First, some business. Good news. I am still alive. I can see how not sending out an update in over a month might have some wondering. We are one month into a three month furlough to the States. It's been quite a bounce this time for me in terms of transition because we sort of over-booked ourselves (as we often do). From a work perspective I have accomplished approximately zero useful things during this time so far, but I think we're finally into a groove now where we can (and want to!) move forward. Sorry to all the people awaiting email responses! With that off my chest...
One thing our family has really looked forward to on this furlough is attending a Haitian church plant in Cary in addition to attending our home church, Crosspointe. The Haitian church, (which is what we call it since I don't think it has an official name yet), meets at the Crosspointe office and it's a total mind blow for Nick and me because it's totally an authentic Haitian church. The same songs are sung with the same Chans Dèspèrans hymnals. (We had heard this was the case and brought our own, which is the way it works in Haitian churches.) The same loud voices sing these songs with a sound system hooked up for each week, even though there are only about 5-13 people that attend on a weekly basis. (And remember, our family makes up 5 of those!) The same proclamations ring out through the service... Beni swa l'eternel! Jezi pi gran! Bondye beni'w (to which everyone responds "amen.") The preaching is spirited and lively and the pastor is not afraid to call out sin. Sometimes the forward-ness of this kind of preaching makes me inwardly cringe, being so afraid of someone walk away offended. Sometimes I find the boldness refreshing. (Well, what I understand of it. The truth is that my comprehension of Kreyol, while conversationally fluent in Haiti, lacks at times. Fast talking or yelling (especially when distorted by a very loud sound system) sometimes goes over my head. So, I maybe understand 65% of what's being said. I can follow the drift, but not all the nuance. But, as usual, I am digressing.)
Today I had a revelation during Haitian church. Sister Denise was up front leading worship today since Paulette (the lady that usually leads the hymns) was out of town. She said something like this-- "The air outside is starting to feel cool. Everyone is starting to be cold. And we want to run from that, but with Jesus inside of us, we can feel warm. He can make us feel the heat again. He can be our heat." Spoken like a true Haitian. In my experience, Haitians hate to be cold. When the temperature dips to a "chilly" 82F, 90% of people will be wearing long sleeves and possibly a woolen or fleece hat.
I couldn't be farther from Haitian in this respect. The truth is, I hate the heat. I despise it. And y'all, Haiti is hella hot. My friend Gayly, a Haitian national, always gets so irritated about how much I complain about the heat. To which I always retort, "I wouldn't complain about the heat around here if the country wasn't so freaking hot!" You guys. I don't do well with the heat. So when Denise was talking about the coldness being a bad thing, I almost had to pipe up and say something. This cooler weather is perfectly delightful to Mama Gwenn.
And in that moment, I saw this reality-- Haitian people like the heat. And Americans, well, not so much. We all live in houses with air conditioning. We drive cars that are air conditioned. And the businesses we frequent are air conditioned. I can live in Haiti for the rest of my life, and probably, my preference will always be cooler weather. Just like for many of the Haitian people at church have lived in the States for some time now, their preference is hot weather. It's just one of those inherent differences. And it's this tension I feel as I live between two cultures. But in that moment, I felt this feeling that told me this, "Gwenn, you need to embrace the heat."
Each year, starting in about April, I start praying, "God, please help me get through this summer's heat." I even brought it up as a prayer request at church this past year. I sort of view it as something to get through. Something from which I am always seeking relief. But how would my life be different if I could start embracing the heat? What would it look like if I started praying in April, "God, help me to embrace the heat this year."? What would it look like if, instead of being frustrated and constantly trying to find ways to get out of the heat, I decided to live life in the heat? Not in spite of it, but in it. What if my quest for comfort is derailing the work that God wants to do in me?
So what is it for you? What's your nemesis in the way that heat is mine? Could it be that God does not want to deliver you from it, but in it? I guess my point is this. I think we Christians are too caught up in our own comfort. We want to be spared the discomfort of life. But life is inherently uncomfortable. And so often I see that I use my resources, my connections, my talents, my time, and my energy trying to find relief from my discomfort. I think we all do. But maybe the time is coming where God has a more beautiful plan to deliver us in the heat, not from it*.
*But if you still want to pray that it's not that hot in Haiti this summer, that's okay for me too. ;)