The Lenten study at Floris UMC this year has a focus on practicing spiritual disciplines. Today, the Haiti team members got to practice faith in action in relinquishing control, and letting the day belong to God, rather than a preconceived agenda.
The team was up and ready for their early morning departure, arriving at the church at 3:30 AM and then traveling to the aiport together, (thanks to our driver Joan Lynch!). Bags were checked and enthusiasm was high as team members boarded the plane to Miami. The plane landed 20 minutes earlier than expected; it was going to be a good day. Team members were beginning to think ahead through the day, (what arrival time would be in Haiti, what could be accomplished in the day), until they tuned into talk in the Miami airport. A fire had raged the day before. The fire was now extinguished, butsix fuel tanks had been damaged, limiting fuel available for scheduled flightThe team’s connecting flight to Haiti was one of the many flights that were canceled. Suddenly the predictable plan for the day was not in effect. Team leader Dave Redding took quick action and got standby boarding passes with the hope of making an afternoon flight. The morning hours passed with general conversation and team members getting to know one another better. The day had a glitch, but one we could overcome and get “back on schedule.”
With hope, but realistic expectations, the team waited out the afternoon flight standby scheduling, but realized by 2 PM that they were a few among many in the same cirucmstance, and that they would not be going to Haiti today. Thanks to Charlie’s power phone and connections, overnight accommodations and transportation arrangements were made during the wait time, so the team gathered their belongings and traveled to a hotel 13 miles from the airport, where this blog is now being posted.
So what was today? A day of disappointment and frustration, or one of blessing upon blessing? Reflections shared around the dinner table and evening devotional time seem to suggest the latter. While we each left this morning with an itinerary and expectations of what they day would hold, circumstances beyond our control resulted in a very different scenario. We thought today was going to be about arrival and starting our work; God’s design was different. God’s day was one of preparation, of both our hearts and our team. Today was good “practice” for those of us who typcially function in a highly efficient, predictable and planned world to experience circumstances beyond our control, not close to the devastation and life changing circumstances of Haitians experienced a year ago, but an effective means to increase our empathy nonetheless. We were reminded that while we cannot choose our circumstances, we can choose how we respond. So what were the blessings of the day? To name a few:
watching inidividuals who had not neccessarily been connected prior to travel became a group, whose commonality in Christ spurred kindness, humor, and unity
witnessing people use their gifts, whether leadership, administration, or gentleness, to turn what seeminlgy was a disappointing and trying day, into a memorable and enjoyable event
creating a story together with quotable lines, “I wish I had some peanut butter,” “Can I carry that for you?,” “Charlie, can you call?” “Maybe it will work,” “Do you have a toothbrush?” “They overbooked coach, so three people have to go first class” “Is this a day of my work for God, or God’s work to be revealed in me?”
What a blessing we have in Christ, when God’s spirit so dwells within us that like Paul, we can choose “to be content in all circumstances, whether in want or in need or full of plenty to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation; I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me.” Philippians 4:11-12.
Please join us in giving thanks for a glorious day where we have had blessing upon blessing, and look forward to God’s day tomorrowhopefully in Haiti!
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