I know most of our staff is my age or older. Or, a LOT older. I think the average age of our security team is 97.
But I've got to mom brag. We'll call it sister brag.
Sister, who has watched our team develop and mature and change and grow in ways I NEVER expected, resulting in such beauty in everyday undramatic ways...mundane faithfulness.
Today we had a big staff meeting. The CETA (Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association) conference, their first EVER in Haiti, is less than 2 weeks away.
So everybody, from security to maintenance to kitchen to administration, got together to talk for an hour and sort through details and to do's.
Originally, we were going to close school for those 3 days, because adding 30 more people to our big old family of 70, trying to do school AND conference, food, transportation...it all just seemed like too much. (let's be honest, it probably IS too much :)
But then like 2 weeks ago, Matt and I realized that the most beautiful things about Emmaus, about Haiti, is NOT our campus, is NOT our yard, is NOT our food and our hospitality.
It is our students and staff. No question. His light through them is beautiful, the community living is Biblical, pastors all working in the garden, inspiring. Playing barefoot soccer like little boys, touching. Worship services every night, singing the girls to sleep, powerful.
If we shut all that down while presidents and deans and leaders from seminaries in Cuba, the DR, Turks and Caicos, Port-au-Prince, Jamaica, Trinidad are here...they will miss out entirely on who Emmaus is and on a very visible experience of God's heart for Haiti.
But turns out not everybody likes to eat fried garlic spaghetti with mayo for breakfast like our dear ones. And turns out we only have enough room if all the women move out of their dorm for the week and live upstairs, and they can only do that if Phil and Junel finish the downstairs bathroom, and conference participants are here on the weekends when our staff is normally off...
So, we decided we would all make some sacrifices, move around, squeeze in, and make it work. The staff's attitude about all this was phenomenal. But even more so, someone has to help the students understand and be phenomenal about it all, too. Not that long ago, that would have been Matt. But today, we literally had multiple staff volunteering to share the heart of God towards hospitality and loving on foreigners with our students.
"It is SO important," ejected Simeon (if you've ever met Simeon, you know he only ejects. Total excitement, total passion, on his feet) "that our students understand that WE get to be HAITI to these people. That WE get to represent the King of Kings to these visitors. That WE get to represent EBS to these presidents. How exciting is THAT! We've got to all do awesome. What a testimony."
Meanwhile, there is Leme. Recently promoted above almost all our staff, he has actually seemed to grow even lower than his already incredibly humble self. Before, we asked him to lead the work-study program. Most days, that means he is doing the cruddiest work-study jobs on campus, dusting the tops of fans and cleaning bathrooms, doing what the students don't want to do to serve them.
Now, we asked him to help Matt lead the meeting, which means that every single staff person who came in late--even those who never even had the chance to learn to sign their own names--he jumped up and gave his chair to, heading out in the hall to find another chair. Seriously, like 8 people in a row. Then, taking the too-big shirt nobody wanted to take, then, offering to do all the jobs nobody wanted to do.
And while our kitchen has to totally change around the normal menu and work like 12 days in a row, they were each exuding to the team what an awesome chance this is to help foreigners see God in Haiti.
Altogether, in addition to my list of dozens of things we need different departments to do, everyone came up with 20 more things they want to do to make it even better.
Suddenly, we realize. it. is. happening.
We don't have to try to encourage our staff to see things in a positive, Godly light. THEY DO. They help US.
We don't have to try to explain to our team why things are important, or what our attitude because of Christ needs to be. They already HAVE it.
We don't have to explain everything that needs done, and then do most of it ourselves. Our EBS family is jumping on the list and adding to it. We don't have to serve alone, trying to show them God's servant heart, trying to help them understand why pompous pastors and self-focused leaders are inhibiting, not building, His kingdom.
We're serving together, showing each other, they are understanding well. It has become who they are. Who we are.
We went through this really horrific, painful time at the end of last school year, and I honestly wasn't sure how things were going to coming out of it. Never really shared how many bawling tears Matt and I shed. Never really was able to communicate how deeply painful and discouraging that was.
Wasn't sure what He was going to do with it.
But that painful loss has resulted in such BLOOM.
And that bloom was SO apparent today.
What a gift reminder that so often the things that sting deeply, that shed tears, that cause confusion and pain, that feel like everything is falling apart...might just be His platform to do what He has never done before. Even just in our hearts.
Such rich soil, because of Him.
Thankful to be along for the ride while He plants, He waters, He prunes.