In Haiti, It's a Process

AUGUST 2017

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by Allison Ambler Allison was a member of the 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION team during the first half of 2017. This is a story from her team's time in Haiti.

In Haiti, I've learned, everything is a process. Cooking a meal, washing your clothes, getting around (when no one drives over 40 mph),—even flushing the toilet takes a minute when you have no running waterer and have to "bucket flush." Everything takes longer than it would in the U.S. without all the conveniences every of your standard American kitchen, without a washing machine or highways or constant running water. Sometimes my westernized mind is tested and I have to grab ahold of my patience.

Back in New York, my watch broke. And I was a little bit more frustrated about it than I should've been. It was just a watch, but that watch gave me control. I learned it was a blessing when the Target we went to had no watches. A blessing because, without a watch, I've learned patience.

I've learned to not care what time it is all the time and to simply enjoy the moment I'm in. If I had a watch to stare at during church, sitting through a service in French, I think the service would've dragged on a little longer. If I had a watch while cooking a meal, I think I would've felt a little more hungry as I realized just how long it was taking.

The everyday, simple things in Haiti are a process. And so are the big things, like building relationships with my host family when the language barrier has built a wall between us. In the process of cooking a meal, going to the market with my host mom and then peeling carrots next to my host cousins, that's when relationships form. In the in-between moments—the moments most people would call "waiting around"—those are the moments I laugh and dance with my host family, the moments when relationships are strengthened.

Haiti Mission Trips

When we tune into the processes of everyday life, the little things we sometimes don't want to do (like washing dishes by hand for the second time that day or walking when driving would be so much easier), that's when we experience the fullness of life. As I wash dishes, I splash water on my roommates. And as we walk, we dance through the streets.

My Americanized brain says that when it wants something, it wants it now. My brain that's been touched by the way of life in Haiti says good things take time.

The food tastes a little better when your hands and the hands of your host family have prepared it for hours. The water tastes a little colder when you have to carry the 5-gallon jug of water on your head up a hill. The ocean feels a little more refreshing when you had to ride on the back of a truck to get there. And the view at the top of the mountain, where you can see the entire city of Cap-Haiten, is a little more breathtaking when the hike takes a couple hours, including a stop along the way just to poop on yourself. (Yes, this happened.) Relationships are a little more fulfilling when you struggle to learn each other's languages and make the same jokes day after day.

Sometimes, I view my relationship with God with impatience too. I want to be more faithful, more Christ-like. I want to see fruit grow in my life, and I want to see it now. But that's a process too. Becoming like Christ is what every other process in life feeds into. I peel carrots day after day, I struggle to learn Haitian Creole, I play dominoes again and again—in hopes that in all of these little things, something great will happen. I'll become more like Jesus himself, I'll love deeper and listen better and laugh harder.

Becoming who we were created to be, it's a process. And I want to tune into every part of that process, every day.

Sometimes that process isn't pretty. Jesus said it: we have to pick up our cross daily. Not just on days when it's easy, but every day. The process includes pain, confusion, boredom. I'm in pain because my wrists hurt from scrubbing laundry, and my body is not feeling this Haitian food. And emotional pain because of the poverty and brokenness I see here. I'm confused in a conversation because I don't speak Creole and they don't speak English. I can get bored of cooking the same meal day after day. Bored, because we are sitting around for the afternoon and I'd rather be chasing kids around. The process isn't always fun or exciting. But we can look a little deeper and create our own excitement, or think a little harder and learn some more Creole to make this conversation easier.

Haiti Mission Trips

As it is with joining Christ in his likeness. Sometimes, God prunes us and it's painful. We get confused about where God wants us to go, what he wants us to do. We get bored of praying the same prayer, praying for the same person's salvation, praying for healing for sickness. If we want to tune into the process, we'll experience pain, confusion, boredom. But we'll also experience great joy, we'll be in constant state of laughter, and our hearts will overflow. It's in the process—the beautiful, messy process—that we become who we want to be, who God created us to be.

Check out 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION and 1-Month Haiti IMMERSION—mission trips for college students and young adults!

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More IMMERSION Stories


My Stolen Heart
Each day Haiti felt more and more like home, like this is where I belonged.
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Much More Than That
Haiti is a lot different from the U.S., yet it's not. They want to love and be loved, they want to cry and laugh until they cry, they want to be understood.
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