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Month: September 2015

Missions Trip to Haiti Part 2:
A Case of the Giggles Equals Instant Super Glue

“I have a very distinctive laugh when I’m nervous . . .” – Aimee

“I’m a worrier, and I didn’t want to worry . . .” – Amber

On the Plane Ready to go Haiti! / Photo by: Brianne Bookout
On the Plane Ready to go Haiti! / Photo by: Brianne Bookout

Aimee and Amber’s mission trip to Haiti was the first time since 2009 that a group from their church so young had been to the North West Haiti Christian Mission. Amber was the youngest member on the fourteen to eighteen-year-old team, and Aimee was one of the many “middle children” ready to spread God’s word . . . well, sort of.

Aimee has a fear of flying, so the idea of airing it to Haiti was not one in which she relished. When I asked her what possessed her to go ahead and plan the trip, she told me that she’d prayed about it and realized the trip was God’s will in the end. Everything, including the funding and much-needed supplies fell into place, so she took that as a sign alongside her personal prayer time that this was meant to be and she’d learn something from it.

Although the group was all members of their church’s youth ministry, this was the first time they’d all hung out together for any extended period. While the girls where comfortable with the group of friends, it wasn’t until Aimee boarded the plane that they all bonded. Perfect timing considering they were on their way to minister together as a group to orphaned small children and teenagers. What sealed their bond and their fate as Haiti missionaries? Giggle snorts, of course!

A Laugh and a Prayer

I’m teasing Aimee a little bit here. I’m quite certain she wasn’t actually giggle snorting on the plane, but as they took their seats and prepared for take-off, as Aimee explains it, she began to laugh her very distinctive and nervous laugh. Everyone else broke into giggles alongside Aimee, and this not only comforted her, it also helped her remain calm throughout the flight.

The girls said the ice broke, the team bonded, and everyone started to get along. Of course, one team member mercilessly teased Aimee about the plane going down in flames, but she persevered and experienced her first take-off and air flight. Did she like it? I believe she mentioned on several occasions that she did not—nope—nada—huh-uh—no way!

The Worry Wort

Amber on the other hand wasn’t afraid of flying; she was just worried in general. I must admit I was surprised when she confessed to me that she was a worrier. To spend time with Amber you would never know this. She’s always staid, poised, and even a bit quiet at times, which translates into a subtle confidence within her aura when you’re near her.

Part of her goal during this mission trip was not to worry, and she sought the advice of a teammate whom she said she admired, because he never worries . . . ever. When she asked how it is he never frets, he explained to her that he prays and releases everything to the Lord. He just gives it up to heaven and lets it go. This helped Amber to release her own worry, and she’s continuing to work toward keeping her mind at ease so worry no longer eats away at her.

Haiti Time

One thing that helped both the girls was once they landed in Haiti—and Aimee kissed the ground (I’m kidding, Aimee)—was that they were suddenly catapulted into “Haiti Time.” What’s Haiti time? Well, it’s time by which we should all abide, and that is there’s no schedule. Apparently, in Haiti, the general feel is relaxed and you should always be chilling. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

As I’m writing this, something just occurred to me, and it’s a nice place to end this post. Aimee mentioned she’s structured, scheduled, and she purposely didn’t take her watch on the trip. This helped her keep calm, because she wasn’t worried about time. Isn’t it interesting that God says there is a “time for everything,” and it was when these girls were the least worried about time that they were able to do the most of God’s work.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

Missions Trip to Haiti Part 1:
When a Missions Trip Has a Greater Effect on the Missionaries

“My heart is broken. I want to go back . . .” — Aimee

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; leave them . . .” — Amber

Aimee, Amber, and Me on Thanksgiving 2013 / Photo by: Bill Pasternak
Aimee, Amber, and Me on Thanksgiving 2013 / Photo by: Bill Pasternak

I knew when I sent a donation to sponsor Aimee and Amber’s missionary trip to Haiti that it would change their lives. What I didn’t know was how much it would change their lives. At the delicate ages of sixteen and fourteen, Aimee and Amber, respectively, put their summer vacation on hold to spend a week in Haiti ministering to local orphans. The trip was long, the bus ride treacherous, and the girls still cannot get the Haiti “smell” out of their nostrils. But what they really can’t do is get Haiti out of their hearts.

A Leap of Faith

On August 2, 2015, Steven and Kelly kissed their daughters goodbye and placed their wellbeing in God’s hands. The entire family took Aimee and Amber to Los Angeles International Airport to see them off on their first missionary trip. Kelly was understandably distressed. In fact, she didn’t attend the pre-trip safety meetings with the girls because she didn’t want to know the dangers her daughters would be facing. I don’t blame her; in this case, ignorance truly is bliss.

Nonetheless, off they went after weeks of preparation that exhausted and, to an understandable degree, agitated the girls’ younger brother, Matthew. Sure, a twelve-year-old boy wants to spend all day shopping. Who needs to build things and play video games? Right? You’re a trooper, Matthew, there’s no doubt about that.

I arrived at Steven and Kelly’s house the following Monday morning to stay for the week, and I walked in to find a mother who was beside herself, albeit calmly. The girls had landed Saturday night and taken an all-day bus trip on Sunday to the North West Haiti Christian Mission where they were to minister to local children. Kelly hadn’t heard that they’d arrived safely, and I’ll give her credit, she was much calmer than I would have ever been.

Steven emailed a contact, and we received the good news that the girls were fine about an hour later. That evening, all of the young adults on the trip wrote a message to their families, which were sent in a single email. I read Aimee and Amber’s messages aloud and we all shed happy tears. They were there safely and excited to do God’s work.

Why Did I Do This?

Kelly had signed up for notifications from the U.S. Consulate, something we unexpectedly found distressing. It seemed like a good idea at time, but as she received text messages of uprisings in Haiti, I remember her questioning her logic, as this was only compounding her worry. I think there was a message in her unexplained action, but I’ll get to that in another post.

Aside from an occasional reaction to a U.S. Consulate text message, you would’ve never known that Steven and Kelly were worrying about their girls. I was amazed as the week progressed how at peace they were with the entire situation. Even when Kelly and I sat over morning coffee, her voice was calm while she discussed the trip. I remember thinking that she was much braver than I am.

It seemed as if the week flew by, and I’m sure it seemed to fly by even more quickly to the girls. When Friday came, we all excitedly—as excitedly as you can be around 1 a.m.—piled into the SUV to go pick the girls up from the Van Nuys Flyaway. I knew Kelly was more excited than she was letting on, as she tracked the plane and then ran into the Flyaway station once we’d arrived.

A Story That Must Be Told . . .

Yes, the tears were flowing, and the girls were excited to be home. We got back to the house around two o’clock in the morning. I hugged the girls and asked that they tell me all about their trip tomorrow; I was going to bed.

The family gathered around the dining room table, sans Steven who also went to bed. I came out to do something, of which I cannot remember now, and stopped for a moment because Amber was crying. It was then that she said, “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; leave them . . .”

. . . And I suddenly realized that they were the most touched by their missionary trip and not the orphans. I knew there was something here about which I had to write.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved