My cell phone rings and caller ID shows it’s my college-aged daughter. The conversation goes like this.
Meredith: Hey Mom! I’m thinking about going on a mission trip to Haiti.
Me: “Meredith, is it safe there? Why do you want to go there? Why do you think you need to go there? I’ll have to get more information and then we’ll have to talk about this with your dad.”
Meredith happily gave me the telephone number for the mission trip coordinator. I called the next day, my interrogation skills primed.
Me: What about safety? Is it safe to travel from Port-au-Prince to your location? What about safety at your location?
Coordinator: Yes, ma’am! We have our own buses to transport mission trip participants from the airport to our campus and our entire premises are enclosed by high fence. Plus, it’s patrolled twenty-four hours a day by security guards with guns.
Me: Thank you for the information. You’ve been extremely helpful. God bless.
As I hung up the phone, I uttered under my breath, “Meredith is never going there.”
She didn’t in 2012.
She did in 2013.
She returned from a week in Haiti with eyes sparkling and heart bursting with love for the people there. She met and sponsored a little six-year boy named Junior at the mission school. She cried as she spoke about him. Every time.
I expected her glow and enthusiasm to wear off as spring turned to summer. It didn’t. She spoke incessantly about Junior, her mission trip team members, the Haitian people, and every single occurrence on the trip. She often mentioned leaving a piece of her heart in Haiti and I sensed her deep longing to return. Even while she was home for the Christmas holidays, a piece of her heart remained in Haiti.
We flipped the calendar to a new year and Meredith returned to college. Her life was busy with college volleyball and classes. I was busy with year end accounting and tax deadlines at work, exhausted, and sleeping soundly every night. Until late January.
I jumped and woke from a deep sleep with the remnants of a dream playing on my mind and one thought, “You should go to Haiti with Meredith.”
I shoved the thought from my mind and fell back asleep.
Over the next month, I regularly woke in the middle of the night with the same dream and same message, “You and Meredith should go to Haiti.”
I could never do that.
I dared not tell anyone, especially Meredith. I knew if I did, I’d never get out of going.
Finally, after six weeks of those middle-of-the-night wake up calls, I confided in my best friend, Jackie. Instead of my never, she said, “Why not? Let’s do it!”
After that conversation, I still woke with that same dream, at least once a week, but now my never turned into long nights of lying awake pondering “Could I ever do that?”
Yes, I could. And yes I did.
That summer my daughter returned to Haiti with one of her best friends, Amanda, Jackie, and me alongside. The four of us boarded a plane to Haiti, my first international trip, and served together for eight glorious days. I never dreamed I could do such a thing, but God did. I never imagined what God did. I never hoped as big as God did. I never saw the possibilities in me that God did.
When I thought I could never endure a whole week of planting trees in Haiti, God planted precious little girls on my lap every morning for Vacation Bible School instead. God turned my never into now–now was the time to love, hug, and sing “Jezi loves you” to those beautiful, brown-eyed little girls while sitting in the shade of an open-aired church, cooled by the gentle island breeze.
When the physical limitations of my weak back told me, “You could never do that; you’ll be a liability to the rest of the team,” my loving team, affectionately named “Team Awesome,” found ways to use my strengths to be a productive participant. I sat to shovel rocks from the deep hole the others dug for the coconut tree we planted and I stood for bearable periods of time using my 6-foot height and long arms to paint the walls and trim inside the house that others couldn’t reach.
God does indeed turn never into now.
On our last morning in Haiti, I cried as members of Team Awesome, the “Georgia group,” boarded the first bus to depart. I turned away so others didn’t see, but my ever-watchful Meredith did. She came over to hug me and whispered, “Why are you crying?” I don’t know was my honest answer as I wept unexplainably. She squeezed me tighter and softly said, “I understand, mom.” She did. And now I did, too. As each group left that morning, more tears fell.
These people were a part of helping me accomplish something I never thought I could do.
These people loved me even though I was weak and had limitations.
These people helped me conquer fears.
Serenading us in song as we washed stacks of dishes, offering a helping hand as I conquered the giant rope swing to get off and on the cantor truck, and knowing just when to encourage me throughout the week, every member of Team Awesome was part of God’s plan.
He turned my never into now.
“With God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26
Beautiful story so beautifully written!
Thank you, Cindy! Your sweet words of encouragement mean so much to me!
Meredith, you are truly a disciple of Christ! Life is good with God in it!!
I’m praying you will return again some day as it appears a piece of your heart is still there! Love you and the strength you have to make Never into I can do this mission of faith!
Thank you for your encouraging words, Joan. Of all the talks on my walk, I remember yours on “Life in Piety” most profoundly. Then and now, you continue to be an inspiring mentor!
Wow! Amazing words, Mrs. Bard! I had to wipe away the tears while reading! Xoxo
Aaaawwwww Brittany, how sweet! You made my day:)
I was blessed to hear Meredith share her mission trip experience at a ladies luncheon and she was so passionate and inspiring. Now to hear the mothers side of the story I feel I’ve come full circle. What a blessing and thank you for sharing!
What kind words! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. We serve an amazing God!
Wonderful. Isn’t it? When we’re brave enough to change a “I’ll never do that” to an “Why did I ever worry about doing this”
Indeed it is! God started an avalanche of change for me with this life-changing trip. Thank you for your encouragement!