“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed, embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”
– British novelist Roald Dahl
Written by Abigail Morgan of Grand Bay Westfield, New Brunswick
I’ve always been an individual who followed her dreams, even the big ones. I remember at a really young age looking online for TV shows and commercials that I could try out for. I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be an actor, a singer, I wanted to live in Hollywood and be a movie star. Later I wanted to be a teacher. I thought it was similar to being an actor in that I could talk in front of a room of people all day.
At 14 I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Haiti on a mission tour. I worked in a Haitian school partnered up with a Canadian teacher. With much surprise, I didn’t find my passion for teaching. I still think education and school are important, but I know now I’m not called to be a teacher.
That week I also spent some time in the medical clinic with my mom. It was a very small clinic, but would see up to 80 people a day. Long story short, I fell in love.
There are so many emotions I felt and saw. From the excitement of hearing you’re pregnant or have conquered a sickness, to the sadness of finding out a disease has developed, or feeling pain from an injury, or the joy of hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
I would consider myself a compassionate person who can easily feel empathy for others. This empathy I felt over and over along with the joy, sadness and pain that all circulated at once was like a drug to me.
Five years later I find myself sitting in Haiti during a month-long internship writing this article. I have allowed God to lead my life in so many ways. He has told me yes and He has told me no. Through my ups and downs I have called out to Him. Now here I am living the dream. Okay, maybe it’s not every teenager’s dream to live in Haiti for a month as an intern, but there’s nothing better to me than being God’s hands and feet across the world.
This month has taught me so many things. From assuring myself I chose the right career path, to realizing I can survive off rice, beans, protein bars, and canned tuna for a month. More importantly, that I actually can live without a cellphone plan and only limited Wi-Fi.
Even through the heat, long days, and the frustrating communication barriers, I still feel at home. Every person you pass by says a warm hello, every orphan you hold feels like a touch from God, and the people in the village are quick to cry out Jesus’ name.
I know God called me here for this month. He has shown up, taught, touched, and loved me through all my experiences here. This may seem like a simple thought, but I find it mesmerizing to see and understand that these Haitian people are worshipping the same God from back home: The same God I feel during my morning prayers and the same God who loved me during my loneliest nights is here on this small foreign island of Haiti being loved, worshipped, and ever present.
I find it very interesting the ways Jesus shows up during mission trips and the ways He changes your heart. For me, it wasn’t only the big white smiles of the cute kids, the faithfulness of the village to Jesus, or even the everyday grace God gave me to continue throughout the long hot days. It wasn’t even the miracles I saw in the clinic every day. It was the gratitude He bestowed in my heart for the many things He has blessed me with. Not only the tangible things but also the emotional things.
I remember sitting in my room getting ready for bed with my roommate after a long day. She had her usual complaints of the heat and of the food. But for some reason that particular night she was a little more sour. She started ranting about how there were no good weights to lift and she was too tired after our long, hot days to work out. She complained of her lumpy mattress and missing her memory foam back home. The AC only comes on late at night and turns off early in the morning, but of course, she wasn’t thankful for that either. She thought the AC should be on longer.
For those who know me well, this won’t come as a surprise. But after hearing her long list of complaints, I finally said, “Well isn’t it great that we didn’t come all the way to a Third World country to lift weights and snooze royally.”
I will readily admit that I can be a bit of a drama queen. I like my toes painted, my hair done, and I love some good food. But I made a commitment to God that I would spend a month being His hands and feet in Haiti. I would make sacrifices, mistakes, and grow deeper in Him.
But my roommate and her list of First World problems wasn’t making this commitment any easier.
After reflecting, I realize God doesn’t want me to use the problems and complaints of others to alter my experience with Him. I know this because I still have the same strength every morning here in Haiti to get up, throw my hair in a messy bun and put on running shorts and go. Her first world problems were not bleeding into my experience.
Her desire for these things made me start thinking about all I’ve gone without during my month in Haiti. I didn’t have the luxury of hopping in my car and heading to the gym nor did I have my family and friends to vent to. I had gone a whole month without even thinking about Netflix and the most shocking for myself would be having no cellphone plan and limited Wi-Fi.
This disconnect from familiar and addictive things can be tough. But I have never been so in touch with God. I remember one night the power wasn’t working and so I decided to pick up a book and start reading. It was my first time picking up a book for pleasure in months. My eyes felt at ease from not looking at a screen, and my mind felt calm. I wasn’t pressured to look at what others were doing and compare or feel obligated to engage in conversations online. I felt peace simply sitting alone in silence for the first time in a long time.
My list of things I’ve learned from being in this country and from the Haitian people could go on forever. My experiences were rare. From helping deliver a baby, to speaking and encouraging the teen girls, evangelizing at homes and families in the village and even simply holding and showing love to some orphan children. I learned more about myself as God stretched me further than I’ve ever gone. I never truly realized all I can do until I was completely immersed in Him.
I would like to encourage you to find your passion. I know it’s easier said than done. But try to find the thing in your life that makes you want to jump around and scream out Jesus’ name.
I often must remind myself that the road to destruction is wide and the road to everlasting life is narrow. Don’t let your passion be mistaken or let it fall into that wide gate. Make mistakes, let God move you, teach you, love you, and change you.