Monday, December 15, 2008

Ugh!


This picture best expresses our hearts. Happy, glad, thankful. These ladies are fixing food for all the guys working on the concrete and helping around the property Friday. They were so excited about what was being done, and they worked so hard to help us. It was very uplifting to be around and kept us going in spite of our weariness.
We are home safe and sound, well...safe! I arrived to find my roof had dumped a truck load of snow in the walkway(hence the ugh!), so Kelly and I shoveled like fools for about 30 minutes. It was more difficult than shoveling sand off the trucks in Haiti! Last night the stuff was sticky and wet and heavy. But we made it in and this morning unpacked all the luggage. Beth is readying the laundry, and I am off to work again!
I talked to Robinson and they had made it through the day yesterday with the funeral and all, he arrived back at St. Marc the same time we arrived home! Long day for all of us. Everyone is tired, but getting back into the groove. These trips sap you a little each time, it takes a few hours to regain your legs, and shift cultures. I notice my body doesn't shift quite as easily as I would like, must be a sign of my age or something. I prefer the something! Again, thank you for your prayers, we accomplished much on this trip. We are already commencing plans for our spring journey, and are hoping to have a group join us. There is more to do, and we are looking forward to the next step God gives us as we following His leading in this amazing endeavor of which He has allowed us to be a part. Blessings today, and may His grace fill your heart as you follow Him!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pics






Here are a few miscellaneous pictures from the 500 or so we took over the balance of this trip in. We will be putting together an album on CD, but here is a little taste.

Rob and Naromie


Here's a picture of our remarkable duo! A great couple, and they look good too:-)

Grumpy!


It's amazing how you can accomplish great moments and feats in life only to succumb to some pathetic, trite human emotion. The enemy of our souls never quits in trying to cause us to fail on some level or another in our lives, even in the pinnacle of success, even when that success is in something as good as our endeavor the last 3 days. I am posting this because I am again reminded of the tenor of the battle we are in in this life, and also to shed light on the significance of the weakness of our human constitution. We are all a little edgy tonight, of course it is almost 1:00 a.m., but what does that have to do with anything! We just had a little family pow-wow and I shared with them that just because we do good for a few days, doesn't mean that now we can take a break or give in to the temporary frustration of getting home, travel weariness, and coming down from such a high moment. We have to sustain and maintain our composure after the fireworks are over. There follows a bit of a let down after a rush like the last few days, and we need to stay a steady course. It's a good lesson for all of us to remember, soldiers die even in battles they ultimately win. The traps are set well and hidden in unexpected places, we must constantly be on guard. So if you feel a little frustrated with a circumstance where it seems you have applied such good force, remember this little lesson, even when the outcome is good, you still may suffer the fatigue of the battle, and succumb to the draining of emotions. To that end I ask you to continue to pray, especially for the kids. They have seen much and experienced even more in the last couple of months, for that matter we all have. Pray we steady ourselves, pray for their joy lamps to burn brighter, and that their energy is replaced quickly. I am proud of the way they have performed under such pressure. Our CCC family in Haiti loves them to pieces. Matter of fact, Kelly was sporting one of those testing teenage moments last night and Beth threatened to leave him with Naromie, she eagerly accepted the idea, and said she would be more than happy to keep him! Go figure! We are settled in for the night, too weary to finish the trip tonight, so will get home tomorrow afternoon. Looking forward to seeing everyone, will miss the A.M. service, but we will be back in the saddle quickly. Pray for Robinson and family as well, he has to teach Sunday School, preach the morning service and get the whole church to Valeau's father's funeral tomorrow afternoon out in the countryside. He was in bed tonight when I called, and I could hear the weariness in his voice as well. He would appreciate your prayers over the next few days as they finish the move and get situated. Blessings again and always!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Press On


We are airborne back to the U.S. Hard to believe three days has slipped into the history books! This picture of Krystle tells all. We are very, very weary. It was sad to tell Robinson good-bye again this morning, but it was different for me this time. I told him, we built it, it is now time for him to fill it. He said, “Yes, it is my job, now is the time.”
There is a real sense of accomplishment that has settled in my heart. There is more to do, and we will ‘Press On’. But at the same time, this is a real milestone in this ministry. And great fruit is being harvested. Already the children from the mountain are coming in the droves, pressing against the fence to see the new church. I believe that Robinson is right. No matter how big we build it, he can fill it. So many people, so many hearts needing hope, and their country holds very little. We encountered numerous wonderful and amazing people. I am not certain what the future holds for them, but I am willing to run this journey to see what part is ours to play in God’s great scheme of life. He has opened so many doors that I am not about to start walking past the open ones. Hopefully we can get into Chicago tonight and hit the road to home. I hear there is some more winter weather headed our way. I was glad to not have to work in the snow this week! It was pretty good working weather. Going to run, blessings!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gazebo


Whoa, where do I begin? There is no way to put on paper what we have encountered the last three days but the faithfulness of God. Robinson had to pray for the town crusade tonight, so we went to central park St. Marc and in that huge open space there must have been 2000-3000 people on a Friday night not hanging out at the movies, but coming to worship from every church in the city. Robinson said the Billy Graham of Haiti is preaching, but we couldn’t stay for that. But I must tell you; it was amazing sitting up there in the Gazebo surrounded by all those people, and watching how far God has brought our remarkable Haitian pastor! Never under estimate the power of God to take a life from the most terrible of circumstances and raise it up to be a nation changer!
We left the crusade early because we had left the kids at the property running the sound system and my iphone for the masons who were finishing the floor. Did I tell you we are surrounded by an army of amazing people, they take such great care of us, and we have done our best to take good care of them. When we arrived back at the property Selah was playing on the sound system blasting into the night sky “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, the masons were gone, the floor was finished, I knelt at the edge board and nearly wept. I could not have imagined that we would be able to accomplish so much in so short a time. I have sweat more than all summer combined I think, but it was worth every drenched moment. I just commented to Robinson that he knows his country, and I know it a little, I think God just performed a three-day miracle. He said, yes, I think so. I know so! A worship center in three days, we may not be “Extreme Home Makeover”, but we with God’s help moved a mountain. And it was nothing short of His Amazing Grace! I need to get to the Internet store quickly, then we must pack, 4:30 a.m. will come early, our flight out is at 11:35 a.m. so we must still press on. But again, though the body is weary, the soul sings tonight! A marvelous trip, and a miracle has happened. Their first service will be a week from Sunday, there is just a little more prep, and the concrete needs to cure out, but they will be in for Christmas, and that was my deepest hope. Merry Christmas CCC Haiti! And thank you again to all who made this moment possible for this ministry and this committed young man. God goes before him and we get to tag along on the journey. Blessings until tomorrow. Good night to all.

Poupe


That means doll in French. It was said of Krystle several times yesterday. When people looked inside the truck and saw her their expressions were funny to behold. Wide eyed amazement. It was hilarious. Robinson and Naromie were laughing as well. But I told them she was our doll. The kids are once again doing very well. Had a couple of nick’s and bumps along the way this time, but so far so good. Krystle caught one of the stakes the first day before we had protection on them and scraped herself really good, not deep but ugly! Beth got something in her eye yesterday and it has been slow to go away. She has had to wear Kelly's sunglasses! Imagine that, we caught it on camera! I feel bad for her, but she is doing okay, just cannot wear her contacts right now. We will be sure to bring glasses next time. Good eye protection is important in the windy season down here. Never quite understood what Robinson meant when he said windy season is harder. But it is. It's colder, and the dust is constantly dancing in the air. They get sick very easily right now, just like we do in the winter. Got to run and grab lunch and get back to the property. Going to take over the sound system and lighten up the atmosphere with some Selah! The floor should be done tonight. We just unloaded another truck of sand...by hand guys! My well drilling ditch digging expertise came in handy! It's hotter today, so sweating quite a bit. Blessings to all!

Dawn


I wrote my first post at 5:00 a.m. this morning. I haven’t slept well on this trip, not sure what my problem is, but I was concerned that we get the cement work done today. On top of that I am very sore! Sign of good, hard work! We were here at the property at shortly after 6:00 a.m. George, who I wrote about in the early morning met us at the gate. When the gate was opened I saw that George had been working through the night getting ready for the first pour of concrete. You cannot imagine how they do this, and now I have some understanding of how these buildings can collapse. The mix method is not very scientific, but it gets the job done! The floor is progressing nicely; they are starting the final surface work where they poured earlier in the day. We are waiting on more sand; we had to go buy more cement this morning, we are keeping ahead of them with what they need. There are 11 guys working, and it is a wonder to behold. It is all mixed by hand, and then loaded into wheelbarrows, and distributed to two guys spreading and leveling to string lines. The finishing crew is putting a top coat on that will be able to be swept clean. At first I had determined that we would be tearing this floor back up, but I am rethinking that a bit. The crazy floor is a good 4” thick. I had only wanted 2”! Oh well, God plans ahead of us. So will roll with the punches. Getting pretty good at that down here. Then again, do I have a choice? Yes I do, to roll or to be broken! I will settle for rolling! I met another American down here. Another Haitian pastor I met on the plane coming down who knew Robinson brought him by to meet us. It was almost weird seeing another white guy standing in the street. Got to tell you, we kind of stick out down here☺. Oh well, the blessings continue to flow, and we are very delighted with the outcome of this visit. Glad the whole family was here to witness this, it was great, thank you to those who made that possible, may God richly bless you for your generosity. A thanks doesn’t cover it, but it is a start. Blessings until later.

George


Everything in life needs mainstays, and the church ranks near the top. With the new property here in Haiti holding the tent and things of value, we now have to have a guard who will stay when everyone else is gone. When the lights go out, and the sound stops, and the people leave, and the excitement depletes, someone has to stay behind in the dark to tend the security of the new church. It is not a glamorous job, there are not a lot of at-a-boys, or high fives, not even many words of praise or thanks. But that doesn’t matter to George, his calling is higher and nobler than to be governed by what people think or don’t think about him. He is on a mission to serve God on a level few understand. He and his family will stand guard over the property. He is a remarkable man, and he has caught my eye. Unlike many serving in our church, he has never come to meet me, or shake my hand, or live in the limelight. He is just the opposite; he is behind the scenes, laboring hard to do the next difficult job. Whenever there was a stake to drive, or dirt to shovel, or greasing of the gate track, or moving a wheelbarrow, George is there. People wonder when I sleep. I wonder when George sleeps. These are the people God counts on. These are critical people for pastors; these are critical people for the church. You don’t need to have personality plus, or a great voice, or extraordinary beauty, or a college degree to make a huge difference in the lives of those around you. You just need the steadiness and faithfulness to show up and do the next right thing. Pray for George and his family. Pray we are able to get the guardhouse built right away so that his family can stay with him at the property. Pray that he does not weary in well doing. Pray for more George’s! And might you consider today what it is God needs from you! God doesn’t need just a few good men; God is looking to have everyone in their place in His grand work! May we live to see the revival of the army of the George’s, the army that rises to shake the world with love, and compassion, and steadfastness, who will guard the door houses of God’s work with diligence and understanding. An army who will safe keep the next generation and show them the way of the kingdom, blazing a trail, and bringing about the dawning of a new day! May God bless all of the George’s of the world today! Blessings.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Forms


We are ready for concrete in the morning. The forms are all set. We will work all day mixing concrete and pouring a floor in the tent. I cannot express to you the excitement on the street with our property and the people. It is almost surreal to be part of this moment with them. They have been thwarted all through their lives so often and so much, they cannot believe this is happening, and so quickly! Because we are pouring a floor, it will not be ready for a service tomorrow night so we will not be able to share a service with them this time. I was hoping to do a little dedication service with them before we left Saturday morning, but it is not working out. However, I am all right with that, I have been so blessed to get so much done in such a short time, I cannot complain. I am almost giddy with joy at what has happened, I couldn’t be unhappy if I tried. It takes a lot to make a 44 year old giddy by the way! We have worked our tails off, but God has gone before us, from the weather, to the set up of the tent, to the work on the land, it is a true wonder to behold! Thank you again for prevailing in prayer; you just cannot imagine how God has delivered the goods this time. For all our frustrating and disappointing endeavors on our last trip in, it has gone the other way so vastly this time it is too much to comprehend!
The other thing is that time has flown by this trip! We are at Thursday night already, we only have a day and a few hours left and we are flying home. I hear we are coming back to lots and lots of white stuff☹. My son will be delighted, but the weather here has cooperated very well for us this time. It has been hot, but not stifling! We have been able to keep a steady pace from sun up to sun down. It’s been great! I keep having them ask, pastor, when do you rest, you never stop working! I tell them nighttime is rest time, and I will be able to rest forever in heaven, now is the time to get things done, the sun is up, it is day, and people need Jesus! Blessings for tonight!

Tire


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What was it you meant to buy for your kids for Christmas this year? How about a tire! This little boy was as cute as can be, but there is no way you were going to get his pride and joy away from him. I wonder how our children would react to such a gift? I am afraid we are spoiling them without meaning too. As you gather for Christmas this year, maybe you could print off this picture, or ask me for a copy, to remind them of just how blessed they are. And could you ask them to say an extra prayer for the underprivileged children of Haiti. The simple prayers of children are known to move great obstacles because of their great and profound faith unhindered and tarnished by the shattered dreams and disappointments associated with our brokenness achieved through our propensity to sin. Let them pray for a child in this desolate country, God hears those prayers and that does affect the destiny of these kids. The power of a protective prayer has yet to be fully measured. Krystle is proof of that! Blessings.

Sarabeth


Here is our pride and joy. When we were here last trip her mother was still pregnant with her, and she was breech. She was taken C-section on Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were asking about the details from Robinson, and when we asked about the name, he gave us instruction that the mother wanted us to name her baby. What an honor, and this is the name we picked. It has a Bible name which is what they asked for, as well as a little of Beth and Krystle thrown in.
We drove four hours this afternoon to see her. We were there for about 20 minutes, we also stopped and got to meet Naromie’s mother. What a treat that was! She is a delightful and loving woman. The baby is beautiful as you can see from the pictures. Mom’s, I have to tell you, there was no crib, no flowers on the wall, no nursery, no mobiles, nothing but a bedroom that mom and baby are sharing. And the mother (Ynives) is recuperating from the C-section still. We delivered a Moses basket and several donated clothes as well as a few things Beth put together in a baby package. We made a very happy family. Please don’t take the goodness of our country for granted. We are so very, very blessed.
Another delightful aspect of this run this afternoon was that it took us right through the miles and miles of rice fields. What a sight, the new crops are coming on strong, and the price of rice has fallen here like the price of gasoline in the States. It is down from $675.00 Haitian to $125.00 for a 10 can bag, (whatever that is!) The price is dropping dramatically. Some ray of hope dawns! The rice fields are beautiful. The government has opened the water to the fields and they are growing quickly. You talk about a political nightmare, imagine the government in complete control of your crops, let us be reminded that a strong government makes for a weak nation! Blessings always.

Sorry!

Well, some things have gone extraordinarily well. Others… well, remind me I am in Haiti. The power is so low right now that the Internet store is down to one machine, and it is hardly working. I have tried now three times to post, the first night we were to late, today at noon they were too busy, and tonight the machine wouldn’t recognize my USB drive, so early in the morning, I am planning to run down there with my machine and upload all my posts. So to my faithful readers, my apologies! But welcome to a bit of my world while I am here; hurry up and wait! Except today, it went American smooth!!! Ah, could I have ever dreamed I would say that in this county.
It was funny tonight as we were walking back from the Internet store; I went to turn to the way we always come except tonight. Robinson called out; “wrong way” and I chuckled and said we are creatures of habit. How quickly I had formed that one. And then it settled on me how quick we are to pick up on habits, and then how hard they are to let go of. Being here in Haiti forces me away from some of my customary habits, and I get to review them from a different angle. Let me caution all of us to be guarded about ruts and routines. They can become very dangerous things! And what is really scary, we don’t get many chances to take a hard look at them. So as we enter the Christmas season, I ask you to take a look inside, and see if the goodness that God means to flow from your life is trapped behind the guise of a confining habit! Let go, break it, and get on with your life.
You and I may be ordinary people, but God uses us in extraordinary ways. We seldom get to see it, for His invisible camera is recording it. We don’t get to see it from our perspective very often, but it is happening all the same! May we be loosed of those entrapment's, and freed to really worship and serve our Creator! May God bless your day today!

Visions


Don’t let the title throw you. But I stood back from a distance tonight in the dark and observed the culmination of several years of hard labor on the part of so many, and realized the dawning of our vision that we have pressed for hard and long. We went much farther today than I dreamed, tonight the lights were on and the sound system blowing music high into the night air. To watch these people in their excitement was extraordinary.
When I finished the light chain across the top of the tent it was dark, many hands around handing me tools, me crimping and tying wires together. When I finished the last end, I was hoping I had not missed a joint or two, you know, the failed Christmas light string syndrome! But I plugged it in and a shout went up as the light pierced the night, much like what our work here is doing! Not many get to experience such rapture, such fulfillment. I am dead on my feet, but happier than any man could be. A miracle happened tonight. Our visions came to pass, and I mean all of us and you who have waited so patiently and saved and skimped to give all that change, all those bottles, all those yard sale items, those who have written big and small checks across the years because we believed in the work of God through a young Haitian man who has served so faithfully. Not once has he succumbed to defeat, our surrendered to discouragement. And here God comes, marching in marvelous light, and the streets leading up to the mountains now have a new sound, the sound of the church rejoicing. How is it that where Robinson labor so faithfully, should he see such great fruit! Let us not be weary in well doing, let your hearts beat with joy tonight, great and wonderful things have come to pass, the likes of what we have not been able to observe on a day to day basis. So as you go about what seems to you an insignificant day-to-day routine, remember sometimes it is a culmination of years of faith and believing. We have become accustomed to getting what we want right now, how much sweeter it is when aged by God, and then served on a glorious platter one warm evening in the dark landscape of Haiti. Yes, I have realized a vision, I have dreamed a dream, and it has come to pass. Is there more? I am certain! But what a stunning beginning! Rejoice! Blessings to all, and to all a good night.

Tent


Hurray! The tent is up. It took us 2 hours this morning, and we got the tent up into the air! It is awesome. We had a lot of help, and many hands make light work. We have a few stakes to reset and the sidewalls to put up. The church down here has raised enough money to put down a concrete floor, so the mason will meet us after lunch to square that away. I am feeling much better having it up. No matter what they are set now. If I don’t get another thing done, I am confident they can get it from here. We are going to try to get the side in place and the electrical run for the lights yet this afternoon. I worked late into the night last night getting the sound system put all back together and everything organized. A refresher on the tent set-up this morning and we were off. The entire tent was carried over to the property by hand and wheelbarrow. They are such hard workers. We could stand a little more of their work ethic back in the U.S. Thank you for your prayers, it is paying off. We have been surrounded by onlookers! The children from the 7th Day Adventist school next door have been gathered on the second and third floors of the school and have been a continual stream of chatter. It is hilarious! And fun! We are getting lots of pictures. Beth was so focused on getting pictures that she missed getting the initial raising of the tent on video. I’ll forgive her… later!!:-) We are grabbing lunch and going to go drop this at the Internet shop. Will try to post more later, much to say but little time right now. Blessings.

K-2

Have you seen the new LED flashlights? They sell them at Sam’s in a two pack. I bought a set for Krystle and Beth for our trip down here. They are awesome! We arrived in Port very late last night and had to travel all the way to St. Marc in the dark. I knew we were in trouble when Robinson started the truck and I saw only one headlight pointed straight up in the air. He had two vehicles there and fortunately the one that was his had both headlights working. But we didn’t ride in that one, and it didn’t take long for us to be separated. So out came the amazing K-2 flashlight to help light the way. It was an awesome guy moment! I had carpel tunnel by the time we arrived at the house some 2 ½ hours later, but we could see! I will not take vehicle lights for granted ever again! Remind me of that if I forget! We are safely in St. Marc. The weather is much cooler than last time. I actually had to get out our winter coats in the middle of the night because everyone was cold. Imagine that. It’s 19 degrees at home and my family was cold at 65? Oh well. I am glad for the reprieve. Everything arrived and we didn’t even get checked in customs. It was a hoot, but a good one. I was a little concerned that they would find the sound system or the brand new generator and would be paying big bucks, but we went through without a second glance. A favor served by a very late plane and a lot of unhappy Haitians! Will write more later, blessings to all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Miami

We are sitting here on the plane to Port. They are changing some passengers around. We are going to leave late. What chaos. But this culture of Haitians is comfortable with chaos. That is the way they live. Meeting some great people along the way reminds me that we are not alone in reaching out to this country. God is being faithful to these people and this country. We are just blessed to be a part. Got to go for now. Blessings to all.

Deja-Vu

It feels like we just did this, and now we are doing it again! Please let us get it right this time? Wow did 3:30 a.m. come quick! We are up and dashing, but wanted to post quickly that Tuesday has started on time so far. It was a short night, but we are all up and in good spirits. Running on adrenaline of course, but running all the same. D-day has arrived.
Be praying for a smooth entrance into Haiti and smooth skies as a couple of our travelers get motion sickness, we take tablets for that of course, but smooth flights help a lot. Going to get the bags down and get to our delivery van. Just wanted to let you all know we are formerly underway again!
Someone said have fun, we'll try! Got to roll with the punches and count our blessings no matter what our circumstances right? Right! Look at me, 4:00 a.m. and I am posting? What's wrong with this picture? Oh, that right, were having fun! But our mission is serious, and our goals clear. Pray for the best this week! Blessings always.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Embargo


I can hardly believe we are back on the road again to St. Marc. Twice in two months. If you would have told me at the start of this year that I would make not one, but two trips into Haiti, I would have laughed you away! This is no laughing matter:-). But God goes before us, and here we are. We have completed the first leg of the journey of trip number two. We are now in a Comfort Inn in Chicago, just 2 miles from the O'Hara airport. The alarm is set for 3:30 a.m. We are praying for good flights and smooth transactions through customs and security tomorrow.
Our difficulty recently has been the rude discovery that there is a travel embargo into Haiti through Christmas. It wouldn't be such a big deal had it been disclosed at the time of our ticket purchase, but it wasn't. So we scrambled late last week to get suitcases, the only thing allowed for travel right now, (not our customary bins) and no extra bags or over sized stuff as well. Needless to say, a few things had to be left behind. I was a bit chagrined, until God reminded me that He knew all about the embargo, and it's not out of His control. It was also a reminder that when you set about to do good, that doesn't necessarily mean all will go smoothly, rather the opposite can happen. It can seem that the good backfires. But not to fear, when you forge ahead, sometimes in blind faith, (that is a step into territory where you cannot see but have to hold to God's hand) you find a path that you did not know was there! And what a blessing suddenly arrives at your doorstep. I am hoping for the best, but know the enemy will fight, he does not like what is happening for the kingdom! So pray with us.
So here comes the blessings, even when we think no good can come, we pulled into the hotel tonight weary and worn, and behold we gained an hour! Now that may seem small to you, but to a tired pastor and family, packing nightly late into the early morning hours, and extra hour of sleep is HUGE! I locked myself out of the truck for the second time in 4 days this morning, rear ended a fellow pulling out of Staples, couldn't find several things I needed, but God worked it all out. So tonight I will sleep in His peace, knowing that the people I go to serve tomorrow would gladly exchange places and hardships with me because my problems pale in comparison to theirs. Behold the change perspective brings. My heart will rejoice, I go to claim new territory for the Kingdom of Christ. Thanks for your prayers, I will post as often as I get a chance. Love and Blessings to all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Robinson


Here is a young man I couldn't be prouder of. Sacrificial, hardworking, steadfast, pure, Godly, and Haitian. A man among his own people. He has become a great gift through which powerful ministry is taking place. His vision and character are delightful and uplifting. It's hard to believe almost 10 years have flown by that I have been able to be a part of this man's life. His love of his people and his country, as bad as they may seem, is beyond explanation. It is a wonder how God moved to cause our paths to cross, but He did, and we did. Hence a ministry was born, a work begun, and a path to follow has been given. At times the road seems dark and lonely, but Robinson has proven faithful even in the loneliest hours. He is a faithful shepherd to the sheep of his pasture, he lays down his life for them in challenging ways, and he has blessed our community is special ways on his visits to the United States.
On some levels it's hard to believe that God can do so much with an orphan boy, but heritage and lineage doesn't much matter to God, what he seeks is a willing and obedient heart. He found both in Robinson. It gives me such joy to be in Rob's presence. He thinks nothing of himself, and does whatever he can to minimize the suffering of his people. Even when it is at his expense. We in ministry here in TC have much to give God thanks for in opening this wonderful opportunity. We will seek hard to continue to further this labor of love on behalf of Robinson, and the host of missionaries who have paved a way before us. I pray we will carry our torch as bravely as this young man demonstrates on a daily basis. Christ counts on us, and gives us bright examples for patterns. Robinson is one of those who's example is pure and without guile. May God bless us that we might bless him. Keep him in your prayers, for such people are targets of the enemy of the soul. While he is quiet and unassuming, that does not exclude him from the dangers of his culture that is still full of very evil practices. May we bombard heaven on his behalf. Blessings.

Eve


One of the amazing cultural nuances that I noticed, and have been reflecting on as I have been looking back at the pictures that we took on the trip is the difference in the way men and woman are viewed in a culture. I still contend that American's are blessed in how we as a society have grown in our understanding of how men and women are equally endowed with rights. In third world cultures there is still an awful repression of women and their rights. By comparison, our culture has grown significantly. But enough of positional definition, and on with the story. Having my family with me was a blessing on several levels but one that was delightful was uncovered in our walks on the city streets. As Robinson and I would be out and walking to do something, life around us was pretty routine. Other than the occasional 'Bonjour', I was just another walking 'man' in the culture. But when Beth or the kids were with us, the tenor of the atmosphere changed. I would watch in amazement as quiet women and children hiding behind the walls of their houses and gates would suddenly burst out with excited chatter and smiles. They bustled to the gates and street edges and rooftops for a glance at, or gentle word shared by my wife and children. I realized that great doors of opportunity await all who are willing to go and minister to this country. Since our return, Robinson has continue to share the stories from men, woman and children alike who received hugs and blessings from my family. It was astounding and very rewarding for Beth and the Kids. I again am so very thankful for the opportunity that this trip afforded my family. I am not the only one changed as a result of this trip, my whole family wears the fruit of our outreach among the downtrodden of St. Marc, and a new appreciation of the blessings we enjoy every day here in America. God knew what He was doing when He created Eve for Adam, Eve accomplishes things us Adam's just simply cannot. I for one am grateful for my Eve, and for the joy we were able to share together in this journey. Blessing once again.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Touch


Communication is a key ingredient to the Haiti culture. It is amazing the skills they embrace that keep them in touch with one another. We in our culture are pushing each other toward independence and isolation. They on the other hand seem to draw toward one another and be able to communicate in unseen ways. Take for instance the nuisance of touch. I noticed that they do not tend well toward affectionate touch, but they use touch as a unique tool and part of their language communication. Simple taps on the arm, or on the leg seem to transmit thoughts and sentiments about a circumstance. What seemed at times like a violent gesture was just a way of delivering a facet of some story or fact to the other person. They are a close culture, even when they suffer disconnect in a relationship with one another, they still work to keep communication open with that person. They work much harder than we do with one another. It gave me pause as I reflected on this. It seems their impoverished society makes up for their lack of food physically by making sure ones soul is fed. It made me stop and wonder how the climate of our overstuffed culture may just be reacting to a different kind of hunger that we seem fixed on ignoring. The hunger for satisfying relationship. My word of advice, don't let us take one another for granted. Friends don't let friends walk away without a fight. Solid and healthy friendships are good medicine for your soul. God never meant for man to live alone. Remember it was His idea to create Eve. Our relationships are never to be a substitute for God, but stepping stones to understanding Him better. God is a relational being, it seems our society is bent on defying that truth, and as such, is deftly carving out our very soul and connection to His creation; the people He has placed around us. I implore you to strip away all tendency's toward isolation, be involved with people, no matter the risk, you will never be sorry. Maybe sorrowful, but never sorry. Blessing til the next post.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taxi


I made mention in one of my former posts, I believe it was 'Photographs', about crossover words in languages that are about the same, and mean the same. Well, here's one of those words. I heard this word called out a lot while on the streets and alleys of St. Marc. And the response was the same as in the US. A driver, or drivers showed up in force to get your business, and to take you- only you- where you needed to go. You see, when you call for a taxi in Haiti, you don't get a full sized yellow car with a trunk for your luggage. No, you get a 50-75 cc scooter with an added seat on the back. The most remarkable sites are some of those viewed of the riders on the back of a taxi. Take for instance the picture attached to this post. My favorite though is the young school girls or ladies in their dresses sitting sideways on that seat, both legs dangling on the same side of the scooter, just like women used to ride horses in the old days. I don't know how they stay on because they don't hang on. As they sit perched on that seat, their bodies seem to just flow up and down, back and forth as the driver navigates the craggy roads and rock, pedestrians, and vehicles. And to top it all off, to see them sitting there nonchalantly talking on a cell phone. It's unbelievable. Only a woman could do that. It's hilarious. The men faced forward, and held on for dear life! Rob did tell me that there are accidents, and some do fall off, but that doesn't stop the practice. I guess in every culture the woman always seem to find a way to get it done. Got to laugh, it's true! Blessings for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Debriefing


Home at last. Hard to believe, our trip is over, but the journey has just begun. What an amazing trip. We left Lansing around 12:00 p.m. today. Stopped for some lunch at Arbys, and tripped on in to TC late this afternoon. We spent much of our time on the road today swapping stories and digesting with the kids the events of the last eight days. So much has happened to us and them. We are rejoicing in the outcome of our visit. It has been a tremendous joy to be able to do such a trip with our kids. As I said before, as a father I could not be more proud. I trust that this time lays close to their hearts, and that it helps to shape their view of life and faith. Both have said they would love to return. And I think based on the outcome of our trip, they will.
We sat with family for a couple of hours tonight over pizza and shared more, we will likely continue to do the same over the next few days. I am already working on plans for my quick visit in the next month or so to get that tent set. The work in St. Marc is set to grow exponentially. Great good and a strong cohesion was established with the people this week. And with Robinson's ordination done, there is a new excitement building with the people. We are so grateful for all your prayers for safety and the support we felt the whole of our time there was tremendous. For those of you who have followed our blog, we are not quite done. I have about fifteen more little posts to get touched off before I will be done. And I will probably post here regarding the next trip in to set up the tent. So, if your interested, keep checking back. I expect to get the other posts up quickly while all is fresh on my mind and heart.
Writing as much as I have proved to be a luxury I didn't think I was going to get, but God must have had other plans. I intend to use this blog as a source of info for the many who have asked to be filled in on the trip. I will probably do a special service at some point as well. For now, it seems time to test out my American pillow, for my weary body seeks rest. Good-night, but not yet good-bye. Blessings and many, many thanks.

Wheelbarrow


Someone made the comment that the Haitians are a lazy people. I am not sure where that comes from. Having worked with Rob and now having been in the country and watched this culture. I must say I believe that is wrong. People here have not had to deal with the desolation and long term loss these people have endured. Plus the level of starvation and brainwashing that has occurred on top of that. The second night we were there a man brought the large generator, probably 150 lbs to the parsonage from the church downtown. Probably took him a good 30-45 minutes, and when he arrived, they settled on a price of $7.00 dollars Haitian. That would be $1.00 dollar American. Before you respond, I must suggest you read the "Streets" post again. Not only did he push that wheelbarrow all that way, he dodged motorcycle taxi's, breathed the dust thrown up by buses and trucks and vehicles, he trudged and sweated through unbearable heat, he pushed his cargo up and down the craggy roads and over rocks and concrete, and through the mud. All while being starving hungry. All for one American dollar. We would have been to the labor board to complain, we would have quit. No, I don't see these people as lazy. Deprived, desolate, and steeped in darkness yes; lazy? I don't believe so. There may be some lazy Haitians, but then I know a few lazy Americans as well, I wouldn't want our culture branded by the lazy few. I am grateful for fresh, clean air. I am grateful for 24 hour electricity, I am thankful for a full belly, I am thankful for heat, and showers, and flushing toilets, for mirrors, and towels, and pillows. I am thankful on so many more levels than I was a week ago. I know that has been a running theme here on my blogs this week, but then as I was checking scripture, I found it was a running theme there as well. Life at best is brief, seize all you can of relationships, be filled with thankfulness, point your eyes heavenward, and give God thanks today! Blessings once again.

TV


We woke up to the surreal distant sound of a phone ringing. Then realized it was mine. Sorry, haven't listened for my phone for a week. My head is throbbing. It was wonderful to stand in a warm shower and feel the grime and sweat of the week fall away. The kids were awake and just laying on the bed. I wanted them to have something to do while they waited for the bathroom themselves. So I suggested the TV. They both looked at me like, Oh, TV? Our kids are deprived by this box. This week they spent most of their waking moments interacting with the people, playing with the children, and have developed long and lasting friendships. As I write, they are looking with boredom at the TV screen. There is no replacement for real life interaction. Be careful about what you do with your kids. They don't need a screen that deprives their minds or abilities. We will be watching even less TV than we used too. This trip affected our perceived need base, it seems I need less of somethings and more now of others.
While I am reflecting, I might also mentioned that having been gone and in Haiti for a week is much better then a couple of days. I remember the kids talking the first day or so, trying to deal with the reality that we couldn't leave for a week. It looked like an eternity last Thursday. But then our systems seemed to be purged of our addiction to the way things are here at home, and we were surprised at how the time went by. We developed connections you just cannot in a day or two visit. My recommendation for future trips will be 6-7 days minimum. Longer is better if you really want to develop an appreciation for a culture and the circumstances of a people. Otherwise you are prone to distortions, and false expectations. Even a week is a very short time when compared to the length and depth of the suffering of this culture. Love to all. God Bless.

Touchdown


The final leg of our journey has commenced. Landed in Detroit at 10:00 p.m. We have made it to a hotel around Lansing. Weary travelers could not find a room. I felt for Joseph and Mary. For a tight economy, everything was sold out tonight. It is now 1:30 in the morning. Everyone is freezing. Last night we were all sweated wet laying on our mattresses waiting for sleep to come and deliver us from our misery. Tonight, the cold envelopes us and we shiver. One difference, I can now control the climate, I am back in America. I have turned up the thermostat. We had our only meal of the day at the Miami airport at a "Chili's" restaurant. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. We might try for some steak tomorrow, we are a little protein deprived! But all in all we did very well. The kids are happy to be in Michigan, but yes Alisa, it is bittersweet. Thank you all for your prayers, we discovered as we talked late into the night last night with Robinson, even more good was accomplished than we had first thought.
Check in with the blog over the next few days as I will be adding some other thoughts. My posts will not be quite as frequent as I engage again in all my State side demands, but I mean to finish some other thoughts I have had. I have held myself accountable and so have your comments. Getting thoughts down has been good for me, and helped me work through aspects of this experience that will change my family, and sharpen our focus of ministry in St. Marc. I look forward to sharing with you for there is much that I have not been able to post, and there are pictures that no amount of words could ever fully describe. I also mean to post some of them when I get 'picture posting' figured out! Good-night to all! Rob sends his love!

Streets


















The streets are crowded, dust and dirt,
Horns blare, vacant eyes stare, hearts hurt.
Shouting, laughing, talking, children walking,
Baskets, water buckets, donkey's braying.

Sewage, garbage, rocks, ruts, and goats
Dog's barking, people bartering, full totes.
Market places, goods for sale, pigs wallow,
Broken trucks, flat tires, it's hard to swallow.

Pungent smells, burning eyes, dirty water,
Smiles, a friendly word, a momentary falter.
A cyclist with one leg, a child that begs,
An old woman sits, many skinny legs.

Is there promise on these city streets,
I wonder and ponder as everything creaks.
The road so rough and ruddy, and maligned,
Speaks of the hardship of sad broken times.

Oh sad country with such solemn sights,
Come back to God who heals such plights.
People laden with poverty's yoke,
Need to know there is heaven's bright hope.

Concrete


Somewhere tonight I plan on finding myself back on a real mattress. We took in Coleman air mattresses to sleep on while at Robinson’s house. It turned out to be a great idea as we slept on the front porch floor because it was just too hot to sleep in the house. The concrete of the house took on heat all day and didn’t cool off very much at night. But there was one exception. The concrete floor stays fairly cool most of the time. And might you guess where the rest of the household slept? That’s right, on the concrete floor. From the first night on I was taken aback. When we arrived the first night the woman were all asleep on the front porch floor. I thought it was just a temporary thing, but alas, I was to be proven wrong. They all sleep on the floor, a blanket or two between them and the concrete. Even Enives, the pregnant mom eight months along, slept on the floor. I don’t know how they do it. I hurt for them. I had Rob keep the mattresses, and he said no problem, he would watch over them until we came the next time. This morning as I walked out and saw him and Naromie sleeping by the other front door on a blanket together, I determined to force my hand a little. I told him if they would please use the mattresses, I would really appreciate it. I told him if they wrecked them, no problem, we would bring more in.
So as you snuggle into that mattress tonight, plush or not, consider those of our CCC family in Haiti laid out on hard concrete or worse, and be thankful. I have seen street people in the United States with more than these people! We don’t often stop to consider that even the least among us have more than a lot of folks from third world countries.
Our dumps would be a gold mine for these people. I watched a man picking through burning rubble of the trash piles this morning, the thin wisps of smoke blowing past him as he sifted through the remains of nothingness hoping to find something meager to either sell, or eat, something that might get him through another day. And I wondered at our waste. May God forgive us, and fill us with new understanding. May He fully disclose to us our wants as distinguished from our needs, and cause us to be cautious about our desires for more. There is no doubt we all need to give more and get less. That in and of itself would be a great new start for our nation. And like I’ve said before, the real fix for our country lies with its people, not a new president, or a bigger government. The truth is the church can affect the world if we will. But that choice is ours. So as I often say to my children, sleep tight, knowing again you are among the blessed! Be thankful as you pull those covers up for the simple comfort of a bed. And if it trouble you about these our friends, donate for a bed! Then you may sleep even better! Blessings always.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fried Bananas


On our way to Port this morning Rob stopped along the road and slipped into the trees. In a few minutes he came back with a plate of food. It was fried bananas. Miracle of miracles, Krystle loved the stuff. I must say it was really good. I couldn't imagine enjoying such a thing but it was suprisingly tastey. It was a humorous moment for all you who know how Krystle struggles with textures because of her past brain tumor. Even I was a bit squeamish, but it really proved a delightful moment and we were hungry. Perhaps that helped. We are boarded for Detroit, so have to go for now. See everyone soon. Bless all!

Emotions


We are at Port au Prince, back at the airport. Robinson walked us all the way to the passenger area, he was allowed there because he carries a passport and visa. It was nice. Then he bade us a quick good-bye. It's hard to walk away from here. Something within you cries unfair. Why do I get to walk away and they have to stay? He is such a great man, and such a deserving person, yet I go and he stays. Again let me remind you to never take for granted your place in life. You are here for a reason, and whatever your lot, you are no different than anyone else, because places could be switched, and you would be there, and he here. We are blessed, but with blessings come great responsibility. Let us do whatever we can to lighten the load of the suffering, to take our blessings and pass them on. I weep for these people, sadness engulfs me, sin is so deliberate in it's path of destruction. Yet we have the chance to bring God's hope to a people who need our enouragement, love, and support. What a worthy endeavor. I am tired, but a good tired. It is good to pour ones self out in such a fashion. I will be restored, my heart takes courage, and I can hardly wait to return. Blessings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Au Revoir (Good-bye)


This will be my last post in Haiti for now. Unless something happens we will leave early in the a.m. for Port au Prince. Poor Robinson has made the trip to Port 5 times of the 8 days we have been here. He is a weary lad, fought hard to make this happen. We have done our best. God will have to do the rest. So thankful for all your prayers. It has been a rewarding trip on so many levels, I have no regrets. The tent is something about timing at this point. It was ordered early enough, so there is some reason God has stalled. For one thing, I was hoping the ordination would take place on the new property, but as it played out, it was as it should have been. Robinson's place for ordination was where this work began and in the circumstance where he has so faithfully labored the past 5 years. So all the struggle will bear fruition. God is faithful to do what He has promised. That much has become clear.
Part of our hearts will remain in Haiti. And long I think will be our labor here. So if this is a grand continuation of that vision, so be it. Love to all, will try to post in Miami tomorrow afternoon. We send our love to all and a special shout out to Aunt Donna and Aunt Lyn who have arrived in TC for a short visit. Hope to see you in a couple of days. And Don and Ramona, we continue to carry you on our hearts. So sorry we are not there to help with the burden of the day. But God must have known about this as well. Thanks again to all our followers. Blessings until then!

House


Thought I would try to give you a word picture of Robinson’s house. It’s funny, because his house is now larger than where the church meets. It is a duplex unit that goes from street to street. In other words, instead of being side-by-side units, they are front and back. But each one accesses a street. It really is kind of unique. Rob and Naromie have done a great job of splitting up the large living area to be a kind of dining and living room combined. It’s funny though; there are no chairs at the kitchen table. The culture is not inclined to eat together as such. Matter of fact they kind of eat in isolation. A happenstance I’m sure the result of not enough food to go around. They eat in corners a lot of the time, and the house has a few of those. There are 5 rooms and two hallways. The food preparation is done in the back hallway on the floor. The house is all open air, however there is glass in a couple of the windows. Four rooms have doors, the front room off the living room, which is a bedroom for the women, the front door itself, the main bedroom that is Rob and Naromie’s, and the bathroom. There is not doorstop trim along the edges of the doors, so you can see right into the rooms. It was a little uncomfortable the first couple of times in the bathroom as you can see right into the shower, but they are a respectful people, and privacy while your in the bathroom, even if someone is right outside the door, is not a problem. The furnishings at this point are very simple. There is a seat, love seat and couch, all matching in the living room, albeit used. A TV and a little DVD unit that we sent in a while back. Rob’s computer table and a little cabinet are the rest of what is in the living room area. There are a few things on the wall as well. The dining area has a curtained off space where all the bins are kept. The only other thing in this area is a fold up table that has the dish drainer on it. The main bedroom has a bed, and blue bins used for storage. There is no closet, but they have fastened a wooden bar across one corner of the room and hung a curtain over it to hide the clothes hung behind. It’s simple but looks nice. They also use curtains at a couple of the doorways as well, it allows some privacy, but also give airflow throughout the house when the air is moving, and not so humid that is doesn’t matter if it moves or not! The kitchen has a simple camping stove, a small propane tank, a table for cooking utensils, and a small countertop with an attached cabinet of sorts. There is no sink yet. If there were, I am not sure you could stand the heat to be able to work in there. It is a small confined space, with a very small block window and doesn’t breathe very well. The bathroom is kind of an extension of the back hallway. You could kind of think of the house as an “I” construction in the layout. The big front room that goes from side to side, the main hallway that goes down the middle accessing the main bedroom on the right and the kitchen on the left, and the back hallway that provides an exit to a corridor along side the house and the bathroom to the right. The bathroom has a toilet and shower stall. There is no curtain for the shower. And the floor in the bathroom is tiled. It is simple, but works quite efficiently. The water for the shower and toilet is gravity fed from the rooftop. That tank is filled from a cistern in the front garage area that is filled by the city once a week. The floors are painted concrete, and the walls are a medium yellow. All in all, it works well as a starter home. It is far from elaborate, but far exceeds Robinson’s living conditions to date. I was upstairs at the church Sunday morning and was once again reminded of how dedicated Rob has been, and how frugal he is willing to live to be able to minister to his people, and I must tell you, I am very proud of this young man. We are blessed to be able to minister through such high caliber of character. He is a man truly after God’s heart. The new house is great for entertaining people, the front porch where we have slept the whole time we have been here is wonderful. People are coming and going all the time. We have enjoyed that part immensely. Over all the entire house is about 24’ wide and from the front gate to the back is about 34’. So it is not huge by any stretch, but it is much bigger than the space he had before. I told him if I ever made enough money, someday I would love to build him a house here in St. Marc. We’ll see what God can do. Robinson is a man who will never be at home outside his people and country. To try to get him to live in the U.S. would be a mission that is about as likely to happen as we were in getting the tent this week. Blessings once again.

Can Opener


Just another quick reality check. Naromie just cut herself quite badly. Opening a can with a knife! We were horrified because in our bins that we brought was a brand new can opener. Just a reminder how good we have it and what we again take for granted! Will you please be specific today with me that everything we go to grasp, we give thanks to God for all. Coming to Haiti is a walk back in time, and I must confess, not all of it is good! Some things are appealing but most leaves me shuddering. The good ole days they say, well, how about the hazardous ole days? OSHA would be so overwhelmed here, it would take them years to get all the forms here they would need to start writing their fines and citations. They would be bringing in shiploads, and then some! Ha! They would go on 24 hour shifts, and have to spend on average probably a couple of months at one location, minimum!
Robinson pulls his battery every night, and puts it back in every morning. He has two wrenches in his truck, a 5/8 and a 13mm. The 13mm is close but does not go on the bolt, so he wrestles until it is tight. These people are really good at getting by! We by comparison, travel on a four-lane highway, when you have to struggle a little today, its nothing! You can do this thing called life. You are blessed, and so am I. Philippians 4:8
May God be Praised!

Expectations


I have been working over many aspects of my thought processes. Another thing that I have become convinced of is this. We as Americans have received materially on many levels more than what we are prepared to deal with. All the luxuries and time savers have come with a price that we do not recognize and therefore fail to calculate. Stress, stress, and even more stress! We are borrowing from tomorrow, and making our time pass faster, not realizing that time itself is our most precious commodity. You say; well we know that, there are studies out that have reported this. Yes, I would agree, but with one caveat; we do not seem to understand the implications of the report and part of us does not want to believe it’s so. Want drives us on, and we follow its slimy trail that seems to keep a hold of us like a sticky glue. Last night there was a little scene here at the house over the TV. Robinson stepped in and cleared the problem. The TV was not the problem, it was the attachment to the object itself that was. Here is how Rob described to me what he feels about everything he owns; it all trash. If he losses it all, it is no problem. He does not need it to go on. If the hurricane comes, no problem! It’s sooooo simple. But to do it? That is a whole different thing.
The tentacles of things are sedating, and squeeze the life out of us. We think they are helping us, when in fact they are destroying us, our relationships, and robbing us of our time together. This culture that I have found myself immersed in this week is a culture of relationships, communication like I have never experienced in my life. One is not connected just within your house, but a word spoken draws in a neighbor, or brings news from a crossed town. It is a wonder to behold. It fascinates me. Here you die, but I perceive you do not die alone.
We went to visit a very sick mother last night and she exclaimed to Pastor Robinson that she was dying. But the house was full of people, her son was right there beside her. We are afraid of sickness; these people seem to embrace it. Is it healthy for ones body? I’m not sure, but good for the soul? Now there’s a question! You theologians pick that one apart and let me know what you come up with. I don’t pretend to be so wise as to be able to answer that yet.
Things raise our expectations, and with that our stress. They push our desires to where they are no longer safe, but it is a weird feeding frenzy. It is like junk food for the soul. The problem is we are not really full, what is ‘Jay’s’ chips slogan? ‘You can’t stop eating them.’ Why? Because you never really get full, you nibble, and nibble, but the nutrition is not there. Do without a little TV tonight. Spend time around the fire (the living room, whatever, you get my point) soaking in one another’s company. Tomorrow’s unexpected will arrive soon enough; capitalize on what you have in each other. Therein is the real value in life, which is the real food of our existence. Jesus said the world would know He lived by the way His children “loved one another” but how in the world will the world know if we never spend time actually loving one another.
Expectations? I expect I will be making another trip to Haiti pretty quick, I expect my time here is short, I expect to love more the way Jesus loves, I expect to expect less of this world and more of what really counts. It seems those kinds of expectations will not damage me, but free me to truly live. It’s time to take out the trash! God bless.

Photographs


One of the fun things we have been able to do while here in Haiti is take pictures. The camera seems to be called forth very often. I wear it on my hip when we are out. The crazy thing is, these people love to have their picture taken. And when we show them their picture on the digital display, they go wild. They laugh and carry on in the most hilarious fashion. It’s like you told them the best joke ever. I love to hear them laugh. It seems for a moment they get to leave the misery of their existence, and in that freedom, they really are bright stars. We will have loads of pictures when we come home tomorrow. It should be entertaining for everyone. It seems there are a few English words they all know, and one of them is photograph. Maybe it’s one of those words that is universal in every language. I’ll have to check that out. The question I have been asked most often while here is: “Pastor, photograph?” Robinson told me if I kept at it, it seems I would never be able to move from place to place.
Rob just called on the phone from Port, and said that the container that the tent is in has not been off loaded from the ship. Yikes, 7 days that ship has been in Port and the container has not been taken off. If that happened in America, someone would lose their job. Maybe I don’t understand sea cargo. But they told me it would be off the ship within two days. Robinson has worked really hard to get it done, but they can’t inspect what they cannot see. So I guess I am going to be returning sooner than I wanted. I am not sure of God’s plan, but I know that He has one. I have often considered shipping via ocean because I have heard it is cheaper, the price of the tent included shipping and it seemed fair enough. But you cannot count on it for timing in anyway, shape, or form. So now we will wait for Robinson to get here, maybe run up to the mountain. I need to go back to the property for some last minute calculations and lay some groundwork for a couple of things I will need ready when I return. That trip will have to be a fast one.
I am thankful for the experience this time; we have broadened our understanding of travel for a mission adventure. And the groundwork that needs to be laid to be able to get stuff done when you would bring a group of people. I know many of you have expressed interest in coming to visit and work. I must tell you it is no small feat. But it is fairly safe here, and we are well received. Hanging with the right people is absolutely critical if you don’t know the language and the people. They are very sharp in taking advantage of the unprepared, and the unknowing. But then if you had a starving family at home, and you weren’t a Christian, what might you do? Blessings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Customs


'O ye of little faith' Jesus said. It seems there is one more chance to get the tent. Robinson did alot of paperwork in Port today and an inspector is to look at the package tomorrow morning. If the price is right and they actually do what they say, we have a driver on standby to go to Port and get the tent, we will take the generator to the property and work tomorrow night to get it set up and hit the road Wednesday a.m. to get back to the States. We will see, I am trying to be hopeful, but I have learned more about this country this week, and they could just as well not show up in the morning. Pray once again. We will see.
Rob and I made a trip around the city tonight and saw the small groups meeting. It is incredible the commitment of these people. Through suffering and sickness and heat and poverty, they sing and pray and lift their voices in praise. May God help us to grow in such healthy ways. While we were out, Beth and Krystle fed the multitudes, I think the final count was 26 tonight! What a time. As I type the house is full with children and adults watching "Racing Stripes" by generator power. As soon as school was out the house filled with people. Its a wonder to behold. Need to run, praying for all, especially Don and Ramona. Blessings until tomorrow. My data on the phone has quit working, so has slowed the blogging a bit.

Posting


The blessing of the pen. I have been contemplating this thought. Writing things down while here in this country has been helpful in dealing with its hardships. The pace is much slower. Time during the day just seems to stop. I am so used to driving and moving and making things happen. And here I sit, and sit, and sit. Or so it seems. Nothing to do, but then I pick up my pen and write. The paper claims all the words I put on it. It starves to receive them, and I feel it’s vacuum. I need not be silenced nor powerless in this country. So I pour out my heart and feeling here between the greedy lines of the ledger. I give voice to my frustrations, musings, blessings, and fill the pages with information that I need never lose to a poor and failing memory.
I hope not to have you suffer boredom with my thoughts, but posting has been very good for me. I feel very inadequate, but you’re comments and the knowledge that a few are following drives me onward. I have noticed errors in spelling and such, but am constrained to fix it while here. I mean to do some repairs State side and leave the posts up for a while before pulling them back to my computer for long term storage and a running diary of this trip, I never want to forget the experiences of this country.
For all its hardness, rough roads, dirt and filth, the love and warmth of its people has been gratifying on a level I have not experienced before. I don’t say that to minimize the experience of home and our church family, and the love of our close friends, this is just different. I have been absorbing the warmth and tenderness of these people in the midst of their harsh circumstances, and marvel at the power of God to strengthen them and cause them to rejoice, even when church starts 1 hour late because of no power. I told them last night if I would have had that difficulty in the States, half of the people would have gone home by the time we started! And because we are on time constraints, the service would have now been only a ½ and hour from being over and the rest would have left. They laughed and got a good chuckle. It is hard for me to get them to laugh, but that must have gotten their funny bone.
The other thing I shared in opening last night was how when Robinson comes to the States he is often very, very cold. I told them we bundle him in layers and layers of clothes to keep him warm, and they found that hilarious. But then I told them I was the same way with their heat, but there was not a way to escape it. That is was HOT in Haiti, and they laughed at my plight! I sweat like a pig here, and if you know me, I don’t sweat easily in the States.
We are sitting here in the living room singing with the leader of the singing groups in the church, (remind me to tell you the story of the shoes) and we have been singing old hymns of the church and he has be singing tenor with us. It’s pretty cool, music seems to hold no language barriers. If you know the song, the tune carries the words. It’s pretty cool. Running for now, need to check on Rob again. Blessings.

Anger


Well it seems customs is going to take a month or two or whatever. I know the American government is broken, but it’s nothing compared to Haiti. Socialized anything is a monster for the people. Oh well, have to roll with the punches on this one, but my American counterparts on this transaction are going to hear it about it. All they had to do was say something. There, I let off some steam! I was upset when Robinson called and gave me the news from Port. To think he went all that way again, spent that money, and they get to say, well this is hard and is going to take time. So much for a government that says it’s for the people. Gas down here is $70.00 Haitian, which translates to almost $9.00 dollars American. You can stop complaining about high gas prices, you haven’t seen anything yet. This government seems to know how to hit this people where it hurts.
But maybe this trip was about something else. This week we have learned much about how to navigate through the time and circumstances of visiting this country. We are much more prepared to be able to bring groups in. It seems we need to get a couple more things accomplished at the property as well, specifically the guardhouse needs to be done and we need the well finished. Who was it that said: “God’s pauses are not without are not without purpose.” Oh, that was me!
Yesterday we made a mistake in our calculations, as we entertained all those that came by, we gave out too many of our drinks. They were in a plastic bag in the cooler. By the time we discovered what had happened, it was after church last night, and was too late to get more. Beth boiled water late and we all lay on our beds waiting for it to cool, we were so thirsty. The kids and Beth fell asleep before it could cool, and I drank mine hot. We didn’t get anything more to drink until 10:00 this morning. We take so much for granted walking to the sink and drawing a simple glass of water. I don’t ever remember being quite so thirsty, but not able to get a drink. It is a very threatening feeling. Yet these people live through that all the time.
It was amazing to here them sing “Count your Blessings” at church yesterday. ‘Name them one by one’ that song says. I have sung that song much over the years, and with great gusto, but never with such clarity as I now have. There is a woman in the attached apartment this morning writhing on the floor in pain, we took her some medicine, and not sure of the outcome. I think she might have appendicitis; we will have to wait for Robinson to get here to see about getting her to a doctor. Beth said she needs to go right now, but there is no ambulance, there is no car. So she must suffer, while we sit rather helpless. Such a hard country.
But even in the midst of that, God’s blessings flow. Here are our bright stars, Robinson and Naromie, ministering to the needs of these people, an extension of our CCC family in Michigan. I want this network to grow; this is a great opportunity that we have in the states to make a difference. If a difference is to be made, it must be done this way; the government is not going to fix this problem. The church will. Robinson made the comment yesterday that if it were not for the Christians, Haiti would already be just a jungle. I agree.
So here’s to counting your blessings! 6 days in this country have cleared my perspective more, and I pray that I will be changed as a pastor in my ministry as well. God bless for now!

Poem


















How bright the sky,
but dim the land,
I watch the impoverished cry,
I want to take them by the hand.

To console the wounded,
To feed the hungry,
To stop the dying

But alas, I prove too small a man,
My arms to weak to hold.
The suffering masses, a saddened band,
They look so tired and old.

Weeping endures for the night they say,
But I’m not sure when the day breaks gray.
Pray for the broken, mend what you can,
For God is much bigger than the problems of man.

May we make a difference
in the place where we're called,
May our hearts and love
Stay forever enthralled.

With the God who made us,
The God who saves,
The God who reigns.

I will carry His hope to the darkness and din,
To bring His light, and let it shine in.
Therein is the hope for which my heart craves,
For he is the one who saves from the grave.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ordination


This post will be short tonight. The cell data network is blocked for some reason today. Couple of quick notes, Don I did get the text and we are heartbroken for Ramona and her loss. You both are in our prayers.
It was a busy day today, much to do and get accomplished, will hopefully be able to fill in some gaps tomorrow, depending on the data coverage in the A.M. Robinson is headed for Port early to work on getting the tent. That has been a bit of a bummer that he has been gone for two of the seven days we have been here. But we have still been able to get alot done.
Robinson is now ordained. What an awesome service. The people are warming to us faster and faster now. I was not able to connect with them like this my last trip in. Given out many hugs and kisses to the children. They now come running for the touch of the white people. What a joy they are.
They had the feast today, and ladies you would be impressed, for $300.00 American, we bought the food and they cooked up a storm. The meal was passed out in styrofoam takehome cartons. You just would not beleive it. There were many pastors there, and they all received a special meal. It was awesome.
We entertained all afternoon and I spoke again tonight. Beth, Krystle and I sang along with several of their groups. We have got to record the men, they were outstanding. Even though I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying, they can sing! I admonished the people to stand behind Robinson, I didn't tell him what I was going to do, and God laid it on my heart just a couple of hours before the service. But it went well. They have had a couple of issues and I was able to address them directly, and God used it to really shore up Robinson's ministry here in St. Marc. The people took it really well. And I think cleared the air on how we are supporting them and how that will look in the future. This has been a great trip. Just need the tent. So pray, pray, pray. And if you know someone working at Port and can pull some strings, give them a call. Just kidding.
Love to all, and blessings as well. We miss you but are rejoicing in the work God is doing here. Both the kids have said we need to bring the whole church. It would do you good. But in the meantime, I will give you all the details I can.

P.S. Kelly and these boys are a stitch. I have never heard him laugh so much in my life. And they communicate with each other in a language all there own. We bring a little button on a string game for the children, and the boys have gotten bottle caps and turned them into war buttons and try to saw the other persons string. It's a gas, leave it to boys! Good night.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Generator


What a day. Weariness besets us. But it's a good feeling. We had over 100 children for our service this afternoon. It is amazing how they come out of the woodwork all dolled up and ready to go. The craft time has proven to be a bit more complex than first thought, but then again we were not figuring that we would pack the place out every day.
We had a party night here at the house tonight and Robinson borrowed a little generator to do a couple of movies. Several children from the neighborhood showed up and we fed 19 people grilled cheese sandwiches and shared some popcorn. They watched "Nims Island" and "Knights of the South Bronx". We had a few others stop by as I finished my work for Robinson's ordination in the morning. Now the generator is off and so is the power to the city. Rob and I were out walking to the market and picking up a truck from the mechanic. We were walking past a restaurant with music blaring and people chattering, and suddenly it was dark and quiet instantly. It was weird and funny all at the same time. Open for business one minute and closed by the government the next. For all you who think government can fix things, beware! Time for bed, praying for the service back home in the morning. Pray for us in return. A special shout out to all our followers. We are so enjoying your comments. We all huddled together tonight and I read them out loud. Great encouragement and laughs as well. Blessings to all. Goodnight.

Lizard


What a day so far. Ran out of running water halfway through Beth's shower this morning. I already had mine. Hehe! They are trying to get more pumped up to the tank. I'm sure that will be a whole day operation. What a hard country. Yesterday Naromie did our laundry with another woman in the church and it took them all day. I got up this morning and put on my same clothes from yesterday. Ladies, you've got to love your washing machines. Even if you have to go to the laundramat. Unbeleivable. What we take for granted. We will stretch our wardrobe, hoping to ease the burden of their work.
But to return to lizards. We started out moving rocks and leveling dirt at the property this morning. We had just gotten started when a 9" lizard sprang out. When Krystle saw it jumping around she reacted in a very feminine fashion to the delight of our on lookers. A bit later I dug up another one and tried to push him to safety. However one of the guys ahead of me quickly put an end to him. It reminded me again of the difference in our cultures, and I had to chuckle. Life on some levels is not sacred here. A hard country puts out hard people. It does not afford the same luxuries of thought processes. That is where cultural differences show up. But I admire their stamina, and respect their views. Even if it was the end of the poor lizard. Time for lunch. Running again. Love to all.

Bonjour


It is a beautiful morning in Haiti. Behind the walls of Robinson's house looking out and up, it is like just another part of the Carribean. But that wall masks a desperate city, for to step through it's gate is to step into another reality. The city streets, if you could call them that are horrific. The logging trails we traveled on last Saturday on the hayride were like awesome compared to what these are. But to be among the people is such an amazing experience. Not knowing any Creole has been difficult, but they are delighted when you say something at all. So the password is: you guessed it, Bonjour! Or translated means good morning.
I can't beleive the trip is already half over. In some ways it seems time has stood still, but now that we are getting in a groove, things are moving a bit faster. We played with children at the house a lot yesterday while Robinson was away. I even jumped rope with them, they were impressed, as was I. Didn't know these bones still had it in them.
Headed to the property to work in a few minutes. Hope to level the approach to the bathrooms and spruce up where the tent will sit. Looks to be another hot one. It's funny, I keep harrassing them, because they are saying it's hot. I'm like, what? Your Haitian and your hot, what chance do us Michiganders stand. Oh well I guess in all cultures we are prone to complain about the weather. We all share some things in common.
Robinson is here, time to run. Much to do. Keep us in your prayers. Pray for Don and Ramona as well. Times are harsh for them right now. Blessings to all. More later.