by Rebecca Clift
When the opportunity arose to accompany our daughter Sarah and a team of college students on a mission trip to Haiti, I was delighted. Spending a whole week with her was first and foremost in my mind, and the team of students was a vague entity in the background. They became a bit more real when Sarah shared a bit of information about some of them, but still I had no idea who they are as people.
This is my third trip to Haiti, and each has been different. The first was a construction trip, working on the area that we now call home in Mercy House, with revival meetings each night. The second was a medical trip. This one was again a construction team, but with a twist. The first trip was a mix of adults and some of their teen-age children, and the second was all adults. On this trip, the team leaders and I were the only ones over 21.
Wow! I thought I was sleep-deprived before – this group STARTS their nightly team debriefings at 10pm. We all are definitely tired by then, but it’s hard to give up talking and go to bed. Amazing is only one word to describe those meetings. Each night Sarah gives us a question to answer, such as what God has been teaching us, what we won’t take for granted, with whom we will share the details of this trip when returning to the U.S., and what we will do differently at home because of our time in Haiti. The depth of insight, feeling, and communication the students show has overwhelmed me, at times to the point of tears. Not your average college student looking for a mostly fun time without a thought to the future, these young people think often and deeply about their future and how that will further God’s Kingdom. Not just how it fits in, but really enhances the Lord’s work.
Ten years ago, my husband, Craig, and I brought our whole family to Haiti. Craig and our daughter Rachel had been here even before that, but we wanted to come as a family before Sarah went off to college that year. Having such a powerful experience would give us an extra bond, which it did. We could always relate when one of us said “running on Haiti time,” or something similar. Pastor Jean mentioned a couple of times at the beginning that Sarah has returned because her parents brought her here. That is true, but there is much more that brought this particular team to Haiti.
It was no random chance that took Sarah to Cedarville for college. Because of the spiritual growth we’ve seen in her, the friends she made, and the fulfilling work she has found there, we know it was God’s plan for her to go. And now we see further: this group of students would not be in Haiti together if Sarah hadn’t gone to Cedarville and stayed to work there. Not only that – we would not have had a Cedarville connection if our St. Louis pastor, his wife, and their daughters hadn’t gone there. The Mariage family had been a big part of our lives, again in accordance with God’s bigger plan. Even farther back, someone influenced their decisions to attend there.
Now the baton or torch is being passed once again. These wonderful students, a unified team, will be influencing others in ways that will strengthen and broaden God’s Kingdom, even if they never return to Haiti. Which I think will happen, for most of them anyway. It has been a privilege to share their laughter, tears, testimonies, and to be a sort of “mom” when needed. It has also been a privilege to witness the capable and godly young woman Sarah has become. So much to be thankful for! Beni swa L’Eternel!