Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to speak to our congregation in regards to the Haitian mission trip we participated in last June. John (Our leader) asked if the entire group would come speak. There were three presentation opportunities and we could choose all three or just one. Being the overachiever I am (sarcasm) two seemed sufficient.
Now being one to prepare for such an occasion (not) I decided to procrastinate, so much so that I walked into church with absolutely nothing to say. That’s right, not a word, no outline, no paragraph, no pictures, nothing. Let me reiterate NOTHING TO SAY!
Our Mission trip leader John arrived organized as always with a perfect outline combined with knowledge, experience, emotion and a closing statement. He sat next to me and asked if I was prepared. I laughed the nervous laugh one gives when out matched and simply stated: nope gonna wing it! John laughed and said good luck. Or something to that effect, I don’t know seeing his preparation my heart rate had already doubled and sweat was rolling down my back. Nitro anyone, I believe I am having chest pain…
Now don’t get me wrong I have spoken in front of large crowds without so much as a glitch! Stood before city council and read a resolution, spent the better part of my youth on the altar in church. Crowds never have been a problem for me. You want me to stand up and talk, heck yeah I got this! But you must remember, I say what comes to mind and there in lies the problem. Some may find me humorous, others serious with a message, while a handful I will just downright piss off! History has shown there is no in between when it comes to me. I don’t just make you uncomfortable, or miffed, I just piss you off to the point of hatred! I think its my face (something I can’t change without plastic surgery, thanks god), or maybe my irish ancestry that tends to arise when its something I am very passionate about. Either way this would be one of those occasions where nothing would sadden me more than sending the wrong message to a group of people yearning for knowledge.
John stood up, and gave a very factual rendition of our trip, he covered highs and lows, but most of all he recognized the importance of God in our lives on a daily basis. The entire time he was talking all I could ponder was what moronic statement would come from my steel trap of broken dreams! Right before I rose to speak an argument arose inside my head: Self, you write all the time why couldn’t you write a prepared statement for this event? Why? Of course I answered myself with a very sarcastic; read your own blog you idiot, you already wrote over 12,000 words on the topic! Duh!!
Before I could retort myself; John called my name. I stood up, rubbed my sweaty palms together, took a deep breath and decided for some ungodly reason to visualize Tony Robbins while walking towards the stage! Suddenly I was 6 foot tall, perfectly combed hair and teeth larger than a Clydesdale! Perfect! Inspiration here I come!!!!
Now I could replay word for word what happened next, but see that’s the beauty of winging it; it’s never the same story twice and telling it with the same emotion as the very moment it leaves your lips is near impossible. The simple gist, try something you think you never would do, I said no a million times to this trip and am so glad I finally said yes! Mission work is not for everyone, but what is for everyone is shedding the trappings of our over scheduled disposable life and returning to basic humanity once in a while. As far as the presentation itself, the point that really needs to be made is this; I believe there was a reason no preparation was necessary. There was a higher power in control of my abilities and he knew if I wrote everything down I could never tell the story appropriately. Even more important is I believe I needed to relive those moments back in June for anyone to even understand the message that needed delivering. When it was over I was surprised, not just by the story, not just by the delivery or who was listening or the fact it was pulled from the vast wasteland that is my brain!. No I was surprised by how emotionally moving/draining it was, almost to the point of tears when referring to my son, his experience, the wonderful people of Leveque and how much I hated it there,(hot, sweaty, large scary bugs)! Leaving was so incredibly hard, because even though you couldn’t wait to go home, see your family, actually drink something cool and have a moment when sweat wasnt running down your back, your front, oh hell everywhere! You didn’t want to leave those people, so full of love, and faith, the belief there was a better tomorrow on the horizon. For a little while the Haitian people filled a jaded man with love for humanity..
I would liken the experience to carrying a guilty burden for years, acting like it never happened until the very moment you spill the beans to the authorities. You know its over and there may be consequences but its out, and you feel nothing but relief…
The presentation went well, everyone seemed to understand the message, enjoy the small journey they went on that morning. Many came up to us and offered genuine thanks afterwords for our work and the ability to share. I was relieved. No one hated my face….
As for my alter ego that morning, well I put Tony Robbins back on the shelf for a future date when I may need some self-help super powers.
I am going back to Haiti in the spring, looking forward to refueling my love for humanity once again….