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My Roller Coaster Ride

February 3, 2011

What a day Wednesday was!

I was biding my time, waiting for the days to pass until I leave for Haiti.  The plan was that I was to go to Haiti for a couple of weeks to familiarize myself with Clean Water for Haiti’s operations and to allow Chris Rolling, the mission’s director, and I to flesh out the specifics of my involvement in his expansion plans.  Then I would return to Canada, fold my tent, and return to Haiti on a long term basis.  Everything was in place.  My passport was in order.  I had all my immunizations.  I had my international driver’s permit.  I had collected together everything I would need for my trip.  I had ordered my finances so that I would have enough to take care of my needs in line with what Chris had described to me.  All that was left was to count down the days.

Then the phone rang.  It was Chris.  There had been some major issues with the Canadian board of the mission and Chris felt he no longer had their support.  He and his wife, Leslie, had resigned.  He was absolutely devastated.  They had no idea what they were going to do.  They had no home, no vehicle, no source of income.  They desperately wanted to stay in Haiti and were planning to contact everyone they knew there to try to find work, but their immediate prospects seem to be couch surfing while relying on the generosity of friends.  And they would need to return to Canada in the not too distant future for Leslie to deliver their baby.  I offered that perhaps in light of their resignation the board would reconsider.  Perhaps the American board would not accept his resignation.  My support was clearly appreciated, but Chris saw his time with the mission at an end.

There would be no place within Clean Water for me.  There would be no expansion.  Chris was extremely apologetic and told me he would do his best to see to it that at least the cost of my airline ticket would be refunded.  I told him that was not what I wanted.  I still believed I was called to Haiti and I intended to come despite the setbacks.  We could spend the time discussing our options together.  Chris said that he didn’t think that would be possible given that he didn’t know where they would be and would be relying on Haiti’s public transportation.  Instead he would check to see if any of the missions he had been in contact with could accommodate me for a couple of weeks.  He mentioned an orphanage close to where they had been working;  he thought there work was excellent and had been told they often needed help.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill

I am most definitely an optimist.  I knew I was still going to Haiti.

Later that day I received two simultaneous e-mails.  One was from Chris telling me he had already contacted the orphanage and they were open to having me come.  The other was from the nurse in charge of the clinic at Canaan Christian Community.  She explained that on the basis of what Chris had told her, she could easily see a role for me with them, at least for the two weeks.  She referred me to their website and asked me to tell them a little more about myself.

I responded to her e-mail and checked out the website as well as others that talked about the Community.  The mission is home to about 100 children who have no parents or whose parents are unable to care for them.  The have a school with classes taught in English.  They also have a clinic that serves the needs of the surrounding community.  The clinic also runs a malnutrition treatment program.  As I read I began to see that the skills I had developed working with the sick, the disenfranchised and the disabled could be put to some use at Canaan.

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40

Shortly thereafter the nurse e-mailed again to say they would be happy to have me come, and on the basis of my visit we could discuss further involvement.  I couldn’t believe how quickly things had recovered for me.  Given that it has been a few years since I worked as a nurse, I was a bit apprehensive.  But I knew it was doable.  This would be the kind of nursing I loved — flying by the seat of my pants, making do with whatever was available, having no rigid professional boundaries, often working beyond my training.  It would be the kind of nursing that makes me feel most alive.  It would be faith nursing.  The things Canaan’s administration would require of me to stay with them would significantly increase the cost of my trip, but I knew that as always God would provide.

But as I contemplated my new direction, I felt a very profound sadness.  In the very short time I have known Chris and Leslie I have formed a very strong bond with them.  I admire what they have been doing and how they have been doing it.  I share Chris’ beliefs about the “how” of missions.  People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Jesus makes absolutely clear in what he says in Matthew 25 that He wants us to care for others in very practical ways.  In my heart I believe that my association with Chris and Leslie is not over.  Perhaps God will find a way to bring us together at some future time.

Until next time.

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