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If there’s one thing you don’t know about me (or maybe you do), it’s that I’m pretty stubborn. There are very few people who can get in the way of me when I’ve made up my mind about something. By very few, I mean Jesus and my dad.

Almost a year ago, I was sitting at Cross Point‘s downtown campus when Wes Howard announced that they would be going to Haiti. I was pretty excited. I remembered what I had learned about Haiti from the media – it had been devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010 and never fully recovered. I remember seeing all of the pictures. I knew people who went in to help. I prayed for the poor and powerless. And that was about it. Why? Because I had my own life and my own mission field to pursue – high school students. I also remember feeling like I should go. Then, of course, laughing.

The thing is, for as stubborn as I am, I am made in the image of God…and he can be just as persistent and relentless with what he wants. I started hearing more of the details of our partnership in Haiti and I was intrigued. Our pastor spoke on the importance of missions and my heart started beating faster. The high school girls I was working with began to put up walls and that, combined with an increasingly more busy schedule made it hard to continue ministry there. I had a pretty good argument with the Lord. And on the day that I moved the last of my stuff into the place I live right now – sitting in the middle of boxes and boxes of “stuff” – I gave up. I said yes. The girl who never wanted to go on a missions trip said yes.

I had no idea how much I needed it.

Fast forward to August 4th, 2012. I’m up far too early, grabbing my bags, and headed to the airport when one of my best friends starts playing and singing songs over me (she’s the best singer I know, so she could sing the annoying lambchop song and I would be totally fine about it). One of those is Take Heart by Hillsong United. And suddenly, this very stubborn and strong-willed girl is in a puddle of tears. I was terrified. I couldn’t breathe. I just kept thinking “what if a hurricane hits”…”what if we become prisoners to the country”…”what if I never see my family again”. Terrible thoughts, one after the other, over and over and over.

Then these words….

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again

Peace.

We landed in Haiti. Driving around, I wasn’t shocked by what I saw. I knew what to expect. I was just fascinated…and glad to have made it. We stayed in Port au Prince the first night, got up and went to church, and made the 5 hour trek to our destination in the mountains in a town called SaintMichel-de-l’Attalaye. Our accommodations were far nicer than I expected, but still not like anything I was used to. Our food was great, our team got along well. There wasn’t much more we really could have hoped for. Monday the 6th was our first work day. I was on the morning work/afternoon play schedule. We set out bricks, poured mortar for about 3 rows and broke for lunch. After that, I was setting my stuff down when out of the corner of my eye, I realized there was someone waiting for me.

Her name is Louventa. She was my shadow for the rest of the week. Would not let go of my hand. And still hasn’t let go of my heart. She waited ever so patiently every day for us to finish lunch and would peek over the wall and say my name…which sounded like “creaseteen” from her surprisingly deep and raspy voice. She’s only 7 and has a stronger voice than I do. The minute I stood up for lunch, she would run to my side, brush the dust off my clothes, take my hand and lead me to play. We jumped rope, sang, did cartwheels, played chase, threw frisbees, drew pictures, and anything else we could dream up. The kids were more tiring than the work!

What I realized by the end of our time there was that the language barrier wasn’t such a barrier. Louventa would speak to me, and what I didn’t understand, she didn’t fault me for. She just held on to me tighter and showed me the way. And in that moment, I remembered what it means to be loved. Truly loved. I thought about the Father and how He tries to speak to me. I think about the times He invites me to dream and be adventurous with Him. I think about the times when I’m absolutely terrified, or weak, or I’m angry and I don’t understand…and He doesn’t fault me. He just holds me tighter and shows me the way.

I never wanted to go on a missions trip. Ever. I never thought I needed to. But the Father had to out-stubborn me and take me to one of the most broken countries in the world just so I could remember – really, truly remember – how much He loves me (and little Louventa). He orchestrated every event in my life to lead to this point so that a broken, confused, stubborn girl could realize her worth and how much everything counts. I will never be able to fix Haiti. No one person could. But I can love. I can be a light. I can hold a hand and pour mortar and jump rope until I can’t feel my legs anymore if it means little Louventa (or any other child) can understand that she is loved – furiously and unconditionally loved.

The words still echo in my mind…

All our troubles, And all our tears, God our hope – He has overcome

All our failure, And all our fear, God our love – He has overcome

All our heartache, And all our pain, God our healer – He has overcome

All our burdens, And all our shame, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our justice, God our grace, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our refuge, God our strength, God is with us – He has overcome!

You’re reading part twelve of my 30 (ish) day blog challenge. Here’s what you’ve missed so far:

Day 1 — Your best friend – Rachel
Day 2 — Your vices – Just Read It
Day 3 — Your parents – Barry & Carla
Day 4 — Your siblings – Barry & Daryl
Day 5 — Your dreams – I’ve got lots
Day 6 — Someone that inspires you – Stacey
Day 7 — Your job – Work in progress
Day 8 — Your favorite internet friend you’ve never met – Stephanie
Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet – George W. Bush
Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to – Alyson
Day 11 — A deceased person you wish you could talk to – Papa Jim

If you meet me and get to know me well enough, you’ll know a few things: 1. I have a short attention span. 2. My mouth moves faster than my brain can think. 3. I’m a passionate fighter. When you learn that I’m Italian (plus a little irish, scottish, english, indian, norwegian, cajun and TEXAN!!….okay, okay…I’m a mutt), my dream vacation should come as no surprise to you. I want to go to Italy.

My whole life I’ve heard stories from my dad and my granny about our Italian family. In the summer of 96, my whole family piled in to our van and drove for two day…yes TWO DAYS…to the tiniest state in the U.S., Rhode Island. For two days, all we heard about was the family and the different types of food. The Texans were headed north…and we had never been further North than Tennessee. It was an experience to say the least. (I loved Virginia, by the way…so pretty.) When we finally got there, our Uncle Cozzy made a barbeque…in honor of the Texans. I was not happy. Our whole family sounded like your atypical northerners. The called my mom “cahlah”, which sounded more like they were calling her collar than Carla. And they couldn’t get enough of my mom’s accent. Everything with her is liiiight and whiiiiite and briiiight…and if you don’t understand that the way it’s typed, call me up. I’ll tell you. Another of my uncles, who I’m gonna call Uncle B for anonymity purposes, I SWEAR is in the mafia. I feel like the mafia is a lot fight club….the first rule of the mafia is you don’t talk about the mafia. And I really don’t know that he is or not…but for the sake of my imagination, he is.

That whole trip and hearing the stories about our family has always made me want to go to the motherland. Although, I hear I’d not be let in to the Ruzzo family property because they don’t know me. (I bet I could weasel my way in…they’d have to love me. I’m family, after all!) And I’ve found the perfect way to go there.

Dear Future Husband,
I know that this may seem a little forward of me, but let’s face it…we both know that I’m the boss here and ain’t nobody happy unless mama’s happy. Well, no, I may not be a mama, but I do think that I should be happy on the first day of the rest of my life. So, let me propose an idea to you! Let’s get married on a hillside in Tuscany. Real simple. Real casual. Just you and me, our parents and the minister. That’s all. We can come back and do all the big reception hooplah after the honeymoon. It’ll be real fun. And if we get bored in Italy (which, is that even possible?!?), we’ll just hop on a train to Paris or get on a plane to London. I mean, I don’t think I’m really asking for much. Do you? Oh, you know I’m gonna win this one anyway. I’ll even let you register for the ridiculous stuff…like a new TV or a Macbook…wait…those actually sound like good gifts. hmm…
lovelovelove,
me

No but seriously…can you imagine…

Excuse me while I go look at flights…


Day 13 — Something you’re looking forward to
Day 14 — Someone you’ve drifted away from
Day 15 — The person you miss the most
Day 16 — Someone that’s not in your state/country
Day 17 — The place you wish you were from
Day 18 — The person that you wish you could be
Day 19 — Something that makes you different
Day 20 — Your favorite television shows
Day 21 — Someone you judged by their first impression
Day 22 — Your pet peeves
Day 23 — The last person you kissed
Day 24 — The person that gave you your favorite memory
Day 25 — A life changing moment
Day 26 — The last person you made a pinky promise to
Day 27 — The thing you most enjoy doing
Day 28 — Someone that changed your life
Day 29 — Your talent
Day 30 — Your reflection in the mirror

little birdy told me…

Recurring Thoughts

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