It's more accurate to say there IS. NO. ROAD. Because there isn't. It's a footpath carved out by rain and overgrown and nearly impossible to pass, even for Matt and our Haitian four-wheel drive truck, who try everything together.
But we had not visited our brothers and sisters in Fev this year, and God kept bringing them to my heart, so we tried again Sunday morning, this time with our visiting IWU professor Jim in tow for his first Haiti adventure.
Inside secret on Lily...she has only ONE fear, this girl, and it is great. Lily is irrationally afraid of the car flipping. On really bad roads, in deep water, by ditches, going around mountains, she becomes TERRIFIED of the car flipping. We've never been in an accident, never once, by His mercy, but she has seen many...buses flipped upside-down in ditches, tap-taps flipped in accidents, and when we're on non-existent roads, even when there is NO possibility of flipping, she panics.
Sometimes when we visit student church plants in non-existent road places, she and I will get out and walk, sometimes a very long way, just so that she can be at peace.
So we launched out today, talking about how God knows and cares about our fears and will meet us in the middle, and I'm not kidding, we were at the very start of the roadless section attempt to get to Fev when the front of the truck fell suddenly into a deep ravine. The back two tires were both several feet off the ground and it was all we could do to stay in our seats. Lily was beside herself, as was Nora, and I quickly got the girls out to help Lily and to assess our options.
This is why I'm telling you this story, because I do try to keep potentially scary stories to ourselves!
My first thought as I tried to help Lily start breathing again was that the truck was finished. I mean, you should have seen it. How do you get that fixed? Then, I figured we'd call Maxi to come get us girls while Matt and Jim worked on the car for the next few hours. Somehow.
There were only 2 or 3 people on the "road", and all of the sudden, I mean literally in seconds, two women came running up from nowhere to the girls and I, calling immediately, "Lily, Lily, are you ok? Cherie, it's ok...are you scared? Here, sit down, here, have some water. You're ok, it's ok." A lot of people know Lily from her years at the community school, but we were quite a ways from there, and I'd definitely never seen them before....they were SO sweet, so selfless, so patient, and so kind to Lily that within seconds she was totally calm and holding my hand while they smoothed her hair.
And with her being cared for and Nora calmed down I turned back to the sunken truck, it's rear wildly in the air, and I promise you, friends, it was now somehow utterly surrounded. Surrounded. From NOone on the road to just moments later, there were dozens of men and boys, young and old...Matt hadn't even had a chance to get out yet.
"Try back" they said, and hung and pushed and bounced and no. "Try forward" they said and all moved and hung and pushed and bounced and on that second try, I don't even have ANY idea how, the truck was out and on all fours again, men crowded around the window to wish Matt a good service and a good day.
A passing moto stopped and asked us each if we were ok, on top of all the women and men now around us and the car, all asking and settling us and smiling and checking on the girls.
They wished us off, I got the girls back in, and we braved the the rest of the horrible road to Fev.
He met us right where we were, with people we didn't know He had, very stuck, in the middle of Lily's great fear, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of what seemed a very impossible situation, with grace and kindness and generous love.
I don't care what you think about Haiti or what anyone says about Haiti...we have seen this time and time again. When you are in trouble, everyone is quick to stop, to run, to bend their knee and break their back to help you, and SMILE, and send you off without asking a thing in return.
And I don't care what you think about God and what He's doing in your life or in your pain. He doesn't waste a thing, not our fears, not our pits, not our impossible, not a person, not a circumstance, He watches the sparrows, He is caring for us, His hand is not so short, and we must trust Him.
We worshipped with our brothers and sisters in Fev, in that tent, by that mountain, and the music was vibrant and passionate and off-key, and the benches were crooked and unsteady and not enough, and the prayers were long and in the dirt on knees, and the sermon, the sermon, was fantastic...four years of pouring into Walnique and he poured Scripture and good interpretation and humility and solid teaching and powerful application into one of the best sermons we've heard in months. It was a gift to be there, to worship together, to see third bench experience Walnique faithful.
We brought Jim home, Lily with her eyes closed, spent a few precious family hours at the pool down the road with three squealing girlies who are finally finished with national exams and who are NEVER ready to go, and came home to fix supper for Jim...and were unexpectedly blessed by one of the best conversations on missiology and ministry and the church we've had in a long time.
In his un-emotional, matter-of-fact way, he then shared with our family his story over left-over chili and left-over chicken pot pie (I'm serious about this Sabbath thing...I'm trying!), and you could have heard a pin drop. His father, a Chinese Catholic priest, never left the church for his mother, never met Jim nor his other children, not his whole life. His mother, bitter with God over the heartbreak, married, but still in love with the absent priest, drove step-father to suicide. When Jim became a believer, mama and second step-father separated from him entirely, still angry with God and anything to do with the church, and all since have died without Jesus, alone and bitter and broken, Jim's brothers still alive but the same. Jim and his wife raised their twins for 15 years in Southern Africa as church planters and now he's been at Indiana Wesleyan for 20 years.
How in the world did YOU become a believer from that background? I asked, and he launched into the day his mother, angry at his little brother, chased him around the kitchen with a butcher knife, and would have killed him if Jim hadn't grabbed the knife away at 15. "Our life was always like this," Jim recounted, "and I only knew TWO people who lived anything different, this couple who lived about five miles away and who were followers of Jesus and who had been reaching out to me. I ran five miles that night to see them, wanting what they had, and they led me to Jesus."
And here's the crazy part. He unexpectedly reunited with the husband not long ago, only to find out the wife, long-since turned away from God, was dying of pancreatic cancer. Jim went right away, and led the woman who led HIM to Jesus so many years ago back to Him just days before she died.
And all I could think over pie as he spoke was how God didn't waste a thing, not the brokenness, not the misery, not the impossible, not a person, not a circumstance, and met Jim right where he was terribly stuck, with people he didn't even know He had, calling him by name, in the middle of nowhere, with grace and kindness and love.
It makes me realize AGAIN that this is our God's great desire for EVERY person...to t-r-a-n-s-f-o-r-m us, to redeem the brokenness, to come out of the woodwork and meet us with grace and love, calling us by name, right where we thought we were totally alone and afraid and without hope.
What a God. What a love. What a testimony. What a MINISTRY we all have, in the midst of broken broken worlds, to simply be redeemed people in the hands of a transforming God.
Sign me UP.