Sweet Home High School. It was a FULL week.
It was also one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time (though I’m not complaining that tomorrow is my day off 🙂 and as of right now, I have absolutely NOTHING specific planned!!!). Having this full week follow being out of the country for a week could have been ridiculous, chaotic, and insane. Instead, I was able to take what I learned from the people of Haiti and just focus on whatever needed to be done at any given moment. In doing so, I think I’ve learned a little more of what he meant when Jesus says in John 10:10 that he comes to give us “life to the full.”
I also see more of how “the thief” described in the first part of that verse comes to “steal, kill, and destroy”. It seems one of the best ways he does that in our culture is by making us busy. He tries to get us to pack so much into our schedules and hurry from one thing to the next that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. It makes you kind of wonder… what are we hurrying too? Am I going through life just to check each activity, task, conversation, or event off some list and move on or do I actually want to enjoy those things?
Sometimes, a “full” life looks like the packed week I described above. And other times, a full life means sitting down with some popcorn and reading a book or watching a movie. Sometimes, a full life means doing the things we don’t really want to do, but need to get done and other times it’s creating extra space to do whatever we feel like doing. No matter what, a full life seems to be about giving ourselves fully to whatever is happening at a current moment… to enjoy life even if it’s doing the dishes or the laundry… to refuse to let Satan steal, kill, and destroy our lives by getting us to move through everything so fast we don’t know what’s even happening.
This is one lesson I’ve learned in Haiti and Uganda that I pray I would constantly be reminded of… again, and again, and again. God does not call us to a hurried life… ever. May He grant us the grace we need to live the full, abundant life He came to give!
[Jesus said,] “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. But I came to give life—life in all it’s fullness.” ~ John 10:10