It’s been seven months since I stepped off of the old DC-3 airplane onto the hot tarmac in Port-au-Prince. In that time, I have learned how to drive around goats, pedestrians, and erratic vehicles. I can now understand French spoken with a Haitian accent and am learning how to speak Creole. My days are filled with line-drying laundry, ferrying my son back and forth to school, buying drinking water, and pouring bleach into our cistern to keep the mosquitos from breeding there. Oh––and I can now make awesome tropical smoothies!
But until recently, I didn’t feel like I’d really found my niche on the mission field; I was still waiting to discover that special place where God would have me minister. Was it the local artisan’s cooperative, which helps people to support their families through the dignity of work? Or the orphanage where flies buzz around the faces of the wheelchair-bound children? Or maybe within the local missionary community––hosting Bible studies, keeping guests at our home, and helping short term missions teams with logistics?
My expectation was that I would find meaning in what I do on the mission field. But instead, the Lord is gently teaching me that my niche––the place where I belong and where I will find meaning––is in Christ alone. In her book, The Experience of Prayer, Emilie Griffin says that “He is the one who can tell us the reason for our existence, our place in the scheme of things, our real identity.”
So as seven months in Haiti turns into eight and nine and twelve, you may find me at the artisan’s cooperative or the orphanage, and I’ll definitely still be hanging laundry and making smoothies. But, Lord willing, those will be outward expressions of love for others flowing from my identity as the beloved of Christ, not places where I try to find meaning for my life.
How about you? Have you found yourself looking for meaning in all the wrong places?