Wednesday, November 18, 2009
One of the wonderful joys on our visits to Haiti happens on Sunday morning. We get to hear several of the singing groups from the church perform. And they can sing. They meet at least one to two times a week for practice for an hour or two at a time. They work the whole time on one song, they pray over their performance. They write out the music and words on sheets of paper as they don't have even the simple sheet music. Their diligence and labor are stunning and so is their ministry. I rarely understand a word of their songs, but how the Spirit comes though. Most of the songs are sung acapella, as they don't have the luxury of live instruments. I am struck by their allegiance to giving their best to God. I confess I try to do my best for God all the time, but these people have made me re-evaluate my "best" clause. To often we fail to really do our best for God. Our "best" is reserved for a paycheck, or to impress for stature or status. What is it to truly give God our best. The poor woman with two mites in the Bible Jesus said gave more that all the rest that day. She gave her best, she gave the most, because she gave her all. These lovely people don't have coffers of money to bring to God, so they bring something God loves even more, they bring themselves. They offer up to Him the "best" of what they have. They plunge the depths of their hearts, they turn out the purest form of sacrifice, they give of themselves, and God honors it. I rejoice, and feel a check in my own life. I do have more to give, and by God's help and through their example, I mean to give more. The Haitians have taught me more about the "sacrifice of praise" in one Sunday morning, than I have gleaned in years of worship here in the States. Unleash your talents for God, see what He can do with full surrender. Blessings in Worship!
Posted by Pastor at 9:56 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
When I went into Haiti this time my computer had a problem. I took a risk and took it hoping it would work the whole time, and that I would get it into the shop for repair before the warranty expired on November 14th. God worked and so did the plan! So I have been without it the last couple of days while they replaced the logic board and heat sink. I must confess I have felt a little lost. So much of what I do is assisted by this little machine. As I pass my time in Haiti, at times it occurs to me odd that in a land of poverty and such desolation that I can walk a couple of blocks from the parsonage and surf the world wide web in St. Marc! There were several issues this time with the service, but still, every day I was able to get off a post and sometimes a picture or two. I think nothing of sinking down on my sofa at the house and flipping open the lid of my computer and almost instantly being online. So much we have come to take for granted. Such a different life But if the power goes down? Well now, there's a thought. It goes down all the time in Haiti. They pretty much live without it. If it comes on, okay, if not, okay. I would be blowing a gasket, but it is a normal routine for them. Who turns the power on, for how long? Who decides who gets it, who doesn't? As I ask Robinson my barrage of questions, he shrugs his shoulders and says to me, it's just the way it is, it's Haiti! We are Americans, we get informed on this stuff, we know the numbers to call to complain. But what have we gained at the end of the day? Frustration, maybe we get our way, but what of it. Might we be better off sometimes without all our technology. Sometimes our texting, facebooking, web surfing, cell phones, digital camera's, etc. get in the way of what is most important. I am very grateful as I have arrived back in the States for all my technology, heaven knows how it helps me through my days. But I have a new view of it, and am working to manage a more practical balance of my needs for my gadgets. After all, I know what happens now when the plug gets pulled! Try unplugging for a while and see what happens in your life, you might be in for a pleasant surprise. Blessings from a bright screen and a live cursor!
Posted by Pastor at 8:44 PM
Sunday, November 15, 2009
As I ready for church back here in America this morning, I am reflecting on the week gone by. A week swept away by the ever flowing present. It is now tucked neatly away in the corridors of history. What did I learn, experience, how did I change, what impact did my life have. I review the many pictures of our journey, and see again the ravaging of a country. Someone asked me yesterday, "what's the answer?" That is a big question that lots of people have asked, and scores more have tried to figure out. Many are doing something, 'difference makers' I call them. But then the pictures beg the question, is it really making a difference? The picture in this blog post today represents potential. I don't dabble too much in what was, God doesn't seem to either. I am well acquainted with potential though. This amazing tree seen here in this photo was once a little seed that fell upon this rough ground, a dry and barren soil, ravaged by erosion, stripped of all its supposed potential to grow anything, but behold the tree. It reminds me never to count anything out. That the smallest seed of good can find a foothold in the climate of the forsaken and touched by God can grow into something magnificent. Yes there is great potential for Haiti. The climb is steep and the setbacks enormous, but plant that breaks the surface of the ground after having gone through the labor of germination where life breaks forth to the surface brings hope that our labors are not in vain. Pray that hope springs anew in this forsaken land, that hope continues to be borne on the wings fo the faithful, that each of our journey's in provides more nutrients for the seeds that are sown, and that God give the increase! Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 7:54 AM
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I mentioned we had kids day, and we did that on Saturday afternoon. One of the big highlights was that we recruited, (or should I say Robinson recruited) two wonderful young men from the church to be clowns. One was Manius and the other Parnel. As this is a no frills, no thrills society, I was not sure how this would go over. And at first it was a struggle. The smaller children were actually afraid! That has a way of taking the wind out of one's sails, because they especially were the ones we wanted to have a good time. But these guys were naturals, and it didn't take them long to warm the children up. Nor to learn the clowning ropes! How many times it sweeps through my mind how blessed the children are in our country. I walked through Best Buy and Sam's tonight with a sense of being overwhelmed. So much stuff, our hoarding ego presses us for more. Our kids pull at our pant legs, their cravings for more are manifested through begging. And how easily we often cave. At least I know I have at times. As we head into the Christmas season, let us put in place some cautionary thoughts and measures, perhaps be a little more frugal, maybe even help a child in Haiti to experience their first Christmas. Kids can do with less, they often do much better with less. Actually don't we all do much better with less. I think God knows us well and I think He limits us according to what He knows we can handle, what is best for us. In just the right season He will send along a couple of clowns to help brighten our day, to fill our mouths with laughter, to shed light on a darkened path, a sorrowful day. Remember that as you head of to bed tonight. Many blessings from a thankful heart!
Posted by Pastor at 5:39 PM
Friday, November 13, 2009
Remember the saying "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" In Haiti there are not many mirrors. Most of what you see are small pieces. And yet most of the women had hair always done up. The way that happens most of the time is because they do each others hair. In their culture, almost all women are hair dressers who work for free. And doing each others hair is not a small feat! One evening as we were taking a break waiting on supper to be cooked, I was sitting across the street and happened to look up and see two of the girls in Rob's house sitting on the roof, Junie was doing Kimberly's hair. As the evening shadow crept over the sky, and the night descended, she continued to work by the light of a cell phone. I could hear them chatting when I could no longer make out their heads against the black night sky. I remember thinking again about all the ways we have made ourselves independent of each other. How we enter our homes that have almost become recluses from the rest of the world, and can't help but think that somehow we are not the better for it. Isolation is a terrible foe in our culture. Poverty is a nasty enemy, but loneliness is a killer. People die in Haiti all the time, but they are not suicidal, and as I have said before, they rarely die alone. While here, we have to have suicide hotlines because we are unwilling to hear each other out! I was usually one of the last to get cleaned up in the day, and there was so much to do, that I often didn't get to it until quite late. As Rob and I were flying around one day, we came into a store and made a quick purchase. As I stepped to the glass to pay for our goods, I saw my reflection in it and noticed that I looked pretty bad. I said to Rob, "I look awful." He said to me; "Who told you this?" Then he continued his chiding; "It seems you are listening to the glass!" It gave me pause. How many Americans live by what the glass mirror says. We rated ourselves because we do a comparative study of ourselves against someone's picture. Our beauty is something unique to each of us. God made and formed each one of us for a reason, a divine purpose, a beauty compared to no other, yet we lock ourselves away from the world in front of the mirror waiting for it's approval. It's lying to you, robbing you of relationship, and it is wreaking havoc in our culture. I am not advocating we be tramps, that we neglect ourselves, but that we be cautious of what we let the mirror tell us. I am thankful for the mirror, it has saved me a few embarrassing moments, but I too have fallen prey to it's lies. And I was reminded of the character hiding behind that little glass! It could be healthy for our lives if we had to depend on each other a little more. Independence is not all it's cracked up to be, we have taken a good concept a little too far! Mom's be thankful for the opportunity to do your daughters hair, utilize those moments to forge relationship. Someday it will come back to pay you big dividends. And warn those young daughters of the tale of the mirror. It will always tell its little lies! The Haitian people I have said again and again, are a beautiful people. So are we, let us love one another, for we all are the fairest of them all. God did not make anyone we could compare ourselves to. He did that for a reason!! He gave us the mirror of His word to look into, that is where you should place your trust! These Haitian people are doing that all the time, their choices are much narrower than ours! Blessings from the dining room table, away from the mirror!
Posted by Pastor at 5:50 PM
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Finally home! These trips go by so slowly and yet so quickly. When you first hit the ground in Port Au Prince and start the journey northward to St. Marc, about the halfway point, depending on how you are doing at the time you begin to think; "What am I doing?" "What have I done?" "Will this ever end?" Eight more days of this seems like an eternity away, and yet here we are. Back home again. The trip home was uneventful, the reuniting of family members was delightful, but my bones are weary, and my body says rest. So that is what I am going to do. But just to let you in on a new development, the men managed to drill down to 75' today for the new well. If all goes well... no pun intended... we could have a well by tomorrow afternoon! Keep this in your prayers, and I will update as soon as I hear. This proves the faithfulness of God, working on our behalf. As we are faithful to Him, He takes care of us. Pray for the team members, that they recover their strength quickly as all gave much over the last 9 days. They performed amazingly well together, despite our different personalities. I am proud of each one. I will try to also get a few more pictures up tomorrow, and am planning to fill in a little more info on our trip in over the next few days, so stay tuned and check back frequently. Blessings always.
Posted by Pastor at 9:47 PM
On kid’s day, we started our program at around 2:30 p.m. Beth had been very ill, and was struggling so we got a later start than planned. As we got underway, we had the kids congregated across the road and Robinson was in charge of crowd control while also serving as traffic police. We had passed out whistles, and it was pretty crazy as Americans and Haitians alike blew those shrill little tools to announce races, finishes, station changes, and trying to signal directions for the children. Rob would pick 6-10 kids randomly and send them in where we would set them to playing their games, rotating them around from place to place. We had to improvise quite a bit, and we learned a lot more about how to structure such an event. We are gaining more and more insight into working with masses of children because that is what always shows up. When we reached the end of our time, we had not even made a dent in the volume of kids. It was a little overwhelming. I finally made the call and told Robinson we would quickly clear the game activities and reset all the chairs and benches in the tent and bring all the rest of the children inside. When we were ready (or so I thought) I gave the signal and the throng of children came across the street and started through a 3’ gate. The pressure at that gateway was unbelievable as some 350 children desperately surged to get through, each one afraid of being part of a group that would not be allowed to come in, that there wouldn’t be enough room for them. Bob and I stood in that gateway and used all the strength we possessed to slow them and keep them from crushing each other. At one point a young child tripped and the kids attempted to run over her, and in that moment I came face to face with the force of sheer desperation. It must have been a certain God strength that allowed us to stop the forward momentum of that crowd of thronging kids long enough to reach down and free that little one. As their frantic bodies struggled to get inside, I wept. My heart cried for them. In that scene their agony of life flowed into mine. I could not feel anger, but determined instead to take their desperation upon myself. How can one fault them? Where are they to find hope if I am unwilling to share it? Where will they ever catch a break if I won’t give it to them? How can I show them Jesus if I am unwilling to first feel their pain? Once inside I had Robinson share with them our attempted endeavor; and apologized for not being able to get to them all. I told them we were going to do it again, but that they would all leave with the treat originally intended for each one. As we talked and sang, their desperate energy began to subside, and single file, those children ALL walked out of that same 3’ gate that they had crashed through earlier calmly with a sack of treats. Hope had found another foothold, somewhere they got the message that with God there is enough. Through an amazing ministry that Rob is putting together, 43 children connected with our ministry are attending school this year supported by wonderful Christian people. These kids deserve a break, pray God continues to help us minister both to the single child, as well as the masses. God is the difference maker, and only as He continues to help us, will we be able to minister this way. But it is working, and we are blessed to be a part! Stay tuned for more miracles of grace. Blessings to all.
Posted by Pastor at 12:32 AM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I have mentioned that one of the great features of these trips are the relationships established between our teams and the people. I have a posted a couple of times about a young man named Parnel. He works with the youth of our church. He is a bundle of joy and energy, skinny as a bean pole, and energy like an energizer battery. He is very tall, and so was one of team members named Ray Hasse. I'm not sure how much that played a role in their connection, but they developed a wonderful and unique relationship. As I watched that tall lanky young man bend way over to give Ray a hug on his matress on the floor of the tent last night saying his last good byes, I was taken with the way these two people have bonded. Ray through the week became Uncle Ray. Parnel's affection and joy are very contageous. Ray didn't seem to mind his new found nephew and the affectionate affiliation he gained as Parmel continued to call him Uncle Ray. We laughed, but the truth is now Ray's infleunce has been poured into this young man's life. Any time God allows that, it is a good day for His children. What an awesome priviledge it is to continue to connect on a deeply relational level with these amazing people. We are now 34,000 feet in the air. I just snapped a picture of St. Marc from the window of the plane. As we fly northward to the life I know, part of my heart stays here; touched, impacted, changed forever as I am sure the rest of the team will testify. So go my thoughts for now. Blessing from a beautiful blue sky.
Posted by Pastor at 6:51 PM
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We are now readying for our journey home. The team is showering, packing, sorting, finalizing. I still have a to-do list. Not sure what else I will be able to get done. But sending off a final post from here is one of the items. This day has gone fabulous. The painting that we hoped to get done we wrapped up before 11:00. Jim mounted a bathroom light fixture that Ray purchased for Naromie and installed the switch so there will be light in the bathroom when the power is on. Jim and Bob went over and installed the bathroom sink and toilet at the property; the bathroom is really taking shape and looks awesome. I spent an hour with my drilling team here with instructions and demonstrations, we drilled a little more and my system is working amazingly well. Emmanuel shook my hand and said; “Pastor, we hope to call you soon and tell you the well is done!” I think I was able to instill a bit of confidence in them, and used the word ‘douseman’ (creole for slowly) to help them understand that if they take their time their problems will be small, if they hurry, MY problems will be big. Come to think of it, that is probably good advise for us Americans. Robinson explained it to the guys this way; if you are driving slow and you have a flat tire, you will only have to replace the tire, if you are driving fast and you get a flat tire, you may have to replace the whole car.What a great illustration. We have done so much on this trip it is a little hard to fathom. I am going to be drafting a list on our way home tomorrow, but for all the sickness and trials this trip brought our team, they have pulled through with flying colors. Krystle is miserable, suffering much. Keep her in your prayers. Ray seems to think symptomatically that both of the kids have suffered the dreaded ‘swine flu’. It has been a really rough week for them. Many in the country are sick right now. The rainfall is way down, and the dust is very high. We are all looking forward to breathing some fresh Miami air tomorrow. The team just got back from seeing our old rented facility. They are in awe. It is amazing where God has brought us from and what He is doing now. Beth and I went and looked at an orphanage building downtown. The owner wants to rent or sell it to us. Not sure what is happening, but something is in the making. Tonight my heart is full. This has been another high impact trip, for us and for our Haitian family. One day as we were walking the mile journey from the house to the church, all the sudden we heard; “Krystle, Krystle…” so even the town folk are connecting with us and it’s a warm feeling. As the teams show up, it helps our church family. Robinson told us that every time we have shown up, the church has grown its membership. We are grateful to be used by God in this great mission field. The team got to experience ‘noon prayer’ today. That is always a life transforming experience. It is rather sobering as they started at 11:30 and ended at after 3:00 and now as I am typing they are having a special prayer service from 6:00-8:00. It is staggering to try to take it all in. We are a blessed people, and I as I ready for the journey back home tomorrow, I am filled with gladness to come home, and yet a sorrowful longing to just stay here for a while longer. The load of team leadership is a bit taxing, I exercise the eyes in the back of my head a lot here. But God is so faithful, and these people so amazing, it lightens the burden, and makes it feasible to continue the journey to help this desperate land, to make a difference for a hurting life whose pain very few of us can understand or comprehend. Keep us in your hearts as we make our way home. Blessings tonight from a dark front porch...freshly painted!
Posted by Pastor at 7:11 PM
Monday, November 9, 2009
We had a great trip to Des Dunes this afternoon. It went by too quickly. We passed out candy right and left. The village children are so delightful! The desperation in their eyes is unfathomable. As we pulled out of the small village, Ray said; ‘we are bringing more candy!’ His sentiment says it all. You wonder how a piece of candy can change a child’s life, just ask Robinson. He can tell you from experience. As I stared at a pig, standing at a little puddle made in the front yard of a home, tethered on a three foot rope, with two piglets still trying to suckle, I declared, ‘there is a Haitian farm.’ I was reminded of the incredible contrasts in this country. Beauty exists right beside vast corruption and spoiling. One faces one direction and the luxury of a blue ocean greets your eyes, you shift your gaze downward and a scene of a different nature robs your momentary elation. I continue to be mystified by the contrast and seek a connection to justify the terrible discrepancy. A setting that would be the envy of host of vacationers is littered with sewage and eroded by abuse. My heart yearns to restore, and there in I discover the heart of God. He yearns to restore as well. The nature of His heart is revealed in the progress being made here. One of the roads to Des Dunes has been restored to a respectable condition. A drive that took us 30-35 minutes last spring was reduced to ten minutes. I mentioned to Robinson and his reply was ‘election is coming.’ I had to laugh, sounded familiar. No matter the reason or way, I believe God is working through His people to bring change. I measure the success of our trips incrementally. It is all working together for a greater good. Our labor weaves in to a much bigger fabric of God’s design and plan for these people. And I am thrilled to be a part. Tomorrow is wrap up day. I am instructing and training for the well completion. I have built a really nice set-up, and with some elbow grease and time, we should have the well completed before Christmas. Ray and the gang will complete what we can at the house and final packing to head home happens tomorrow-late afternoon. We have hit the jet stream of the final wrap up. These trips end like a Haitian day, all at once it is dark and the day is over, so ends our visit this time. The consuming fire of our endeavors to finish, and to finish well sweeps us along. We are grateful for all your support. Ray and I trimmed out the kitchen today, and Naromie’s glowing face as she pronounced ‘belle’ (creole for beautiful) fueled our aspirations to complete as much as we could. Robinson also shared with us a surprise of his own for his wonderful wife. I will share later, but let it be said, this journey has filled our hearts with unexpected joy and satisfaction. It has been a hard-fought one, but so successful and rewarding. As always, upon further review I have discovered errors in my grammar on the blog posts as they have not been proofed yet. Bear with my humanity; I will fix them when my eyes are no longer bleary or my mind so weary! Blessings from St. Marc.
Posted by Pastor at 9:37 PM
Posted by Pastor at 9:35 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2009
5:00 AM…rustling feet and soft voice… “Hello?”... “It’s time” the voice declares? My brain is whirling. Ray says: “Time for what?” It’s time for church. Church members are already in the tent, sitting in the dark, at the front. To get into our church under the tent, you have to come early. Otherwise, your seat is outside. The tent is so great because we can raise the sides and accommodate much larger crowds than a building this size would. We sent the sick team members with Rob in the truck. Jim, Beth, Kelly, Krystle. Whatever this bug is, it has given us fits. This is such a taxing place on ones emotions, and then comes some super bug to ravage our mission. But it has not stopped us. We are forging ahead. The service this morning was a great reminder that these trips are not all about what we get done physically, but as Pastor Don Spachman commented, we are here in answer to somebody’s prayer. These people challenge us at every level, and as we give to them, they faithfully give back. It was amazing to hear the testimonies this morning of people getting saved, people wanting to join the church, people coming back to God. I am so blessed; our team is so blessed to get to witness this, and to be a part of a God’s great work here in Haiti. The team seems to be on the mend physically now. Eyes are bright again. Nurse Lorie, I could have used you this week! Yikes, I hope God never puts me through this again with a team here. Several are here at the Internet store with me this afternoon, had a bit of house jitters. Not used to a Sabbath where you do nothing but worship and rest! All have taken a good nap, and now we ready to go show “Faith Like Potatoes” at the church for all the people. It should be a great time. Thanks to all for your comments and support. As the some have commented, the rest of the trip is going to fly by. There are so many stories to share, and things to say, but for now we have to go. This has been an inspiring day, and watching God work in this ministry and among these people is amazing. Yes, we did get up at 5:00, and we were to church by 7:00…AM that is! I think we will have a Haiti service when I get back home, and it will start at 5:00 am. That would be keeping it real!!! But then I would suffer my own reality, for perhaps no one would show up! Blessing always!
Posted by Pastor at 5:06 PM
Saturday, November 7, 2009
What a day we have had. 4 of 9 are fighting colds, and the heat has been unrelenting. The dust has been ridiculous, and our painting project at the house loaded us with paint fumes. We made some headway drilling, but are out of drilling mud. Contemplating a trip back in December to finish. It will be incredible when we get our new rig in. Pray it all comes together quickly. I would like to get a schedule of wells being drilled regularly, and with the bigger rig, we could easily get a couple of wells a week. With the right kind of equipment, these are actually not bad drilling conditions here in St. Marc. What a difference water makes. Tonight as we went to gather our drinks for tomorrow (everything is closed on Sunday!) as Rob and I made the purchase, the power went down. When it finally came up, we finished our transaction, and moved our purchase to the sidewalk with the intention of hiring a taxi. Don’t you know that just then it started to rain, my first time of having rain here in all the time I have spent here. You couldn’t find a taxi to hire. We jumped on the bike and ran to the property to get the truck. On the way back to the store I noticed we were very low on gas. After we picked up all the drinks, we had to go on and get gas. At the end, a simple little trip to the store to get pop and water took us over an hour! This country has its frustrating moments, but then out of nowhere suddenly God reveals Himself to us in His faithfulness to remind us of His grand design. As we were buzzing along, we came upon what I think is the only stop light in St. Marc. We were trying to make good time, and the light was green. It was the first time I went through a green light in Haiti. But then again this is a land of ‘firsts’ for me! As we went through that green light, I was reminded in that moment that God has His stamp of approval on this trip and it’s ministry. Frustrations aside, we come bearing the best news there is, carried on wings of love and hope. (Did I mention we had over 400 kids for ‘Kids Day’ today?) The scripture ‘be not weary in well doing’ courses through my weary mind and body tonight. How well God knows us, that He had those words written in His book to remind us in these seasons that He is still in control, when all else in piling on, God shows up in a green light! Time to roll on! Blessings tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 9:21 PM
Friday, November 6, 2009
The day has darkened once again. Night comes quickly here. Not sure what that is about. It was a cooker today! I had decided to pretty well cease team activity until the children’s service this afternoon. It proved to be a good call. We finished a couple of projects and contracted tile work at the church bathroom. They did a section big enough for Jim to set the American toilet and sink. To all who have been here, there will be mixed reviews on that one. Like, ‘whoa will that be nice’ to ‘who are we who deserve such when they have to use a hole.’ I know, I know, but progress is necessary. We worked at a new set up for drilling, built a drilling tank, abandoned the original hole, reset the rig, filled all the tanks and are set to drill first thing in the AM. We picked up the rest of the paint for the house and Ray will start early to get more done before the heat of the day crashes against our Michigan thickened blood. Children’s day is tomorrow, we had well over two hundred children for the children’s service this afternoon, not sure what tomorrow will bring, but one thing is for certain, it will bring children!! I am sitting here in the garage by the little Honda generator filling my computer with enough juice to get off another blog post tonight. The street outside is pitch black and yet out of the inky darkness comes the sound of many children playing in the path. A flashlight from a curious American pierces the darkness and behold a round of “Ring Around the Rosey” is going on as the children circle in the night. The children are alive with chatter and laughter! These people are a testament to the superior survival skills God loaded into our human constitution. My trips to Haiti have done much to thwart my “I can’t” thoughts and attitudes. Philippians 4:8 has been used so often as a prop to get us through bumps in our lives, but that scripture is true on a much deeper level than we give it credit for. I cannot minimize our sufferings, for I know many do, but I can maximize the suffering of these people, and while my heart hurts for their plight, I am amazed at their spunk and vitality as they face off with seemingly hopeless day after dark day with a tenacity that is inspiring and overwhelming! They have tapped a well supply of divine grace that I have yet to plunge the depth of. I must confess, my heart is a bit timid, perhaps even shudders to think of finding myself in such a place. But if taken there, these people are proof that God’s word is true. As I again soaked in the noon prayer time, and watched these people’s focused energy, I was again humbled and reminded how vast our God is, and good! For in these people’s material poverty they are finding something we rarely will. Material things keep us shallow, don’t curse them, but respect, yeah, even fear their ability to rob you of gifts much greater and more deeply satisfying than things. Matter of fact, go to your stash, wherever and whatever it is, and dare to take something and give it away, cut the strings that bind us, unleash your faith, throw away the chains. We were meant to live free; we just need to exercise our freedom! I am thanking God every day for the lessons He is teaching me deep in my heart as He allows us to minister His gifts through us to these immense people. Blessings always and often!
P.S. Kelly is getting better, Krystle is worse. Thanks for the prayers on their behalf!
Posted by Pastor at 9:05 PM
The streets are bustling with activity this morning. Our day is launching early. The children swarm the streets readying for school. Everyone seemed to sleep okay last night. We awoke around six. The busy day commences. We have one quick project to finish up at the house. And then we will be back drilling. We have the equipment out and just about ready to drill. Kelly, (loving referred to earlier in our posting as the “Ox”) is up and pretty much back to his old self. The “princess” (Krystle) is now suffering her brothers’ plight of the past couple of days. When I ask people to pray for our trips it is for the many unseen reasons and obstacles that arise when you attempt to do good, and especially in a place like this. One of Ray’s children that he is supporting has come to see us this morning. She is actually the little girl we treated in the spring after being hit by a motorcycle. Here she stands, petite and beautiful. Stealing our hearts, no actually… just crashing down the bars and carrying us away hostage. Her beauty stands in stark contrast to the plight of her country. May God help us to help them. Loving them is the easy part, rescuing them, well… there’s a challenge. Sometimes though a smile, an affirming hug, a few minutes of attention and you have just validated a life. It is great to go on these trips with teams. These brave people are difference makers. They get to be a part of a unique impact point. Not all can do this, I know this very well, but know that when you support us on these journeys, you too have joined the ranks of the difference makers. Without your help, these things would not be possible. This is truly a complete team effort, the cast at home is as important as the team on the ground! A big round of applause for all you do to help us get here and minister to these hurting hearts and lives. Thank you to all. A special shout out to all of our supporters sending us comments. Sorry about the delay sometimes in getting them up. We have been loving them. Time to set put these fingers to a different task. Blessings today!
P.S. Alexis and Payton, mom and dad are doing great, missing you! We will try to call later. Autumn, you missed the joke of the day yesterday…slacker!!! Ria, Jenni, G, and Michael, mom is doing great!
Posted by Pastor at 9:56 AM
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We are 85 percent completed on our unexpected painting mission. It has been a long and hot day. The team went through 2 cases of water! The house is put back together, and we are readying to head over to the property. There is now a working kitchen sink at the pastors house as well. It has been a good day! Kelly is doing a little better, Krystle is beginning to struggle. Keep a prayin! Alisa did the cooking tonight, gave Beth a reprieve. I told her that now she has done the sack lunch special. A pot of food fed the masses again tonight. There were so many I could not count. There is much excitement in the air around the house, and again I have discovered that sometimes the blessings are where we least expect. For the start of this journey, the blessing was in the paint! It has been a taxing two days, and much labor has been spent, but everyone is so excited and happy. Tomorrow we officially set to drilling. We have laid our ambitions aside for a couple of days, but time is ticking! I must confess, it is amazing the way God answers the prayers of His children. Come to find out, Naromie had asked to paint the house in anticipation of our arrival on this trip. The guard house and other ministry had claimed all the money, and Robinson told her they could not do it now. Not a word of this was mentioned, but as we sat in the house the first night, Ray looked around and said "I think I would like to paint her house." We commenced the next morning and not until last night did we discover the light of God's answer to a young pastors wife's prayer. It seems God does hear our prayers, and sometimes He reaches out to a little group of His workers in Michigan, puts them on a plane, and sends them to a little town in a far off county to answer the prayers of a struggling worker in His ministry there! It reminds me of a scripture that goes something along the lines of "if God so clothes the lilies of the field, how much more will He clothe you." If your feeling a bit downcast tonight, look up, God cares for you, and even now He might be marshaling a little band of His kingdom to come to your aid. What joy, what a delight to serve as an answer on behalf of a prayer! Nothing like being at the right place at the right time!! Blessings again. (Pictures are slow in coming, the internet has had trouble this time while we have been here.)
Posted by Pastor at 7:45 PM
Ahhhhh! A cool breeze dances across the tent tonight. Relief is carried on its nimble feet, and it is wondrous. I know many of you long for warm breezes, and as we left Detroit I thought I was going to be happy as well. Our jet landed just a little too far south! The warmth of these people, now that’s a different story all together. We arrived tonight to the tent fully prepared for our sleeping arrangements. All the mattresses were laid out and the floor cleaned for a weary team. The night guard George had taken care of the whole thing for us. We shared the blog comments to date, and some are finishing their journaling for the day. A cockroach created a wonderful source of entertainment, as we made ready for the night. There was a big one in the bathroom, and Krystle was trying to pay off the big guys to take care of it. Jim came back from the bathroom and informed her that he had given it directions to her bed, and that he told it to wait an hour! Don’t you know that in a few minutes the crazy thing flew into the tent and was dive-bombing Krystle mattress. Rob made quick work of disposing the crazy thing. LOL! My mind was drawn back to a springtime event with Autumn and Krystle. Comic relief can be as delightful as a cool breeze when emotions are soaring so high, and bodies are so spent. Quiet, as quiet gets in this struggling city has now fallen. Music plays lightly in some club or home. The dogs’ fighting in the streets has begun. A lone motorcycle passes down on the main road, perhaps to garner one last taxi fare for the night. My mattress beckons, daybreak comes early as the roosters begin crowing at 3:00 am. We have come to the conclusion it is a hunger-induced hallucination! The electricity came on for a while, now it just went out. Just like clockwork! The day is spent, and so is my pen. Until tomorrow, blessings again.
Posted by Pastor at 7:44 PM
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Evening shadows encroach. The air is cooling, and cold showers are soothing soaring body temps. The tank on the roof is repaired, the ceilings in the front porch, living room, dining room and hallway are painted, and the cracks in all the walls are repaired. I mean to bed the team down early tonight and commence early tomorrow. We will work while the air is cool. Beth’s sister is with us on this trip, and for those who don’t know her, her favorite phrase is “I Love you.” (Mwen Renmen-w in Creole) At one point I heard Alisa say; ‘I don’t ever remember being told I love you so many times in one day…” and then to her dad she commented; “no offence dad!” Painting the house today is filling Robinson’s wife’s love tank. And she is happy. The dynamic struggles of a pastor’s wife in Haiti are doubly complicated. She tends the orphan’s they have taken in. (By the way they have a new 14-year-old girl called Junie.) Then the daily hospitality of the pastor’s home, cleaning, washing, and all the duties done by hand, not by power equipment. This is a good task for us to do. Everyone has worked hard. Many repairs are finished, and some economic stuff is settled. Tonight there is no electricity…imagine that… so flashlight time is coming fast. In the house it is pitch black already. I am sitting in the street typing this blog. A skinny dog ambles down the packed gravel and dirt of the street in search of scraps. He nibbles on something; I cannot tell what it is. There is nothing the eye can see. Above me patches of clouds tainted red by the falling sun, glow beautiful in a fading blue sky, betraying the poverty of the place where I sit typing on my little computer screen. How out of place it this. The people are amazing. Ray said today, “I can’t believe Americans collecting unemployment are complaining.” He didn’t mean it harshly; it’s just the stark reality of the conditions he is immersed in today. It changes your perspective, whether you want it to or not. But as a cautionary note, be careful to be thankful for what you do have today, don’t take it for granted, because I can declare boldly, “It could be worse… far worse.” In spite of their suffering, I see more smiles here than in my own country. So on a closing note to this blog named “love tank”, take a quick look around you, pass a smile and risk an “I love you”. Try to impact someone’s tank where the needle may be on ‘empty.’ One reality who’s face here will not be denied is the terrible uncertainty of life. But that truth is one we do have in common in our country as well. We are just shielded from its tentacle’s by our grueling routines. This day is not guaranteed; don’t take it for granted tonight. Take a risk, live a little, love a lot! Blessing from a dirt path in Haiti!
Posted by Pastor at 7:13 PM
Day two is under way. Very busy. Ray decided this morning that he wanted to paint the house. The tank on the roof has gone bad since the last time we were here. We went tile shopping, bought some electrical parts to fix broken switches, visited an orphan girl who had been injured at the church property, and purchased paint and supplies. The cracks in the wall are being fixed as we speak. The plywood just arrived to build my mud tank for drilling the well at the property, and Jim’s supplies to set a new kitchen tank just arrived as well. I feel a little lost at the moment, my right hand assistant is really ill. I call Kelly my ox! (Lovingly of course!) He is a diligent and active role on these trips into St. Marc, and while he can be a bit rowdy, he fills a very important role. He rolled over on the mattress at one point this morning and said to me, “you killed the ox!” Whatever! He is down for the count right now, so keep him in your prayers today. To put it scripturally, “the Ox is in the ditch." Where is the good Samaritan? It is very hot right now, and I am hoping that will help him fight off the bug. As those know who have been here, the first few hours are a rather taxing part of the journey; emotions are being taxed like muscles you have not used for a long time or even ever. Lameness sets in. The poverty and the presence of this culture, mixed with a vast change in your normal daily routine test ones ability to compensate and jilts your personal Richter scale. But they are adjusting quite well. God goes before us; everything is in His control. I understand this better and better as time goes along. It’s a bit like my old piano practicing days; practice makes one perfect, as human perfection goes. Every day I continue to practice my musical score of faith, and every day I am improving. I am not so bold as to profess I have arrived, for in that moment I will suffer the humiliation of God’s proof of my incompetence! I really can’t afford that right now! So back to work I go, break is over. Blessing until later.
Posted by Pastor at 3:32 PM
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We are safely in! Thanks for all your prayers! Had a couple of snags in Port, but worked through it all. We made the fastest time I have ever seen getting to St. Marc. A 60 passenger bus whipped us up through the Haiti countryside double time! It was awesome. However, I don't think anyone on the bus will ever find it within themselves to accuse anyone of being a bad driver after that ride! LOL In this country, and on these roads, size does matter! We stopped over at a private hospital for a restroom brake, and rolled into town shortly after 7:30. We organized for a couple of hours, and now we are off to bed. Keep Kelly in your prayers, he is fighting a cold. Other than that, we are fine. Off to bed, and off to cool down, did I mention it is hot here? Love to all and many blessings. More news tomorrow, along with some pics.
Posted by Pastor at 10:40 PM
Funny thing about us. We are a people of weights and balance. Proportions, potential, priorities. Who has the biggest guns, fastest boats, bigger engine, largest pecks. The measure of a mans power is his resolve under fire, his courage through conflict, his bravery in uncertainity. Do we run, do we hide, stand or sit, cry or cringe. What if we do? What does that really say about us? This trip is about a exibition of a power. A power of choice. This team of great people are exhibiting a demonstration of the power God has given man. The power of choosing. Many times we find out our choices are limited. Many Haitians would choose to leave their county as well. But they can't. They don't have that choice. They are stuck. Stuck so deeply, that for the masses they will never get out. But we can choose to go to them. To exercise our power under God to make a difference. These amazing people that are making this journey with us this week have fought through adversity, and stubborn odds to go to these people and give them a power of choice. A choice toward love. May their journey be rewarded, and their courage be noted. And may all who support us receive the blessings that come in reaching the unloved, the unwanted, the forgotton, the forsaken. Blessings.
Posted by Pastor at 11:38 AM
Packing havoc, last minute details, quick good-byes. Rolling tires, burning rubber, Burger King, rest stop, Detroit. We are through the first leg of our journey. Safely in a Best Western, final touches to the daypacks, last warm shower for a week. Rest, pray, focus, prepare. Every trip for us is a faith journey. As we sailed along the Michigan highways tonight, my thoughts wandered to the roadway melting beneath our tires. There is a vote coming up on whether we spend more money to fix our roads. It’s quite a dispute. Rather sobering that while we wrestle over such things here, people are dying of starvation somewhere. In particular, they are dying where we are headed tomorrow. Following a few hours of flight, in the late afternoon we will board a school bus and make a 50-mile trip that will take 3 hours to the town of St. Marc, Haiti. We will bounce along, tossing our kidneys through a series of workouts not for the frail or faint. And I will appreciate my drive tonight. We get impatient with the work zones; we should appreciate them. As you drive to work, or the store, or walk down a cement sidewalk tomorrow, appreciate these blessings. And remember the unfortunate, the suffering who have nothing. We are so grateful for this ministry opportunity. So far this year we have delivered over 50 suitcases of goods, crafts, clothing, electronic equipment, and medication, 2 tents, 43 children have been put in school, a guard house has been built at the property, over 300 children have been exposed to the gospel through VBS ministry, hundreds have been touched through the Jesus film, the poor are receiving some meals, two teams have gone in to minister, and the church is flourishing! I stand amazed at the goodness of God, and how He takes a little and does much. Remember us on our journey, morning comes early, to bed for the night. Grateful in Detroit, blessings to all tonight.
Posted by Pastor at 12:02 AM