Friday, April 22, 2011
Since I have been back from Haiti, life has been moving like a freight train, or perhaps a high-speed rail would be a better term. I was sharing with someone a couple days ago how when you go into Haiti the first days there seem to drag by. You enter this time warp where a type of freeze frame rate occurs to your life. As the week moves along the approach of returning home begins to warp your time awareness again, and a blurring effect commences. When you arrive stateside, you experience a kind of congestion as you try to re-acclimate yourself to our cultural rush. It leaves you extremely weary, and there is a kind of delayed re-engagement process. Part of the delay though is a rebellion of your mindset. A realization that technology and materialism have left you bankrupt in some very critical departments of your humanity. In Haiti you are always surrounded by people, someone trying to enter your space, desiring to be with you, especially the children. At times you can actually feel smothered. But the pull, the desire for relationship is fully engaged in that culture. They thrive on it, relish it, and live it. To our detriment, we forsake it for much more trite and trivial pursuits that promise much more than they actually deliver. I am settling back into my groove now, but I must confess a sphere of frustration has lingered longer this time. A sense of revulsion laces my soul, I long for deeper connections, for richer relationships, for fuller engagement. I am thankful for my recurring ventures into Haitian poverty, for there I am finding gold mines of meaning and depth desperately missing or sadly misplaced in my culture. My mining experiences in Haiti are helping me with my 'panning' practices back here at home. There is still "real gold" in this country, and a lot of it, but we have really muddied the waters and made the screening process much more cloudy than intended or what it should be. People are golden, but we get buried beneath the rubble of media, money, and selfish motives. But don't give up, richness lies beneath the surface still; frustrations fire, patiently tended will consume impurities and give birth to the pureness potential that lies within us still. The grace of God is sufficient to restore us to former glory and to genuine ancient love! Think about it! Blessings from memories of St. Marc.
Posted by Pastor at 8:53 AM
Monday, April 11, 2011
This is a picture of our amazing orphanage house mother. This is a very special young lady. In the past she has lived at Robinson's house, but moved out last year. We have been sending her to school for the last two years. Last year she failed her tests and moved away because she was so embarrassed by her failure. But we saw incredible good in her, she has a zeal for life and a warmth about her that is genuine and pure. Beth was able to reach out to her last fall when they went in to get the orphanage underway. She encouraged her to try school again this year, invited her to help at the orphanage, gave her a place to stay there, and a miracle has blossomed! She is a living flower, radiant and exquisite! She has taken such good care of our kids, it shows in their attitudes, actions, and behavior. There are many good people around the children, from the director on down, but we are attributing much of the character change in the children to this incredible young woman. She faces some really difficult circumstances in her own life, she has had typhoid fever that gives recurring symptoms. But even when she is feeling down physically, she has this marvelous loving attitude that prevails through her difficulties. She attends school during the day while the orphans are in school, and then is at the orphanage for the kids through the evening and night. Unbelievably she is pulling really good grades in school, and is still able to provide an amazing loving environment for the little ones. She doesn't have to do all the work, we have a laundry lady, and a cook, and a house director, but when it comes to the management and mothering care of the orphans, she is that one. She gets them dressed, keeps the house organized, and tends to keeping the children clean, readies them for bed, and loves the daylights out of them. We are so proud of her and what she is accomplishing in her life, and we are glad for the opportunity we have afforded her to be able to fulfill at least some portion of her life destiny by serving with us in this labor of love. It continues to awe me at how God has provided through the steadfastness of one orphan (Robinson) through the years, and now that one orphan is bringing great hope and help to so many, and Junie is another one of those lives that is being touched by the generosity of so many! God bless you all as we impact these incredible lives. Blessings again.
Posted by Pastor at 9:42 PM
Thursday, April 7, 2011
What is in a word. Words they say are powerful tools. They can be weapons for war, contracts of peace, litigation for defense, they can stage a nation for success or doom it to failure when used by the right person at the right time the right way. They are a puzzle that fits together many ways to contrive many pictures. One picture may be worth a thousand words, but one word can also command a thousand pictures. Take for instance the word 'Hope', this word alone contrives a thousand scenes, actually millions. A word that moves us at the core of our being, at least it should. The picture in this post is one small piece of what hope holds. The eyes of this little girl draw you in, unmistakeably, the setting for this child defies hope, but the arms that hold her carry oceans of hope, and hope has found her. She has been discovered, her beauty is raw and her depth is deeper than the sea. She is hope, and 'hope' is her. One word, a mountian of meaning. As I wrote this week at times my weariness was so vast it was hard to catch the right words, to spell the occasion, to pen the pieces together with the right tapestry of words. As I press the cursor across the screen of my computer tonight, tapping away at the keys, emotions are cascading through my heart and mind and the words are not being so cunning. With this post I wanted to send out a message of thanksgiving to all who commented this week. I have written somewhere around 6500 words this week, to all who commented, you wrote almost 8000. I copied them over to a Word document and read them to the team every day. It was so encouraging. Your words contained life force, and your hope spread hope to us, who in turn spread the hope to our beautiful family of Haitians. Already I have received promising words of wonderful life change as a direct result of our visit. I am reminded again tonight that true power is not in silver and gold, although at times I wish I had more to help these people, but the true power is in the Word, and not just any words, but the Word of Life himself. Therein is the greatest power of all. At the times we grow weary in this endeavor, and we do, let us remember that we have a powerful message to carry, a message all deserve to hear. A message seated in words that change lives forever. We cannot risk this message going unheard, lives like this little one hang in the balance, we must succeed. Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 9:47 PM
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Life is a journey. A common saying by Robinson. Tonight I am home physically, and my heart is getting here. But at this point, part of my heart will always remain in Haiti. We journeyed long and hard over the past couple of days, and tonight we are weary of the travel, but we will rest and attempt to return to normal over the next couple of days. Our trip was inspiring to us and our team. We accomplished much, and impacted many lives. We are so grateful to all who are supporting us along this winding path. I am reflective tonight and have so much to say. But for now I will rest my weary flesh. I have gone over a few of my posts and see I need to do some editing. I will work on that as well, please excuse my oversight as I was busy trying to get things done and missed some English along the way! I will be posting up more blogs following our return now. I have several thoughts started and will share as quickly as I finish them up. I will also be posting more pictures. The one I am putting up here is a of a fisherman fishing without a pole. The backdrop is stunning. Haiti is a country with so much potential. We can only pray that God continues to bring healing to this land. We count it a joy to be a part of that process, and continue to trust in the amazing prospects of the spirit of our Haitian brothers and sisters. Blessings tonight!
The movie night at the church was a fascinating revelation of differences in culture and people's ability to experience life on different levels. I loved this movie. I loved the story. I thought the people of Haiti would love it too. I was right and wrong, they didn't just love the movie, they went into it. A horse race run over 35 years ago ran again Sunday night, complete with cheering, stomping, and outright screaming! It was thunderous. I'm not sure how many people were here, but it had to be between five and six hundred. I love the way Haitians are capable of celebrating life, of championing a moment, of relishing the joy and extracting the delight found in the simplest of things. I have become hardened to the majesty of the moments in my life. My culture has demanded polish and focused behavior, etiquette above excitement, restraint in rejoicing. These are not necessarily bad things, but sometimes it brings distortion to our reality. As the horses hooves pounded down the track and the drama unfolded, I found myself transported to a different place and time, it was moving beyond words. The force of nature, the power of the human spirit, the high drama of hope and promise captured on a movie screen were absorbed into a bleak place of minimal hope, and swallowed by parched souls ready and expectant for greatness. These people continue to shatter my misconceptions and false senses of security found in my routines and my expectations birthed by the surreal world in which I live. At first I understood that their world was surreal, but then I discovered that my own is. We take things for granted that we should not, we focus on the wrong things at the wrong time, we cherish the trivial above true treasures. Haiti has brought a more central understanding for me, helped me purge out the dross of vain thought, and grasp with a greater clarity what it is exactly we are here for, how quickly time and circumstance can change, and to seize better what is right in front of me! Let us strive to be in the moment, to cherish the real, to love without abandoned. The seasons of time are sweeping by, let's not miss it by being somewhere else. Blessing always.
Posted by Pastor at 1:22 AM
Monday, April 4, 2011
Today has flown by! We kind of knew it would, you hope it would go a little slower. But we did get much accomplished all the same. Early this morning Robinson went to the motorcycle store and got a number to purchase a bike when the store opened at 8:00. He went at around 4:00 am to get the #2 purchase of the day. They had 10 bikes ready to sell this morning, and they were all spoken for before the store opened! It was crazy to me. But Robinson bought a black 125CC, and we went to the gas station and filled it up. He went to the police station and registered it. It runs great and starts easy. I can tell he is very pleased. His birthday is tomorrow, and this is a great present he wasn’t expecting, but was so needed. I didn’t plan it this way, but God must have! It has a heavy duty suspension so will work great for those periodic heavy loads. Parts can be easily had for this machine, so it should give more service time than the last one. We are going to fix the old one up a little, and give it to a couple of the associate pastors. They are going to be shocked! Another great event of the day was hooking up our neighborhood well; it doesn’t produce as much as the other wells, but it is going to service this community. There was a lot of fun and excitement in the street as Kelly started a water fight, and Karen finished it. It included water balloons, a garden hose, and a five-gallon bucket. When all was said and done, I’m not sure who was wearing the most water, but it was definitely between Kelly and Karen! Some good laughs and soaked shirts later; it made for a memorable moment on the trip. The property owner had me run the hose into his glass and his exclamation ‘clear!’ said it all. We spent a portion of the day with the orphans, and that was also a magical time. The older I get the more adept I am at seizing a moment; these with the orphans are especially special! Tonight Rick took us down to the Deli Mart and we had Ice cream with the orphans, Robinson, Naromie, and Manius. We had a plan to surprise Robinson by singing Happy Birthday, and it came out that his wife had forgotten it! It made for another joyful and awesome time. We then went down to a couple of stands and the store to pick up a couple of souvenirs’ for the team members. It got eerily quiet on the streets and the announcement for president was made, and then suddenly it was as if a dam broke and they spilled into the streets. It’s hard to read, but there was a lot of celebrating. We made for the house quickly, as they were pretty boisterous. The announcement was an unofficial one, so it is a bit unclear. The musician is the supposed winner; it would appear that those who are knowledgeable of Haitian politics are afraid of more of the same. To have a president who has danced naked in music videos as president does tend to make one a little cautious. But time will tell. This is something only God can fix anyway. We will forge ahead, our task orders do not come from men, but from Him! We had burritos for supper tonight, the ladies have been fantastic with the meals this week, and tonight was no exception. The Haitians viewed their plates with suspicion, but they seemed to have all cleaned their food! We made too many to count! It is time to go deliver this final post from St. Marc. We will finish packing tonight, shower, have our final devotion in Haiti and set our destination north by south in the morning. Wish us God speed on our journey home, and pray for our sadness as we say good-bye once again to this incredible amazing family of loving people who relay on the provisions God seems to be sending through us. We stand faithful in our place on this journey tonight. As God give us strength we will continue to bring hope and help as long as we can! Blessings from St. Marc tonight.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
What a morning! We had an incredible service today. A packed out house greeted our arrival, and the experience was nothing short of amazing today. We had to be up at 5:00 am again, and boy did morning come early. I have not slept too well on this trip. It has been so hot and dry; it is hard to take. The first spotlight of the morning was the mountain man who we gave the donkey to. My heart soared as he checked out his animal for the first time this morning. We took a few photos and suddenly he climbed right up on that donkey and away they went. He is a pretty old Haitian man, and the smile on his face says it all. We are still making sure he gets a pack-saddle and rigging for the donkey. But they probably won’t get to him until we are gone. Our morning was also decorated with a bit of sadness. Ray had to head back to the states to keep a prior obligation with family. I felt bad as the emotions of the moment hit him like a tidal wave. He was okay with going, and I am sure by now he is experiencing great relief from the ravaging heat. The other picture you will observe here is what appears to be snow in Haiti. In stark contrast to the pictures in posted on the blog titled beauty, this is not snow, but dust. When Rick saw the pictures I had put up on that post, he was like, ‘oh Doyle, you shouldn’t do that, people will think we are down on some Caribbean vacation’! Well here is the reality check! It is dusty, dirty, smelly, and pretty rough on our bodies that have been dealing with extreme Michigan cold. I will confess that when I hit Miami I am relishing air conditioning. At least the thought of it! Church was two and a half hours long, but it didn’t feel that way. We were swept away with their focused intensity. Then we spoke to them about their value before God, how with God there is neither Haitian nor American; that we are all loved equally and powerfully by God, and closed with a short little excerpt about Brandon. It was received well, and we are thankful for the opportunity to share with them. It has been a eventful day at the house, games being played, Noah and Brandon are at the neighbors playing some ball. Rick in getting in some reading time. Karen and Deloris are reminiscing with their digital cameras. Photography is such a blessing. To be able to capture a moment in time and go back to it, well, it’s just short of time travel. Memory is an incredible gift and photo’s to back the memories are a gift. Whoever discovered the lens of a camera gave the world an incredible invention. We are going to show a movie tonight at the church, we are showing the ‘Secretariat’. It has to be able to play in French. I am posting early as I won’t have time tonight. For all those posting comments, they have been truly inspirational! Thank you.
Posted by Pastor at 4:56 PM
Saturday, April 2, 2011
What defines this word? To be frank and honest, Haiti is a conundrum to me. We sat at the Deli Mart just a few minutes ago, everyone weary and filthy from the driest and dirtiest day I have experienced here yet. It is so dry, so dusty, that there is a fog that seems to be so thick at times you could cut it with a knife. Autumn sat across from me in an air-conditioned climate and said it feels really American to me right here, but when she turned around and looked through the glass the sight that greeted her seemed surreal. Then she said these words, “why does it not seem beautiful here to some?” I listened as comments were exchanged and pondered her perspective. She is right you know, you have to be careful with negativity. We talked again about happiness, and how kind these people are in the midst of their circumstances. Brandon even commented on how they are compared to the inter-cities of the States. To be deprived does not necessarily equate to being mean spirited. There are some mean folks down here, but that does not necessarily mean they are that way because they are Haitian, any more than a thief in the States would mean that it’s the trademark of an American. I say all that to say we saw a lot of beautiful people today. Precious, kind, loving, people. The team is beginning to feel the sting of leaving, a certain anxiety that is hard to explain begins encroaching, time begins to draw us back into it’s slipstream, like a vortex we feel the gravity of our departure coming. We have accomplished so much, but we still have so many things we would like to do. And then there will be the good-byes; tears, sadness, a touch of remorse. Will they all be here the next time we come, when we come, if we come? Time will change this landscape as it will our own landscape. Our bus driver today was the same one who took us to Desdunes last spring, his child was terribly ill the day he took us, he had been in the hospital; he died last May, just after we left. I could see the lines of sorrow written on his face. We had prayed for his child, and God saw fit to take him anyway. But still he is a gracious and loving man, refusing the hardening of his heart by terrifying circumstances. We took the run up the mountain this morning; it was a great run, albeit very dirty, and once again Rob’s motorcycle broke. I was so frustrated, but it was as it should have been, it guided my decision that God wanted Him to have a new motorcycle Monday morning. Hopefully we can pull it off. We had a wonderful time with the mountain people, and made the decision to purchase a donkey for a special mountain man. When we arrived tonight, we still didn’t know if he had been able to make the purchase. As we drove down the road in St. Marc returning from the only luxury we afford the team on the trip (Haitian Pizza) Robinson suddenly saw a donkey in the street and declared he was pretty sure they had made a purchase. When we arrived at the house the man was there, and said they had not been able to get one. Rob made a call, and to everyone’s delight, a donkey has been found! I wish you could have seen the expression and gratitude on the mountain man’s countenance. It was as if he had been given a million dollars. I will try to post up a picture tomorrow, as it is too late tonight for one. Rick was terribly sick last night, but seemed to regain his footing enough to get up and through the day. At one point he told me today how much he appreciated the American bathroom last night at the church from the perspective of being on all fours for quite a bit of it. We think he suffered heat stoke from their furious paint job last night. He and Ray got the front wall painted again and it looks fabulous! I have to lay up the pen for tonight, and ready to preach in the morning. Time to trade out for a different pen, my sermon one! Goodnight and Blessings after a glorious day in St. Marc!
Posted by Pastor at 9:25 PM
Friday, April 1, 2011
Our American culture has lost track of the appreciation of the simple things. We have witnessed since yesterday afternoon the delight of a balloon. We gave them out as part of a gift to all the children at the service yesterday, so there are a few hundred of them around. I was surprised to find them still working today! The children have played with them for hours. Did I get annoyed as the balloons bounced around my head, as I nodded back and forth to duck it in the middle of conversation, absolutely not! Well… actually I did notice, but couldn’t be offended, I can’t remember the last time I saw such joy over a bubble of air wrapped in rubber! Children’s service was a blast, a blast of energy that is! We arrived at the church to discover the tent already full of children, before we could get things cut off, at last count there were 550! It’s good the numbers were down a little yesterday! We used the rest of yesterday’s supplies plus today’s. It is pretty intense at the kid’s service, always a little dramatic for the team. It will test your resolve to remain cool, but if you do, your steadiness is met with the reward of many smiles. I have shared their intensity in previous posts, but it all came back to me again over the last couple of days. The teaching is simple, but has the profound capability to change a nation should the children return to God! Robinson gets a golden star for his ability to handle 550 Haitian childen that are in the property for the children’s service as well as the 100 or so in the streets that came too late to get in. After the service we borrowed a neighbors truck and headed to the ocean. I remember when I baptized at this location years ago; it was a delightful spot. It was still a great picture zone today, but you needed to keep your camera focused up. We took some splendid Caribbean shots, but my heart was broken by the view of the shoreline. As far as my eye could see, rubble lined the sandy/craggy edge where the water sheds its awful cargo of debris. The people litter the riverbeds, which are dry right now, but when the rain commences in June, the trash is washed to the sea. As an active water well driller, it is one of the most tragic scenes to witness. With the growing awareness of the shortage of fresh water world wide, it’s difficult to watch this pollution occurring even when I know they don’t comprehend the damage they are assaulting on the ecosystem. Be that as it may, the water was warm, and the young people were led by none other than Brandon himself to do some rock climbing to stage for some pretty cool pictures, even the girls braved the circumstances to get up on top of the rock, although it cost Brandon and Krystle a dip in the ocean! We fed so many at the house tonight it was hard to count. What a blessing. There are lots of full bellies tonight. We will head to the mountain in the morning, and on to Desdunes in the afternoon. Rick and Ray are painting the front wall of the church as I type this blog post, hoping it dries by morning, so when the children congregate it won’t harm the paint or get the paint all over their clothes. Rick has been such a great help to Ray, I am confident that painting was not on his roster for Haiti, as he does it plenty in the States, but they have certainly brightened the property, and made Robinson very, very happy. Everyone deserves a break tomorrow, and will get one. So ends another day of our journey. Blessings tonight.
As usual, the internet service has been a challenge. It is almost a full time job trying to make that happen. The place I usually go to was down all day yesterday, so had to go downtown, and that always adds significant time to the operation. We had a great children's service yesterday afternoon! Karen did a fabulous job of communicating the creation story to the kids and having fun with them all at the same time. I think we ended up with about 400+ or -. Not sure. We are doing our second one this afternoon. Last night we went up the mountian behind the church to look at a house that belongs to our church guard. It needs some serious work. We are contemplating what we can do. It really needs a 'Extreme Home Makeover', but we are not those people, and this is not America! The motorcycle broke last night, the throttle handle went to pieces on the inside, so I ordered the part this morning and fixed it for Rob and it is back in circulation. It has been a little difficult this trip with Rob's truck broke down, but this morning he borrowed a neighbors truck and gave the team a lift to the house, after that the girls slipped downtown for bread. We must be quite amusing to the Haitians! At one point Brandon said that when Robinson took off, all the girls fell into the bed of the truck! But they had a blast anyhow. This morning the guys got the front wall washed and prepped for paint, and the final coat is on the American bathroom. Ray got after final cleaning and the place literally shines! The girls along with help from a couple of the guys have the bags all ready for the children's service this afternoon. When that service is done, we are going to drive down to the ocean for a bit and spend some time playing with the orphans there. I also purchased a truck load of stone to spread at the church property to get people off the dirt. Did I mention it is hot and dry here right now! I'm not sure if I ever visited at a dryer time. We also set the pump to test the neighbors well, and it looks like we are going to be able to furnish water to the neighborhood at Rob's house now, including Rob's house as he gets no city water right now. It's noon now, so I have to run back for lunch and roll along with the day. The internet is slowww today, so will try to put up pictures later. We are getting lots of pictures! There will be plenty to show when we get back. I will get a bunch loaded up as quickly as possible. The kids (Noah, Autumn, Krystle, and Kelly will be affronted by me calling them that!) have been having a great time. It is refreshing to see young people picking up the torch in both countries! If there is to be a future, they are it. How quickly the seasons of life pass, time used to move slowly for me, and at times still does in Haiti, but more and more, even on these trips I feel the gentle nudging of father time, and at my most weary point I remind myself that this will soon be over. For the sake of grace we press on! I was having a moment last night, will tell about it in another post, but as I was sitting under the stars at 3:00 am, the sky was stunning, and I was reminded again of the creators will, His power to act, save, restore. He alone holds the keys and the power to restore, reclaim, rebuild. I feel like He has included us in this venture of His, and it is great to be on board! Blessings today.
Posted by Pastor at 12:51 PM