Sunday, June 22, 2014

Guest Post: "The Five Senses of Bayonnais"

The start of summer means one thing for the Brownlee clan; we are heading to the beach.  I always enjoyed going to the beach, and still do today.  I can sit on the beach for hours especially late in the afternoon when it’s not so crowded, and just relax.

I just love the cool breeze, the sound of the waves, the smell of the ocean, my feet in the sand, and just looking for miles and miles wondering what’s on the other side of the ocean. 

I feel at peace when I’m at the beach.  I feel God is with me, and allows me to see his beauty shine in so many ways.  I feel I’m one with Him, and can sit and finally have a conversation with Him.  The busyness of a young family going from place to place, a stressful job, and just keeping up, sometimes I drift away.  Thank goodness we get times like this where we can experience God’s beauty and spend time with Him outside of our busy lives. As I sit here relaxing once more at the beach, I think about the senses I experienced in Bayonnais just a few months ago.

In March, I was fortunate enough to go on our mission trip to Haiti, a first for me.  I was definitely taken out of my comfort zone immediately when we landed in Port Au Prince and on our long four hour bus journey to our final destination.  How would I ever experience God’s beauty in one of the poorest countries in the world? 

While riding on the bus, I saw two men getting their daily water from a water canal littered with trash.  I saw mud huts in the blazing sun with no shade knowing they would be gone once the first bad storm that came through the island.  I smelled burning trash throughout Port Au Prince just reeking the area, and wondering would I smell this all week.

We no longer had the comforts of home.  No more TV, internet, or phone service to keep me occupied.  No more AC to keep cool during the day.  No more hot water to take a shower, and doing everything you could to make sure you didn’t drink the water. I had to sleep in small quarters with five other men that I hardly knew at the time, with one snoring so loud I thought the roof was going to blow off. How was this mission trip going to “change my life”?  As I look back, God was smiling and laughing at me knowing I was in for a real treat.

So what did I experience?  How did I experience God’s beauty? 

SEE: I saw so many things that I could go on for days.  I’m a visual person so it was easy for me to finally take off those blinders and see what God wanted to show me.  He showed me his natural beauty of a tropical island that showcased beautiful mountain views, glorious blue water and banana and mango trees canvassing the island.  He showed me the most beautiful eyes of kids just wanting to be loved, kids that were so determined to have a better life regardless of their circumstances.

HEAR: I heard the beautiful sounds of kids screaming and hollering in their native Creole language while playing soccer.  I tried to keep up with these kids, but their passion of the game overruled an out of shape American.  I heard familiar Hymns at church when I knew God was with me.  I heard the sounds of roosters crowing early in the morning to kick off our day.

TOUCH:  I felt the roughness of boys' feet that lacked shoes and were just worn down from the many miles of walking on a daily basis.  I felt the concrete building of the medical clinic that our congregation has graciously financed for a community so needing it.  I felt the hugs of so many kids and I wish I could have packed a few with me before leaving.

SMELL:  I smelled fresh green peppers just picked from the fields, knowing that the work to grow and sell to neighboring cities would help this community continue to grow.  I smelled the red beans and rice cooking daily for all the kids to eat while at school, knowing this was probably their only meal for the day. They thanked God for feeding them the food they desperately needed.

TASTE:  I tasted the wonderful meals our caregivers cooked for us daily and feeling so guilty eating while others around us were starving.  I tasted the freshest bananas I’ve ever experienced.  Tasted what mission trips are all about and just wanting more of God’s love.

So has my life changed since this brief trip to Haiti?  Possibly, but more important to me is there is a world out there that God wants me to experience.  Maybe God is happy, and glad I finally opened my ears and listened to Him.  Maybe He wants me to realize that He speaks to me daily and that I don’t need a big blue ocean to experience his love and to carry on a conversation.  As I continue to grow in my faith, I hope just maybe I don’t wait until our annual trip to the beach to see, feel, and hear God’s beauty.

How did you experience God’s beauty today?

Rob Brownlee has been a member of Sardis since 2000.  He is happily married to Kristi Gallimore and they have three girls that keep them quite busy.  Rob enjoys playing golf, gardening, and just being outdoors.  Most of his time is spent with his girls, and loves coaching them in soccer and basketball. 


  1. Beautifully written, Rob. And a wonderful reminder to be in awe of God's love and his world daily. Thanks!

  2. Rob, I am a firm believer in what I refer to as "God is watching moments" and love this piece that you have so beautifully written and the fact that you know that He was by your side in this journey. Thank you for going on the trip and for sharing with us your wonderful experience.

  3. Rob, what a touching testimony of your experience in Haiti. Sardis is fortunate to have had you travel with the group to witness and share how your senses were heightened as a "stranger in a strange land." I'm sure God has more smiles waiting for Sardis members ready to share the Word in other places...Blessings

  4. Ahh the wonderful memories of a great trip that you so eloquently described. Great group of missionaries from Sardis and beautiful people in Bayonnaise. One thing you failed to mention that you SAW was the biggest spider ever, and we all HEARD the screams and laughter around this episode. Fun times.