To Haiti and Home Again

Jenifer and Lindsey Hodge

Jenifer and Lindsey Hodge

Let’s Go to Haiti!

Mother: Jenifer Hodge
Daughter: Lindsey Hodge

When my daughter Lindsey asked me if I wanted to go on a mission trip with her this summer, I think I shocked her when I said yes. It turned out to be one of the hardest weeks of my life, but also the most rewarding. To say the trip to Haiti was out of my comfort zone, is an extreme understatement. Physically, I was miserable from the heat and mosquitoes and emotionally, I was on a rollercoaster. I was super happy, content and grateful and then I would be sad, insecure and unsure.

When I asked my mom to come on this trip I was actually very surprised she said yes. She has a servant’s heart and loves people but I thought the heat would push her away from coming. To my surprise, she said yes! The entire week I watched her love on our team and the people of Haiti so well. It was incredible to serve alongside her and put our faith into action as a family.

Beyond the Comfort Zone

My emotions were on a rollercoaster. I was grateful because I was stripped down to what was important – none of life’s distractions and able to focus on what is real and necessary. How often do I do that in my normal everyday life? Sad because I felt like I was fortunate that I happened to be born in Oakland County Michigan in the United States of America. I didn’t have a choice and neither did the Haitians that I met. But the amazing thing was that they were not sad –they were joyful, grateful, kind, giving, funny, talented and full of life. Even though I often felt insecure, I prayed every day for the wisdom and the strength to do God’s will. And in the end, it was just love. Love them like God does. Even with a language barrier, I could communicate love. Hugs, so many hugs!!!

Kids, Kids, and Childlike Faith

While we stayed at Mission of Hope, we attended VBS and helped to move the kids through the different stations. Organized chaos: kids everywhere, coming and going, changing seats, crawling under church benches. The mom in me was always slightly freaking out. The kids want to sit in your lap, hold your hand, carry your backpack for you. At one point, a little girl and I were leaving the church bench to go into the middle to dance, and my leg hit a metal bracket. The pain was considerable, but for all these weeks following the trip, I have rather liked seeing the bruise on my right leg because it has served as a reminder of one of my favorite memories.

The kids would sprint up to you and immediately be hugging you, smiling and laughing. There was nothing holding them back from loving everyone so openly. It didn’t matter how old you were, what your skin color was, or if you spoke the same language — these kids were going to love and they were going to do it boldly! The kids running at me with open arms reminded me of how Jesus chases after all of us. It is always with His arms open wide, ready to embrace us and welcome us home. These kids showed the joy and the light of Christ like I have never seen before.

In Matthew 18, Jesus says we need to have childlike faith in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. I always thought that our faith had to mature, but I have now come to the conclusion that we need to be curious, to be real, to be free of fear of the future, and to be dependent. Haiti was a place that I truly saw childlike faith.

Glimpsing Heaven

My favorite part about the Haitian church was the worship. I connect to God very powerfully through worship songs and it was beautiful to have the Haitian people singing in their language while our team simultaneously sang in ours –the same song at the same time praising OUR God. It was incredibly powerful. It really showed that there are no boundaries or barriers when it comes to the Kingdom of God.

My favorite service was when they played an upbeat worship song and people suddenly flooded to the middle to dance and praise. I ran to join. The whole church was worshipping with their whole hearts, souls, and bodies with reckless abandon. This is the closest to heaven I have ever felt – truly a glimpse of heaven. It was during a time of division and confusion in the rest of the country, but God is way beyond this world and is always mending relationships, transforming hearts, and bringing his children together in a love that is big and all-encompassing.

Coming Home

Lindsey and I were in the last group to return home to the U.S. and we were seated separately on the airplane. The Haitian man next to me did not speak English and I do not speak Creole. I could barely keep my eyes open for takeoff. Maybe it was the air-conditioning (the first I had felt in 11 days) or just pure exhaustion. I woke up to find my tray table down with a bag of pretzels on top. How nice of my Haitian neighbor! I have so many examples of love and generosity from the Haitian people.

Experiencing this difficult and rewarding week with my daughter was amazing. To see Lindsey’s face shine with love for the children, to hear her pray for village families and to witness her stability throughout our unexpected extension, was something I will never forget. As a mom, my heart swelled with pride for her love of people and Jesus. And as a fellow daughter of Christ, her enthusiasm around the kids and her calm and trusting attitude in tense situations is enviable and attractive. This trip showcased her talents and gifts and took our relationship to a different level. Always mother and daughter, but now sisters. I am hopeful I was able to make a difference for even one person, but the impact the trip had on me will last forever. (Ethan, you’re next!)

My mom was a light and a stability to the chaos happening around us. She was brave and stepped out of her comfort zone A LOT! It was incredible to serve alongside her and put our faith into action as a family. I think it definitely made us even closer than we already were. I have already seen God continue to work in each of us separately and together when we got home. I cannot wait to see how God transforms our house and the rest of our family!

by mother & daughter, Jenifer and Lindsey Hodge

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