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A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.
By Grant Everly
“God, you reign, God, you reign. Forever and ever, God, you reign”
These were the praises that echoed in the mountains of Haiti from a dark school bus broken down on the side of the road tonight around 9:30 p.m. In light of the entire day’s happenings, the words couldn’t be more true.
From the 2:30 a.m. wakeup call to embarking from the church at 3 a.m., God, you reign.
From a 6:40 a.m. departure from O’Hare, to touching down and having a two-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, to later touching down in Port Au Prince around 3 p.m., God, you reign.
Through customs at the airport, and later, while boarding an American made, and, by American standards, ancient school bus, God, you reign.
While frequently stopping throughout the first 3 hours of paved-road-travelling so that water could be poured into the radiator of our ailing and overheating school bus, God, you Reign.
From the poverty of 8’x8’ shacks, starving children, and struggling people, to the grandeur and beauty of Haitian mountains and lakes, God, you reign.
While sitting roadside on a broken-down school bus in a random village in the dark for nearly three hours, hoping and praying that our bus would be able to start back up, God, you reign.
While jostling and jolting for two hours along a pothole ridden, dirt road in the rental vans that picked us up and got us to Pastor Jephthe’s in time for a 12 a.m. arrival and dinner, God, you reign.
Amidst the frustration and befuddlement that only trying to put a mosquito net up at 1 a.m. can cause, God, you reign.
In going to bed at 2 a.m., marking almost 24 hours without sleep, God, you reign.
Forever and ever, God, you reign.
In coming into the trip my prayer has been that I would be clay in God’s hands. I had been under the impression I would be preaching at some point, and this was something that both excited me and worried me. I asked that if given the opportunity to preach, it would be God speaking through me and supplying me with the courage to say whatever he pleases; I asked that I would be clay in the hands of The Potter. However, today, God taught me what exactly it looks like to be clay in His hands. This afternoon I realized I was not going to be a part of our teaching team for the youth rally. I was initially quite disappointed; however, I was reminded of my prayer for this entire week: I am called to be clay in God’s hands, and that means doing whatever The Potter desires me to do.
Furthermore, God is showing me He knows far better than I do. Those who will be preaching at the youth rally have powerful testimonies, and their stories will be perfect for the topic of the night: The global church. So while God is saying no to me, he’s saying yes to others who will be able to far more effectively execute His plans.
Throughout these past few days, and today especially, God has taught me much about what it looks like to truly live each day for Him. Part of what has made this trip so special is the intensity with which we’ve served; from the opening of our eyes to the closing, we’re solely fixated on serving Christ. The neat thing is that this is not something that is unique to Haiti; an attitude of submitting each day to God, can, and ought to be the mentality we assume each day. In looking toward home, this is an attitude I want to be very proactive in instilling in my own life.
We depart from Jepthe’s compound early tomorrow morning, experiences brimming. I’ll certainly tell stories of the copious amounts of soccer played. Haitians love their soccer and play it every chance they get — anywhere they can find a ball. The soccer players from our team of 33 had an absolute blast playing a whole lot of street soccer with the locals and losing on penalty kicks to team Haiti when we played our interpreters in a Haiti v. America game. On top of all the fun had and relationships nurtured, I feel that God has taught me 3 clear things:
- I must retain an attitude that submits each day to God. I want my American days to be as dedicated as my Haitian Days.
- I need to find practical ways to fight world poverty. I feel compelled to sacrifice my luxury for a Haitian’s survival. I don’t know exactly what this will look like. Prayer is paramount.
- Being clay in the hands of The Potter doesn’t mean being obedient when courage is required; it means letting God have all of you in all circumstances even if he takes you somewhere that’s not necessarily what you envisioned.
Today was spent on the beautiful Haitian coastline at Wahoo Bay. The beauty of God’s creation here in Haiti has been a subtle reminder that despite the poverty and strife of this struggling nation, His hand remains on this tiny island.
Tomorrow we head home, and to be honest, I’m ready. Although I’ll miss many of the relationships forged and experiences gained, I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned here back home. Our goal in taking this trip was twofold: To affect Haiti, and be affected. The former has been completed, and now it’s time to take all that has occurred in the latter and radically affect America. So with that being said, I’m excited, not to leave Haiti, but to change lives back home. Gurnee, get ready.
Parting thoughts: Thank you for letting me share Haiti with you. I can assure you that there is a team of 33 that are ready and eager to impact Gurnee and Lake county just as much, if not more than Haiti was impacted by this trip. One week spent in Haiti amounts to about 2 percent of an entire year, and as pastor David Platt puts it in his book Radical:
“We have discovered that 2 percent of our time living out the gospel in other contexts has a radical effect on the other 98 percent of our time living out the gospel in our own context.”
In speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, we’re excited to see how God uses our one week in Haiti to affect 51 weeks at home.
Grant Everly is a junior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.