As I continue to process the events of my recent travels to Haiti, I am met with more and more lessons and revelations—one of the biggest of which is a new appreciation for discomfort.
Some background: In order to get to the Ebenezer Evangelical Mission at which we stayed, our team first flew into Port Au Prince, Haiti. From there, after nearly 20 hours of travel, we boarded a flamboyant bus-on-steroids—known to the Haitians as a tap-tap—for what is typically a 6-hour bus ride.
What you must know is that the ‘tap-tap’ ride is more like a ‘crash-bang’ ride. The most accurate analogy I can make for this ride is that it is the equivalent to the bumpiness of an elongated rollercoaster ride, accompanied by the constant sound of clanking metal at noise levels you wish you could escape. The first 3 hours of the trip are made on paved roads—the last 3, narrow dirt and stone pathways.
As you might presume, I have a love/hate (well, minus the love) relationship with that tap-tap.
This being my second trip to Haiti, I had an idea of what to expect out of the bus ride. My first tap-tap experience was bearable, and I expected the same this time around. However, no one could anticipate what that tap-tap journey had in store for us!
What was supposed to take us 6 hours, ended up taking us 12 hours. After boarding the tap-tap at 9:00 p.m., we spent the night trapped in the vehicle while it both broke down what seemed like every hour and met unrelenting obstacles in the road barring us from passing. While other team members dozed peacefully in their Dramamine-induced slumbers, I sat awake for the entirety of the trip.
Admittedly, at around 2:00 a.m., I hit a wall. I regretted my decision to come to Haiti and longed to be lounging comfortably at home, on my couch, watching a movie.
The tap-tap ride was the epitome of ‘uncomfortable.’ I was sleepless, restless, and caked in dust, and though I had expected this, I was unable to step outside of my discomfort and look forward to the opportunity that lay ahead when we arrived. The result? Misery. Bone-rattling, cacophonous, misery.
It wasn’t until the sun broke on the horizon around 5:30 a.m. that I made peace with my discomfort. In the light of the morning, I was able to survey the beauty of the Haitian countryside. The sloping, foliage-covered mountains, picturesque blue skies sprinkled with cotton ball clouds, and winding rivers were breathtaking—it was as if we had traveled back in time to a land unscathed by human touch. Had we not prolonged our trip through the evening, we would have missed the opportunity to take in the view.
When surveying the beauty of the country, in light of the chaos of the night, I was struck hard with guilt. How could I be so quick to give up when I am here in Haiti to do something more than myself?
It was in that moment that I realized that choosing to be uncomfortable can be a beautiful thing. When we put aside our desire for comfort and familiarity, we open ourselves to opportunities to do and be things that we never could have before.
God had so many lessons for me in Haiti, and once I relinquished my control and allowed myself to push away the boundaries of my comfort zone, I was able to recognize the beauty that our situation had to offer.
In saying this, I challenge you to be intentional about getting uncomfortable. It is incredibly easy to sit back and coast through life, but unbelievable things happen when we allow ourselves to step outside of our expectations.
Go out of your way to talk to someone new. Offer to pray for a friend or relative. Volunteer at a local charity. Seek healing for a broken relationship in your life—even if it makes you uncomfortable.
Especially if it makes you uncomfortable.
There are extraordinary opportunities and unexpected rewards waiting for you outside your comfort zone.