Thursday, April 8, 2010
Here I stand in the land of the poor,
Where is the exit, show me the door?
There is no escape, I hear on the wind,
You cannot go away from this terrible din.
What do you mean? How can this be?
Is there no hope? Can I not be free?
Happiness is? I cannot ask,
I am locked behind this awful mask.
Chained I am in this place of despair,
The dust, the ashes, the polluted air.
The sights and sounds crash against my mind,
And I wonder and sob and truly pine.
But then I hear singing, and laughter, and joy;
Like a happy little child with a brand new toy.
From where comes this sound in the land of the dead,
Is this really real, or just in my head?
Nay comes the answer, sweeping my frame,
It is the heart of the people, alive with refrain.
Against all odds, with a might unseen,
They lift their voices, pure and clean.
This storm of poverty circles this band,
But it fails to stop them for with bravery they stand.
Defeat rolls in like crashing waves,
But joy loves surfing when the wind misbehaves.
Grace has come to my burdened heart,
I have been given a brand new start.
I need not leave this place of gloom,
When the light is in on in my ‘soul’ room.
I learn from these dear brothers of mine,
It is not by gold that my heart is refined,
The trying of my gleaming external polish,
Only shows how much it will tarnish.
I come to you, land of the forsaken,
To find myself, wholly taken.
Brought whole again by love divine,
Finding hope in the worst of time.
To the desperate one to whom cold clings,
The bell of liberty for your heart rings.
In a place where hell itself lays claim
Faith takes hold, and grace falls like rain.
Come home my child, to the haven of rest,
You don’t need things to clutter your chest.
The simple things like golden strands,
Bind your heart and heal your hands.
Then you can reach to the sinking soul,
Give them a lift, or a gentle pull,
Up to where we live with love and grace,
As we strive together to run this race.
One day we will enter a land divine,
Together we will behold the collapse of time,
We will rejoice in the journey we have trod,
As we are helped along by a merciful God.
It will all make sense in a brand new way,
When we make it to that golden day,
And here we sing, with joy alive,
Knowing for certain by faith we’ll survive.
Alive and breathing, with not a care,
Could we hope to believe, would we dare,
These strong brothers of mine in a country bare,
Have taught me much about beauty rare.
So now I see with open eyes,
What they see when a mother cries,
Weeping lasts for only the night,
But with the dawn comes great light.
I wrote this in reflection this morning while waiting on Beth to come out of surgery. I don't want these experiences to escape me, how time flies, how fast the changes come, each tick of the clock is a reminder, the words of this poem carry Haiti's stamp on my soul. Blessings!
Posted by Pastor at 10:48 AM
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Haiti is not a place of isolation; it is a place of congestion. While you see a few country houses all by themselves, there are large portions of the country that have nothing, and then a village. These people don’t profess to be self-sustaining. There is no pride of independence. They do not demand the spatial requirements of our society. Their churches are not full at 85%. In our 20’ x 21’ children’s tent we had 150 children on Sunday morning. When in Haiti, you cannot help but rub shoulders with these people, literally! If you are claustrophobic, you probably shouldn’t go. On Sunday morning I get to observe people proximity. As I help serve communion, we are literally crawling around, over and through people, and there is never a negative exchange. Patience abounds for one another. They have issues, don’t get me wrong, but they really aren’t afforded the luxury of carrying grudges for a long time. Grudges are significant life threatening circumstances. You really can’t afford to live ostracized from people. Your life depends on them. That is one great quality about this land. Even the crooks get extra chances at redemption. It’s all about relationships. Forgiveness abounds, we could stand a little of that ourselves. We get so territorial not realizing all the time we are driven by our space guarding right into isolation, and from there to oblivion. Separated (and not in the good way), powerless, and uninvolved, we join the bystanders who rail and shout and gloat, but fail to affect the outcome of a life, fail to score because they left the court, or worse, didn’t know they had been recruited for the team! I miss rubbing shoulders with our Haitian family tonight. I miss having my space invaded; I miss the love and compassion they so freely share. It seems now I am torn between two homes. May God help us to diminish our space requirements; let us become spices in each other lives rather than being compartmentalized foods separated by strict touching rules and spatial requirements. Blessings again!
Posted by Pastor at 8:49 PM
Friday, April 2, 2010
Our first morning at home has arrived. I slid out of my covers this morning rather than pealing them off me like a sticky tape. Did I mention that it was unseasonably warm in Haiti this trip? It's also quite warm here this morning. I just wanted to mention how grateful I am for the little blessings that I often fail to track in my life. Coming back to the States from that climate for 8 days to balmy weather at home was very kind for my physical body. Spring is in the air, and rather than being shocked back into reality by a snow storm and frigid temperatures, we have returned to pleasant weather. I go back to my outside job this morning with the promise of a wonderful day. And I'm thankful. I slept in silence last night, and it was a bit odd. In Haiti the roosters crow pretty much all night, they are deeply confused! Dogs bark and fight in the street, there is the occasional clanging of a goats bell, and often the sound of people praying and singing through long night services. On Wednesday morning when I woke up at 4:00 a.m. I was hearing the sound of a group of people singing worship songs. I have no idea how far away they were, but I was struck again with the determination and desperation of the people I was sleeping among. I was reminded not to take anything for granted, to rejoice in all things, to give thanks for the little things. The picture I posted this morning is exactly what I am talking about, a special moment caught on camera, a blessing, a reason for thanksgiving. So much we take for granted in relationships, even the relationships themselves at times. Don't get caught dwelling on what you deserve today, linger on what you have and be grateful for both big and small. Whatever we deserve, it's not much compared to our failures, whatever we have are gifts, blessings, and we need to be grateful. We fed the victims again yesterday. The first day we fed them on the trip I stood in line watching them come to take their plate of food, there was sincere appreciation and thankfulness among those faces and lives. Did they deserve more, I thought so, but they were just thankful for that singular plate of food. How easily we form our opinions of what should be, and what tomorrow should hold, while we miss the moments of today. Seize them now, lock in on those good things, and be thankful. Rejoice and be glad today, we have so much, while so many have nothing. Blessings from my kitchen table!
Posted by Pastor at 8:34 AM
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Each trip presents a host of reasons for our continuing support of Robinson and the work God is doing through this amazing young man. He labors long and hard to fulfill every need of both his people and those who come to labor among them. As I thanked him again today and told him how much I appreciated all he does, it seemed rather trite compared to the task that he has so willing accepted. Niche commented on this as we were walking through the Miami airport tonight. That he chooses to stay among his people after having been to America, that he loves his people that much is a testament to his caliber, his vision, and his undying love for his country and his people. He is a true representative of the love of God. He is not the only one, there are others, but they are scarce! He is not good at goodbyes. He pulled a fast one on my ignorance today, as we were in line at the airport he was in the lead. I was about halfway back in the midst of mass congestion going into the airport when he called me up and told me I needed to be in front. He stepped back for a moment as I was trying to navigate the crowd to the front of our pack. When I looked back for him he was already back out of the line and standing on the sidewalk. I pointed to him and he laughed. But we both knew, I was leaving to go back to my warm showers, and regular mattresses, to my clean home with windows and solid doors, to paved highways and streetlights, to grocery stores and jobs, to the good life. While he on the other hand would return through a dusty roadway, to a dirty town, to a hungry lifestyle, to a bleak existence, among a starving people, in an impoverished country. We are brothers, connected in our heart by the love of God. How often I have wondered, what small difference there was between our creation by God that he landed there; and I here. I would give him the world if I could; such goodness deserves so much more. Perhaps in time I can. But there is a side of him I know will resist my efforts toward him, that he will divert it all to his people, that he will seek to change not his future, but those he serves. And that is the golden gem in this story, this journey I am beholden to. Our ministry to Haiti has a pureness to it because of his servant heart, and the lives being touched are profound. It seemed everywhere we go in town and country; he is called ‘pastor’. It is a term of endearment. Yesterday as we came off the mountain I stood and observed him working with a family from a distance. A young mom, two children, and some struggle. He pulled out of his pocket two pieces of gum that someone on the team must have given him. He unwrapped each piece and handed it to the two delighted children, there was a lighthearted exchange, countenances lifted, and hope was shared. I continue to pray that God opens great doors of opportunity for him tonight; that he opens the doorway to the funds needed to sustain this great effort, and that lives continue to be changed along with the country in which these dear people reside. May God bless my brother Robinson, and may he bless you as well!
Posted by Pastor at 1:30 AM