Return on Investment

By Jaclynn Balas, Pacific Crossroads’ Intern in Haiti

Jaclynn and one of the local childrenAgreeing to come to Haiti for nine months was an exciting step out in faith. Although I had been there several times before on short-term trips, I admittedly romanticized what living in Haiti could be like. I daydreamed about completed projects being marked off my mental checklist, exceeding supporter expectations, instantly transformed children, and adventurous expat outings with new friends.

A few months in and life looked a little different. Even with my knowledge of cultural context, things seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace. I found myself completely out of patience with the kids while their need for love never seemed greater. I, at times, felt desperately isolated and lonely. I was angry that I didn’t seem to be receiving a return on my investment of time, energy, and personal sacrifice. An experience I sometimes selfishly thought would be so instantly gratifying was becoming a source of exhaustion and resentment.

Slowly, I am learning to trust in God’s plan even when I don’t understand His timing. As my final month living in Haiti comes to an end, I am able to reflect on all that I’ve experienced and learned. I anticipate that many of the lessons will be life-long and take much more time to process. But this one lesson, the surrender of control and submission of results, is one that seems to repeat itself in most of my life circumstances.

1 Corinthians 3:7 says, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” God makes hearts and minds, hope and Haiti, grow. I will not see the results of all my efforts (and frankly it doesn’t matter that they were my efforts). Few things happen here instantly, and the day-to-day is not always gratifying, but I have learned to be thankful that I’m not in control. Jesus calls me to faithful obedience and asks that I trust in His good plans.

When I am able to drown out my doubts and believe Jeremiah 29:11 – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” – I have joy-filled moments of peace. Knowing that He is in control is a source of comfort when I believe that He uses all things – hurts, heartaches, earthquakes, and our own brokenness – for His purpose (Romans 8:28).

After three years of visiting and nine months of living in Haiti, I am invested. I love the kids and the community. I have laughed here, cried here, attended weddings, anticipated births, and shared in heartaches. I feel a strange sense of belonging walking around town and hearing people greet me by name. I don’t know God’s plan for this community or for myself, but I am looking forward to coming back, and that warm return will be worth the investment.

For the past eight months, Jaclynn has been living in Haiti as Crossroads’ intern, working with our partner, Souls Winning Ministries. Her primary focus was to set up structure for the children living in the children’s home and to empower local leaders to take over running it. She also worked closely with school leaders to assess the children’s education levels and determine development needs for the future. Finally, Jaclynn played a key role in launching a brick-making business that employs eight local community members, enabling them to create positive change in their community. You can read more about Jaclynn’s life in Haiti by visiting her blog (click here).

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