Monday, February 21, 2011

Should We Stay or Go? Our Plans for Next Year.

photo credit:  Joanna Howard

Keeping the charts updated.  That was one of my very first jobs Beth gave me at Heartline.  It was the perfect job for me.  I could barely speak Creole.  I was uneasy about grabbing a pregnant lady's belly and trying to figure out if her baby was head down or breech.  I was not quite ready to ask a pregnant woman some extremely personal questions about her body...questions one would never bring up normally in polite conversation.  Questions, I'm not even sure I could ask with a straight face, cause I'm mature that way.  So...thankfully the files and I got to be great friends.

The task of updating the files was given to me early on in our time in Haiti.  I'd come to Heartline, pour over the files, write down due dates, sit with the women during their exams while at the same time...at home..Aaron and I were having hard, oftentimes heated conversations about what our futures would look like.  Will we stay in Haiti after our nine months at this school are over?  Everything in me wanted to go home.

There were days when I hated Haiti, and I hated Aaron for wanting to stay here.  Actually there were a whole lot of those days.  Never once did I think we should leave before the school year was over.  We had given our word.  The boys were happy.  As hard as it was, this would be good for us.  I had peace we should be here.  But after nine months?  After our commitment was over?  I wanted to head home.

In moments when the conversation would get a little loud or ugly, Aaron who is never the loud one or the ugly one would calmly say, "Let's not talk about this for now.  I'm just going to continue praying that if we're supposed to be here that by the time we have to make a decision you will want to stay."

When I am fighting mad and Aaron says crap like that it makes me want to kick him in the teeth.  Sad, but true story.

I'd go back to Heartline, oftentimes sitting alone in an exam room with the charts, updating them before prenatal visits.  Those charts have been splattered with tears more than once.  The tears would fall as I'd replay the conversation I had with Aaron the night before about wanting to leave.  Why am I such a butt? They'd fall as I'd write down a due date...July 2...and realize I won't even be here to see this baby born if we leave.  How can I cry about staying and cry about leaving? 

I know God speaks to people.  I know some people even say they have heard God talk out loud.  I'm not one of those people.  What I do know is that I kept getting this really clear message in my mind as I'd fill in those prenatal charts..."these pregnancies...your life here in Haiti...they are linked."  I felt this tug on my soul...like God was whispering to me to find Him in these charts...in these pregnancies...they were deeply connected.  Every single week.  Me.  The charts.  Trying to find God somewhere in them.

We only made a nine month commitment to be in Haiti.  Aaron was praying my heart would change.  I would smirk off to bed after an argument with Aaron saying things in my mind like, "Pray all you want.  This place sucks.  There's nothing good here.  How could I ever want to stay?"  I'd also say things in my mind like, "Up your nose with a rubber hose" because again...I'm so incredibly mature.

Nine months.  That's all we committed to be here.  After nine months, we could go home...hopefully returning as better people because of our time here.  People who could better understand the needs of the poor and be better informed as we advocate for the orphan.

At the same time God graciously gave me a front row seat to many pregnancies.  Coincidental they are nine months?  Maybe, but maybe not.  I know I've seen our story in these women's growing bellies.  I've seen a visual of the Kingdom of God.  It's hard here.  I've not gotten any better at tolerating the noise, the indescribable heat, the cold water, the lack of hot water, the traffic, the corruption, the trash, and how frustrating it is to get anything...I mean one dang thing...accomplished in this country.  But I've seen babies born.  I've seen new life appear.  Rewards after a long, hard, oftentimes scary pregnancy or labor.  No matter how long or hard a pregnancy and labor has been, there is always a beautiful reward.  I've seen growing something good and strong takes time and hard work.  I've seen how very little any of us humans have to do with new life, growth, the mystery of birth...this is God's territory.  This is miracle making.  This is the stuff of heaven. 

In big picture things and little picture things these growing tummies and births have found the Lord whispering sweet, sweet truths into my ear.  Truths about time...about a Kingdom that is coming...about how a pregnancy is only the beginning of something even more lovely...a relationship between mom and child that is deep and real.

I see our life in Haiti wrapped up in those wombs.  Growth takes time.  Learning takes time.  Serving takes time.  Loving the Haitian people takes time.  There are no quick fixes, and thankfully God is the one doing the knitting.  We've simply sat back and watched Him at work and have been invited to stay and see a little more of what He's up to in Haiti through Heartline.

We are staying in Haiti.  I can hardly believe I just typed that sentence.  God has truly changed my heart, and He's used expanding bellies of all things to do so.  I mean...we don't want to leave right after the "baby" is born.  How could we?  I'm seeing how the nine months we committed to stay has only been the beginning of so much.

We won't be at QCS next year.  Aaron will not be teaching.  Both Aaron and I will be working at Heartline.

Many posts to follow as we fill in a lot of the gaps in this story and share how we feel the Lord is leading us.  Once again, we thank you for being along on this journey with us.  Your prayers and your encouragement continue to bless our family.  So many of you pray for us, and in that you are connected to what God is doing.  Thank you.

35 comments:

eliz@thesweetlife said...

Beautiful and honest story!

Brittany said...

Your courage to follow the Lord to such a degree is SUCH an inspiration to me. It is so easy for me to follow him when I feel him lead me to do something as simple as a kind word, or a meal for a sick friend, but I can't say it would be easy if the task was as daunting as what you have taken on. I pray that if ever I am led to do something with such magnitude as leaving our home and following boldly where the Lord takes us, I am as courageous as you have been!

Hendrick Family said...

Oh Girl...I am not brave! I wake up sweaty at night...from the heat, but mostly from all the ways I can think of that my kids can die here. I still do that.

I promise. I'm not brave. But God is bigger than my fear I guess. That's the only way I know how to explain it, because I know me...and I'm not brave.

Heather

Katherine said...

I continue to be so grateful for you, for your ministry, your honesty, your humor, your ability to reveal the Spirit of the Living God to me in vivid and unexpected ways. Reading your blog changes me, challenges me. Fills me with love. Blessings and strength to you & your family as you stay.

Lauren said...

"When I am fighting mad and Aaron says crap like that it makes me want to kick him in the teeth."

This made me laugh a big laugh. So much to love (and envy) about honest, faithful husbands.

I just started following last week and can hardly navigate away from your stories and insight. Thank you for sharing!

Brooke said...

I've been praying for this post to come. (don't be mad at me!) I'm excited to tears that today I got to read it. Knowing your love for God and desire to say yes to Him.... I'm not surprised in the least. I'm glad HE has stolen your heart through pregnant bellies. He redeems all things.

I remember sitting in your kitchen 2-ish years ago and talking about my life in Thailand...and I remember telling you that you WERE cut out for missions. That even though you kept claiming heather hilton, I knew once you were called those people would steal your heart.... more importantly our Creator would steal your heart. You're doing what you were made for this year.

i love you.

The Farmers said...

Thank you for sharing. We will continue to pray for your family and provision as you live out this crazy life. You are such a blessing and encouragement to others. Thank you.

hopefuloffive said...

Wow, that is great that you are staying. It is even greater that you were able to be honest about your feelings, honest about conversations not just with your husband, but honest about conversations with God. I just started reading your blog and am excited to see the journey that God will take your family on as you continue in obedience.

Melissa Terry said...

Oh, bless God! I am so full of anticipation to see what God has in store for the Hendricks and His kingdom there.

Thank you for being willing...

Anonymous said...

tears of joy as I read your words. it is a humbling thing to read your thoughts day after day, to watch God shine His light in your soul and make you more His than you were before. to read that you are once again denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following after Him in obedience even though it is so hard is so overwhelmingly beautiful to me. to watch God work in this magnificent way inspires me to worship Him so much more. and encourages me that following God doesn't ever "look" like we think it will. His ways are not our ways.

thank you for sharing. praying that God continues to mold you into who He wants you to be.

~Shawna

Amanda said...

That is awesome, Heather. I will keep praying for you guys. It's been beautiful to see God's faithfulness through your blog posts.

Anonymous said...

We are heading overseas for two years in April. I am going to a cushy country, but have had some of the emotions you mention. I also have a level headed, praying husband who just wants me to be happy, but follows God's leading anyway! Thankyou for your honest post,sometimes it can be lonely on this journey.
Dee

Margaret Mosley said...

I think it is wonderful that you are listening to God's guidance and opting to stay another year. However, I must tell you I don't look forward to watching the weather channel each day to see what hurricane is headed for Haiti again this year!!
The Hendrick family is indeed an inspiration to all. You are leaving the worldly things behind and following our Master with your hearts and souls. And THAT my young friends is what it is all about! God bless you all!

Marla Taviano said...

Is it okay for me to be THRILLED that you're staying (as I sit here in comfy Ohio)? And I can't wait!! to hear more about what you and Aaron will be doing with Heartline! Can't remember if I told you, but we already have 3 Prayer Doulas for every pregnant mama!!

beth lehman said...

I often wake at night and for some reason pray for you all in Haiti and other missionary families our church has mentioned during the week - I believe in prayer - but have a hard time hearing God speak to me. I pray, too, that God will guide our family - as he has yours - so that we can do his perfect will. I love hearing your story - you inspire many others to simply pray that God will use us - in a way he desires. I am a "praying doula"!

John said...

Yes Heartline will be blessed to have you and Aaron even if Aaron does have a hose up his nose.

Avey said...

I am so, so excited you're staying! This blog encourages me so much. God will bless your faithfulness and your obedience.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Well, I'm gonna say that you ARE brave, because God makes us all of the things we could never be on our own. He fills, He cools, He protects. He makes us want to step into a place of bravery.

Go ahead and argue.

Gimme all you've got.

I am covered in goose bumps here. I'm kinda bummed that it's all that much longer before I'll meet you for realz, but I am happy for you and proud of you.

God sure is crazy, huh?

Leigh said...

So cool! Love hearing about your heart change through this journey.

Anonymous said...

So excited for you and your family :) Love your honesty as you've wrestled with "should we stay or go"? Love how God has spoken to my heart through your words.

God blessed!

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

So exciting! Love the 9 months connection.

Britney said...

You probably don't remember this, but we met early in the school year at some type of teacher function at QCS (which is funny because I'm not really connected to QCS). Anyway, the point of this comment is to say that I'm glad you are staying in Haiti because, well if I can be so bold, I would like to be your friend. I moved to Haiti around the same time your family did and I've been working with some missionaries that send their kids to QCS. I found your blog (a clear act of God) one day, and then realized I had met you earlier in the year! I am encouraged by your honesty, and I love your sense of humor. More than that though, I am impressed by your desire to serve the Lord even when it's not easy. The next time I'm on the QCS campus, I will try to find you so I can introduce myself.

The Family said...

Thank you, once again, for being honest. I love how you said you wanted to kick your husband in the teeth...I love how you really didn't! :)

rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your story I just found your blog and your bravery and faith has made me brave. I am a foster mom and we are adopting our first right now and I worry about taking in more children I worry about our sons attachment or what he will have to sacrifice and I read your blog and it made me realize that God wraps all of that up. He protects our children in our obedience. Thank you for spurring me on to obedience! Excited for your journey

mbs said...

Thank you Jesus!! I am so glad to hear this. I look forward to hearing how the Lord will use you in the area of Orphan care.

May HE continue to provide all that you need.

mandi said...

I have been WAITING for this post! I can't wait to hear more.

I have to add...you and Aaron, me and John- oh so very similar. : )

Sarah said...

I started reading your blog after you had moved to Haiti (after your filing days). It never occurred to me that you guys were only there for 9 months. Honestly, I was shocked when I heard that. The way you talked about Haiti, Heartline, and mainly the women in the program signaled long term commitment to me. I was assuming that your work in Haiti was just beginning. What I'm trying to say is that while you may not have made plans to stay in Haiti I think somewhere, somehow you knew. Your writing these past few months said it all.

Susan, wife of 1, mother of 4 said...

I've been thinking of you and wondering what choice you and Aaron made. It isn't easy, Heather, and sometimes it's downright hard and not fun, but being in the will of God is SO worth it. The peace is AMAZING. I just prayed for you yesterday, and I'm praising God for your faithfulness today. I think we are able to sponser you for next year, if you need it. You have an AMAZING husband to handle the heated discussions the way he did (and yes, I'd be furious as well when he said those calm things)! I love your honesty. God won't let you down. So proud of you!!

Siesta OC said...

This blog is one of ny favorites! You have been used to open up such a (pun totally intended) heart for ministry for me! I love Heartline! I would love to get involved.
I, unlike rubber-hose nose, love woman-talk and altho i can't imagine how heartbreaking it can be, I also know there are moments of full on 'chara,' unable to stay contained in your own heart. GOD takes my breath away!
I also loved your reference of 9 months. I remember doing a Bible study that lasted 9 mo. with my group and thinking, 'how cool, GOD is birthing something here.' Yours takes it to a whole new level. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. So glad you are staying, I wouldn't know you anywhere else.

rooney said...

you are an amazingly real woman who serves an Amazing God. i've read your blog for a while and God uses you in ways you'll not comprehend this side of heaven. i pray safety over you and your family, but more than that, i pray peace and grace in our hearts as your serve Him.

Renee said...

What a great example of God's love!
You are truly and inspiration!

Anonymous said...

meant to comment last week as I am praying for Lucille Pierre specifically (part of the family calls me Lucy and our firstborn was born and went to heaven 3/24 many years ago) and I pray for you and yours also, thank you for serving the kingdom. I am sea salt mosaic('s) mother and they have adopted from haiti, John Mchoul took her from the airport to the embassy last year, God was at work planning every step of her journey to get her two little ones. merci and blessings to you and yours

Gretchen said...

Haha, I just laughed when I read in the comments above that you wake up at night thinking of all the ways your kids could die here. Not because it's funny but because I have been there so many times. I worried a TON about all of the ways my kids could die in THIS place and then it almost happened. Last year my daughter very nearly died in this place and when it came to that moment God gave me more strength then i could have ever imagined. And more grace and help from His children and healing then I could have ever envisioned. It was truly my worst nightmare and the moment when I saw God the most clearly. God healed my daughter completely and taught me again that I have NOTHING to fear. He has ordained the day of my children's birth and the day of their death, long before they came to being. There is not one thing I can do to change that and they certainly will not die sooner for my willingness to follow God to this strange place. They are quite safe in God's hands. God will accomplish His perfect purpose in their lives and in mine and He will give me the grace for each moment as it comes. That is one of the wonderful things about living in a strange place, all of the veils are pulled aside. We get to see how fragile our lives really are and how God is continually holding us together. It's easy to have a false sense of security and invincibility in the states with our clean water and carseats and health insurance and for that matter quality healthcare. We are safe in His plan wherever He calls us.

Sharon said...

Oh Heather,

You are an inspiration!

mamamargie said...

I so admire your struggle and your commitment. I am keeping you and Heartline in prayer. Loved this post.