“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)
My favorite part of the day is the mornings when my kids are off to school, my work-at-home husband is at a meeting, and it’s just me in the house with a solitary, quiet canvas on which to write, organize and create.
This is where I am right now and it’s blissful.
I cherish quiet and time to myself, and retreat from chaos. In fact, when I went on my first mission trip one of my biggest fears was the lack of alone time we’d have. I feared that being so tightly scheduled and closely situated with others 24/7 would make me cranky. To my surprise, I discovered the complete opposite to be true. I loved living in a “community” and instead of my spirit withering, it flourished.
It’s been a little over a month since I’ve returned from Haiti and while my time at home has been good, nothing has come close to matching the sense of belonging and togetherness I experienced in Haiti. My stomach still flutters in excitement when I think about it.
And right now, despite my contentment with the present, if I could bring my family with me I’d give anything to be back in Haiti living every minute of every day, shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters. Having early morning devotions on the roof, singing on the bus, digging on the work site, hiking, eating, laughing, worshipping and just hanging out.
How is it possible that in only ten days we formed such strong connections with one another, and with the people and place we came to serve?
Obviously it was a gift from God.
But there were specific things about the experience that made it special.
- We shared a common purpose.
- No on put his or her desires before anyone else’s.
- Everyone was willing to do whatever was asked.
- We shared whatever we had with one another as needed: snacks, medicines, money, clothes, phones, a shoulder or helping hand…anything.
- We laughed a lot.
- We freely added to our group and our ”family” grew.
- We covered the experience in prayer and worship.
This reminds me of another group of people through whom great things happened—the believers in the early church.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:32-34, emphasis mine)
I’m not sure if God intended this type of living for a time or for forever, but having seen this passage come to life in Haiti and on past mission trips, there is something deeply right about it.
The heart of the gospel is communion and community. We were created to be in relationship with God and in relationship with one another--and to use those relationships to bring glory to our Creator.
In Haiti being of “one heart and mind,” “sharing everything we had” and living with Godly purpose was easy. Our time was set aside, our needs provided for and our days scheduled. But now that I’m home, regaining even a fraction of this way of living is incredibly difficult.
Schedules, responsibilities, me-time and the realities of everyday life have quickly taken over. I find I go from day to day just trying to keep all the balls in the air. I have a very good life and much of what I do is “important.” Yet, I can’t help but wonder if somewhere along the way of living this American life—of gathering, maintaining and planning for the future—that I’ve (we’ve) taken a seriously wrong turn.
Self-sufficiency leads to isolation. Materialism sucks up time and resources. Our plans overshadow God’s plans. Inter-dependence, generosity, unity and submission are NOT our natural inclinations. But they weren’t for the early believers either and somehow they chose differently.
And look how the Spirit moved through them.
Experiencing community on these mission trips has opened my eyes to a new way of living. I have more questions than answers, but of this I am certain—rich or poor, man or woman, introvert or extrovert—we are indeed better together.
To my Haiti family--Cindy, Kathy, Helen, Sue, Bob, Jim, Christine, Jane, Regina, Annie, Marcus, Paul, Gregg, Kate Lynn, Erica, Dan, John, Valentin, Jon, Andrea, Jeff, Jean, Dessaline, Henery, Roodson, Jude, Francois, Lucsom, Lovely, Eben, Wesley, Jonas, Beniel, Augusto, Ezekiel and the many others whose names I’ve left out—thank you for sharing the journey with me and for showing me the better way.