The ocean makes me happy. Ask my family, and they will tell you mom’s dream vacation is basking on the sandy beach, sitting on a beach chair with a good book. I love sand on my toes, and I don’t even mind the sand that magically appears on towels, shoes, floors, kid’s hair (except Zoie) and eventually, every bag we pack… it’s like taking a piece of the beach back home with us. As a child, I would spend every waking moment on our beach trips until the darkness made the water too scary to swim. My brother’s and I would spend hours jumping and riding waves with my dad, as my mom waved at us sitting on the beach with a book. I didn’t understood then how wonderful it was for “mom” to get a few hours break from mommyhood and relax. To me, it looked really boring.
When the Campbell’s announced we were going to the beach for a 2-day getaway, I was the one jumping up and down ecstatic with the kids! The little beach hotel was 40 miles from Pignon, but a rough, bumpy 4.5 hours drive. We were all up for the crazy journey and packed our bags with swimsuits and beach toys. Jennifer gently reminded us we were still in Haiti, and the hotel was a little rough around the edges, but it was right on the ocean. We didn’t care, just the idea of fresh fish and ocean breeze was worth spending 2 nights with 2 full beds and 5 people. After all, we are on an adventure! We were so thrilled our son, Michael joined us for his college winter break, and we were excited to bask in the Haitian sun together as a family.
The hotel was full. Seriously, the manager at the front desk gave us the bad news with a nervous smile, “Sorry, come back in a few days, we are all full. No rooms.” I gulped down my enormous disappointment and tried not to cry in front of the six kids holding on to their buckets and sand shovels. The UN had filled most of the rooms, and a medical team was coming in the next day, so the hotel was stuffed full to the brim. In a last ditch attempt, Bill Campbell asked if there were any rooms for just tonight, and we would pack up and leave the next day before the team arrived for the weekend. The manager, with relief, welcomed us to Hotel “Cormier” with a warm smile and agreed to a 24-hour stay. We all ran to our room (1 King bed only) and ran to the beach. We were not going to miss a single second of beach fun.
It was paradise. A little piece of heaven carved out in Haiti, only a few miles from the dirtiest city I have ever seen in my life, Cap Haitian. The sand was soft and the waves perfect for playing and snorkeling. We ate homemade ice cream mixed with a sprinkle of sand and played until the hotel served dinner at 7pm. Meals were included in our package deal, so we could eat lobster and not worry about the price. I ate Lobster Friccasse, (lobster with butter & garlic) the best vegetable soup, and homemade Haitian bread. Roger and I took a romantic walk and much to our surprise …. basked in the huge orange full moon. We had no idea we just watched a rare lunar eclipse seen from around the world, with front row seats on the beach.
The next day, we all decided to play at the ocean until noon check out. Inside, I was a little sad … not wanting to leave and cut our R & R short. I told all the little girls to hold hands and pray for a beach miracle. We prayed and asked Jesus to let us stay for one more day. I made a big circle in the sand (thanks to my favorite book!) Can you imagine our surprise when a few hours later, the owner himself, came out to greet us and announce we could stay one more day!!!!! We made quite a scene celebrating the good news, even the UN were cheering! I love God-surprises! Later that day, our son went kayaking with “Captain Bill” and when their ship capsized, Michael’s foot slammed into the coral rocks below, and was speared by a black, spiky sea urchin. I know he was in terrible pain. The staff yelled for someone to pee on his foot (I promise!) and later explained that the spears were calcium and would eventually dissolve in his foot, ordering us not to dig them out to cause infection. Finally, the pain eased and he returned back to the beach to soak his foot in saltwater, instead of pee. We enjoyed another 24 hours playing, eating, swimming, snorkeling, and making sand castles on the beach.
Living 6 months on the mission field, has been non-stop action. As a family, we were so grateful for the 48 hours to chill out and relax together, doing absolutely nothing. We are grateful for the Campbell family for inviting us to join them at the beach, and also enjoying time for R & R. We all felt renewed and energized and refreshed to go back to real life living and serving at Haiti Home of Hope orphanage. It’s a tremendous amount of work raising 40 children and caring for the community of Pignon. The Campbell’s constantly amaze me. This year, they are celebrating their 10th year anniversary living in Haiti. We are so honored to learn from them what it means to live James 1:27.
The biggest fear of a missionary is passion burn-out. If you don’t take the time as parents to rest and relax … you set yourself up for major burn out no matter where you live in this world. I think one of the greatest gifts you can give a full-time missionary, is the gift of rest. If you support a missionary, prayerfully consider sending them on a R & R retreat and I promise it will be a priceless gift of love and support and restoring passion! Jesus Christ is the ultimate Life-Giver and our source of passion. “He breathes life into us in all its fullness, comprehensively and completely! If we play sports, we should play hard. If we’re musicians, we should create heavenly music. If we love photography, we should search for the perfect moment with perfect lighting. If we’re coffee lovers, we should drink good coffee with gusto. Only a passion-filled person can live dead; a passionless person cannot.” (Live Dead Journal, missionary, Brett Nelson- South Africa, Burundi & Madagascar)
Do you support a missionary? Prayerfully, consider asking God to allow you to financially bless someone, and restore their passion on the mission field.
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