This is the from the heart of Stephanie Toma, who experienced her first time in Haiti with us this year! Read below about her experience!
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, all everyone would ever talk about is Haiti. I heard of friends going to help and always thought to myself that what happened in Haiti must have been tragic. Imagining myself and my loved ones in their shoes, my heart grieved for the Haitian people. However, I never thought that I would one day be on my way to Haiti. I was convinced that the “mission field” was never “my thing” or “calling”. It was not until this year that the Holy Spirit revealed to me the purpose of a mission field. It is not only going out to other countries but something we, as Christians, should do daily. We should be on a mission to help restore and renew this broken world. Seeing pictures and videos from The Tower of Refuge melted my heart. I felt uncomfortable with myself, and felt a desire put in my heart to get out of my comfort zone (even if it meant not showering every day) and to go out and help. After the first meeting with the Tower of Refuge (and the group I would be going to Haiti with), I felt even more inspired and moved to go to Haiti. As time went on, and meetings passed, I do have to admit I started to feel a bit anxious about going. First, I never left the country or my family for so long before. On top of that, I did not think that such a great and Holy God could use such a sinner as myself to go and tell other sinners the message of the Gospel. With each meeting that passed, I felt more and more distress. I was instructed that we would have to do VBS with the orphans (I am horrible at teaching), give a testimony (I have the worst stage fright), and go to the mountains in Haiti and spread the message of the gospel (I had no idea where to start and what to even say). I have never had to do these things in my life and it was way out of my comfort zone. I was full of fear and anxiety; I didn’t know what to do. However, it is so easy to give up and back out when worry and despair come into our lives. During that time, I was reading a book, Battling Unbelief by John Piper, and thought to myself what perfect timing to start such a book. I learned about resting in Jesus and the hope for future grace, and that the root of worry comes from inadequate faith and failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus. 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) reads, “..casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” and 1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV) reads, “to fight the good fight of faith”. Jesus is our only hope. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide us in Haiti and in everything that was to come, and this gave me such comfort and hope. Knowing the Lord would be faithful, I realized that my worry was absolutely useless knowing He holds the world in His hands; in everything that happens there is a reason and He is supreme over all.
Upon our arrival in Haiti, I was surprised. I was expecting the airport to be a lot worse, and it wasn’t as bad as I pictured it. I have heard of how poor other countries are but it wasn’t until we got out of the airport that I was able to see how broken, yet beautiful Haiti was. Only then did I believe that it is only by God's grace that I am so fortunate to live where I live. During our time in Haiti, we visited the sick, the poor, the blind, the deaf, we fed the less fortunate, and spoke to people about the gospel. And in seeing all that, it reminded me of how desperate we are for Christ. I was also blessed to meet all the orphans that Pastor Medit and his wife Gelda look after. Being in Haiti was very humbling for me. The orphans and people from the church carry themselves in such an admirable way. They are very selfless and eager to help you and make you feel comfortable. When they pray they recite verses from the bible together, they memorize hymns; they don’t let anything distract them during this time. You can see the radiance on their face when they talk. After observing the pastor and his wife, I have to say, they are very hard working people. From the moment they rise to the moment they fall asleep, they are continually helping the orphans or people in the community. Leaving Haiti was very emotional for me. I had but a week with the orphans and the community, yet my heart grew so attached! I am back home now and I thank God for protecting our group in Haiti. Haiti has inspired me to someday open up my own orphanage. Whether it is here in America or in another country, only God knows. I will trust in Him to lead and guide me where He wants me to go. With that said, my desire and prayer for you is that in seeing our pictures and videos and reading these short testimonies you may be motivated and encouraged to help restore and renew this broken world by either visiting other countries or even being where you are now believing and living as if Gods reconciling work is true in every space we find ourselves in. God be with you today, tomorrow, and forever! Bondye beni ou!