I wish I could tell you that we are doing great, all things are in great order, and our lives have resumed to the way they were on January 12th, 2010 at 10am. That’s not the case. I am personally dealing with much stress. Some stress comes along with the territory, but in my opinion some is very unnecessary.
Let me tell you about my nights. Every night I plan to sleep. I am hoping that I can lay down the way I used to when 10 days ago when we were planning on having a different kind of life. Today, that kind of life is altogether gone. Maybe not forever. But at least for now it is on hold. So there I am, laying my head on the pillow, exhausted, and thinking that going to sleep is the best thing for now.
But then the phone rings to alert me that I have people, too many people, concerned and freaked out living in the USA. They happened to be caring family members who in their caring are asking us to do things we already vowed not to do. I love them all. Yes, I know you are reading this. And I need you to calm down.
After dealing with some familiar voices telling me what to do over the phone, I finally lay my tired body down. By now it is already 11pm or maybe 12am. I needed to get to bed an hour or so ago. Did you know that people experience post earthquake stress? I am. Here is how it goes. I lay down to sleep, but everything is still shaking. The bed shakes. The floor shakes. My body shakes. I know, sometimes it is in my head, but sometimes it is real. Very real.
So I can never stay laying down for longer than 2 hours. Last night, I got up four times and ran to the door of our living room. I don’t know if the floor was really trembling or not, but I felt it. So, I got up and ran to door as quickly as I could. We sleep close to the door in our living room so that makes my trip very short, but also very inconvenient. When I try to go back to sleep I can’t. Everything shakes. Fear of the house falling on me grips me and I cannot go back to sleep. Sometimes I wonder if this happens only because I am still here in Haiti. But then I remember that when I was in Santo Domingo a few days ago, the girls and I along with Cody’s siblings, stayed at a hotel. We were on the ninth floor and I experienced the very same thing. I almost woke up Kerri-Anne, my sister-in-law, at 3 in the morning to ask her if we could sleep outside. I had this fear that the entire building would collapse and I would die right there with my little girls. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. My stay in the hotel was definitely not enjoyable. Having to watch the girls go back to states did not make it any easier either.
The stress that I am experiencing is also followed by a wave of many other emotions. There is tension right here on the field. I wish I could say that we are all getting along. You know, missionaries working together and things like that. Don’t get me wrong, we have built beautiful relationships with people, but we have also encountered much grief and pain due to poor communications and misunderstandings. I wish this was not true, but it is. So this adds to my worries of my house crashing down on me while I am sleeping. I am one that cannot let go and stop thinking about it until it is resolved. So the stress is just added on.
Then there is the whole thing of sending my little girls away. I miss them terribly! Today, I was looking outside the house for them. Yesterday, when we had the second earthquake Cody’s first words were, “get the girls”. And although I think they are fine in the USA I also wish they were here with me. The worries increase and I am constantly thinking about them. Thankfully, my husband is here and he has been the strongest anchor after Jesus.
So, what do I do to find comfort and relief from all that is going on? I rely on Jesus and trust His Word.
Things can get so hectic in a moment of a crisis. It is very easy to go about your business and forget that your number one priority is Jesus. I know what I look like without my daily time with Jesus. I know I can be a mess and make a mess if Jesus is not first in my day. Now, this is no magic formula. It is not like I have no issues just because I have my quiet time. But I know that the time I spend with Him is crucial and it helps me get through the day even if things don’t go as I planned or an earthquake hits the world. I did have my quiet time on January 12, 2010. The earthquake still struck. So no, there is no magic formula or “have your quiet time and life will breeze by” plan to go by. On the contrary, quiet times are needed because life will be hard. Very hard.
Therefore, I am 100% committed to having my quiet time even if the world crashes down. When the second earthquake hit I was on the ceiling talking to my Heavenly Dad. If you know me well you know what my favorite thing in the whole wide world is–spending time with Jesus. I am massively in love with the God of the Bible. And in His Word I find the comfort I need to help throughout the day. The stress still there, but so is my God. No, I am no super saint. But He is a Super God and I just love Him.
Another thing that we do as a team is pray. We are two families living together and trying to do our best to play the little role we ought to play in this crazy episode of Haitian Lost. Most of the time we have no clue what to do. We have people coming to us asking us for food everyday. We give them what we have. We only wish we could give them more. But unfortunately we don’t have a lot to give. So we pray for wisdom, discernment, and resources to come our way. And God does miracles. Watching God do miracles is one of the best stress relievers in the world.
After we pray, we work. Sometimes we do a lot. Sometimes we can only do a little bit. But we are never sitting around with nothing to do. As we serve the people in our community God ministers to the pain and grief and fears in our hearts. Serving God’s people brings us joy. It helps us understand that life is not all about us, but about Him. It truly is a wonderful thing.
Life is not the way I planned it to be. I didn’t plan for an earthquake when I moved here. But it happened. God knew that it would happen. He knows all things and causes all things to work for His glory. He doesn’t worry that Maria is not strong enough to deal with the stress. In fact, I am not. But He causes the stress in my life to make me cling to Him. And as I do, I become different. Sometimes I look like Him. Other times, I look like a monster. In either case, He is refining me. I realize more and more that I must lay down my life and let it be fully dependent on Him. I have no power of my own to control the next 30 seconds. But He can. Bondye genyen fos–God has power.
But our lives didn’t end with the earthquake. In a way, a new life for us has just begun. When you start living fully for Jesus, you begin to live to the fullest. The best stress reliever is to become a slave to the KING!–Maria