Today is a beautiful day! My precious niece, Sophie Jean Schilling, was born at 2:52 am. I woke up this morning to messages and pictures announcing her arrival! As far as I’ve heard, the whole family is doing well. I’ve had permeant smile on my face all day and have been joyously telling anyone who will listen to me about my gorgeous new niece and showing her picture to everyone around me.
Yes, today is a beautiful, beautiful day. But it’s also a very hard day. You see, when Sophie’s brother Liam was born, I was holding him within a week. Despite the three states and seven hours between us, I was able to see Liam a lot the first couple years of his life. I watched as he grew from a tiny infant to a toddler with so much joy and personality. I celebrated holidays and birthdays with him. I loved every precious stage I was able to witness.
But it won’t be like that with Sophie. She will be over 2 months old before I get to hold her in my arms. I will miss birthdays and events and special moments. There will be no collage of me and Sophie like the one of me and Liam above.
These are the days that make it hardest to be here. These are the days that I want to pack my bags, get on a plane, and never look back.
Living in Haiti is hard. Teaching is hard. Ministry is hard. And being away from the people I love most? Probably the hardest aspect of all. Here, we spend our weeks pouring all of our energy and emotions into our students and our weekends planning and preparing for the week ahead. I am desperately trying to understand an unfamiliar language, but learning a new language takes time, so for the time being I’m left unable to communicate with my community, my student’s families, and those around me. I can’t even get groceries or go to a restaurant without someone who can translate for me. When I brush my teeth or wash my hair (which isn’t that often, if I’m being honest), I’m trying to assess how much is left in the bottle, hoping I’ve judged the right amount and I won’t run out before the next boat arrives. I spend hours pouring over my lesson plans, wondering if I’m really doing my best to meet the needs of each one of my students. We are so blessed at Sonlight with amazing ministry partners and friends, but the realities of this life we have chosen can be extremely difficult. Not a day goes by where my heart doesn’t ache for the life I left behind. I miss my beautiful house, my amazing teaching job and coworkers, and our precious families.
So why are we here? Why did we choose to give up our practically perfect life for this road instead? The answer has always been rather simple for us: Because God called us here. We are not here for “fun”, we are not on an adventure, and we did not come for the “tropical weather” aka, temperatures so high there’s literally a puddle of sweat on my seat when I get up from teaching math groups at 9AM. We are here because when we decided to follow Jesus, we decided to die to ourselves. We no longer live for Hannah and Bryson, but for our wonderful, perfect, heavenly Father. Even on the days that I’d rather be somewhere else, I am confident that this is where God wants us to be. And that makes that hard parts a little easier to manage.
There’s another cool aspect of this life as well. My family is all working in ministry. My parents have devoted their lives to minister to people of all ages all over the country, and my brother is a youth minister – he and his wife are invested in bringing up the next generation in Christ. We are all working to further the kingdom of God. I am so blessed to be part of a family that has always put Christ first. It gives me chills just knowing that this is the kind of family my nephew and new niece and future children will grow up in. And just as I am comforted by looking at the sky and knowing we are all looking at the same sun, I find even more joy in knowing that despite our distance, we are all serving the same Son.
And that, my friends, is what makes today a beautiful day.
I’m so glad you’re finally here, sweet little Sophie. I’m counting the days until we get to meet. ❤