Most of you may not know, but about 1 1/2 years ago I was unable to walk. I needed extreme assistance even in getting dressed and getting to and from the restroom. I was very ill and began to think I was going to die. After being sick for a very long time I was able to go to church one day. I was so weak that I couldn’t stand during the worship and during the service there was a prophetic word given that God wanted to heal a young woman who had been to the Dr. in the last 10 days and received bad news. I had been exactly 10 days prior and they were at a loss as to what was going on and it didn’t look as though it would get any better. I went forward for prayer with much assistance making it to the front and as I walked away from the prayer time I could walk with less assistance and still a severe limp. As we continued to walk to pick up kids from classrooms the limp lessened as did the need for assistance. By the time I made it to the parking lot it was a minor limp and over the next few days it completely disappeared. God miraculously healed me!
Over the last year or so I began to walk and even run training for a 5k. I have completed two 1 mile walks (which I ran 1/2 of one of them just to prove to myself I could do it) and then two 5k walk/runs of which I also ran about 1/2 of. If anyone would have told me I would ever run I would have laughed at you; especially after being bedridden and thinking about options of wheelchairs. This is all to God’s glory! Now, if you would have told me that only 16 months from the day my healing began that I would be hiking up a mountain in Haiti none the less, I would have told you that you had lost your ever lovin mind! There was no way. But God. God makes a way where there seems to be no way. It was strenuous, it was hard, it was challenging, but I made it to the top of that mountain and I stayed there for 5 days living out of a tent until it was time to come down again on Friday.
Coming down the mountain was something I wasn’t as worried about as you think it’s always easier to go down that to come up. Well, it rained a torrential rain Thursday night which made the ground incredibly muddy and the rocks super slippery. (as I say slickery!) The trip down was so hard - maybe as hard as going up if not harder as I had no traction and kept sliding. I twisted my ankle so many times and yet it never got injured and that my friend is the grace of God. I am praising God for getting me up and down that mountain with no injury and that I was able to do it in a reasonable amount of time; although with my past you’d think any time would be reasonable but we made it within our 5-6 hour time frame allotted and that blew my mind.
Bryan, Austin, Aliyah, and I all hiked up the mountain and the others rode in the truck to the top and cheered us on as we crested the mountain coming up. Ayden was a sweetheart and saw his mommy coming and he ran down the side of the mountain and grabbed my hand and walked with me the rest of the way back up the mountain telling me I did good. I love that little guy! The other kiddos were up top and saying “You did it Mommy!!” I loved it! If you are unable to run/ walk/ climb in a race or hike that is for a cause, you should go anyway and cheer along the way or at the end b/c that fuels us to go along. Just a PSA for ya! :)
Now, I have to be honest and say that the hiking was incredibly difficult for me and I had a very poor attitude about it. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think I could do it. I wanted to do it to say that I had but I didn’t WANT to do it. Know what I mean? I was exhausted, hot, and sweaty, and they just kept going! I swear, the majority of the team seemed to be like the energizer bunny! As we went up people would ask how I was doing and I wanted to be positive about the situation and say I am making it, I’m here etc.. as positive as I could get in that mode lol.. Inside I was not thinking such nice things - I was frustrated and I couldn’t talk and walk and I wanted them to stop for a minute and let me rest.. ok, truthfully, I wanted them to stop for a couple of days and then start again!
We went up Mount Guavia - if you want to research it for me and see just how big it is - may not be big at all for some; it was a giant for me! Anyway, I think I would enjoy it better if it wasn’t on a time frame and we didn’t have to carry our backpacks the whole way. Unfortunately, this week was laying down your rights week and I did not have that right! We laid down our rights to many things this week in efforts to learn what it is to be a true servant of the Lord and to live like Jesus. We laid down the right to drive to the top; to carry snacks, to eat what we wanted, to have modern day camping equipment, and even the right to know what time it was. We were not allowed to take showers, look in a mirror, brush our hair.. yeah, it was intense. Honestly, I didn’t see the point in most of it at first. I still have things that I don’t understand about the trip and am asking the Lord to reveal the point in it and what he wants me to learn from the experience.
Once we got to the top of the mountain we were divided into our teams - team A - me, Kirsten, and Kelsey as students and then Rose and Wayne as our Staff leaders; team B - Bryan, Alex, and Michaela as students and then Christian and Lizzy as Staff leaders; team C - Adrian, Austin, Aliyah, Alexis, Ayden, and Aaron as DTS Kids and Sarah and Marjorie as Staff leaders. Teams A and B were responsible to take turns daily with getting water down the side of the mountain from the cistern, purifying it and other tasks that would be assigned throughout the day and the other team would be responsible for preparing all of the meals that day over charcoal. We made authentic Haitian food - or that was the plan.. we were given no instructions, just ingredients and a menu saying what it was supposed to make. We were to work together as a team and figure it out. The staff were not able to answer questions or give instructions; only ask questions that may spur you to think and figure out certain things. Challenging for sure!
So, first thing that happens when we get on top of the mountain is they announce Team A has water duty and each student needed to get a 5 gallon bucket and quickly get water and purify it so we had some for dinner; which thankfully was already being cooked by Team C (Marjorie with some help from the kids here and there) and Team B would be responsible to set up our tents. I was so sad about this. I was so tired. I had just climbed a mountain and now, they want me to go back down part of it and get water in a 5 gallon bucket and carry it back up?! I didn't lose it on the way up at all; this, this broke me. I cried as I went down the side of the mountain with Kelsey to get the water. She was so gracious to me and rubbed my back and reminded me it was only one time tonight we had to do this and we could work together and get it back up. I just wanted to eat and sleep!
We got down to the cistern and the man unlocked it and we washed out our buckets and then filled them. Kelsey and I tag teamed it up the mountain with several stops along the way as we had to catch our breath. I smarted off can we take an hour to do this? To which Wayne kindly replied, sure! I felt some relief and some frustration that he was probably being sarcastic. I didn’t have the energy to think about it and figure it out so I let that thought go and we trucked it up the mountain. There were some guys that wanted to help and of course we had to tell them no thank you and do it ourself. I so wanted to say “Wi Mesi!” We made it up and then worked to get it in the purifying bucket and it was time to eat. I was so excited about eating. Until I found out it was only rice and beans. No meat. No sauce. Wow. I was getting a taste of what it was like to live without.
Just before we started to eat I had seen lightening on the other mountain across the way and was a bit nervous about rain coming. It is dry season here and we shouldn’t be getting much rain at all. When we were on the ground at base, it would be nice to cool it off; however, on top of this mountain it was COLD. We didn't need any help cooling it down! We began to eat after Team B set up the tents on the edge of the mountain and just a few bites in the rain came. It came with a vengeance! Thankfully there was a marketplace on top of the mountain that had a covering and we were able to move the tents and all our things under it; unfortunately, it was pouring rain as we had to run back and forth gathering things in the pitch black with our little flashlights and the freezing cold. We set up the tents under the covering and as the rain continued to pour we realized our tent was going to be flooded if we left it where it was so we had to move to the other side of the market place as there was a huge leak in the roof where we were. We moved it and got stuck and ripped the rain cover.
I was so over this night and just wanted it to be done. We got the tents all set up and laid out our sheets.. yes, sheets on the floor of the tent. No pillows. We hadn’t brought sleeping bags or pillows. The rain was so loud and heavy that they cancelled class for the night and allowed us to go to bed after setting up the tents. I was thankful for this but that also meant that I now had to face the fact that we were soaking wet, freezing cold and had no comfortable place to lay down. We spent the night on the cold, hard, wet floor shivering and doing our best to keep warm even with all of our clothes we brought on our person and the light blankets we had with us. I didn’t sleep much at all and as a matter of fact I sobbed as I lay there with every muscle and joint in my body aching. I couldn’t believe this was happening and that this was going to be my reality for the next 4 days. I was miserable. I didn’t want anything to do with any of it. I shivered most of the night and tried to cuddle up to Bryan and the kids and yet still couldn’t get warm as I was wet and we had rain still dripping in through the hole in the cover.
Every time I heard someone get up to go to the bathroom in the night I would pray it was time to get up and yet it wasn't time and time again. I had no idea what time it was so that I could even tell myself it’s only so many more hours till you can get up. I finally fell asleep for a short time and even then I had a nightmare that I was in my house telling Rose about this horrible dream I had that they made us hike up a mountain and then it was pouring rain and we went to bed on the ground and it was cold and we were wet and then I woke up.. and I was on the ground, cold and wet; this was my reality. I hurt so bad and had a horrible attitude about it all. I was so mad that we weren’t prepared for the cold and we didn’t have adequate sleeping arrangements in my opinion and all of this on top of having to come up the mountain on a time schedule that I didn’t even know but just had to keep going. Let’s just say I was not happy.
We were awakened while it was still dark outside by the banging of a rock on a big metal pan repeatedly and yelling from Wayne saying it’s time to get up you have 10 minutes to get out of your tent, all things packed up and Team A to start on breakfast while Team B tears down the tents. I had never cooked corn porridge before; much less did I really like it. We lovingly referred to it as corn mush. Kelsey has lived in Haiti for 2 years and recently married a Haitian YWAM Staff member, Phillipson. Anyway, she had the most knowledge about how to potentially make the porridge so I was given the task of starting the fire. I was given charcoal and a bag with matches and kindling in it. It was so cold and windy that it was incredibly hard to light it; not to mention the matches in Haiti aren’t the best quality. I worked and worked to light that stupid fire and it just wasn’t happening. Christian and Wayne stood over me with flashlights as I worked to figure it out and that set me off. I was not happy that I couldn’t figure it out and here were these two guys, perfectly capable (as was I but I didn’t know it yet) (see God is showing me things here) and yet, they watched. Didn’t they understand I was tired, and cold, and still wet from the night before and now they want to just watch me?! I smarted off - “So, I guess I’m your entertainment for the morning.” Christian turned and walked away and Wayne stood there holding the light not saying a thing. I was livid. I finally got the fire started and was so glad to be done with it while at the same time feeling a sense of pride but not wanting to show any sort of emotion other than the frustration I was feeling. Why? I don’t know. I was acting out of my flesh instead of living like Jesus would want me to.
We cleaned up from breakfast and then we had a class time and anyone wanna guess what it was about? Attitude. Yeah, I didn’t want to hear it at all. I tried to engage in class and read a scripture about how Jesus didn’t have a place to call home or even a soft place to lay his head at night and I said “Oh great, this is where you got the idea huh?” I was mad about it. I shouldn’t have to live like this. I don’t want to live like this. I have the ability to have a pillow and extra clothes, dry clothes, and I even have an air mattress, all be it in America. My kids shouldn’t have to live like this. We have worked hard to provide those comforts for them and where I come from it’s travesty to not have those things. I have the right to have those things and how dare they take all of that away. WOW. I want to live like Jesus; but not LIVE like Jesus. I was seeing more of my character flaws and I didn’t like it. I felt convicted and yet I didn’t want to move on and get over it. Some time passed that day ( I have no idea how much as we had no way to tell time) and I finally was able to deal with the issue of my heart and my attitude and went and apologized and asked for forgiveness for my poor attitude. Hello humble pie.
Tuesday and Friday are the market days for the residents around Mt. Guavia and we had a few items on our menu that were not included in our boxes of ingredients.. such as chicken and fish and some spices. Now, remember we don’t have any modern day conveniences such as a fridge. Can you guess what kind of chickens we had to buy? Oh, and they don’t sell canned chicken in the market on top of the mountain. Yep, live chickens. Wanna guess what we then had to do to prepare them for dinner? Yup! We were sent through the market with our list of items to get and our envelope of gourdes ( said goudes) (Haitian currency) we were given an average of what each item should cost and that was it. No translator, no help to know what was what - like this specific type of dried fish - although it was hard to miss the stench of. Thankfully, both teams had a member that could speak and understand some creole and that was immensely helpful. I actually enjoyed the market trip. I liked looking at all the different items and bargaining with the vendors as well as the excitement of finding what was on the list when we had no idea how to navigate this mass of vendors that had encamped on the mountain for the day. We had some extra money left in our budget and were able to get some treats for the entire team and that was fun and a welcomed thing. We got some chips that are like cheesy puffs and we got some really delicious popsicles that are like pop ice on steroids! They are so big!
After lunch it was time. Time for Team A to start the dinner process. This meant that it was time to learn how to slaughter and clean a chicken and then cook dinner which consisted of rice, and chicken in red sauce. I was actually looking forward to this part as I have wanted to learn how to do this for a long time so we could better live off the land whether in America or wherever the Lord sends us. I was a bit nervous and worried I’d get grossed out by the process but I did really good! There are pictures out there somewhere - we gave up our right to have cameras; but the staff did take pics! - try to find YWAM Haiti on fb if you want to see them they should make it there eventually! Christian showed us how to hold the chicken properly and proper slicing etiquette and then it was our turn. One by one we went. I went first and I had a talk with my chicken first. It was a beautiful chicken - his name was Franco. I told him he was going to meet his maker and not to fight me and be a good little chicken as I did my duty to the team in preparing him for dinner. Franco was an excellent participant. He didn’t backtalk at all and was very cordial as he went to his final resting place. I braced my foot on his chest, stretched out his neck and sawed away with a fierceness necessary to do such a task. His head came off and I jumped back to avoid the splatter and we watched and laughter erupted as he ran around into the crowd that had formed with his head cut off. I caught him and laid him to rest on the ground as we waited for the others to do theirs.
I had started the pot of water before we started the slaughtering process and it was just about boiling when we completed the slaughter. We then took our chickens and dipped them in the pot of hot water and let them sit in the “hot tub” for a couple of minutes and then it was back to the side of the mountain to pluck their feathers. I was amazed at how easily they came out with the hot bath. The group of people around to watch and encourage and give instruction was so massive and so lively. I really enjoyed the crowd. I felt like I was on an episode of survivor or something and yet it was before a live audience! Anyway, I plucked him clean and headed back to start the rice. Kirsten and Kelsey finished theirs along with Christian and then Kirsten volunteered to gut them all while Kelsey and I worked on rice and red sauce.
We got our rice done way early, but thankfully it stayed warm with the huge pot it was in and the bag we placed over it. We made the red sauce and that’s about the extend of the similarities of ours to the authentic Haitian red sauce we have become accustomed to. Ours tasted great, but definitely not Haitian at all. We had taken quite a bit of time with the slaughtering process and gutting that we weren’t able to boil the chicken as long as we needed to so it was a bit rubbery but the meal was still enjoyable and enjoyed by everyone. I was so proud of our team and proud of myself for truly making a meal 100% from scratch all the way down to the chicken!
The next day we were back on water duty and my attitude about it was much better and I actually got more sleep that night as God had given me some ideas of how to better pad the ground and of course I wasn’t wet that night so that was a great thing as well! That meant it was team B’s turn to slaughter their chickens and this was something none of us as students had ever done before. The crowd was much smaller today and that worked well for team B. Bryan had to close his eyes when he slaughtered his chicken but he did it well and they made an excellent meal as well.
Both of those days we had class times and we had encouraging times where we went around the circle and told each other strengths and things we love about each other. This was so powerful and such a good thing to hear; especially as we were all struggling with exhaustion and feeling gross and dirty as we couldn't wash and fix ourselves up at all. I wish we would grab ahold of what a positive word can do for someone and really make an effort to constantly build each other up and call out the good in one another rather than the negativity that comes so easily and the silence that is so rampant in many circles where we then live with regret for not saying the things that we truly feel. We could truly change lives by just doing this little thing. Seeing people for who God says they are and calling out the good character traits in them.
By the end of the trip God had really worked on me about my thought process and my attitude. I was struggling with feeling left out and not accepted. I felt like my opinion wasn’t valued and that I deserved to be heard. Coming down the mountain I visited with my one on one leader Sarah about these feelings and she challenged me to seek why I really thought I needed or deserved to be heard and accepted. She said one simple statement that had such an impact on me and I don’t think she really thought about it or put any value in it but she at one point said “well, I think you are in a discipleship training school.” I asked and what is that supposed to mean. She said that God was going to be teaching me things and that is that - I am in a DTS. I realized at that point that I was going after the wrong things. I was seeking man’s approval and acceptance rather than keeping my focus on God and seeking him.
God gave me a picture later that better describes this breakthrough for me on my terms and that is that one of my favorite things we made in our bakery was a warm sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting and pearl sprinkles on top for that added crunch and sweetness. God told me that while I really enjoy the sprinkles on the cookie, they aren’t vital to me enjoying the cookie itself and are really a bonus. You see, I have a Martha spirit in so many ways and in this time in my life and over the past several months God has been calling me to have more of a Mary spirit where I will sit down at his feet and stop running around worrying about all that has to be done. I am such a mom and such a lover of people that I want to help everyone and I want to take care of everyone and make everyone feel included and loved. While those are all good things, they are not the most important thing. My relationship with God is and out of that all of those other things flow. I can’t do all of those other things without first having my relationship with God first and foremost. So, the basics of the best cookie ever are the sugar cookie and the cream cheese frosting.. Me and God. While the sprinkles are great - relationships with others - they are not the most important thing and they are a bonus that comes out of my great love for God he will build those great, Godly relationships.
I have seen even more things, as I pointed out, in this post that God was trying to teach me on the mountaintop and I pray that he continues to reveal himself to me in new ways and even more through this experience. Thank you all for your continued prayers. They are so felt and appreciated. If you haven’t signed up and would like to - we need more intercessors to join with us and pray for our family daily as we pursue the Lord wholeheartedly throughout this DTS and into the future. You can do so by visiting our website and clicking the link on the home page to sign up at www.thehorners.yolasite.com or you can just email me with intercessor in the subject at email@example.com and we will get you added to the email of prayer requests.