Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saying Goodbye Is Always Difficult

Day 7 (Saturday, Aug. 7)

Leogane, Haiti

Today was difficult because we had to finish our projects and say goodbye to the children. I went back and forth between my construction projects and the kids playing under the trees. I gave Oligas one last romp on my shoulders and spent some time hanging out with him.

We told the kids through the interpreters that we were leaving soon and flying back to America the next morning. We told them that if we never saw them again on earth, we would one day see them in heaven. Sad eyes all around, both adults and children. We prayed in English and in Creole, then we headed out.

The construction guys said goodbye to the seven Haitian men we trained in carpentry and cement skills. This morning, Bill, Paul and the Haitian crew frantically put up a wall around Amalia’s kitchen. I also had to say goodbye to Amalia. She came out to the van as we all piled in and said “au revoire.” I grew to admire her for the hard work and dedication she puts into preparing close to 180 meals a day under adverse conditions. Seven days a week, she cooks and sweats in her outdoor kitchen.

Leaving mission stops is always difficult. I remember leaving my last two mission trips feeling the same way: empty. We had to say goodbye to relationships we had nurtured over the week, not knowing if we would ever see them again. We have to accept that, for one week, this is where God wanted us to be, serving these little lost lambs. Loving these little children was an unpaid job, but we all know we will attain riches in heaven one day because of the love we gave.

Granted, I am hoping to return to the Leogane orphanage again, to plant a garden. First, I must make sure God is, indeed, in this. I have to ensure the farming plan has the necessary support financially farmingwise make it succeed. I knocked off one item on my to-do list by asking one of our interpreters if he thought we could get a local farmer to come in with a tractor and chisel/disc to turn the soil over before we planted. He assured me it was possible.

Before I left, I packed a few pounds of soil from the orphanage in a gallon freezer bag to take home to have it analyzed for nutrients. Yes, I knew it was illegal, but I asked God to overlook my sin. I packed it in the middle of 40 pounds of dirty, stinky work clothes from my week in Leogane. If the customs people in Miami can find it through that mess, they can have it.

Just dreaming such dreams for the kingdom means waiting on God and doing the legwork to make sure that God is opening doors or not. It’s a conundrum of sorts. We can’t do it without God, but it still requires our efforts. Several people in my group asked about coming back to work with the children. Absolutely. This kind of ministry needs irrigation engineers, carpenters, dirt farmers, chicken farmers, bee keepers and canners. Bringing along people to love on the children is a natural.

As I look ahead, I have already started to write down names of people who can farm, build chicken coops, keep bees and design an irrigation system. I am amazed at the resources God is filling my mind with. We need seed companies to donate seed. How do we get bees down there? How do we get hand farm tools down there? Where do we buy chickens to lay eggs? Will the local Ace Hardware have the necessary fencing on hand?

Those are all questions to be left in God’s hands. I will turn to him in prayer, ask others to pray, ask questions of people I think might have answers or solutions to the problems I foresee and watch God work. The project to-do list is rather substantial. I know I can’t do this task God has put upon me without his strength and guidance.

As we waved good-bye to our little Haitian friends, I, like everyone else in the group, began to cry. I looked for little Oligas, and he gave only a half-hearted wave back. Was he hurt? Or was he used to feeling abandoned? I know I have to return to my life in California, but that notion still hurts me. For the next few miles, our van was silent.

Only God knows if I will one day return to Leogane, Haiti … and see my little buddy again.

Caption: From left, Hilary, Fred (our interpreter), Amy and Geannine were the backbone of our kids' team.

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