Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Fourth of July in Haiti

I seem to be in the habit of going on international mission trips on the fourth of July.  Well, I have only taken one other international mission trip, ten years ago to China, but for that trip I was in China on July 4.  I find it interesting to be in a different country on a day when America celebrates its freedom, and no one there cares one bit about it.  It's a good reminder that there is a great big world out there beyond the borders of the United States.

You hear a lot of "God bless America" talk around the fourth of July.  I strongly dislike that phrase.  I understand why people say it, but it just rubs me the wrong way.  Yes, we can talk about how God has blessed America.  But let's also talk about how God has blessed every other country in the world too.  God is not just the God of America, and sometimes it is easy to forget that when you live here.

There is nothing wrong with being thankful for what God has given us and how he has blessed us.  But are all of these things that we have here in America truly blessings from God?  We have a nice home to live in, plenty of food to eat, plenty of clothes to wear, stuff that fills not only our homes but storage sheds as well, bug free beds to sleep in, air conditioning to keep us cool, health care, education, freedom to worship as we please, etc.  I freely admit that I like all the comforts and benefits of the American lifestyle. I am grateful for them.  But I also think that many of these things are not really blessings from God at all but rather hurdles and obstacles that get in the way of our relationship with God.  Who needs God when we have all this great stuff?

So, with all of those thoughts swirling around in my head, I spent the fourth of July in Haiti, surrounded by poverty and hardships and very few comforts.  Yet, especially when among Haitian Christians, you get a sense of peace and joy in their lives that is so real and authentic.  What a privilege for them to be unhindered by all the stuff and junk and busyness that consumes the life of the average American.

One of the missionaries who spends most of her time in Haiti made this comment, "Honestly, we feel sorry for all of you that have to go back home to America."  Now, I was happy to be back home in America with my family and the comforts of everyday life, no doubt about it.  But I do completely understand what she was saying, and it has left me conflicted.  I'm still trying to figure out how what I learned in Haiti should and will affect the way I live my life in the States.  I'm sure I will have more to say on this subject soon as I continue to process all of these things.

In my next post, I will spare you the rambling thoughts running through my head and tell you what we actually did in Haiti on July 4! 


Elisabeth said...

it is crazy how they have nothing but are so happy. alls they have is Jesus and that is enough. whether in the states or in Haiti. but it's so much easier to put all of your energy, actions, and thoughts towards God when in Haiti because there is nothing else. i never wrote about my experiences in Haiti because it IS so hard to put into words. then after being back for a few weeks it is so easy to get caught up in all the worldly things again. that is why i love being in Haiti. there aren't near as many distractions towards worldly things like there are at home.

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