Today is a day of extremely mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, it has been a day of huge blessing as I have been inundated with well wishes for my birthday long before it was even my birthday, and the messages continue to come by the minute. I am overwhelmed with joy to know that my God has blessed me with so much love all around, from near and far; I am completely saturated with love. On the other hand, I am overwhelmed with grief today as I realize it is my last day in Haiti before I leave with Jacob to return to the states for his senior year in high school. Tony and I have spent the last seven weeks preparing for this day – beginning with day one of my return here – but I still do not feel ready to go. I look back over my time here this summer and I see in my memory many brown, happy, faces and toothless grins from old to young, smiling at me with so much love in their eyes that words are not even necessary. We share a language of love that is a very special gift from the God in whom we each share a belief and for whom we deeply love. I see the faces of mothers who have become close friends of mine who love me so much because they know I love their children with a love that is so large that it hurts. When they can’t put their appreciation into words I can understand, they simply take my face into both of their hands, they look into my eyes with a smile, and then kiss my cheeks and nod at me with a knowing nod because they are certain I understand. I do know what they feel in their hearts because I feel the same. It’s beyond words. I see in my memory the beads of sweat on the brow of a mother in labor who takes my hand and places it on her belly as she sings through another intense labor pain. Their only medication is the strength they receive from God as we each pray in our own language. I try hard to insert a few “Mesi Jezi”’s into my prayer so they know I am praying the same prayer. In my memory, I see the precious smiles of the men and women who work on our staff who spend ten minutes or so practicing to say four words to me in English knowing I will make a big deal out of their effort to speak my language. They love that I am learning to speak theirs, and they return the respect by trying to learn mine. God has blessed us with a tremendous staff of brothers and sisters who have the same goal here and that is simply to serve our God by living the example of Christ in this place. It is not a foreign land in which I live here….it is home.
Once again, my heart tightens, my throat burns, my eyes begin to fill with tears, and as their rims can no longer contain the water that is welling up, it begins to streak my cheeks, and I simply give in and cry. I can’t wait to see and hold my son, Jonathan, when I return to the states and help him prepare for his wedding; I am so excited to watch my son, Jacob, soak up every moment of his senior year; I look forward to praising my Lord in song with my brothers and sisters at Crossgates; but Oh How I Dread the nights when I lie in bed unable to sleep because the love of my life is an ocean away and the people I serve are carrying on life without me. I cannot adequately describe these mixed feelings I have. My emotions are like a tiny rubber ball let loose to bounce about among the walls of my heart.
The pain will cut deeper and deeper as 5:30 Thursday, July 25th nears, but today is July 24th – my birthday – and today I will celebrate like there is no tomorrow. Today I will leave my suitcase under my bed. Today I will hug every child in anticipation of tomorrow. Today I will bake the cake that Jacob planned to bake for me before he came down with a virus. Today I will enjoy the company of 18 amazing visiting missionaries as they cram into this last day of their mission all that they can. Today I will hold my precious husband’s hand as we walk up the hill and enjoy the full moon standing together on the same piece of soil for the last time until June.
Today is my birthday. I celebrate the journey today that God planned long before July 24th, 1964, and I am so very thankful that He led me to this place in my life. I am so thankful for the person that is reading these words right now because I know you love me enough to endure this long on my post. You are special to me. I pray that God will bless this day for you. Know that He has a plan for your life as well, and in order to experience the greatness of it, all you have to do is spend enough time with Him to let Him lead you to it and through it. There’s nothing better than living one’s life in the Will of God.