As I set my feet on American ground 3 weeks ago I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would be experiencing many reverse culture shock moments, many tears of joy while reuniting with friends and family, and as many long conversations and hugs and kisses that I could possibly squeeze into 2 months of being home.
The culture shock happened in the Miami airport just moments after landing. As I walked through the brand new customs area, there is a huge sign that says “Welcome to The United States of America” and I’m pretty sure everyone around me thought I was psychotic with how big of a smile was on my face. As I walked to get my baggage and go to my next flight I stopped at the corner newsstand store to get a fresh bottle of water. I walked in and immediately walked out as my heart started racing. My eyes and brain literally were unable to focus on everything in this tiny little store. Sensory overload doesn’t begin to explain what I experienced. The following first few days were just like that; grocery stores, driving for the first time, hearing my first commercial for some ridiculously expensive product, it was all so overwhelming.
The one type of culture shock that I wasn’t anticipating as much was the spiritual one. I have spent the last 7 months living in a dark country. A place where God is moving so powerfully in the lives of the people, but Haiti is still engrossed in spiritual darkness. I don’t specifically talk about this aspect of my life in Haiti very often but it is there. There is a huge voodoo presence there and we see the bondage and results of it almost every day that we are out in the field. I dealt with my fair share of spiritual warfare while being there on my own. Though I know it comes with the territory when you are living out your days in a dark place that God is using you so much for His glory, you never know how the enemy will choose to attack. My personal weakness is anxiety and that’s what he chose to attack me with while I was in Haiti. It has been a life-long struggle for me, but when you’re in a foreign country alone without your support system of family, therapists or doctors, it is hard to gain control on your own. That’s where the 100% dependence on God comes in. I was there with no outside resource to help me manage my stress and anxiety, except being comforted solely by my heavenly Father. It’s such a hard place to be sometimes, but it’s such an incredible place to be also. He always shows up.
I have come back to the states for just under two months for the holidays and thought that this was my retrieve from the spiritual warfare. This was to be my time for physical, emotional, and spiritual rest to rejuvenate me as I return for the next year in Haiti and whatever comes my way.
One week to the day from returning to California I woke up with no hearing in my left ear and extreme vertigo. It was the day before Thanksgiving and my Dad took me to Urgent Care and they ended up sending me immediately to the hospital for further tests. After ten plus hours in the ER and finally seeing Dr. Aaron, the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) Specialist, she diagnosed me with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. The vertigo was caused by the inflammation of the nerve in my ear that was damaged in some way causing the sudden deafness. Dr. Aaron gave me medication for the vertigo so that I could walk and function and steroids to take for two weeks for the hearing loss. She told me right then that I have a 30% of getting my hearing totally back, 30% chance that it would improve some, and a 30% chance that it would stay deaf. The other 10% is that there could be a growth or tumor that is pressing on the nerve in my ear, but that usually causes a slowly progressing deafness as it grows, so it was unlikely the case for me. I was scheduled to come back for a full audiogram test after the Thanksgiving weekend to decide just how profound the hearing loss was and then it would be repeated after the full two weeks on the steroids. The first audio gram showed complete hearing loss in my left ear and all normal ranges for my right.
The following two weeks were a serious spiritual battle for me. The first week, I was still almost completely debilitated with my vertigo so I couldn’t do much at all and I needed a lot of assistance. I wasn’t sleeping because I kept testing my ears, plugging one and then the other to see if I thought it was improving at all. I kept thinking, if this is the worst thing physically that ever happens to me, I am so blessed. I had peace amid my fear, but still really struggled with the difficulties of not being able to hear when people spoke to me. And my brain was doing weird things to overcompensate with the other ear. I kept hope in the promises of my Savior and his healing power and purpose in my life.
Two days ago I took my second audio gram after finishing the hard core regimen of medication and there was no improvement. Dr. Aaron came in after my test and told me that my job now is to take good care of my right ear because it’s all I will have for the rest of my life. She said that since I don’t have ANY hearing in my left ear I am not a candidate for a hearing aid at all. We will still do an MRI to just double check that there is no growth before I head back to Haiti and that’s all.
I live in Haiti and see things every single day that are so much worse than losing your hearing in one ear. This is not something that will prevent me from doing the work God has called me to do. It could have been a leg, an eye, a serious illness or so many things that would have stopped me from being able to get on a plane back to Haiti in January. But, why? Aren’t I supposed to be in Sanctuary right now in the states? Isn’t this supposed to be where the spiritual warfare just chills out so that I can spend time with my family and preparing my heart and body for the long months ahead in Haiti?
If you ever want to know that you are being used by God, wake up one day with complete hearing loss in one ear. I have and will probably always struggle with grasping whether or not God is able to use my broken and sinful self, but He apparently thinks I can handle a lot and He likes to test me on it. This situation has proven to me even more that I am right where God wants me. The enemy followed me all the way home to the States to try to crush my spirit and to stop me from going back to Haiti. Can you imagine what God has in store for me this next year in Haiti?!! I won’t pretend for one minute that I have a clue what He is going to do, but I am pumped and I will be there to allow Him to use me for that purpose. It will be harder for me without hearing in one ear, but nowhere near impossible. I will do what I need to do to not let it get in the way and try to keep myself spiritually on track so that I don’t let it discourage me.
My God is Faithful. My flight is booked back to Haiti on January 15, 2014 and God has already provided $6,000 of my personal support for next year. I still have $9,000 to raise before I go back and I am trusting Him fully to provide that as well. I am so grateful for all of the prayers and financial support that all of you have given to me and especially for believing in what we are doing in Haiti.
If you would like to help with my financial support and you would like a tax-deductable receipt you can simply send a check to:
Christian Life Church
P.O. Box 8527
La Crescenta, Ca 91224
If you don’t need the tax deductible receipt you could also visit:
and donate there as well.