This past week, Devin and I had the honor to serve in Haiti with a team of teenagers and adult youth leaders. I always look forward to all that God has in store through experiences in service, worship, and community, and I was especially excited to be with this group as many of them saw another country for the first time.
I absolutely love working with teens and believe we often set our expectations too low of what they are capable of handling. Devin did such a great job of prepping this team and helping them to understand what they would see, smell, hear, and touch, and he continually reminded them that we would be uncomfortable. “God is not ultimately concerned with our comfort,” is the typical phrase you would hear in our meetings leading up to our trip. The students boarded the plane realizing that while they might not know exactly what Haiti would be like, they did know that God went before them and with them and that He had much to show them in the process of serving others.
Wow, it was such a great week. I was so incredibly pleased with this group! Even other adult leaders in our group commented on how impressed they were with these teens. As I stated, I was pleased...but not surprised. Students are far more capable of leadership and stepping forward in faith than we adults sometimes give them credit for. And, much more so than they can even often see in themselves.
Here are a few reasons why I love serving with teens:
1. They love without restraint. They were plopped in the middle of an unfamiliar culture with a completely different language, and while there were often obstacles to making connections, they dove right in. They embraced the people of Haiti with wide arms and left with full hearts. In fact, our missionary connection in Haiti said that he had never seen a team fully integrate and accept the Haitian team the way this one did. Needless to say, when it was time to leave, there were many tears. But, those students loved deeply and loved well, and they left quite an impression.
2. They serve without complaint (mostly). It was hot, the food was different, the roads were rough, and the actions of others sometimes strange. Add to all of that the service of washing feet, sharing the gospel, praying out loud, and sharing through a translator, and you could see how someone might feel overwhelmed or even frozen at times. Not these teens. They jumped in, worked hard, served well, followed directions, and never once complained about what was asked of them. I know many adults who would not be able to handle all that they shouldered in a day, let alone a whole week.
3. Their energy is contagious. When we traveled back to base for a break or finished with our debrief in the evenings, there was never a dull moment. The rooms, the porch, the balcony, the kitchen - every place was filled with laughter, singing, sharing, and playing. Such joy! They made long Tap Tap rides entertaining and kept everyone smiling.
4. Their worship is passionate. Students are so willing to learn and stretch and grow quickly. I saw them sing songs loudly, share the gospel freely, and pray boldly. I absolutely love how they will lean into God and allow Him to lead the way.
What makes these teen so impressive? It’s not because of who they are. It’s because of God working in and through them. The source of the joy, service, and love of these students is their living relationship with Jesus. He is the One shining through them and making it all possible.
Go to an album here to see more pictures from our time in Haiti.