One more day. Whoa. I can’t believe that I am waking up to my last full day in Haiti. Time didn’t listen to me, it didn’t slow down. Yet, God has graciously allowed me to do so very much in such a short amount of time!
Yesterday I got up and walked/ran the rocky mountain that knows my deepest darkest secrets. I reflected on the countless number of hours and miles I’ve spent walking that path over the years with Rachel, sometimes on my own. I can look back on so many incredible encounters with God on that hill. Sometimes I’m glad it can’t talk because it knows most of our secrets, other times I wish it could remind me of all the things I’ve processed and learned over the years. It could remind me of so many beautiful encounters I’ve had with the Lord in those moments.
I came home, had some quiet time with the Lord, and not long after the knocks on the door started. I eagerly opened the door to my sweet kiddos. I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that they want to spend time with me before I leave! I got a giant hug, like a big, huge, squeeze your brains out hug followed by an “I’m going to miss you so much!” Annnnd the tears started, it wasn’t even 7:00am!
I spent the morning tying up loose ends and cleaning out my office. And I cried some more. As I was going through my office I was just flooded with so many memories, good and bad. That office has been full of laughter, dance parties and creativity. It’s also been full of really hard conversations, discipline and desperate prayers because most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing!
Yesterday was my last “training” time with Pastor Frantz, my replacement. We covered a lot of ground. When we were done he said this:
“Katie, I need to share something with you. Haiti used to have a leader. That leader planted trees. The people ended up taking him out of the country in a boat. He told them ‘You can take me away in a boat and you can cut off the branches of my trees but a part of me will always still be here because my roots are here and those branches will grow back.’ Katie, you are leaving us and we are so sad. It’s like we’re losing a branch. But I want you to know that what you’ve done here will keep growing. You’ve poured so much love into these kids and people. I’ve always appreciated how much you’ve loved Haiti. I will continue the work that you started. You have planted so many seeds and you will always have strong roots here. You will always be a part of these kids lives and you will always be a part of Haiti”
There were many pauses in this beautiful story as Frantz kept stopping to say “don’t cry.” It didn’t work. I cried. A lot. How beautiful is that!? Gosh, I feel loved.
When Rachel transitioned into her new role and I transitioned into being the Director, she always used to tell me that she couldn’t imagine passing the baton onto anyone else in this season. I get that now. Frantz is going to be great. I believe in him. I can’t think of anyone I know that I would rather take my place in this season. He loves Jesus and he loves those kids. And so today, I pass the baton.
Today is my last full day living in Haiti, at least for now. I’m going to hug a lot, laugh a lot, and no doubt cry a lot today. I’m going to try and cherish each and every hug, each and every moment. I probably won’t sleep tonight.
I am forever, FOREVER grateful that I’ve had this opportunity the last 4 and a half years. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving part of my heart in Haiti the size of 61 kids and my deep love for them.
I’m not really sure how I’m going to do this, how I’m going to say goodbye, but I’m confident that the Lord is carrying me through every step of the way. My dad messaged me yesterday, like he does most days. He said “I was just thinking, I wonder how many hundreds of people are praying for you this week?” He’s right. I have an army of people praying for me and that is humbling and beautifully overwhelming. Thank you, praying friends and family, and please don’t stop!