Wednesday, March 31, 2010
What’s your name? That’s what this little phrase means. It’s how you ask someone in Creole to tell you who they are. But what is in a name? I can hardly pronounce many of them, let alone remember them. And yet in each name there is represented the entirety a life. All the good, all the bad, stacks of memory, struggles, joy and pain, happy times and sad, blessings and curses, right and wrong, love and hate, all wrapped in simple syllables. The pronouncement of that name by a parent can bring extraordinary joy, or crippling fear, the name in its pronouncement can be made fun of, or bring great respect. Such a little thing, seemingly insignificant, yet it carries the weight of each person alive, for all of us have this common thread. God individually creates us each, and it is inescapable that we carry the mark of our individualism born out in our names. Here I am in the land of 9,000,000 Haitians, they all have a name, I have a name, you reading this post also have this thread in common. My point is that whether we like it or not, there are common threads woven through our existence, through our cultures, that declare us connected in ways we do not understand. Like laughter is a universal language, so our names are a universal connection that marks the whole of humanity. A goat is a goat, there are lots of goats in Haiti. None of these goats bear a name. However, every one of them belongs to a person who does. As we made or way up and down through the mountain yesterday morning, there were children in all kinds of devastating circumstances, but as we came through one particular passageway, I heard a small voice singing, it was tender, on tune, and the melody carried notes of joy. It was the voice of a single little girl, perhaps no older than 3 or 4. I can’t tell you her address, I can’t even tell you in this blog her name, but she has one. She is identifiable out of all humanity everywhere; she has her own uniquely created DNA, she has a name, a life, she is loved. While her circumstances are meager at best, her life is radiating a magic all her own. And we were taken by it. God is taken by it. As we leave here this morning, I have gained greater understanding of the connections that bind all people everywhere together. We have a responsibility to care for one another, to make a difference where we can. So once again part of me remains here. At very least my name will remain behind, but the truth is, so much more of me will too. What’s in a name? You, me, and all humanity. Let us not neglect the connection, and may you remember this the next time you ask; “What’s your name?” Blessings abounding.
Posted by Pastor at 6:53 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The final moments of our final full day in Haiti are upon us. As DeVante and Rob and I were going to get another sheet of plywood this afternoon, I asked him if he had enjoyed the trip. He said “yes, it’s just gone by too quickly!” That was music to my ears. The whole team has been wonderful this trip. Through all the bumps and bruises this land passes along, we have journey safely to date. Spirits are good tonight. There is a heavenly breeze caressing our baked bodies, and I hope it lasts through the night. It was almost impossible to sleep last night. It’s like we were enveloped in stifling stillness with the thermostat continuing to be turned up higher and higher. That said, what a great day we were able to put in. We have 10 benches built and varnished thanks to the Bob and Ray and Germaine team. It was primitive conditions at best, but they got the job done. Bob also got a set of shelves built to put the medicine on so Robinson can more quickly access and know what he needs. Kelly and I drilled this afternoon and got our hole down to 35’. We are in the upper aquifer of water now, and the tooling is working extremely well. We fed the victims again today. We took a tour up the mountain behind the church property to the city water reservoir this morning. It was a great view! The ladies did a service with the woman of the church this afternoon, went souvenir shopping downtown, and are now preparing our final meal here at Rob and Naromie’s for this trip. Maura, Beth, Niche and Krystle all sorted leftover goods that are going to be distributed by Rob and a couple of our church ladies, they also sorted and explained the American food we are leaving here for them to finish up here at the house. It’s hard to believe it’s time to go home. Although I must confess, I am a little weary. I finally got my “Haiti legs” as I like to call it yesterday; that is I made it into the groove of the routine here. It was a little harder this time as I have already explained. Now it is about over, and it all seems a bit surreal. Rob and I are sitting out here across the street from the house, the generator is running and most of the lights are on in the house as the team makes final preparations for our trip out tomorrow morning. It has been a great blessing getting the house powered up. I sure makes for quicker cooking and packing, instead of by flashlight or candlepower. Call us spoiled, tonight I’m rejoicing in this little thing that is really quite a blessing! Got to run, my turn in the shower, and I can’t miss this appointment. Earlier when I needed one we were out of water in the tanks upstairs. I don’t want to get overripe! But I fear I am close. My heart is full, much to share, and I will over the next few days. Stay tuned for more pictures and thoughts about our journey. Blessings to all.
Monday, March 29, 2010
I am sitting here, forced by lack to do nothing else. I am reflecting what that does to me. I need oil for the generator to run saws and water, but there is none available. I tried to have someone go get some yesterday while we were on the road. But we could not contact the person who knew what I meant when I said I needed 10-W-30 motor oil. Perhaps his battery was dead on his phone, maybe he had no time left on it and couldn’t purchase more minutes because he was out of money. What do I know of hardship? My body already wails for a real bed, the smell of clean sheets, air conditioning, my senses are starved, struggling with the depravation around me. I love this place and hate it all at the same time. Can it be this is some sensation of the God I serve? What must it be like for Him in His universe where the perfume of goodness, grace, and glory has been replaced with the sordid odors of corruption and decay coming from His beloved creation? Corruption foreign and alien to who He is. When will it be enough, His patience is so much more forbearing than mine. I don’t long for luxury in the same way I once did. But I do appreciate the semblance of cleanliness, freshness, order, and having enough. I think it burns within us because it reveals something of the heart of God. He is not at home in this filth, but His love is where His people are. His love permeates the stench; His joy renders the darkness with piercing light, shadows quiver, and then dissipate before the radiance of His presence. I know this because I have experienced it this week. As I sit here this morning contemplating my lot in life, and my growing love for this people, my perspective begins to clear; the fog begins to lift, like the dawn’s first light. I get to experience it early in Haiti because there are no blinds for the windows, for that matter there are no windows. You wake up early not because of an alarm clock, but because the light is so bright your mind tells you it’s time to get around for another day of life! When you get to the street, it is already loaded with activity. Time to go get some more work done. Time is ticking away on our final production day! Blessings.
P.S. Per your request, the little boys name is Matieus. He is being taken care of by Rob's family now. Robinson would like to keep him, but it has been left in Naromie's hands. He is a riot! You can see another picture of him with my dad on an earlier post.He is 2 years old.
Day seven, the evening has come around again. The journey of this day has covered so much ground. Literally. We were up early and had the second coat painted on the front wall before 7:00 am. The starter was going on Rob’s truck, I had shipped one in last year, so I had Robinson dig it out and had a mechanic install it for 100 Haitian dollars (that’s 12 dollars American). We arranged for the rest of the material to be delivered for the other five benches, I picked up the varnish and another double throw generator switch that I installed at the house, little added bonus for our team and Robinson’s family. When the generator is running, there is power throughout the house now. No more extension cords, and dark showers, at least if there is gas. Had to add that because we just ran out! LOL But they are back with more so we will be powered back up in a moment. It will be nice for them to have all the lights in the house working whenever they really need it. I know it’s a luxury, but this family is giving so much all the time, being able to run the generator and have lights periodically will be nice. Although Rob doesn’t let them run it a lot in our absence. It’s hard to buy gas when you NEED food. We ran up the mountain this morning to see Marius and visit the mountain children. I drove Rob’s motorcycle with Krystle and DeVante as my passengers. It’s been a few years since my dirt biking days. But I settled in quite quickly. My first run with a passenger was the other day, I took Aresene over to get the plastic pipe for the line to the back of the property. He bundled it all together and came out with it on his shoulder, got on the back of the bike and turned me into a regular Haitian taxi. Driving in Haiti is an experience not quickly forgotten and not easily learned! But by tonight I drove Kelly down to the Deli Mart and brought my wife back! I’m getting the hang of this thing. This afternoon we made our way to DesDunes for our visit. It was very good on some level and profoundly sad on others. We visited both mom’s of Robins and Ynives. There were many tears and deep sadness. Risking love always means risking even greater loss. I suppose that is why so often people choose not to get involved, not to take the chance. But in my opinion and life observation I have come to the conclusion that is better to love and lose than to never have loved at all. We cherish our memories, and endeavor to make new ones with these left behind. The crowd of desperate children is overwhelming at times. On several occasions Rob would say, “Okay, time to move on!” And we would, but they would follow, as you can see in the pictures. Today is another striking moment for the new ones on our trip. As poor as the towns are, the poverty of the country people is even deeper and starker in contrast. When you first arrive, your senses are so bombarded that you cannot begin to fathom that there are levels to deep poverty. We arrived back in town and Kelly did his regular pizza and ice cream night. Although it turns out they did not have Pepperoni tonight. We played some games with the children here on the front porch again and it fell my lot teach them London Bridge. It got me to thinking, as we drive through the Haitian landscape we cross many bridges, but we came across one today that we could not cross. We got out and crossed to our destination by foot. That is the way it is in Haiti, sometimes there is not a way to do things conveniently, you end up having to do them the hard way, or they won’t get done at all. The picture posted here tonight tells so much. At first glance it’s just a woman in a orange skirt walking down a dirt road. But a deeper truth lies behind this picture, for this is Ynives mom, carrying the load of a world of grief for a fallen daughter and granddaughter. Walking back to a void, in a dark world of loss and despair. Having just had to say goodbye again to relationships that have changed, to the unknown of how she will carry her burden, down a dirty path of no escape. Suddenly your heart is taken, the volume of crushing you cannot fathom sweeps through you like a hurricane of category five magnitude. You mourn, you wonder, you weep. This trip has been as difficult a trip as we have ever made to Haiti. On a physical note, it has perhaps been the best, but on an emotional note, it has been heart rending. I certainly don’t mean to bring despair to our readers tonight, but in all fairness, this struggle is still very deep in this land. It is well deserving of your thought and prayers, and blessings far and wide. Tomorrow is our final day of labor, pray Godspeed for us to get done what we are trying to wrap up. Blessings always.
P.S. A special shout out to our commenter's, your gracious words have been a welcomed inspiration to our team. The team said to wake them up even if we get there late tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 10:57 PM
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Church is over, we had a great service. There was standing room only at the property today. We need a bigger tent! They have tarps stretched over big sections of the property that isn’t covered with tents for shade. The singing was unexplainable, the singing groups, especially the childrens choir was profound. They sang a song in English for us. It really melts your heart to hear them as they worship with such candor and without inhibition. I would say they put us to shame, but the truth is people worship God in many different ways. I would say they worship with less reservation than our culture does. They are stripped down of much of their vanity and pride. Humility drapes their countenance, and it is beautiful to watch them express their delight to God so openly. It is truly a praise offering. We came home to the house and had tuna sandwiches. We then caught up on all the blogs and comments with the team. It has been very late the last two night. At 3:00 am this morning there was a knock at the gate, then Rob’s phone rang. It seems a dear woman with no clock, and a lost sense of time thought it was time for church! But the real crowd did actually start showing up at 4:30 this morning. By the time we got ourselves out of the big tent and our mattresses put up, there was a crowd sitting around waiting to put the seating back together and getting ready for church to start. By the time we were cleaned up and back at 7:00 for service, there were well over 500 at the property, Ray guessed the upwards of 600. It is incredible. Every time we make a little more room, they fill it. I remember back when I asked Robinson how big he thought we should build the church I distinctly remember his answer; “No matter how big, it’s up to you, but whatever you build it, I will fill it.” He with God’s help has certainly kept his word! Everyone has rested a bit, Robinson just took DeVante, Kelly, and Germaine for a little surprise; they are going to go watch a little soccer for a few minutes. I am working on computer software, getting the new church computer set up that we had donated. We are going to the youth service where Germaine will share at 4:00 and then our movie night is at 6:00 at the church. The benches in the childrens tent were a huge hit! When everyone was asked to introduce themselves to the church this morning, DeVante stunned us all with an excellent introduction and a very heartwarming address to the people. Coming from a young boy’s perspective, it was a very bright and proud moment for his parents. We are sitting on the front porch again; this is what I will miss back home. We don’t get this time of fellowship and raw sharing. Our culture is driving us to isolation that is eating us from the inside out by our drive and hurry to have it all, to have more, and ending up with so much less. Take a little time today to share with one for whom you care. Say I love you, moments are lost, swept away by the machine of time, never to be found again. They cannot be replaced, sometimes they can be redeemed, but never can they be relived. Live each moment, because each one counts! Blessing until later.
Posted by Pastor at 4:37 PM
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I have to laugh at all the times people wish me a good vacation when I tell them I am headed to Haiti. Not all places Caribbean are vacation destinations! To all who think coming to Haiti is a vacation, you couldn’t be more misled. And tonight I feel it! Tired no longer describes the way I feel. Matter of fact, I might almost be beyond feeling! We have labored hard and long, and Sunday is coming. I have to figure out what I am going to preach in the morning. I though maybe I wouldn’t be preaching this trip in, but then again, what was I thinking? As I sit here typing, little boys are feeling my head, running their little inquisitive fingers through my hair. If they don’t stop soon, I may fall asleep. LOL! We had another productive day today. They built the back wall of the property another three course of block higher thanks to Pastor Doyle moving the rock pile to the back! But I think they are pleased. The crushed rock was delivered this afternoon to put where the foundation rock pile had been. Chairs will not be here until after we leave, but that will be fine. I’ll get Rob to drop me a couple of pictures after they get here and I will post them up. The front wall got the first coat of paint as you can see in the picture. It looks great when you turn up our road! Ray and company have worked diligently to get it done, and it will have another coat Monday or Tuesday. Notice I didn’t say final coat, it’s because it will need regular coats of paint to keep up with the harsh exposure of this country. We finished building the benches this afternoon, and Ray got three of them varnished. They would have been done but we guessed wrong on the amount of varnish, so will get more Monday to finish up. They look great and there are five more frames welded up and about ready to come to the property. But we will have to let them finish them. We arranged for the women of the church to cook up another huge batch of food and fed the victims again today. I told Robinson I didn’t want to impose on them, but he said it is no problem, they are happy to do it. When they got back from market, they discovered that their carrying bag had been slit. Someone had tried to pick the bag, but fortunately they were not carrying the money in it. Another evidence of God’s protection over the hurting. They were buying for the victims, and today God stayed the hand of the darkness from encroaching any more. That is the thing we really struggle with at times, why would God not spare the earthquake, but today spare the feeding of those that remain behind. I don’t pretend to be so blind as to not wonder at the profound and unnerving circumstances and mysteries of life and then reflect on the sovereignty of God. But I do know this; he does work in mysterious ways His great wonders to perform. And today I continue to witness His goodness and mercy in spite of the great evil we are capable of in our disobedience to Him. And by that I don’t mean that I purport that the earthquake happened because these people deserved it. It happened because it was allowed to happen. God took some and spared others. A young mother raced into a home to save her baby, they both died, the baby nestled between her mothers legs and under her body. The father lives to mourn; and yet finds a grace that may never have come except through this agony. I have seen time and time again, we tend to see things upside down from God. But tonight I’m glad I’ve staked my life in His judgment call, far to often I have made the wrong call. We will some day discover that God has a perfect batting record! We had 500 children for the service this afternoon, and then the ladies scrubbed the floors, bathrooms and sidewalks readying for service in the morning. We have just fed an evening crowd of about 35, and a wonderful breeze has finally brought a little break from the massive heat wave. Claudy told me today it is unusually warm for this time of year. Ray sitting beside me has just passed out several bracelets that Payton and Alexis, his granddaughters, made out of yarn and sent along. The kids loved them. It was like they were getting diamonds. One more incredible thing, last night it rained for about 45 minutes, and not a hard rain. As I rounded the corner going to the internet I heard a massive rushing sound and to my amazement, the riverbed that had been bone dry a couple of hours earlier was roaring with 2 feet of water. It was alarming! No wonder these people fear the rain so much. What would a few hours of rain do, what about days? I have a new appreciation for my sandy, can’t grow any grass, Michigan lawn! And I understand a little more about why they struggle with the rain. It’s nice to live in high country. I’m glad the church property is up toward the mountain. Well, I have to run for tonight, it’s time to crack the books and figure out what to say in the morning to these desperate lives. Thanks again to all our followers and supporters. It has been a great trip so far, and we are expecting the continuation of great things for the remainder of our time here. Blessings from a cool front porch.
Posted by Pastor at 9:59 PM
Friday, March 26, 2010
We hit the ground running, at least some of us did! Well, so maybe it was one of us. Ray started painting on the church gate at 5:30 this morning. Today was a smoking hot day; humidity is out of sight tonight. Everyone is tired, and pretty spent as we come to the close of another part of our journey. We were very successful on so many fronts throughout our day. The plumbing is run through a ditch to the back of the facility. A disconnect is hooked in and power run to the generator that is now set at the back of the property as well. That way we can run the pump without totally disturbing the activities going on throughout the day. The team finished bagging 500 coloring and scripture handouts for our final service with the children tomorrow. We fed 200 victims as well, and I personally visited two who had been seriously injured. The little boy handed me an X-ray of a broken leg, his knee is terribly swollen, there is no cast, and no spint. The woman had received surgical attention and had a splint pinned on her leg in 4 places. No bandaging, just laying there in an open room. She had just one crutch so I gave her a set I had brought in. I asked if she was in any pain, and she told me as long as she didn’t move it was bearable. There is food aid reaching the victims, but it’s military MRE’s and it is so foreign to their regular diet that they are struggling consuming it. The faces today were priceless, and they asked if we would cook for them tomorrow. I bought the church three huge cooking pans today so they can continue to help feed the victims in the community. The ladies do such a wonderful job, and Robinson oversees the passing out of the food, so that just the survivors are getting it. There is still such a tremendous need here, but it is incredible to see how God provides for needs. We had 500 children today for the kids service, and it went profoundly well! I was busy on the electrical with the guys and was unable to help, but they pulled it off without me. The children remain desperate beyond belief, but they are really good when given direction. Beth gave supplies to a mountain church pastor today so he could go minister to them, as I said in my first post, we seem to be having enough, and even a little extra! I also hooked up a garden hose spout back by the bathrooms and tonight Kelly and I washed down the restrooms for the first time with running water. We moved a massive rock pile that had resided at an awkward place on the property. That was a serious job! It took 25-30 guys about an hour. But it freed up a sizable area for seating outside the tent. We will put in some crushed stone hopefully tomorrow and they are delivering 96 lawn chairs that we purchased today. It should help a lot as there are so many people flooding the town from PAP. We brought in clothes for a new baby to be born in a month or so, we brought both boys and girls stuff, and now it turns out we are sharing it with four babies. It rained a little this evening, and we are hoping a break in the heat will follow. We didn’t get any drilling done today, but we still have some time tomorrow. Right now I have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. There are moments along this pathway that have been so discouraging, when you work so hard to make a difference, and it seems to come to naught, it’s nice to have trips like this where so much comes together. You have to have nerves of steel and faith that really counts, otherwise this county will stomp you like what happened to the rat that ran out of the rock pile this afternoon. It got really intense for a few seconds, but that rat didn’t stand a chance with the Haitians! It sure got things fired up for a bit though. It’s time to get to the internet; there will be more reflective writing in a day or so. Right now I am in a work mindset, and very task driven. We will be slowing the pace after tomorrow, and letting the team absorb the circumstances of their time here. We will do our visiting, and encouragement rounds, and that always promises to be a great adventure! Pray for patience through the stretch of the day tomorrow! Blessings after my book tonight!
P.S. Congratulations Noah
P.S.S. Pictures tomorrow, the store is closing and it's late! Sorry:-(
Posted by Pastor at 10:47 PM
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The final moments of the day are once again on me. I have just finished reading the blogs and comments to the team and prayed. I was about to lie down on my mattress when a sound fell upon my ears. The victims in the next tent over were singing. They have been working in the mountain all day today and have come to their interim home for a few hours of rest before heading back out. Now they sing and pray. I cannot understand their words, but I can hear the urgency, the desperation, the need for deliverance. Were I in their circumstances what would I be doing? Begging God or blaming Him? Could I sing, or would I scream? I admire these people for doing something. Not sitting, not complaining, but courageously and diligently marching forward in faith. Being on this end of the disaster, there is so much to be frustrated about, and I think there is some, but certainly not on the nationwide scale it could be. As I have already stated, the size of this catastrophe cannot be imagined. Most of these people’s lives have been altered for their lifetimes. From lost homes, to lost relation, to lost health, to lost limb. It makes 911 look like a tiny dot on the radar screen of disasters. How many months did it take us to clean that up? This was a city of 3 million, certainly not earthquake resistant. Now it’s a pile of rubble…concrete rubble. But they sing, and they pray. I don’t know what battles you may be facing tonight, I have a few of my own, but these great people stir my perspective, clear the lenses of my heart, and give me a new appreciation for what I possess. Jake, thanks for the reminder again, we must persevere, let these dear people lead the way. Blessing from under a tent tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 10:48 PM
What will a day bring, how about a lot of water! We have been pumping water from the 2” well 80% of the day. We left it running and George was washing and watering trees. When I came back later the team said 50 motorcycles had been washed! We washed the front wall for paint in the morning; we washed the tent floor, and most of the sidewalks. We filled drums, and washed the walks out front by the road, we dampened the street itself. It was a very fulfilling moment. We are not going to let the people drink from the higher vein of water; we are going to make the 4” well about twice as deep. But now we have water for cleaning and water for the bathroom. Life has changed at our property. It is such a profound feeling after all the struggles to get water here; to have it all come together over the last couple of weeks is an amazing feeling. One of our dear Haitian friends is installing a waterline to the back bathroom starting tomorrow. We are having a water tower built for the back restroom as well. We will commence some drilling on the bigger well tomorrow while Bob and Germaine continue building benches and Ray paints on the front gate and wall. We are getting Bibles around to take to one of the tent cities over the next couple of days. We are restocking supplies for the victims we are still taking care of at the church. Robinson has done such a great job of taking them in and seeing to their needs. The children’s service went great today, very smooth. We have had lots of input regarding how to go about tending so many children at a time and it is all paying off. The power has been on for quite a while tonight and we have been showering in the light. That may not seem like a big deal to you. But try showering by flashlight for a few nights and see what you think of it! The ladies of the church came over and did our washing today, they are so gracious and it is so great to be able to interact with them. The relational side of these trips is very rewarding. As we arrived back at the house tonight, Robbin’s was here. He is the husband of our dear lost mother Ynives and little Sarabeth to the earthquake. He had always been a man with an indomitable spirit, very upbeat, optimistic, never a complainer. When the hurricane buried their home a couple of years ago, he labored faithfully until he unburied it by hand. It took him almost a year to finish! He is so sorrowful now. Pray for his heart to be restored, and that he is able to unbury himself from this second and much more tragic catastrophe. This will make digging out his house pale by comparison. There is still much sorrow though out the country. Pray tonight for the healing of all these broken hearts, let alone broken bodies and shattered dreams. Blessings always!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Day two is quickly coming to a close. The weather has spared us extremely high temperatures so far. But it is still brutal! We worked to get everything organized today. We tore apart the sound system, did a thorough cleaning, mounted the speakers, and ran some new cords. It’s working much better now. We packed all the bags for our children's service tomorrow. It was amazing as we went to the property tonight to do our work we found the tent three quarters full of children! We hadn’t even announced we were having a service and they came anyway. It’s a struggle to have children show up for anything in our culture that doesn’t involve pretty spectacular announcements and pretty decent media, but armed with only a ‘hope’ of something happening these children came. We grabbed some of our extra candy and gave them each a sucker, told them to invite a friend and come back tomorrow. I can guarantee you one thing; we will have children for our service come tomorrow afternoon. Everyone on the team is adapting well, it takes a few hours to acclimate ones body, but spirit’s are high, and the team is getting along great. Devante took on some Haitian ‘football’ (soccer) up around the corner from the property. He is making friends and having a great time. Bob and Ray are working on the benches for the children's tent; we ordered five more today and that will give us a total of ten benches for the kids. Kelly worked on fixing several things on the rig. He is really anxious to do some drilling. We had the rig running for a few minutes and it draws a crowd really quickly. Supper is brewing and it’s about time to eat. The electricity came on for 53 minutes tonight. Just enough time to test out my work on the sound system! So much for catching showers with light. We are thankful that we are able to be here again. As I sit here typing this post on the front porch of Rob’s house, 7 children sit watching me, hoping for some food and a few extra hugs. Their smiles are heart warming, and I wonder what will become of their lives. It’s great to know that at least a couple of them are in school that our supporters are sponsoring. They are the hope of Haiti, I agree with Rob on that one, one thing that has not been taken from this county is their lack of knowledge. Poverty has a way of doing that, stripping all means of education is perhaps it’s deadliest tentacle. The demand is great, and poverty wrestles to destroy any opponent that threatens its choke-hold on this society. May we have the patience to persist, may we fight to the finish. Here’s to the long haul and a steady heart. Blessings to all again.
P.S. The scene in the photo is of the mass grave. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but between the center cactus, on the far hill is a very big cross, and a sign at the edge of the road reads: Thanks to the victims, January 12, 2010.
Posted by Pastor at 10:17 PM
I was not able to get to the internet in time to publish last night. The day got away from me. And I entered Haitian time! We are all doing well this morning, very tired, but getting organized all the same. We ran down to get up the information from last night, and I just wanted to report that the team is doing great. Being stretched, but that is always to be expected. Benches were delivered this morning, and we are hoping to mount the plywood later on this afternoon. It is going to be so nice, we are very excited to move some of the children off the floor. I will post more later, running to get bread for the cooks. Just wanted to give a quick shout out. Blessings til then.
Posted by Pastor at 1:26 PM
As the 767 banked it’s final turn into Port this afternoon, in the middle of a vast body of water, was a most unusual sight. A sailboat. I am wondering what a sailboat is doing here, what did it mean? Who would sail in the midst of such devastation, were they just trying to escape the reality of what lay ashore, were they sailing from another island, could they even yet see the shoreline of this land of pestilence, poverty, and chaos. But then another thing occurred to me, as I talked with so many rushing to aid this disaster stricken people today, one common thread tied all conversations together, would what they as individuals were setting about to do make an impact. As it were, a single tiny sailboat in a vast ocean of need, cresting first one wave and then another. Every successful navigation of the wind and wave brings a new sense of purpose and joy that can’t be contained in words penned to a page. Does it matter? Who will notice our single little sailboats out here in this vast sea of wreckage? And what will they think if they chance to spot us. Will we be branded idiots, lost and confused boatmen? Furtively sailing to what end? But what if I’m called to sail here? What if we are noticed by someone greater than all this chaos, the sovereign One who holds all together. What if we are sailing to a greater symphony of order than we were able to see, or others were able to see for that matter? Truth be told, we are. As the night stills and weariness weaves its web through my frail frame, and the team falls off to sleep around me tonight, a thrill grips my soul. We are sleeping next to a group of victims without homes to return to. Stripped of what little they had, they lay on flat concrete before me, Bible’s open in front of every one of them. I greet them, hug them, and ask them their names. They smile, I offer condolences, and then I offer a mattress, a simple little luxury becomes a diamond to their shattered lives. The glow of the wave in front of me; broad smiles and thankful bodies, sends the thrill of conquest surging through my soul, and I sail… into the sunset, following the wind of the Spirit. May we cut a straight line, let the spray of the water streak over our faces, may our sails remain full of the wind of grace, and may lives be touched across the sea of which we sail today. Blessing to my fellow Haitians, and blessing to all who add wind to our sails! You count tonight in ways you may never fathom!
Posted by Pastor at 1:22 PM
Yesterday, today, separated by a period of darkness. No actual sleep… at least for me. 2:00 A.M. rise and shine, quick wash up job and down to load the buses. It went smooth, the transport people arrived with two buses just for our team at 3:00 am, the drivers helped us load and unload and we were standing at the ticket counter at 3:30! We were able to get our boarding passes and the early attendant got us in line right away. The check in was the calmest to date. The flights were smooth and on time for the most part. God goes before us. One noteworthy point: there are a host of Americans and teams still flowing into Haiti. It is very uplifting and exciting. We are grateful to be a part. As we arrived in PAP and made our way into the new terminal (AA freight terminal turned baggage claim) we were in the line for Passport verification when a man walked up to me and said “Berg?” I said “yes”, he said “I have all your bags ready for you.” The terminal was a sea of people and bags, but ours stood at the entrance of customs, all thirty. It was incredible; we showed our white forms and walked through customs, no bag checking, no questions! Now outside the terminal, that was a little different story, but within a short, but intense period of navigation and communication, we were loaded into the bus and under way. We paid the driver a little extra to give a small tour of PAP and the devastation is incredible. The word “pancake” hardly does justice to what we saw. Floors of houses simply collapsed together, unmercifully destroying and extinguishing anything caught between the sudden shifting of the walls and shaking foundations. We passed a church standing open to the passerby, because the entire front of the church had collapsed, leaving the sanctuary standing exposed, a few people gathered to the front of what remained perhaps to worship, perhaps to mourn. Rebuilding is daunting, even to consider, let alone attempt to do. Clean up will take years, maybe never for some. Equipment is needed that most here have not even seen! Pray for us this week, pray for Haiti daily. We are safely here, but that is just the start of the journey. Everyone is tired, but doing well. We had pizza for supper tonight, now to bed our weary bodies. Blessings from St. Marc!
Posted by Pastor at 1:17 PM
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Where, oh where, does the time go? It is the eve of our 3rd team trip. Ten travelers, 45 suitcases, 1600 lbs. of supplies and 400 lbs. of day gear. We have handled it several times now, and there are a few more to go! One of the last things to be packed today were 4 pair of crutches. They almost didn't get in, but a couple of miracles later, and they are now part of the supply list! We are excited to get underway. There is a huge undertaking before us, we have 1500 baggies of pass-out stuff for the children's ministry. The list is long and incredible of all the needed goods that have been donated. I am always praying as we pack, this is a land of enormous need, and it feels like such a small drop in this giant bucket of poverty. But lives are being changed, hope is being spread, light supplants darkness, and love prevails against the sting and poison of poverty. Please pray as we go that each of the team will share their blessings with these beloved people. The challenges for this nation continue to be daunting. I know there are difficulties in our country, but they are minimal compared to Haiti. Each trip we go on drives the point a little deeper, and sharpens our perspective. Our well drilling team arrived back to the States safely. Now we are changing shifts. We will continue work on the wells, along with many other goals that I will report throughout the week. The pace of the last few months has been daunting, but God is so faithful, I marvel in wonder at the things brought to pass. As I have said before, do we have enough? One day a boy brought 5 loaves and two fishes to Jesus, and it fed a multitude. When God blesses, it is always enough! We ready for the road ahead: prayerful, expectant, humbled. Blessings always!
Posted by Pastor at 10:55 PM
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sorry about not getting a post up last night. We were packing all day yesterday and by the time the pastor made it home, it was time to study and then the time changed on top of that. The guys had a good day yesterday. They got the drop pipe pulled for me on the 2" well before they moved the rig, then they reset the rig for the new 4" well. After getting the rat pipe in and all the tooling ready they started in drilling at about 3:00 p.m. Dad drilled 24' in one hour! It went as smooth as glass. Both he and Steve were very satisfied with how well it worked. We are ready to set casing to continue the hole, so Rob will go after it this next week and have it there for when we arrive the following week. And I will continue the drilling if I get some time. I will get the pump set back up on the 2" well and get that pumping water into the big tank I am setting so we can start the water distribution. I will also run the plumbing back to the restroom facility and get that set so we have a full service American bathroom up and working complete with a sink, toilet and shower! That will improve facilities for the teams going in. Right now we are forced to use Robinson's house for everyone, and it works fine, but the added bathroom facility will speed up clean up time. It is amazing with all the hurdles set before the guys that they were able to get everything accomplished that they were. Steve managed to get some electrical work done as well. This morning they will go to church, and right after that head south to PAP. This week has taken them North and South in Haiti, they covered a lot of Haitian highway, and if you have been in Haiti, you know that means a lot of very rugged riding. Pray for safety today as they head home. I will update later on our adventure to get ready to head in about 8 days from now! We are doing good with our packing, 27 suitcases are loaded and ready to ride! Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 8:03 AM
Friday, March 12, 2010
A few days ago I posted a blog called gear shifter, now I reverse the words and gain a different meaning. It seems the 2" well is pretty well finished, but we have a pump problem. It's always something in Haiti. But we have a plan, and so does God. The guys are moving the rig and tooling for the 4" well in the morning. Steve is re-working the electrical at the property some, and we will see how it goes. They are going to get a start on the bigger well before they head back Sunday, and I will continue some when I get there in a couple of weeks. These missions are not for the faint of heart, every time I endeavor to do something in this country I am reminded of the fierce and desperate struggle these people face every day. By God's help, we will fight along side of them as they labor to overcome, and share whatever hope God allows along the way. Pray for continued success, for strength, for wisdom and insight, and patience for this incredible journey of love. Keep the guys in prayer as they finish out the last day and make the return trip home. It is always a trial coming back to the States from a trip like this. And I'm not talking about the feelings following your beautiful Caribbean island vacation! It's always a very mixed review leaving this county, for if you connect with these people, part of you will stay in Haiti. For out of the rubble and grime of this land, deep love and kindness spring up to forever embrace your heart. Thanks for all your help and support for Robinson and his ministry among his people. Great things are happening, but they are often obscured from view by the overwhelming force of desperation and decay that are so predominant across this scarred countryside. The hope that continues to flow in and through these people grows stronger. May the flood tide of blessings flow mighty and strong tonight! Blessings again!
Posted by Pastor at 9:32 PM
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Down time is good time in Haiti. Here are a few pics Steve sent late. Very memorable. The little boy is from last nights blog, he found his way back to this great white American, and turned my dad upside down! Naromie and Steve are in the second picture and her smile is worth a million dollars, the last picture is of Steve talking to American headquarters... that would be me. He was trying to help me with my jealousy issue that I'm not there and he is! Just kidding... mostly! Blessings.
Posted by Pastor at 10:46 PM
I am so stoked tonight. We finally have a well! The pump will be installed in the morning, and water will flow! Who could have imagined the struggle for a 49 foot deep well? That's normally a couple hour job for me. My dad said it was the most difficult 50' deep well he has drilled in his life! Beth said earlier today, "it must be these wells are really important, because they have been so difficult to get done!" She is right, but by God's grace we will succeed! I am ordering the 500 gallon tank on Monday so it will be at the property when we arrive. I can hardly wait to see those jugs of the mountain people filling with fresh water at the wall of our property. Jesus said just a "cup of cold water" in His name, just a simple thing, but what a difference it can make. After the pump is set in the morning, they are moving the rig and commencing work on the 4" well. Pray everything goes as smoothly as it can in Haiti. They will be starting all new with nothing in the ground to fight them like the well they are just finishing. But they are working with more of the new tooling Dad designed before he went in, so pray it all works like it should. They probably won't quite finish this last well before they return, but they should get a really good start, and we should be able to finish it within a short period of time. Thanks again for all the prayers, stay tuned for pictures and more info as we press forward in our Haiti Chronicles! Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 9:38 PM
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
At the end of a long day of work and taxing labor come special blessings. They're small, with big eyes and beautiful smiles. They are like that tiny seedling blade of grass pushing up through stark, barren soil. They are Haiti's children, and they will steal your heart. This little boy perched on my dads lap brought several minutes of laughter and joy to the evening. He proceeded to mimic everything the white man said, which proved to bring comic relief to the household. You wonder how children survive this ravaging climate, so brutal and unforgiving. Many do not, but the ones who survive are very special! And in the midst of such severe adversity, they bring astounding joy. They deserve so much more, but never demand it. And they're contentment is convicting. These relationships add so much to an otherwise very trying climate where taking one step forward usually results in two back. The guys said today was really hot. They had another setback (to be expected) but are working through it. The rig continues to run extremely well, without it, well... lets not go there! Many Blessings!
Posted by Pastor at 11:03 PM
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Things are going good today, here are a couple of pictures showing the rig set up and a tired American! Dad says he has a sore back, and sore muscles. Mostly from the run on Saturday. The heat was a little more ferocious today. They are having to overcome a few obstacles. Imagine that! They pulled what they could of the plastic well that the guys had drilled. The casing was broken down about 26 feet. Exactly where dad thought it was when he was in to help earlier. They have sleeved the top 20' of the hole now, and have extracted some of the broken plastic from down around 38 feet. They will hopefully have the last 20 feet of steel casing in the ground in the morning, and finish out the well tomorrow afternoon. One of the pictures I have posted here is of a tent city just outside of St. Marc. Steve said there were hundreds of these. He said driving out the south end of Port they have their tents in the median of the road. In the middle of all the traffic is where these people are living! The tents are comprised mostly of blue tarps and poles. I asked Steve what is going to happen when the rainy season hits in another month or so, he said it is going to be devastating. That is my fear as well. Keep praying, keep supporting, this country needs our help! Our team continues to ready for our trip in. Hard to believe we will be there in two weeks from today! We are excited to go and serve. Will post up more tomorrow!
Posted by Pastor at 9:44 PM
Monday, March 8, 2010
Another successful day in St. Marc. Robinson and the guys (Doyle Sr. and Steve) left early this morning to run down to the airport and see if the lost luggage had made it in. It had! On their fourth stop they found the 10 feet of 3" pipe they needed to complete the baler for drilling the 4" well. They made it back to St. Marc this afternoon and commenced to see if the rig was going to run after sitting for three years. The little diesel motor took right off and purred like a kitten. The rig is now set up over the existing 2" well that has cracked casing. They will pull it out of the ground in the morning and set the steel casing in it's place. Dad is hoping all the plastic pipe comes out so he can show the guys what went wrong when they were putting the pipe in the ground. The well pumped a little water, but when done right will pump much more. They are hoping to have the 2" well drilled tomorrow. The goal is to have a 2" well with a hand pump on it that the church family will be able to pump water out of even if the electricity is out, the 4" well will get a submersible pump that will run off a generator or when the power is on to fill the 500 gallon distribution tank daily to give fresh drinking water to the mountian people. They will actually be able to give out much more when the power is on, because they will be able to fill the tank in less than an hour. It will be an awesome ministry. Fresh water is a life force, and in third world countries, is very difficult to get any, much less what you actually need. So much sickness is contracted through bad water. As you wander off to your bed tonight, and grab that last sip before you tuck under the covers, give God thanks for that little thing, because in lots of places tonight, it's the biggest physical need there is! The "Water for Life" ministry (who's rig we are currently borrowing) shares the story how a fresh water well in a village in Haiti closed a local hospital! Our bodies need a lot of water to subsist, we have come to take it for granted in our country, in Haiti it is still a substantial need. We are grateful to be working in this endeavor. The guys are thrilled how things are going, and so are we! Steve sends out a 'hello' to his family, keep up the prayers, he is feeling them! After 10 years in Bolivia, I think he is feeling quite at home on this trip! The picture in this blog is another glimpse into the devastation of the earthquake taken on the road by one of our guys. This too is a staggering reality. For many of these people, they will probably never experience a recovery from this disaster. Keep our dear friends in your prayers! Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 7:45 PM
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Here is a picture Steve sent me of the rig yesterday morning hooked up to the truck just before they left Aguin. Robinson and Bwalo are center, my dad looks like he is hiding in the rear! Within three miles of this picture the rig was jackknifed on a hill as the driver stalled the truck and tried to back down the hill. A young man with a 4x4 truck came along and pulled them up and out of the situation after a few very trying minutes and crazy Haitian traffic! There were several very nerve wracking moments including another stall at the top of the mountain 200' from the peak. Thank God for a large gravel truck and dads quick thinking to jump out and start throwing rocks behind the tires before it completely stopped to prevent another downhill disaster. The truck was constantly jumping out of gear so my dad rode with his left hand on the gear shift all the way. He said his left arm was really sore after the long ride. Robinson said they had no preaching at the service this morning. He told the people they needed to share fellowship with the part of Christ's body that had come so far and worked so hard to get the rig up to St. Marc. He told them it was hard work and very dangerous and that the people should give thanks to God for helping them and thanks to these brothers that had come to help their country. He had my dad and Steve both share a little in the service as well. I must say, among his people, Robinson is a great leader. The hope for this country of Haiti rests in God-fearing, and honorable men like this. Rob told me the people are absolutely thrilled the rig is there. It holds such great promise. Steve is going to send more pictures later, the internet is really slow. How well I know! The guys are taking a well deserved rest as I type this blog. Pray for renewed strength and protection as they commence set up and drilling over the next day or two. This opportunity is staggering, and God is doing amazing things. It's incredible to be part of His story being written among these people. Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 4:00 PM
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Amazing news! The rig is now sitting on the CCC property in St. Marc. My dad called today the longest 12 hours of his life. The journey was filled with harrowing experiences and lots of drama, but as someone has well said, "It's Haiti!" We did not get the 4" casing yet, they could not locate it, but they could not have taken it as it turns out anyway because it would have been too much for the truck. As it was, the wheels were an 8 lug nut configuration,... and you guessed it, each only had four lugs per tire! We think we have trucking problems in our country. When they finally arrived at the property at around 7:30 Steve declared there were 8000 people waiting. The truck did not have enough power to back the rig up onto the property, so they used Haitian power! Steve said he didn't think there was a square inch of the rig that wasn't covered by the hand of a Haitian. They are pumped and so are we. The guys are very tired and thankful for all the prayers. My dad said that we needed to thank all who prayed today. He said it was a small miracle that they made it. They were in an accident on the first hill they hit this morning. They had to be towed up all the mountain climbs, and the driver just was not experienced in hauling equipment. Guess you could say he got an intensive hands on today! Dad says the drilling is now going to be the easy part. The missing bags are supposedly in PAP and Rob and Steve will go early Monday to get them. I should have some pictures to post tomorrow. We packed with the team today for the trip coming up the end of March and did very well. We are so grateful for this opportunity to bring whatever hope we can to these struggling people. They deserve hope, love, support, compassion, deliverance. We are blessed to be a small part of a very great mission to change this nation! Blessings always.
P.S. There weren't really 8000 Haitians, but in the dark, and when you need help, it can sure seem that way! They are eager to help and there were many, many there!
P.S. There weren't really 8000 Haitians, but in the dark, and when you need help, it can sure seem that way! They are eager to help and there were many, many there!
Posted by Pastor at 8:36 PM
Friday, March 5, 2010
Time to clear up a couple of details. The family members on this trip are my dad, Doyle Berg Sr. and brother-in-law, Steve Fulton. They are now traveling the southern countryside of Haiti in a truck we are hoping will be able to pull the rig back to St. Marc. Two of the suitcases did not make it to Port, but should arrive tomorrow. In the midst of trying to find the missing bags, the terminal cleared of people. When they finally left, there was nobody in customs. They walked through without any looks into their baggage! I continue to marvel at divine providence! When I talked to the guys a few minutes ago, they were stopped for a little break, they were about 60% of the way to their destination. Steve was using his iphone GPS and it was working! Has saved them several wrong turns. As it turns out the Haitians don't have much in road maps, so there is some trial and error routing when they have never been to certain locations. The next few hours are critical, so keep them in your prayers. We are counting on God to do what we cannot. He knows the desperate circumstances of these beloved people, and hears their cries for mercy. I am certain of His hand upon this mission. But it will not be without it's hurdles. We are tested to see if we will prevail on our side of things, and prevail we must! We go to start our packing for the team trip tomorrow that is coming up the 23rd of March, onward and forward we go! Blessings tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 7:38 PM
Wow, much is happening! All of your support is opening doors, and spreading opportunity! As of this morning, two of our family are heading from Miami to Haiti to act on a miracle that has been unfolding. My father built up a drilling rig about 3 years ago that was sent to Haiti to drill a well for an island of the southern coast of Haiti. They have not been to get the rig there, and they could not find a driller who knew the style of drilling for this rig. The earth quake caused us to seek these people out to make sure they were okay and allowed us to discover this information. This rig has been setting in a warehouse for all this time unused. They are letting us tool this rig and do some drilling with it. I can't take the time right now to give you all the details of what this will allow in our mission to bring fresh water to our Haiti family and beyond, but suffice it to say, it holds a great God promise! To the issue at hand, please pray as the guys have to get the rig from southern Haiti up to St. Marc over the weekend. Specifically they will be pulling the rig some 130 miles tomorrow. That may not seem like much, and in our country it's no big deal. It would be a couple hours of time, in Haiti... well... we'll leave it at that! Also pray as they go through customs that they get through without hassle. They have a lot of ground to cover today, so we are praying that they pass through the airport quickly, and without great cost. If everything goes according to plan, there will be a 2" well and a 4" well drilled next week, and when our next team goes in March 23rd, we will be setting up a tank and distribution system at the property for the mountian people that will provide them with free fresh drinking water! We are very grateful to God for this opportunity, but also know how difficult any of this task can be because of the location of our labors. Pray for success today, that all difficulties will be overcome, and that success is granted! We are counting on your support! Blessing always!
Posted by Pastor at 7:13 AM