Sunday, June 05, 2011

"What happened?" Faith seeking understanding as Worship

One year ago, a team of us landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. You can read about the trip here. I remember being so full of confidence that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing, ready to take on whatever challenges would come. They came, to be sure.

Indeed, we would play a lot of things by ear on that trip, trying to do our best to help those who came in our path without creating or reinforcing a dependency on western aid. The question, "what exactly are we doing here?" seemed, if not spoken, on the tip of everyone's tongue, because daily we faced our limitations--our lack of cultural understanding, of physical stamina, of creativity, or wisdom. My hope as a team leader was that, no matter how dark our doubts or ambiguous our effectiveness, we would at least share the experience, trusting one another for encouragement and wisdom. Every day, we ended with a daily wrap-up, in which I would ask, "what happened today?"

To me, this is the essence of worship. A life lived together before God. We sang songs together, prayed for one another, talked about what we had seen and done and, if we could, point to where we saw God in all of it.

A year later, I still present that trip before God, and ask for his Spirit to help me discern: "What happened a year ago?" I ponder this because, while there are many things to which I can point definitively and say, "yes, we did help there," there are also many things that have not turned out the way I expected. I no longer belong to the church that sent me and my 15 other team members to Haiti, and the manner in which that relationship changed still confounds and saddens me.

But more significantly, I remember as I walked into the muggy heat of Port-au-Prince, I was open to the possibility, even eager to see, that this trip to Haiti would be the first step toward a long-term calling to serve there. It may still be that, I suppose, but the vision for such a vocation is much murkier to me now. I know I thought I would be returning sooner than a year, and now I wonder not just how I will go back, but for what purpose? What do I, a teacher and worship leader, really have to offer the desperately poor in another culture?

Without answers, I present myself as I am--disoriented, unsure of my purpose--before God, and seek his Wisdom, praying that I would have eyes to see, ears to hear, patience to wait, and courage to follow.