My Bahamas Story

As I sat there rocking him, tears poured down my face in buckets.  Buckets.

The question was rolling over and over again in my mind, “What is this love I feel?”

I felt love deep. True.  Connected. Not the “I just met you and you are sweet” type love.  Not the “oh my heart breaks for you because you have less than I do” love.  It wasn’t that at all.  It was something new.

The John 15:17 type love “This is my command: love each other.”

Would you be shocked if I told you didn’t even know his name?  All I know is that little two year old boy was crying for his older brother who wasn’t around at the moment and I scooped him up like I scoop up my own sweet babies.

With his head on my shoulder I sang him my mommy songs and his tears faded into a gentle deep sleep.  At that moment, as he slept on me, I felt heaven come to earth in the way that I’ve only experienced a few times before.

Those children  were amazing children.  They were grateful, they were content, they were excited about the small things. I found myself immediately endeared to them because they were so different from children here.

I know it is so tempting to come back from these trips, give people pats on the shoulder and say “so sweet of you to give back to those less fortunate!”  And they would be right.  Yes, they have much less than we do.

Some without electricity.

Some without running water.

Some with family on other islands who have died or been killed.

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On Friday we handed out flip flops.  Do you see the joy in his face over his new Old Navy flips??  That joy was utterly contagious.
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This is an example of a home.  I want to keep this picture in my back pocket to remind me always of the bigger perspective.

But it was I who felt less fortunate.  I am still wading through this feeling.

How can I feel less fortunate?  I’ve been given so much?

But mine is a poverty of heart.  A heart that walks through the aisles and roads of this life back home as if the lives behind the faces do not exist.  For one whole week there were no phones, no computers, no social media, no television.  Just people.  I saw them for them.  

Listening to their stories, giving a loving word and offering a prayer.  And not just Bahamians, but the team of people we went with.

I felt an “ah, this is what I wish life was like all the time.”

My daughter Faith was with us.  She blew my mind.  She loved, she worked, she ministered, she stepped out of her comfort zone. And me mommy?  I just got the joy of riding alongside of her. I did not have to tell her where to go or what to do. I did not have to worry about entertaining her or making her happy.  No, I had only to live with her on wherever her journey was taking her.

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Thank you Maddie, KK, Addie, Kate, Amy, Kazia, and Maddie and Taylor for loving on my girl all week!  For showing her what Godly young women look like and for welcoming her into your way awesome circle.  You made a forever impact on her life. I am eternally grateful.
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Faith was a camp counselor for the 5 and under kids!  Her and Maddie co-led and they did an amazing job taking care of those 10-15 little ones!  This is Faith’s Abby.  She was the sweet little girl that became Faith’s buddy all week, and a answered pray as Faith’s Daddy prayed that she would find a special little someone to love on.  Faith was the champion face painter of the group too, she specialized in rainbows.  A fitting symbol to our week.

Also, the wonder of God’s creation seared into both of our hearts forever.

One night, we were watching the sunset over the Caribbean ocean.  Gabe and Jan, the amazing missionaries who live there, challenged us to sit quiet.  With God and watch the sunset.

As the sun went down below the surface of the water, Kazia a sweet Bahamian young woman on our team, started singing “Oceans” in the most beautiful voice you have ever heard.  If you know my story you know that this song carries deep meaning to my family and I.  It became overly clear once more that God knows us. He loves us.  He is watching and caring even when we might have lost sight of Him.

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“You called me out upon the water, the great unknown.  Where feet may fail.  But there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand.  And I will call upon your name.  And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace.  For I am yours.  And you are mine.”

I had the joy of leading the teen girls at camp.  We laughed, we cried, we braided hair.  One day we played capture the flag and I’m telling you, something got into me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been pregnant or nursing for 10 years and finally felt bodily freedom. Or just maybe it was because my competive juices got flowing, but I was running my face off stealing that flag.  Could I have been embarrassing myself?  Possibly.  Did I pee my pants?  I will plead the 5th on that one.  But my team went undefeated and the teen boys were looking at me quite confused at my sudden onset of capture the flag abilities. There was a Bahamian young man Branden on our team that Faith  and I grew to love and I said to him, “It’s not in the legs, it’s in the heart!”

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These are my girls!  I love you girls and I miss you everyday.  Can’t wait to squeeze you again.
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This is a happy pic with Amy top and Kazia right. I put these two pictures up because Kazia and Branden inspired me and stuck with Faith as she could not stop talking about them. Kazia is a Bahamian college student. Her faith and her heart for worship is a gift straight from the heavens. I will be praying for her, God has mighty things planned for Kazia to do and I would be blessed to be able watch God’s plan for her unfold.  She is generous, she is bold, she is strong for Him.
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This is Branden! Branden was Faith and I’s all things Bahamian tour guide. But more than this God has ministry in store for him too. I pray confidence over him, not confidence that comes from man or circumstances but the kind that comes directly from the hand of God. At 17 years old, God has big things in store for him too. The Bahamas are blessed to have these two.

I don’t care to follow by rules anymore.  I just want to run the race of my life with heavenly heart, regardless of whether my legs will fail me or not.  I don’t care if I’m old, have a million little kids to take care of, and live on an American conveyor belt that tells me I have to live a certain way.  This trip gave Faith and I a taste of God’s goodness that I think our entire family wants more of.

I don’t have a pretty little bow to tie this one up in.  Honestly, I am struggling daily to understand what to do with the stirrings that God placed in us.  This is what I do know: God IS doing some stirring.

Is God stirring anything in you?  Do you have these undefined feelings that won’t leave you be?  Do you sense God calling you to something but you don’t know what it is?

I am there with you too friend.  Will you sit with me here? In prayer and in hope that God will finish the work He began in us? May we finish this race together and May we finish it well.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

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The whole clan!

 

8 thoughts on “My Bahamas Story

  1. Love this, Maria! I am so glad I took the time..and perfect timing it is as I am leaving next Saturday for my first Mission trip (ever) with my daughter…on her first ever youth Mission Trip!

  2. Great post Maria! I know you and Faith were a Mother Daugther duo blessing to the people you came into contact with on your trip ♥️

  3. Beautiful post….so happy you were able to enjoy our beautiful island home. My girls attended the camp and are still talking non stop about and wished it was the whole summer…lol.. they can’t wait for next year….they remember your daughter Faith so i guess she’s left an impression on them…..thank you..

    1. Stacy! How lovely to hear from you. We fell in LOVE with your beautiful Island home and your beautiful children. I think we would have liked camp to be all summer too. It was our joy to be with your kiddos.

  4. Thank you for your service and beautifully written explanation of your experience. We are so grateful for all the mission members who come to serve alongside our team. I hope you return and continue to stay connected to our mission.

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