Saturday, April 25, 2009
It’s amazing to me what the flash of a camera will reveal. It’s a split second of time, yet it exposes whatever is in the darkness. You see, not everything in the dark is bad. Brightness is often radiating in a form undisclosed until light reveals its image. This picture is one of those moments. I have often been taken by the brightness of the Haitians in the midst of such suffering, desolation, and poverty. But something else also amazes me, the outreach being extended toward these people. Our current trip in was like the flash of a camera compared to the lifetime most of these people will live within this dark country. But in an eight-day flash, we exposed a lot of hidden brightness. I love the glow of their smiles. It takes a trick or two to capture their smiles on camera, but it is always worth it. Of course it can be tricky capturing us American’s smiles as well. Back to the outreach thing… among us are some very brave individuals, willing to set aside the comforts and safety they feel at home to stretch their wings and soar to meet an altogether different culture, or flock of people. Thus were these that traveled with us on our trip to Haiti this time. The energy I observed expended on behalf of these people was nothing short of stunning! The gospel alive is what I have seen. And the glow on these faces says much about the hope that lives in this darkened land. I rest easier tonight knowing that the love that these have shared on our recent journey will not come back void. God is at work, and is at work largely! The flash of the camera grabbed the brightness of these faces reflecting glowing hearts, and we cherish that glow. May it burn brightly and long for these people. Blessings again.
Posted by Pastor at 11:43 PM
The Haiti Team will be doing a special presentation at the Traverse Bay United Methodist Church Sunday evening April 26th at 5:30 p.m. All members of our recent trip will be sharing impacts this trip had on them, things we did, and future vision. We welcome you to come and share with us. There will be pictures as well as opportunity to interact with the team members as well. We are anticipating a great time! I know this blog is read on a very wide spectrum of landscape, so not all will be able to join us. However, I will continue to post up more info and will continue sharing perspectives and progress on a weekly basis. Truth be told, I have run a pretty harrowing schedule since our return, and have taken just a little writing break while trying to get some other aspects of this ministry in place. More on that later! We persist in forging ahead in seeing what God has in store for Saint-Marc, and Haiti as a whole. God is on the move, and we are excited to be partaking in this opportunity He has set before us. We are airborne in our continuing adventure. This picture captures the sentiments of my heart with it's promise of great hope, many return trips, and seismic accomplishments in reaching the perishing! Blessings!
Posted by Pastor at 2:55 PM
Monday, April 20, 2009
This is a very disturbing word on several levels. The first being that we typically just don't like this word because of it's connotation. We use it flippantly, as a false pretense, but few of us really understand this word, and in all honesty, try to avoid the grasp of its tentacles. But every trip to Haiti reminds me of this word. As I contemplate our recent trip, and peruse the pictures, these of the noon time prayer are some of the most revealing, and disturbing pictures I fasten my eyes upon. As I have already mentioned, noon prayer is where approximately 100- 150 people show up at the property each day to pray. They pray from 12:00-2:30 p.m. And desperation is written all over their countenance. They are fasting, and many not out of choice, but necessity. There is no food at home, there is no work for food, there is no food for energy to work. Starvation is written all over their culture, erodes their bodies, saps and deludes their wills. Survival at this desperate level is not just difficult, it is nearly impossible. People are dying all the time. And yet as they pray and worship God they are on a different plane than me. Starving, and yet they bring more energy to their worship than would seem possible, joy permeates their faces and catches me with awe, for out of their desperation they know more of God and understand his will better than I! I spoke from Psalm 130 while I was there, and David declares that out of the "depths of his heart, he cried out to God." In our culture very little takes us to the depths of our soul. Very, very few are begging God for breakfast. We blame our government, or cry out "unfair", or seek for handouts. We label God "uncaring", all the time falsifying the real place we need to get to before Him who alone can resolve the human plight. Let us learn from these people not to bite the hand that feeds us, to resign ourselves more fully to his Sovereignty. It will work out in the end, He has promised that to those who believe. I hope we never have to fully experience what these desperate people have to experience day in and day out. Let us learn from them the proper dependence we need to have on God, let us not force Him to strip us, or continue to plunder ourselves by not seeking Him. Let us fully understand our human plight. We need Him, we need to desperately seek Him, perhaps through us He is resolved help heal this land of the Haitians. What greater privilege could we have than that. And in so doing, see our own country repaired along side of these desperate ones. Let us learn of desperation, let us understand... that we be part of the cure, and not the cause! By the way, these women are outside the tent because the tent is full. We couldn't get inside the tent for pictures, there were too many people inside! Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 8:34 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Autumn in a comment made about last nights post called "Adeline" used the word "beautiful". It struck me. As I have shared many times in my posts, Haiti as a country is not beautiful. There are flowers there that are beautiful, there are dragonfly's and butterfly's, there are beautiful things there, but it is not a beautiful country. There is actually much ugly throughout this land. From houses, to broken vehicle's, to trash in the rivers, storm damage, it is a land ravaged by years of misuse, and inappropriate infrastructure. It is war torn and pock marked with disaster zones of all sorts. But there is a beautiful attraction in this land of oppression. It is it's people. 99% of the time as I walked the streets of Saint Marc, when I called out Bon-Jour, I received a greeting back with a warm friendly wave to accommodate the greeting. They wanted us to snatch them up in the lens of our camera, I think to forever capture them in a place where they would not be forgotten. I am with Autumn on this one. These are beautiful people, and it is hard leaving them. It would be great to have a number of them around. They are unforgettable, on many levels, unbelievable. The daunting circumstances of their county are etched in so much of what they do, and yet these pictures remind us that the human spirit touched by God can overcome the most unreal challenges. And do it with joy! I have faced frustration's embankment several times since returning from Haiti. Some of it is simply a reaction to the press and fury of our culture that misses so much in our disastrous press for more that is actually returning less. But some of it is wrapped up in what Autumn confessed. I miss these people, I wish their suffering could end, I wish no child tonight was going to sleep hungry, cold, lonely, afraid, and rejected. Pray for these children before pillowing your head tonight. And may God answer your prayers by granting a Haitian a full stomach, a good nights rest, and the warm embrace of God's love to carry them through another day. Blessings.
Posted by Pastor at 8:51 PM
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This is the newest addition at the parsonage in Saint Marc. She is a little girl from Desdunes, another orphan Rob and Naromie have taken in at the house. This now brings the count to 5 that they are taking care of. Adeline is a little sweetheart. A great temperament, a beautiful smile, and a willing worker. She was so thankful for any food we gave her. She didn't really care for the taste of the Coco Wheats, but never complained, she just ate them up! Someone is buying her a Sunday dress and I am shipping it in with the drill bit. She is a delight.
Posted by Pastor at 9:46 PM
I stumbled across this picture today and had to laugh. Very seldom do you get to glance at Robinson taking a break. He was a constant force of motion while we were in Saint Marc. He is a good administrator, but is very busy himself. At night he stayed with our team at the property and under the big tent, leaving his wife at home. Talk about dedication, our safety and comfort were not an option to him, but a necessity that he oversaw constantly. As I already mentioned in my post called "Angels" we had many eyes on us through the week, but Robinson was the person overseeing all those watchful eyes. And he was reported to by all. He always knew when things happened, and always followed up on making sure people were as comfortable as possible in this uncomfortable land. We were blessed. So when the lens of the camera caught this picture of Rob taking a break, it was a well deserved moment! That smile is awesome.
Posted by Pastor at 4:23 PM
I had mentioned in my "Advent Conspiracy" post yesterday about the sidewalk getting done. Here are a couple of pictures fresh from Haiti about noon today! Rob sent them from his machine that we took in this trip! These are some hard working guys pictured here. They are all from the church, and good men. They have done a great job, and this is a good accomplishment as all foot traffic on the property can now walk on cement to get from place to place! And that is saying something. Just ask a team member from our trip.
Posted by Pastor at 3:55 PM
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I looooove children! It was such a joy and awesome experience to get to be with all of these children in Haiti. There were many of them that remembered us from the last two trips. The two little girls that asked me in December, “would you take me back to America and be my mother?” were some of the first ones I saw when we got to the church property. The children would come running to us with open arms, kisses, and all the love they have to give. It touches my heart in indescribable ways.
As we were planning our trip to go, I had talked to the girls and asked them to help with the children’s services. We had a plan my mother had helped put together for the five days we would hold services. The first day Maura told the story of “The Lost Sheep” and talked about salvation. They made faith necklaces with a cross and beads on them. We wanted to make sure all the children there had heard the story of salvation. The second day Lauren shared the story of “Noah and the Ark” and talked about obedience and how important it is for each of us. She had animal masks for each of the kids and some adults ☺ and had the kids do a dance two by twos around the tent. It was a great time with big smiles on their faces. On Sunday morning, we were able to meet in the children’s tent for the first time so it was a special time for all the children from the church. Maura shared the story “Jesus Calms the Storm” and talked about God’s protection. What a wonderful thing to remind them of in a land where there are so many challenges on a day-to-day basis. They made pinwheels to remind them of the wind blowing.
On Monday Karen ‘mimed’ for us starting with a large gift that said “for you” in Creole. She opened it up to find a Bible, and a manger with baby Jesus (a loaf of French bread wrapped in a blanket). She held baby Jesus and rocked him and then she brought out a small cross and a large spike and put it through the bread onto the cross. This was representing Jesus dying for each of us. Then she passed around a balloon with the word “LOVE” on it and had each one tell the child next to them that Jesus loves them. It was a powerful story of the gift Jesus has given to each of us but we are to share with everyone around us. Karen handed out small flashlights to remind the children to share the light with others.
I woke up early Tuesday morning feeling the need for God’s help and praying for the children that would be coming that day because I was supposed to teach. My story was to be about “Heaven” and talking about this being our goal. I asked God to show me how to get across the message and hope of what we have to look forward to because of His promises. I shared with them I have a small house in America that my husband built for me, but I said it is probably bigger than a lot of you have in Haiti. I told them that I wanted to bring them all home with me to America and they were all looking at me with huge eyes and smiles. I said, ” but Haiti won’t let me”! I explained that my house was too small and there just wasn’t room for all of them. I told them that I had the best news for them that Jesus was in Heaven building a huge house for all of us. It will be absolutely beautiful with every color of stone. I told them it will be big enough for all of us to live in and that we would be one big family together forever. I shared that each one would have their own room and their own bed. They wouldn’t need to have all their family in one room. We talked about streets of gold to walk on, no more rocky, rough roads strewn with trash and sewage again. The river of life will flow right through the city with clean water and lots of it. We talked that we would never run out of this clean water and there was so much we would even be able to play in it. There will be fruit trees on both sides of the river with fruit growing all the time so we would never be hungry again. There will be no need of the sun, moon and stars because Jesus will be the light. That means we won’t need any candles or flashlights. There will never be darkness or night again. We will not be tired anymore. There will be no more crying, no more sickness or pain, and no more death. We won’t ever have to say good-bye again. I then asked them who wanted to go to Heaven with me and every hand in the tent went up (we later counted over 323 hands of children and many teenagers and adults)! I told them that each one of us needed to ask Jesus into our hearts and then be careful to obey Him. We then made crowns with different colored jewels on them to remind us that we are children of the King.
How blessed and humbled I feel as I sit here and write this and have these precious memories to carry with me forever. It is hard to say good-bye right now. I wish I never had to leave them. I wish I could hold them and love them forever. Then I am reminded that Jesus is doing that right now. He just wants us to be ready and willing to give whatever we have to share when He calls on us. Hug a child today, hug your child and thank God that we are so blessed.
Posted by Pastor at 10:02 PM
These pictures are discouraging. They show the brokenness of a nation. One of the things I do while I am in Haiti is spend some deliberate time picking up trash. I am so proud of our people at our property. They have really stepped to the plate and keep it pretty well cleaned up now. It wasn't that way when we first started working there. I am working to teach them the value of valuing what God gives them. It may not seem like much, but we are stewards of everything we have, and when we don't take care of it, how can we expect God to allow us more. Or something better. These pictures are riverbeds, and in the rainy season overflow their banks. All that trash you see in there gets washed to the ocean. I want to cry when I see this, this is hard for a water well driller concerned about pure water. I am glad to see as a country this trip in, that work has begun to set up an infrastructure to get rid of the trash. But this is going to take time to change, bad habits and no instruction have left these people bankrupt in understanding anything about the eco-system. And when your starving to death and dying of thirst, it's a hard transition to contemplate where you drop your trash, and that it should even matter. After all, you won't be around long enough to worry about it! Patience, prayer, and proper leadership will hopefully continue to bring change. We are trying to purchase a burning barrel for the property for a place to burn the trash. We discovered while we were there that there is really no place decent to go with it, so the training continues!
Posted by Pastor at 8:45 PM
What a great name! This Christmas past a group of committed Christians at the Keswick United Methodist Church decided to spend less on themselves and save for a special missions outreach. To get fresh water to some third world country. This is a huge problem for the impoverished and destitute. Many, many children die each year because of water borne diseases, or the simple lack of water all together. Because of a God appointed connection between a family at that church and our work in Haiti well drilling among other things, was that this gift was sent to Robinson’s ministry in Saint Marc. One of the goals of this team trip in was to get the well drilled while we were there. Fighting against mountainous obstacles through the course of the week, especially with regards to getting the well drilled, it is the one disappointment of our journey that did not get completely done. However, just because it did not quite get done while we were there does not mean it is not getting done. Sometimes God gets greater glory by setting aside our plan and gifts to make sure He gets the credit. Many of you know that my profession outside of the pastorate is ‘water well drilling’. And I can promise you that I was looking forward to fulfilling this charge on this trip into Haiti. But it seems God had other plans for me. He seemed to have been more taken with character development and relationship building rather than running water before I left. I must confess, I was looking forward to the significance of this accomplishment in bringing water to these people as a water well driller. But guess what... that’s right... not my plan but God’s plan is what gets done in His time. So in the aftermath of this trip, I have to let you know that as I discussed getting this well finished with Robinson, and trying to contract help for him, He said to me the last day before I left, “Brother, it seems you are to leave this to me, you have done your part, now let me do mine!” Whoa! What a way to be told to sit down by God! Since we left Saint-Marc, things do continue to be done. The sidewalks are finished, the hungry are fed, and the well will be finished too. I have another drill bit to send and am just waiting on a couple of other items to be sent and the package will be on its way. What is yet to be realized by the “Advent Conspiracy” is that they had hope for one well, and the net result is going to be more than one well from their sacrifice. It still amazes me the way God works. I don’t have time to spill all the details here, but just know that God uses the most unusual circumstances and people in the most fascinating ways when we commit in faith to Him. I was fortunate enough to be blessed to be a part of this amazing work by these amazing people. “Advent Conspiracy” may you be blessed today and in the future as you realize the amazing things God does through those who stand up to be counted for Him! Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 6:28 PM
Monday, April 6, 2009
No this is not snow, it's dust. Haiti is in the dry, windy season now. You cannot imagine the dust. It looks like snow on the trees until you get close. There is no rain to wash it away, and no sprinklers or water to water the yard. Gracious, hardly any to drink, let alone to use it to water grass. Oh, that's right, there is no grass. I have never seen a lawnmower in Haiti. The closest you will come to a lawnmower is a goat, or a cow.
Posted by Pastor at 10:39 PM
One of the joys of the trip was passing out gifts to the children. And you could draw a crowd in a hurry. Here is a glimpse, we are in the middle of the street. We were the only bus in this village the day we visited. We were quite a sight where most walked, and a few biked. In we came in a big yellow bus! It wasn't fancy, don't get me wrong, but to a village not used to traffic, we were quite the attraction. And on top of that, we were mostly white! It was awesome. We had fun. I have included a picture of us on the bus as well.
It’s about 7:50 p.m. as we board our Miami to Detroit connection on our return from the Haiti mission. I find my seat, and I see that I will be sitting next to a tall, slim man in his late fifties wearing a leather jacket and looking very annoyed as he stares out the window. As I sit down I feel awkward because he is one of those guys that gives off the impression “don’t talk to me or touch me” and he has positioned himself with his arm on the divider and his leg encroaching in my leg space. I think to myself, “This is going to be a long flight.”
The flight has been delayed a few minutes and we sit there in silence waiting. The captain says over the intercom that a seat malfunction is just about wrapped up and we will be on our way momentarily. The guy next to me speaks up in a loud voice, “that’s just great; every flight I’ve been on during this trip has had problems.” I try to break the ice and jokingly ask him if he is starting to loose confidence in the airlines. He responds without making eye contact, “No, I’ve got 2 months to live and I don’t want to spend it sitting here!” A little stunned I tell him that I’m sorry to here that to which he doesn’t respond and continues to stare out the window.
A million thoughts race through my mind as I sit there, the main one being that I know that as a Christ Follower if I have compassion at all for this stranger, I should before I get off this jet ask him if he knows where he is going in two months. I asked him if he had been traveling to visit family to which he replied, “No.” He had left his wife and kids and didn’t want anything to do with the rest of them. A few minutes later I asked him where he was headed and in another short sentence he said, “I don’t know.” I’m sitting there, hoping he would say something to help me in this one sided conversation, thinking “wow this guy is so angry and hurt and only has 2 months to live.” I turned slightly to glance at him and though his face was hard, he was crying.
As the thoughts continued to race through my mind I struggled with the fine line between respecting this stranger’s privacy and not getting too personal, and the sense that I might be able to help him. I decided that I had nothing to loose and that I am a spineless Christian if I don’t prod on. I said, “If you don’t mind me asking, why does a guy who only has 2 months to live not want to spend those days with his family?” He responded, still not making any eye contact, “If you were in my situation you wouldn’t want to be around them either. They’re all liars. Everyone on this planet is a liar; I don’t want them around watching me die!” Not knowing all the details and not wanting to be confrontational I just said, “That’s sad.”
I later find out that his name is Joe and that he’s from Ohio.
He doesn’t say anything else and just sits there staring out the window at the night sky. Joe eventually falls asleep and I reflect on all the experiences I just had in Haiti and how God was so real in the people’s lives down there. I decided that when he wakes up, some how I would find out where he stood with God because now I truly feel sorry for the man. This normally would not be that hard of a question for me to ask someone, but this guy was so hard and I already had a good idea what his answer would be.
Near the end of our 3 hour flight I finally ask him if he believed in heaven; a round about lead in question to the God one. He abruptly replied, “No.” Then I said, “Does that mean then that you don’t believe in God?” He said even more harshly “no” and that everything in his whole life had always been messed up. I took that to mean he was saying that if there was a God he didn’t want anything to do with Him because his whole life had been messed up and didn’t want to believe in a God that would let that happen to him. I wanted to tell him that God loved him, could help him and about salvation if he only would believe and accept Him... but I didn’t. His heart was so closed and he seemed so defensive all I could say was that I would pray for God’s peace to come on him. He shot back, “Don’t bother!” We got off the plane at 11:30 p.m. and that was it.
The whole thing kind of rattled me as I tried to process why God had me cross paths with Joe. Naturally, I would have loved to be able to see Joe receive Christ and have a happy ending but that wasn’t the point. The point and reason I tell all of you this is because God reminded me of what the real reason is that a person should go to Haiti or any other part of the world. The Gospel... God’s love, forgiveness of sins, and the salvation of souls. There are lost people all around us that will die and not spend eternity with their loving creator. As the body of Christ we are commissioned to take that good news to all the world.
My prayer is that through our support to Robinson and the rest of the church family in St. Marc they will be a witness of God’s love to the lost people in their country.
Pray for Joe.
Your Brother in Christ,
Posted by Pastor at 1:06 PM
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Here is a picture of the little girl hit by the motorcycle. She is doing much better, but Rob bought her more medication today because some of her wounds are healing slowly. Turns out she was the daughter of a good friend of Rob's, and her mom was coming to noon prayer. The girl had been sent out to get something when she was hit. Rob is approaching the community about installing a speed bump just up the street from the church to slow down the motorcycle's coming down the hill. He is doing this at my request, it came to my mind as I was reflecting on the amount of traffic on this street and the kids that mingle around the gate all the time. I saw a couple of speed bumps installed at another area. He thought it was a great idea. The entrance to the property is on a hill that is right next to the street, it is a bit dangerous because of downhill traffic moving pretty quickly at times.
Posted by Pastor at 10:59 PM