Friday, August 17, 2012

"the life you give"

I caught myself praying a very Haitian prayer the other day. (Not a bad thing.) I think I was praying before our meal, but it really doesn't matter if it was mealtime or bedtime or just anytime. While I was praying I heard myself say, "thank you for the life you've given us." It's an English variation of the Creole prayer merci pou lavi ou bay, which translated simply says thank you for the life you give.

I often hear Haitians say this phrase while praying. It's used during church prayers, mealtime prayers, and prayers said at school and other events. I used to think of it as a nice general prayer. You know a good ole, Thanks God for my life. But ever since I heard myself pray that way I've been thinking about what it means.

I used to have a different life. A very different life. I taught 8th grade reading at a school I loved. I was part of a teaching team that worked together and supported each other. My students and I spoke the same language. I was deeply invested in my students and knew many details about their families and home lives. I also was very involved in the youth group at my church. I walked along side those teens as they figured out what it meant to follow Christ--and thoroughly enjoyed being with them. My family and friends were close by and I connected with them frequently. I was gainfully employed (something I really miss). In my old life if I wanted something, I bought it. I enjoyed the stability and predictability of my life, as well as constant electricity and warm running water. Shopping, restaurants, gas stations, nearly every store or business I needed were mere minutes away. I was independent and self-sufficient. My life was full and more importantly fulfilling. It was a good life.

Just two years later, my life is a bit different. I'm a foreigner in a strange land. I teach in a school where I can't communicate with most of the staff or students. I can't be deeply invested in my students' lives because we don't understand each other. I attend church, but I'm not a vital (or even non-vital) part of ministry there. I talk to my family and friends via Skype now--when it's working. I live in a developing nation where important paperwork is completed by hand. Corruption plagues the government. Riots are commonplace (though we haven't actually had any for quite some time). I am now dependent on the generosity of others to be paid each month. If we need to buy something, we have to budget for it. I get charged more at the farmer's market because of my white skin; beggars are especially persistent with me for the same reason.  Electricity is not guaranteed. I need help ordering at restaurants and sometimes checking out at the grocery store. I can't remember the last time I went anywhere on my own. The convenience of life is gone. But this life, this inconvenient and sometimes frustrating life, is still good... and fulfilling.

I'm thankful for this life God has given me. I have an amazing husband (cheesy, but true) who loves me and takes care of me. Arold and I are part of a ministry that is literally changing lives. Even with my limited Creole, God uses me to impact the lives of young Haitians. I am blessed with fellowship and encouragement by the myriad of people who come through the guest house to serve with MTM. Learning to budget has been a good skill to add to my toolbelt, and learning to live without the things I think I "need" has been a good exercise in what Haitians call degaje, making do with what you have. It also causes me to come face to face with my own selfishness and sense of entitlement. (while not fun, it's good for me, right?)

I never could have imagined living this life, but it's the one God has give me and I truly am thankful for it.

1 comment:

  1. Brit,
    You are missed. And just reading your blog makes me feel like I too am having an adventure.
    Love you,