I’ll be there in a Haitian minute.

Josh Peterson jokingly stated that he planned to have a t-shirt made with that statement on it; I would probably have worn one too. During our time in Haiti, we all quickly came to understand that the “Haitian minute” was definitely not restricted to a mere 60 seconds … and we adapted accordingly.In fact, adapting to such a laid-back, “I’ll get there when I get there”, “It’ll start when it starts”, kind of a mind-set was actually kind of relaxing, rather than stressing for me. Perhaps, a slower-paced environment was what I needed for a week …

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karen Hamilton, and on April 19, 1989, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Since that time, I have had the privilege of participating in multiple mission trips around the world, including the rural areas of Guatemala & Argentina. From the moment this mission trip to Haiti was announced, I felt God was calling me to go, and that calling was confirmed when my support was fully raised within just a few weeks. Praise God!

I thought I was prepared … but, this was honestly the hardest mission trip I have ever been on … and probably not for the reasons you might be thinking. You see, I grew up as a “military brat” on the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Living there, you’re secluded from the rest of the world, and can only fly to other islands or the USA to escape … so, we visited Haiti on several occasions. Because of those trips, I was prepared for the environment, the countryside, the island, the quirky traffic, the bumpy roads … the poverty. Experiencing all of that wasn’t a “shock” to me … it was a tidal wave of memories … it kind of overwhelmed me … and no one else on the team could relate to what I was experiencing … and my best friend (husband) wasn’t on this mission trip with me to be my sounding board … so, I felt very isolated and alone, right off the bat, which, in hindsight, is probably what set me up for the rest of my struggles…

You see, while I maintained my confidence that had God called me to be a part of this team, I consistently struggled to see my purpose. As a member of the Teacher Team, I didn’t have much to contribute in the planning phase, since I was not a certified Teacher, just a Teacher’s Aide. While we were there, I missed half of the Teacher’s Summit anyway, because I was sick. So, what was my purpose? I didn’t seem to be of much use to anyone …

In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a “Worker Bee”; always in the middle of it all, getting things done. My spiritual gifts are Service and Hospitality, which means I like to always be “doing” stuff in ministry. Well, God’s plans are always bigger and better than ours, and His plans on this trip were not for me to be “doing” much … I quickly learned that His plans were for me to REST, which is something I don’t do often enough. I spent more time reading the Bible and in Prayer during this week in Haiti than I have in many months past combined … so, that was what God knew I needed. He knew I needed to be refreshed through His Word. He knew I needed to be renewed by slowing down and listening … to Him. This trip was very hard because I am a stubborn person who rarely slows down long enough to listen. Finding my purpose was a struggle because it was so far out of my element … prayer is not one of my strengths. Yes, I pray, but I’m not what I would consider a “Prayer Warrior”, but that was my role on this trip, because that was what the team needed, and I was the one stuck back at the house … sick … with the time to pray … and it was AMAZING to hear how my prayers were heard and ANSWERED EXACTLY AS I PRAYED THEM!!! Me? The Prayer Warrior for the team? Weird … but, I guess God can use anyone.

So, now that I’m home, what’s changed?

Thankfully, God allowed me the privilege of attending the first day (and another sickly half-day) of the Teacher’s Summit, during which time I got to see and experience an amazing gathering of about 120 Haitian Teachers, some of which had WALKED 60 MILES to attend! Most of them were men; many of them were Volunteers … all of them were PASSIONATE about teaching. Wouldn’t you HAVE to be passionate to volunteer to teach, or to walk 60 miles to attend a “professional development” opportunity? My current position is Technology Paraprofessional. I teach Technology skills to about 530 students in a school district that is around 90% low-income. On a daily basis, I see the same tired, hungry, hurting and needy faces at my school as I saw in Haiti … this is nothing new. What’s new is my perspective. Not that I didn’t care for these children before, quite the opposite! However, now, I see that I need to remember to look deeper, look beyond those tired, hungry, hurting and needy faces and see the “person” inside, and do my part to encourage the best in that “person” to shine … I need to be a better “light” … That “light” is only going to come from spending more time in God’s Word; which will only come from me … slowing … down …

That being said …

I’ll be there in a Haitian minute…

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