I did make tons of notes because there’s so much to tell.
I have had the privilege of going on mission trips since 1993. We helped with Vacation Bible School on most of them ... packing Bible lessons, craft material, my kids, CD players and lots of other things. We’ve worked with translators and Polish kids, intercity kids up north, and children in the hollows of Eastern Ky. I love Bible stories and loved sharing them.
When we taught Vacation Bible School, we hoped the children would understand that the stories were true and not made up by Disney or the Brothers Grimm. We prayed that all the kids (and adults) would ultimately put their trust in God, accepting Jesus as their Savior. It happened many times, praise the Lord! But when you teach preschoolers, you just never know how deep the roots will grow. When you leave, you wonder what their future will hold. Will the little one’s come to know Christ? Will they have loved one’s who will teach them from the Bible? Will someone take them to church? We often headed home with heavy hearts.
The last three years I have had the opportunity to be a part of a medical mission team traveling to a village in Haiti. Offering medical, dental and optical services has been completely different than teaching VBS. While I hoped to make a difference teaching Bible school, it has been an amazing thing helping desperate people just in the nick of time. We did what we do for a living: fixing or extracting teeth, and then our patients were presented with the gospel (through a translator) on the way out. It was kind of like VBS without the craft. I’m thrilled to say that many professions of faith have been made during the trips to Ouanaminthe!
This year, the leaders of the mission team felt that the Lord was indeed leading them to add Vacation Bible School, too. The school where we stayed had 1,500 students. The Bible School would be for them-no small feat!
As we packed supplies for the trip, we prayed — I promise. As the time of our departure approached, we fasted and prayed — no kidding.
Like Moses told God in Exodus 33:15, “If He doesn’t go, we don’t want to go either!” We took this opportunity very seriously.
Five days before we left, the VBS director became seriously ill and was hospitalized. His doctor told him he would not be going to Haiti. We were stunned! His supplies were divided up into other suitcases that were already filled to the brim with medical provisions. We were limited to 50 lbs. per bag.
The day before we left, a precious lady on the eye team found out she was pregnant! Though she was still willing, she was told that she would not be able to make the trip. (Large doses of medication have to be taken to ward off malaria, worms and other nasty things.)
Two more suitcases down. More shifting of supplies. We knew that God was still working. It was His plan after all.
Then at the airport, one of our doctors was declined at the gate. His passport had been washed and his picture was unrecognizable. He was not allowed to board the plane. His suitcases were taken as additional bags by one of the pharmacists. An exorbitant fee was paid.
We were down three team members and missed them already. And yet in Cincinnati, we met three other people who were joining us unexpectedly. Two would be training a Haitian doctor how to use an ultrasound machine they had in their possession and the third person was an ICU nurse. God and His math ...a dding and subtracting all the time!
Did I mention that as we boarded the first plane, it had begun to flood in Pike, Floyd, Johnson, and Mingo counties? With heavy hearts and tears in my eyes, we went forward. Trusting ... knowing what we knew: God is still God and He is still good.
In the Dominican Republic, we were harassed more than usual in customs. Raised voices — theirs not ours — and roughly going through all of our possessions had hearts racing. Medication was used as barter to allow us to finally be released. Seven suitcases were missing.
Our bus for the three-and-a-half-hour trek to the border was filled to the brim with our team and their luggage. Our group was huge — 40 total-and there were so many bags that they could not get them all on the bus. There was absolutely no more room and yet the sidewalk was piled with more suitcases. So we did what Paul and Silas did when they were in trouble: we sang. We belted out “Lord, I Lift your Name on High” over and over. Guess what! Miraculously the bags all had a place on the bus!
Three and a half hours later, we arrived at the border to spend the night. As we unloaded the bus and suitcases, the electricity went out at the small hotel. What on earth?
One of the verses we had hidden in our hearts for the journey was II Timothy 1:7: But God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. And it was a good thing! We hadn’t even made it to the border!