I learned a lesson about relationships today. Here’s the story:
Today, was my first day back in my Haitian hood…Les Cayes. I spend the majority of my summers down here. I love everything about it except for the 4 hour drive from Port-au-Prince. I have my gas station, my market, my cell phone credit guy, and my water refill station. I frequented this particular water station so often last summer that I became buddies with the vendor, Lorette, a 50-something year old Les Cayes native. I practiced my kreyol with Lorette everyday. We talked about things like where we were from, our families, and my boyfriend (love you, Rud). My limited kreyol didn’t get us very deep in conversation, but it was surely a conversation starter…and it was usually something to laugh at.
So on the way to dinner tonight, I stopped by my water refill station.. I figure, if Lorette was even still there, surely she wouldn’t remember me. She sees hundreds of people on a daily basis, and it’s been a year since I last saw her. I imagined myself walking up to the window and staring with a creepy “do you remember me” smirk and her looking back confused and maybe a little bit scared.
But, boy, was I wrong.
When Lorette saw me, it went more like this: “What?!? Kawolin I was just thinking about you yesterday! I wanted to ask about you but wasn’t sure who to ask. Every time I see a blan (white person, basically) I think of you. I’m so happy to see you!” She kissed me and kept repeating “Gade Kawolin mesye! Gade Kawolin mesye!” “Look at Caroline! Look at Caroline!”
It was at this moment that I fully understood the impact of investing in one single, simple, unlikely-to-blossom-into-something-big relationship. I had no idea if I would ever see Lorette again. Frankly, that wasn’t even something I thought about until I passed by her water station the other day. By no means did I expect for her to remember me.
But I’m so glad that 2015 Caroline felt the urge to build a relationship with her. I’m excited to continue investing in this friendship with Lorette this summer. I’m not sure if she is a Believer yet; I know she doesn’t attend church. Who knows, I may be the only chance at the Gospel she could get this summer. That’s a challenge that humbles me and intimidates me and gets me excited to take on.
Investing in relationships is the foundation of what we do on mission trips, and dare I say what we should do in life. Look at Jesus. His entire recorded life was spent with people, investing in the poor, the widowed, the orphan, the outcast, the loved, the rich, and powerful. I want to be like Jesus.
At the gas station.
At the grocery store.
Around your dinner table.
In the break room.
At the water refill station.
Be there; be all there. Invest and love and grow and encourage. That’s what I’m reminding myself this as I kick off this summer. Regardless of how tired I get, how annoyed I may be with the cow that is holding up traffic, or with the rooster that wakes me up at 5am, my goal is to build and invest in healthy, strong, long-lasting, God-honoring relationships.