Thursday, March 31, 2011
Last night we slipped over to the orphanage. It was late, and they were all asleep. We found out late in the day that they had skipped school thinking we were coming over yesterday. We had some suitcases of supplies delivered there, and it must have been before school, they were so excited; they wanted to stay and wait for us. Cell service has been spotty lately, so Robinson didn’t know. It was probably better that way because when he found out they had stayed home from school, he was not too happy! But one look in their faces melts even the director’s heart! When we woke them up they were so affectionate! So happy to see us, and as I held Otelson in my arms I was reminded how much love every heart has to give and receive. We are capable of oceans of it, and yet we live life in existence mode, we chose isolation over immersion, we fixate on the most improbable things as we lose sight of our vast value to affect others. I have recently been reviewing some of my genealogy and have been reminded how connected we all are. We all have royalty flowing in our veins, we are the incredible creation of a magnificent God, and when you are prone to question His goodness, even in adversity, you have to remember we are on the front side of the exam of life. We will all leave this place one day, and where we land is a choice we all have to make, but God has prepared a place for the ready! And all questions will be answered, all wrongs made right, in the blink of an eye we will be changed forever. As we rode to St. Marc two days ago, Brandon declared this place has great potential for beauty. He is right; it’s so hard to see past the rubble, to be reflective of grandeur here. Its great to have a viewpoint like his on the team. He has been an incredible force of enthusiasm and positivity! He relishes in everything, and it’s been a joy having him on the team. Every trip God provides the exact team members, and every trip they shine. We have not been without some set backs, but this team is firing well. A little shout out to Michelle, Brandon’s amazing wife, your packing was incredible, every time someone has needed something he seems to pull it out of his magic bag! He’s like, I didn’t pack that dude, my wife did! LOL At least he is honest! Time to move on with the day. Children’s service is this afternoon, the second coat of paint is on the office and bathroom complex and they are tackling the inside of one of the bathrooms now. The children’s service craft bags are almost done. A great start to day two in Haiti. Blessings until later!
Posted by Pastor at 11:47 AM
This afternoon Ray and Rob were in a little motorcycle accident; Ray’s shoulder was used as a motorcycle mirror removal tool! Fortunately, nothing worse happened. He is pretty sore but it looks like he is okay. We always know these trips are not without risk, but we are cautious about doing off the wall things just because everyone else in the country may be doing it. However, necessity drives some circumstances. Such was the trip that they were making from the church to the parsonage via motorcycle. It seems Americans aren’t the only folks who have a problem with texting and driving, it seems Haitian share the same propensity. The silver lining was that he received some extra attention from the team! Ray, Rick, and Noah blazed away with the paint this afternoon, the back office, inside and out has a first coat of paint on it. They were going to try to get the inside of the office painted, and ended up getting it covered on the outside as well. They are getting up to finish it in the morning. It looks great! I was so pleased. The interaction with the people has been incredible, although we are surrounded with some difficult circumstances. My heart breaks for the suffering of this people. I know from a theological standpoint that God provides, that His mercy though not evident to me still flows. I know that weeping endures for the night; I have heard it here. Joy they say comes in the morning, well… what morning, what day, what year. Who will be alive to experience it? I know joy is not what we have, nor what we eat, it’s not houses and land; it’s not tied to things. But the physical suffering is tough to stomach, especially when there is no evident break. But the Haitians have taught me there is a break, it’s just not the break I think they deserve. Herein lies the complexity of it all. My perception of joy is often warped by my materialistic indulgence. True joy exists outside of that. I practice this at certain levels, but on others I still fall short. Each trip broadens my understanding a little more, erases with confident strokes my alien aspirations, my stingy understanding of real joy. The Haitians are not an outwardly smiley lot of people, but they are radiant! Speaking a kind word and hearing the gratitude in the response back is inspirational to say the least. Every trip here revs up my understanding that we are partly the joy in morning, not all the wonderful things we bring, but we the people are the joy! The joy is in Jesus, and the connection of love He fosters between us, by knitting our hearts with these people brings them great joy, and it brings me great joy as well! Sometimes I feel my posting turns a bit rambling, I apologize, but invite you to our journey with us. You spend part of your time here wrestling with psychological questions. The culture and the suffering and the struggle shift you in ways you cannot fathom. The mind bending is often very difficult to do, especially when you are not practicing mental flexibility! You look for resolutions, but it seems they defy you at every turn. What at one moment makes good clear sense; the next is obliterated by some other part of the equation. There are no easy, quick answers to the rebirth question of a culture, of its deliverance from tragedy, of its restoration to some former glory if ever there was one. We need to be grateful each of us today for what we have. In a moment it can be shattered except for the grace of God. We need only glance away from our shoreline but a short distance to realize what miracles and potential exist in our own country. We need to be cautious with what we take for granted! Rejoice and be glad today! Blessings in the moment!
Posted by Pastor at 11:46 AM
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Sort, sort, sort. But it does seem to get easier every trip. The suitcases are now re-organized and the restless are walking downtown to wear off some energy playing basket ball at the town court. They are probably going to get taken to the cleaners, but oh well! Live and learn, right?! We were up early this morning. 6:00 am to be more specific. It gets bright and busy here so early. The sounds of Haiti filled my ears through the night, I never wondered were I was at as I slept. We got up and put our bedding away, and helped put the tent back in order with all the benches so it was ready for noon prayer. And no, I am not talking about a 15 second prayer before you eat, nor a 3-minute devotion prayer, I am talking a three hour all out assailing of the heavenly for divine intervention and deliverance for this land and people. We then made the one-mile trek back to the parsonage to do our re-shuffling act to ready us for the rest of the time here. We are going to do a childrens service tomorrow and Friday. So we will have to pack all the bags of stuff for 500 children per service. That will take a little time! We are going to do a benevolence project for a very poor family at the church; we are putting on 3 doors for a house where they have not been able to have them for 2 years. The family comes to the church, and they have not security for their children all this time! We are going to pay a special young man in the church to install them tomorrow. So far so good on day one in the country, time to get to the internet and post. The picture is of Brandon reading scripture with a Haitian young man. They took times reading to one another in English and Creole. Brandon is fitting in on this trip like a veteran! It’s been very refreshing to have him along. Blessings today.
Posted by Pastor at 1:20 PM
The day is finally coming to a close. We prepare tediously around this day. We make good plans, and execute as well as we can, and yet we still get tested. American Airlines changed baggage rates Feb. 10th. It is so frustrating when my greatest struggle in helping in Haiti seems to be on American soil at the airline terminal. I know that is not fully true, but at times it sure feels that way. We made it through with an added $160.00, passed through security, and had smooth flights. We arrived on time, and went through customs without an issue. A bright spot was that as we were trying to get the bags together, I heard a familiar voice and turned to see Robinson inside the terminal there to guide us out! What strings he had to pull, I’ll never know, but it made for a very easy exit with the team. There was less yelling and prodding and arguing, and my helper at the airport, a one armed man named Jackson got his pay for he and his men and gave me a hug! I was so grateful, I almost wept on the spot. One thing that alarmed me as we were coming in for the landing is the actual increase in the amount of tents and tent cities around Port. It is stunning. Fifteen months after the earthquake and it seems worse. These people are getting next to nothing for help. Yet they carry on in the midst of their suffering with a resolve that seriously puts mine to shame. The ride up to St. Marc was uneventful for the most part. We arrived at the house just before dark, and set to gather up the items necessary for our first night. That is where we met a bit of frustration again, as the house was a sweat box, people were hungry, the house was full of people, Naromie, her mom, a friend from Desdunes and her son were all ill. Adalaine has an ear infection; the stove would not cooperate and light, we ordered some bread only to not have enough, and had to send for more. When we finally got over to the property, there was a small miscommunication and we didn’t have an air pump for the mattresses. The ‘All in a day’ saying was an understatement for this day. Karen shared a short devotional on ‘bringing every thought captive’, and I think we all failed on this at some moment today! Now most are asleep, exhausted, but so grateful to be here. God has once again provided, and I am certain this week will be filled with ministry opportunities. Pray we are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus. No matter where we are, that is our job. It is a delight to be with our Haitian friends once again, we look forward to the day tomorrow. The weather was a little mild for a bit when we first arrived, but was short lived! It takes a couple of days to adjust, so we will have to grind our way through it! We’ll see how everyone does! Exhausted, but grateful from St. Marc. The picture is... you guessed it, baby Vladimir, as it turns out he likes us white people!!! Blessings tonight.
Posted by Pastor at 1:12 PM
Monday, March 28, 2011
Day one has past, but not in Haiti where we had planned to be experiencing it! One good thing about constant setbacks, after a while you become accustomed to them happening. That may sound a little pessimistic, but I actually don't mean that. The testing of our faith works patience, and as patience grows, so does our tolerance to the ever changing landscape of our ministry and lives. And as I experience these scenarios, I gain more faith that it is not the 'devil in the details' but 'God in the details'! He has purpose and design to all He allows and disallows in our lives, the sooner we stop fighting those things, the quicker we gain balance to our walk of faith. To fight them wastes our energy and distracts our attention from where our focus is meant to be. Working with the Haitians, and more specifically Robinson, I see this more clearly with every passing day. So today was quiet, with special team sharing times. This is going to be a good week no matter what happens. The circumstances behind all the preparations is divine, and God is in charge of this trip. Whatever He means to accomplish, He will. My spirit is calm tonight. Morning looms just five short hours away, but we are ready. We will rise at 2:30 am, quickly get a few things together, get the 26 suitcases out to the front of the motel with all our 11 day packs, deliver our vehicles to the parking lot, load our transit buses, we will travel to the AA terminal, check in, and move through security, all under the direction of the Divine. This is not our orchestra, it's His, we are the instruments playing, and we just need to work on staying in tune! So as we shared today, our instruments became more tuned to each other, and it was good. As we carry 'His Hope' to these wonderful people, harmony is important, and we have a harmony that is special. Not more special than any other group, but a harmony specific to this team and trip. Pray for safety in the air and smooth transitions through each of the airports and flights tomorrow, for a safe trip up to St. Marc, and that we stay healthy! Time to end this post, and time for bed, this will be a short night! Thanks for following, and thanks for all the prayers! Blessings always!
Posted by Pastor at 9:14 PM
Sunday, March 27, 2011
What a day! Many do not know that a huge fire did massive damage at the Miami airport last Wednesday, and has canceled out hundreds of flights. We checked this afternoon before we left and the flights were all still on. We made it an hour down the road and the first leg of our journey was canceled. We pulled over and Deloris spent 45 minutes with AA and finally we had flights on Tuesday for 7 of us and Wednesday for the Reyhl's. We decided to forge ahead not certain of what God was doing, but trusting anyway. We met up with the whole team in Ann Arbor this evening for a bite to eat and discuss strategy with the changes. (Not that we are in control of any of it!) We made another call and now we are all back together again scheduled on a flight out Tuesday! We extended our stay one day returning next Tuesday. We are reminded every trip that this is a struggle of epic proportions, for our Haitian family it is a struggle for life itself, for us it is a struggle that tests our resolve. Our struggle is the lesser of the two, and I am reminiscent again tonight that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of the air! We are reminded at every turn of our incapability and finiteness, but at those moments we turn to find an infinite and unswerving gracious God who will cause His plans to prevail. I am not sure what tomorrow holds, but I am sure of who holds tomorrow! As we write tonight, we are all settled in, the suitcases are safely stored behind the front desk of the hotel, and we have a little time to catch up on some much needed rest before we commence the journey to St. Marc. I'm not fully certain of the reason for the delay or why, I found out a couple of days ago there is a national strike in Haiti on Monday, everything will be closed. I was not too happy with the situation because if anything would have happened our recourse's would have been very limited or perhaps non-existent. Whatever the reason, it is His reason, and we are simply trusting that. Pray as we go forward, we do have limited time, and hope to prevail in spite of the setbacks. So now to rest a while! Joyful in the journey! Blessings tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 11:12 PM
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The picture in the last post drew inquisition. It is a startling piece, though a bit unclear. It was the evening of our Haiti churches ten year celebration. The grounds were packed most of the day as they celebrated the ministry and growth of this wonderful church. It started with 12 of the orphans who had been with Robinson in the orphanage years ago, and 12 people from St. Marc. They are now running over 600 and still growing! Each year they do a special thing for the community, they perform a free wedding ceremony, including everything needed for the wedding. They pool their resources and actually rent the wedding dresses for the brides, suits for the men, they arrange travel for the brides to the property, and fix a wedding meal, all at no cost to the couples. It is a way to help the young couples who have been living together and cannot afford a wedding to be able to get married. This year Robinson and the ministry team married four couples at the same time! It was a highlight of the community. Ladies can you imagine sharing your day with three other couples and a rented dress. When you think economical, do you even consider such a thing?! Now there's a new perspective on desperate! The ministry has gained high favor among those who we seek to minister too. Together with the orphanage, the giving out of thousands of gallons of water, the feeding of the poor, medical attention to the afflicted, children being put into school, and the preaching of the great hope of the Gospel, lives are being changed in incredible ways. That we all have been able to be a part is stunning and humbling. God is famous for taking little, blessing it, and delivering much! We have pretty well finalized our daypacks today, stitched up several lose ends, and double checked lists. Robinson let us know our newest orphan, baby Vladimir has been very ill, but seems to be doing a little better. They took him to the hospital as he had been vomiting and had diarrhea. They will have test results tomorrow, they have been a little anxious. In Haiti these symptoms are a grave concern, as they are common killers of infants. Something we take so for granted here anymore, has life-threatning implications there. They lack so many of the common treatments there, and symptoms so easily diagnosed and treated here, can bring devastation quickly in this land of the deprived! Keep them in your prayers. Just a couple more days and we head toward Detroit again. We are excited about what we will be able to accomplish this trip in. It is always daunting, but we rise to the challenge as we have been blessed and graced by God's infinite love. We have much more to share, but will do so in more posts! Blessings tonight!
Posted by Pastor at 11:23 PM
Monday, March 21, 2011
Suitcase, baby clothes, food, pump, computer, Tylenol, Shoes, pants, dresses, hats, welding helmet, wire, baby seats, soap, Bible, crafts, crayons, candy, sunglasses, popcorn, bumper pads, clothe diapers, tool sets, fans, lotion, mattresses, pillows, pictures, playpen, soccer balls, DVD's, utensils, projector, kid's clothes, microphones, you name it, we've got it packed! I feel like a mobile department store, except all the goods we carry are going to be given away! 11 people, 37 suitcases, and a wallet of cash. Does that sound like an adventure? Sign up today! We are blessed to be journeying into the land of Haiti again, and God has provided in unbelievable ways. What can we say, except thank-you again to all our wonderful supporters and laborers on the ground raising funds and bringing in goods to continue to drive the message of hope and love to these suffering, but steadfast people. My mind often wrestles to grasp a hold of the ruthlessness of life, and the compound struggles that are part of it. But we are grateful to be part of carving away at the devastation armed with God's love and the generosity of many hearts! What a difference a little can make. When you see a smile wash over the face of one of these desperate souls it looks like a cleansing away of years of crusty and haggard exposure to the dusty trail of injustice and hopelessness. In a moment hope crushes despair with a simple act of love, and shadows flee before it's ebb and flow. What a honor and privilege it has been to be the hands and feet, taxing though it is at times, what joy and satisfaction reside in such labor. In just a few days we will be wheels down in the country, we will endeavor to keep you up to speed on our progress through the blog. Stay tuned.
Posted by Pastor at 8:09 PM