Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Community

Eight years ago, when I announced to my church in Florida that I would be leaving for full-time service overseas, I never imagined what I was getting myself into. I knew I would have to face lonely times, disease, danger, a foreign language and culture, and fund-raising, but I wasn’t sure to what extent God would test me in each of these areas. And of everything on that list, fundraising was the thing that really made me tremble. I dreaded it. So it came as a total surprise and complete relief when the ministry team at my church (Community Christian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, called me in for a “talk” just a few short weeks after my announcement. They expressed to me their desire to support me fully, as a living link missionary of their congregation. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of relief (no begging!), with a feeling of unworthiness (how could God or any church love me that much?), and with a feeling of responsibility (I’ve got to make them proud!)

Over the years, Community has come to my aid again and again. Not just with their faithful financial support, but with advice, wise counsel, encouragement, rides to the airport and places to stay while stateside, and even a new truck when I destroyed the one they bought me in the river. Each summer, the kids in VBS raise funds for the kids here in Haiti who need formula or money for the hospital. Many of the kids at Community still greet me with a hug and a “hello miss Teresa” each time I come home to visit. The kids even showered my exam room with valentines this year. I couldn’t ask for a better sending church. There was one thing that was lacking, though. A team to come visit me. I wanted the church to see the work here in Haiti. It seemed that each year they would plan something, a coup d’etat or a food riot or some other civil unrest would upset the plans and cause a cancellation. But finally, this year, the time was right. The teams were planned, the flights were purchased, and two teams from my sending church arrived! Each team spent one week here, and it was wonderful to have them. Both teams jumped right into helping out wherever needed. Christianville has had some pretty finicky teams come and visit over the years, but Community Christian Church was not one of them. They were voted “Most Easy-Going Team” of the year by our guest house coordinators, in fact. They worked on construction, evangelism, teaching, upkeep (painting and cleaning and organizing and counting meds) and they even washed my dog. Some of my favorite memories of their visit are of Carla Behrenberg, perched on luggage, enjoying the sights of Port au Prince from the bed of the truck, and Terry Harding signing with a hearing-impaired girl here who hadn’t had a real conversation with anyone in years. I also thoroughly enjoyed the storytimes we shared each night. It was great to get to know everyone so much better.

I thank God every day for His provision for me. Only He knew what a blessing He was leading me to 12 years ago when I chose Community Christian Church out of the phone book and spent my first Sunday there. I couldn't have guessed that it would lead to such a faithful and meaningful relationship. Thank You, Lord, for Community!