Jimmy Buffet once wrote a song called Back to the Islands. It seems in this song he is penning a tale of him leaving a girl to return to the islands, all the while thinking of her. I, along with friends, Steve and Becky, will be going back to the islands this Thursday, although I won’t be doing it in the context of leaving my girl whom I love very much. The island that I am going back to is the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR).
I went to Haiti back in 1999 with the church I was attending at the time in Lakeland, Florida: Grace Church. It was the first missions trip ever to come out of that church. Now, I get the opportunity to return to the other half, and more affluent half, of the island. We are going to the DR to help our friends, John and Melissa Hanley, who are missionaries with New Missions. John is the director of the new medical clinic, while Melissa participates in administration and mothering their daughter Kate. It my hope that we get to assist in whatever way we can and, also, be blessed by the national’s hearts.
Thinking back to that trip in 1999 brings back a flood of memories that will build even more as the time grows closer. The first and fondest memory is that of meeting my wife, Tywonn. Tywonn was going on the trip to Haiti because her mom thought it was a good idea, not because she had a heart for serving or for missions. Because of this, I did not think of her a dating material. But God had other plans. He changed her heart while she was there; and changed my heart about her. We began dating on the trip and the rest is history.
One of the other aspects of the trip that still resonates with me today is the seed that God planted in those youth that were on the trip. The trip consisted of approximately 15 teenagers, most, if not all, had ever been on a missions trip. However, the trip, touted as a way to enhance the lives of the nationals, did more for our kid. These kids, who have now gone their separate ways in life, were given something back because they went to serve. They were given gratitude, appreciation, and a different world perspective. This world view did not consist of all the amenities that they had then or have today, but a global perspective that stated they were not as big and important as they believed they were.
It is my hope and belief that this trip will again give me a different take on life. That it will affirm in me that God continues to work in my life and the lives of those around the world. And, that in order for me to think globally, I have to go and be global.