Exhausted. Tired. Wore out. These words aren’t strong enough to describe how this team felt at the end of yesterday. Have you heard the saying, “Leaving it all out on the field”? That’s what this team did yesterday. They worked their hearts out in the hot, Haitian sun. They gave everything that was in them to these orphans and God has rewarded them. When they were tired, they kept going. When they wanted to take a break, the kids kept coming up for love. At the end of the day, everyone was talking about an early bedtime.
We started by eating an early breakfast. We separated into three teams who each had a different purpose and team leads. We loaded the trucks with the supplies we needed for the day’s work and then headed to the Gonaives orphanage. As we pulled up, you could hear the excitement in the children on the other side of the gate. We went over the plan one more time before the gates were opened. As we walked in, the kids grabbed our hands and asked to be held. We sat down with them and then explained we had a surprise for them.
On my last trip, we took many of these children out to Myan to see the new orphanage and to play with them. They’ve heard stories about that orphanage so we thought we’d introduce them. As they walked around it, many kept talking about how nice it was. One even asked if they had TV’s. They began comparing it to their home. So on this trip, we decided we would paint their home and make it look nice. They cheered when they heard the news. We told them that they were going to go play with one team while the other two painted.
After painting the window frames and trim all day, I met with the missionaries and we decided to take the team to the ocean to swim and cliff dive. We made the drive winding down a dirt road through the beautiful scenery. It took about an hour to get there. We unloaded and then had to walk down a beach and over a half mile of boulders with jagged edges. Our knees and hands were skinned up. Our bodies were covered in paint. As hard as it was to get there, we all made it to the cliff. People who were tired became exhausted. The ocean waves became more difficult to swim in as the tide came in.
Jumping off the cliff into the water was fun though. It was an exhilarating reward for the work it took to get there. I jumped off with my sister in law. We were among the last to jump. We counted to three and over the side we went. It seemed like forever until we hit the water. When we did, we must have gone under around 20 feet. It took a while to come back up. When we did, I grabbed her and we decided to try to swim around a big rock and head for shore. The more we tried, the harder it got. Fear set in. Hopelessness started to creep up. Our exhaustion was beginning to overpower us. The waves and current were stronger than we could manage and the group had already moved on.
We made our way to a rock. The edges cut our hands as we tried to hold onto it. The waves hot us and pushed us into it time and time again. We stopped and prayed for peace, wisdom and safety. She said, “We have to get on this rock.” I made my way up it and pulled her up too. We then started to make our way back to the rocks that would lead us to the group. We got the attention of one of them and he stayed back to help us navigate through the boulders. She said, “Jumping was the easy part.” If you’ve ever stood on a 30 foot cliff and thought about jumping, you know the first time isn’t easy.
We arrived home, changed clothes and went to dinner. The team was beginning to ask if we could just have our nightly devotion at the restaurant. We toyed with it, but decided it was best to keep the routine. We arrived home and headed for the balcony. As we began to sing the first song, I recognized there was something different about this service. During the second song, one of the missionaries spoke what God told him. We began to push into God’s presence despite our exhaustion. We sang louder than before. Our hearts opened wider to receive from God. People stood in the street and watched as we worshiped corporately.
Mike Reizner spoke up and shared how in Acts 4 it talks about the disciples praying and being filled with the Holy Spirit. They had already been filled in Acts 2. Why did it mention that they were filled again? It was because when you give out what is in you, you need to be filled again and again. We had given everything in us and all needed to be filled up again. We were on empty. One by one people walked into the middle and we prayed over them. The presence of God was thick and refreshing. We could have stayed on that balcony all night singing and praying.
As I spoke to them, I remembered what Isaiah 40:31. It reads, “He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind (MSG).” I recited it to them and reminded them how tired we all were. No one wanted to go to bed at that point. Everyone was energized by God’s presence. We refreshed and renewed. We’ll need it because we are only half way done.