The Feed

Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

In Haiti:

In Haiti: 'Here I Am Lord'

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Kristi Hartman attends Incarnation Lutheran Churchin Shoreview, Minnesota. She went to Haiti on amission trip with Feed My Starving Children last November. Here, she shares her reflections from that trip.

“What are you going to do there?” I was asked time and time again when I shared that I would be spending a week in Haiti last November.

Our family loves to travel and we’ve spent plenty of vacation time on beaches not all that far from Haiti, but this trip wasn’t going to be a vacation.

This was to be my first mission trip, my first time to a developing country, my first time away from home where I didn’t have any responsibility planning or any ability to control what I’d be doing.

I wasn’t so sure of this idea in fact, but I’d heard God telling me that I needed to be there for more than a year at that point. Pastor Gary’s voice was getting louder too, “Are you signed up yet, Kristi? We have a spot just for you.”

I knew one of those spots was just for me – it was heavy on my heart. I had packed food at FMSC for more than eight years and I wanted so badly to meet children who received these meals. I wanted to look them in the eye and hold them in my arms and see that they were kids, just like mine.

But then what would I do with that, seeing that there were kids, lots and lots of them, whose bellies and hearts were hungry? I couldn’t possibly make enough of a difference in one short week to change all of their lives or to change even one of them.

And being the type-A person that I am, I couldn’t stand starting something that I was going to have to leave undone.

After all, my reputation at our past MobilePacks was that of taking over the church’s super-duper double vacuum after the last packing shift to be sure that every grain of rice was cleaned before I could leave.

I needed to see our work done to completion. Maybe my friends and family were right – what was I going to be doing there?

‘Es-tu fatiguee, mon amour?’

Immediately upon arrival I realized that there was no time for thinking like this. I was there to be hands of Christ. I was there as a servant, not to run my own agenda.

I prayed for the ability to set aside my tendency to take charge and let Jesus lead me to where I needed to be. That first day at the hospital for sick and dying children, He put beautiful children in my arms, one after another. I held and soothed and prayed for them.

I went into a room filled with preschool-aged children and sat down on the floor among them.

There was one little girl who was set down near me by one of the nuns and she was terribly emaciated.

She stood in one place with her eyes barely open, her arms outstretched, mumbling something that I couldn’t understand. But I understood very clearly that she was tired and sick and weak.

She was in a place filled with strangers and she didn’t feel well at all. I reached for her to come to me and to rest on my lap, but she wouldn’t come.

For at least 20 minutes, I invited her to come to me and to let me hold her but she wouldn’t come. All at once I thought to ask her in French, “Es-tu fatiguee, mon amour? Viens ici avec moi. Je veux bien t’aider.” (Are you tired, my love? Come here to me. I want to help you.)

As soon as the words had left my mouth, her little face turned to me and she fell into my arms and snuggled into me to rest.

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to try speaking with her in French sooner. I knew that the local language was Haitian Creole, which is derived from French, but I also knew that children don’t start learning English or French unless they attend school. Haiti

In that moment, all those years of studying the language made perfect sense to me. It was a gift I had been saving up for this very day, for this very girl, and God made it clear that I was exactly where He wanted me to be.

I didn’t build anything when we were in Haiti that week. I didn’t stitch up any wounds or deliver any babies. I didn’t dig a well or adopt any children. But I did hold kids – lots of them.

I got to hug them and laugh with them. I let them feel my smooth hair and look into my blue eyes as I looked into their brown ones. I jumped-rope with them and painted their beautiful faces. I held their hands to play ring-around-the-rosie. I loved them up just the way any kid wants to be loved up. I spoke with them in French and let them guess my age.

‘I Was Undoubtedly Right Where God Wanted Me’

At the Soccer Initiative in Port-au-Prince I got to cut open packages of FMSC MannaPack Rice and help prepare it. Yes – I got to open them!

After filling and sealing countless bags over the years, I got to open some, which was a delight for me.

Together we opened an entire box of food and prepared two giant pots of rice that would feed the hungry children who would be arriving after school.

These weren’t just any bags of rice though; they were bags that had been packed at our very own church, here at Incarnation’s MobilePack just six months earlier.

I was undoubtedly right where God wanted me that day. Our whole group was.

We were blessed beyond belief to be serving as the hands and feet of Jesus and to be witness to His incredible work in this world. Surely this wasn’t a coincidence but rather a way for God to show us that we could make a difference.

Our contribution, no matter how small, when combined with those of others, adds up to be something of great significance.
In our short week, we certainly didn’t finish what we’d started in Haiti, but I was okay with it.

I was even okay with not being in control of anything at all. It felt good to let go. God worked through me on that trip and continues to work through me now.

He called me to come and I’m glad that I let Him take me there.

I realized that I need to take more time to be quiet and to listen for His voice, because it’s there.

I don’t want to cover up His calling with my own to-do list anymore. I want to practice letting go of the reigns and letting Him work through me.

He’s got a much better agenda in mind anyway.

In the end, the question that my friends and family should have been asking me was, “What is He going to do with you there?”

In fact, He was going to change me forever.

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