Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Imitation


This is a post by a new traveler who will be with us on our January trip, we are delighted he is sharing his thoughts!
"I first heard about Christ Community Church’s Haiti ministry when my church, West Side Community Church, was asked to help purchase a new tent for the growing congregation in St Marc.  At the time I didn’t expect to actually travel to Haiti and help put it up.  About seven weeks before the original departure date, this changed when Pastor John, the Senior Pastor at West Side, encouraged me to go with the team.  However, a few weeks before Pastor John approached me, I had already begun to pray privately for the opportunity to go to Haiti. Why?
You see, like most people growing up in the United States, I grew up unaware of the larger world around me including Haiti.  I found myself worrying about what movie to rent while people across the globe found themselves worrying about finding their next meal.  When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, I became aware of a people who literally had nothing.  I read then that going from having nothing to having even less is impossible, but for the people of Haiti it had become a reality.  My heart broke, and the heartbreak wouldn’t go away.  For the first time, I gave money to directly help people in need.  I became gripped by a strong desire to go to Haiti someday.  I wanted to have images and memories that would stay with me, to help me remember how blessed I am no matter what life throws at me.  I wanted to pray with people and give them hope.  I wanted to show them my love and the love of the God who created them.  Though time went by and life got complicated, Haiti remained on my mind. And now, it’s time to go, to see, to hear, to touch, and to give.
 I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve had doubts and hesitations about the trip: knowing my heart will be changed permanently, but also experiencing the natural human tendency to resist change, even if it could be for the better; the desire to share the experience with my wife; and the unease of joining a team of people already mostly familiar with one another.
However, as the trip draws near, I find my mind turning to the things I hope to accomplish, trying to be aware of God’s will and direction.  I look forward to visiting with the orphans.  My heart has always broken for the defenseless. Indeed, the Bible calls us to be fathers to the fatherless.  I am also looking forward to helping put up that new church tent and telling the folks at West Side all about it when I get back.  I am also looking forward to building relationships, both with the team and with the Haitian people. Finally, I am really looking forward to capturing photos and stories to inspire others when I return, and to inspire myself for a lifetime.
I have been focused on and inspired by The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).  When I think about the communication barriers and short timeframe of the trip, I look at Jesus’ simple yet powerful example of being full of joy and showing love.  I want to imitate my Savior. I want to follow His example. This is my true calling for the trip.  All the tasks along the way will just be opportunities to show this love in action." Stephen Scott

Friday, November 2, 2012

Demolition

One of my all time favorite shows was "Extreme Home Makeover". A few years after Krystle's brain tumor we actually applied to the show! A favorite moment of the one hour program is demolition. Every time you wondered what great idea Ty Pennington would have to take an old wreck of a home to the ground. His ideas seemed endless, and left you cheering for the family every time. But have you ever wondered at your reaction if you were watching a wrecking ball headed toward a home on a TV screen, and realized it was your own! Somehow the show had made a mistake, you glance out the window, and suddenly a force so great you cannot conceive is driving through every wall, every room, taking out with it the electrical, the plumbing, drywall, trim, chandelier's, cabinets, furniture, pictures, everything you held sacred about your home environment is crumbling before this terrible and nightmarish force. In stunned silence you to try to process what just happened, clouds of dust roll around you, you cough, you gag. Someone made a mistake, a wrong calculation, and you are the brunt of an unfortunate oversight. Doctors have cut off wrong limbs on the wrong people, removed the wrong organs on the wrong body. Massive mistakes that there is no recourse for except to live with for the rest of one's life. The right plan at the right time removes great evil, great pain, and replaces those things with bright hope and a future. Matter of fact, God even tells us in Jeremiah that it is His plan for us, to have hope and a future. This week the cruel wrecking ball of circumstance blasted through our lives, our plans, our goals. It shattered our expectations like some kind of crude joke. Laughter faded into solemn faces, you smiled because you should, not because you wanted too. We adjusted, however roughly to the changing face of time, we stalled, nose-dived, re-booked, and in January we will re-try. What did we miss? Better yet, what did God miss, did He get the address wrong? Perhaps someone changed their address and mistakenly used mine. The cheering halted, reality charged into the room and ravaged a plan. Robinson consoled me by saying: "You know American's, they have their schedule's! Sometimes God plays with our schedules!" I don't like it, but He's right. So much of planning, of preparation, of praying. God comes in and says, however rudely, "Go home!" We went home. We had no choice. There was no plan B. Just plan "wait"! I tend to lack a little in the patience department. If you go back and read my first posts from Haiti, you will see my struggle, I have come a long ways! I am not planning to go back to that place again where I might be forced to relearn some of those lessons, but really now,  does God need to do this? Apparently so, and I have to be okay with it. We have to be okay with it. It's really not our mission, it's His. We are His ambassadors, and He really doesn't need us at the embassy right now. We have been momentarily decommissioned from this leg of the journey. I have thought much about this across this past week, wrestling with disorientation, confusion of emotions, and trying to re-boot the system. God is doing His part, I am trying to do mine, the rest of the team is doing the same. Meanwhile, I glance at a picture like this one and think, do I really have it so rough? Here is the epitome of inconvenience, nay, even sheer havoc. What of me, of my situation, of my plans? They really don't matter laid next to this. What are the plans for this little one? Where is his "Extreme Home Makeover"? The wrecking ball seems to have caught him in it's swing and deposited him in the middle of nowhere. I love perspective, and sometimes despise it at the same time! So what now? We are moving forward with some of the projects on the ground, we are still endeavoring to bring the tent out of customs, some team members are recovering from head colds, some are recovering from broken hearts, some are just recovering in general. As the week has progressed we have forwarded needed funds into Rob, we have sent ahead for cases of Bibles. In our absence, God is not limited. There are lessons here for both the Americans and the Haitians. God makes NO mistakes. His timing is impeccable, and if He allows the wrecking ball to swing through the circumstances of the structure of our lives, He is seeing something that needs to go that we simply cannot see. So onward and upward we go, adjusting and believing, trusting and praying, submitting and surrendering to the omniscience of the Almighty who knows all things, holds all things, restores all things. Blessings tonight from (surprise!) my bedroom, and not St. Marc!

P.S. They held a baptism at the ocean today! Many are being saved, it would have been cool to be there for that, it was probably one of their surprises for us! God is good all the time!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cancelled

Ready, set, stop! Fully loaded after weeks of intense, focused preparation. Every item carefully scrutinized for necessity, 28 suitcases, 13 overstuffed back packs, 13 people with congested schedules rearranged to accommodate a mission of mercy, to deliver a breath of fresh hope and help to a scathed and battered land. On the road at long last, final good-byes and well-wishers behind, a caravan of cars pressed south with precious cargo in tow, precious lives to touch in front, and incredible people inside to carry a message of hope and help. About two hours into our journey today, Hurricane Sandy rang in and cancelled our trip. She is big, and powerful, and out of control. Or should I say, in control. For when I consulted with American Airlines about when we could possibly fly, I was greeted with total impotence. In the course of just a few minutes our trip went from joyful excitement to candid questioning, to gentle despair. I have worked along side of great individuals across the course of my life, but as reality set in today that all our plans were washing away before their very eyes, I became aware that I was surrounded by a very classy group of Christians. It is great to witness people walking out their faith. This cancellation didn't affect a few people, but hundreds, and untold scores of hours, and hundreds of dollars, and mountains of details. After the first bout of bad news we drove a few miles and settled into a cozy Applebee's corner table to consider our plight and calculate what perhaps may be the new plan. The new plan as it was hammered out constituted returning home, integrating back into work schedules and postponing our trip for ten weeks. Life is this constant strain of articulating walking out the will of God, practicing our faith by stepping out, and responding when we get slammed back by circumstances beyond our control. We are left wondering who exactly is in control. But if we are truly submitted to God, and trusting Him with our lives, and He is actually in control, what else is left to do but trust and believe in spite of these unexplained perceived setbacks? This is our first trip fully cancelled. So many little things had come together in spite of ornery details, and yet God said not now! It's painful! Krystle didn't talk the entire drive back to Traverse City, the conversations on the phone with other team members were discussing many of the reasons God had stopped the trip. The point though is that God doesn't need a reason to stop us, He just can! He has a plan, a way that plan is to be fulfilled, and He drives us through that course, and simply asks us to follow. We are prone to second guess ourselves when things like this happen, as a team leader I feel responsibility to these amazing people who have put enough confidence in me to travel alongside of us as we endeavor to bring help and hope to the nation of Haiti. Did I miss something on the timing? Did I overlook something of the Divine? What happened? What happened was God moved the timeline. And godly people with us today cooperated in an unquestionably beautiful showing of faith and character that I will mark with deep appreciation in the course of my life, forever grateful to journey beside such endearing fellow sojourners! We will join again soon, to continue the rest of this journey we have been sent together on. We will not be dissuaded,  we will accomplish that for which we have been sent forth, and those who support us and are the wings upon which we ride, be assured tonight, we are in our saddles and ready to go! We are just waiting on the Commander in Chief of the Universe! Baby Klarissa is doing well this evening. Naromie is okay, but struggling in the healing process. Please keep them in your prayers. The team is safely all back home as well! Blessings to all, and thank you again for your support!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Klarissa Belle

Life can change at such incredible speed. Some days it seems one rush after another comes in unrelenting waves. One moment all is serene and expected. The next, tumult erupts, the earth shifts, normal fades, light shatters, and you stand in a stark place of an unknown reality. Such was the start of my day yesterday. One moment I was talking with a homeowner discussing his new well location, the next I was holding him prone on the ground, watching in horror as his body stilled and his breathing died away. I wondered that I was here, two strangers sharing a moment unexpected, unexplained, uncertain. I called his name, listened for the beating of his heart, but all to no avail. What was I beholden too? Why was I here? Calling on a source of omniscience that would be silent to my questions, sending me back to simple faith. Suddenly his breath caught, and I went into first aid mode. As the EMT's pulled away, I was grateful that for me the moment had passed, the burden of what this would bring a suffering family remained behind, but he was in better hands than mine. The day would prove he would survive, but many unknowns linger still. More tragic news careened into my life within the hour. I thought this day could not end well. In those moments where visibility is low, and fog is dense, my pace slows but I gingerly edge forward. Upon arriving at home, after evening plans went askew, I was sitting at the table working on a project, my phone flashed and a message appeared reading: Robinson Louis "good news", before I could respond another message blinked on the screen, "guess what". A flood of thoughts flew through my mind, but the most promising unexpected one was that their baby was on it's way. In truth, she was already here! Arriving in desperate Haiti at 8:44pm was a beautiful baby girl. An orphan boy's long dream had become reality, now a man, and now a father, defying all odds, following God's plan, he was receiving another reward of life. They were receiving the gift of a lifetime, a new package of joy to share with the world. As I chatted with him on the phone, another gift sprung forth. He asked us to name their baby! It was girl heaven at our house last night! As the circle of God's life would have it, Klarissa Belle received the name Beth and I had chosen to name our second girl. It means "bright shining, gentle, lovely one" and in the picture here, there is no doubt! This is our second time to name a Haitian baby, but our first is already in Heaven, lost in the earthquake almost three years ago. There is redemption here, a precious and generous gift that only God can give. We have some great plans for this trip, but I have a feeling some will be usurped by a baby who will only be 4 days old when we arrive! This is a huge answer to prayer for us. Naromie has suffered miscarriages, and as a couple they were told they could not have children. They had taken on an orphan baby boy in December of 2010, and have done a remarkable job with little "BooBoo". We have been so concerned as Haiti is a country cruel to pregnant mothers, and cruel to it's children. BooBoo's mother passed away in childbirth. As the days have worn on here at the end, Naromie was well past her due date. They had set plans to try inducing labor. But in Haiti, that is a scary task, and while weather prevented the doctor from getting to them, I now believe it was a plan much bigger than that. Something set in order by God through the prayers going up on their behalf the last 9 months. A natural birth was in order, the baby came quickly, and both mother and daughter are doing exceedingly well for now. Destiny has been put on notice, a force of life to be reckoned with has enter this world! We are delighted to watch and see what will become of this incredible life force! Thank you to all who have stood beside us in this vigil. In three days we will again be wheels down in Haiti with a brave and noble team of 13! Pray for effective ministry and aid to flow through us to these deserving people. With hearts full of thanksgiving and sending blessings to all, we go!
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Raw

A blisteringly busy summer is giving way to fall, and I ponder that Christmas is steaming toward us at an incredible rate. I have struggled to write the last few months, wrestling with a back injury, an extra heavy work load and recently topped everything off with a series of Kidney stones. However, even though my pen has been silent, the work of God in Haiti has been thriving. I will work over the next few weeks to bring the news up to date. In the meantime, I was jolted again to reality with some difficult news this morning that while alarming, was also affirming. It has been reported that in northern Haiti near Cap-Haitien where we have a friend working, they have discovered that witch doctors are kidnapping children, beheading them, and using their hearts in sacrifice ceremonies. This cuts to the quick with me, smashing my heart with sadness and a bit of terror. It is hard to comprehend this kind of evil, it is hard to comprehend this kind of struggle. A place where children are born in suffering, where starvation is the norm, where each day is a small miracle to survive, that this kind of injustice is added to their terrible burden, and that these tiny lives are snuffed out in such an irrational, savage way. One asks where God might be, is He powerless to stop such evil. That is a debate for a different day, but one thing became so clear again today, our orphanage and many others are snatching children in Haiti from terrible harm. My heart beats with joy that our children at Orphan Dream are bedding down on mattresses, wrapped in sheets, with loving guardianship around them. That they are behind gated walls, locked doors, and surrounded by a band of loving, caring, supporting people. That they are fed and clothed daily, are transported to and from school, are learning and growing, and are being loved and cared for, not left alone to the ravages of a harsh and crippling land. We are part of a miracle here. We get to be a part of a plan for deliverance, of snatching these young helpless lives from the travesty of a country trying to escape it's tragic and ill-gotten past. I was reminded today that I may not be able to save them all, but I will not stop trying. And if enough of us pitch in, and join the fight, we will drive back against the evil that seeks to rob these beautiful, amazing, deserving lives. Thank you for joining us, for following us, and for supporting the endeavor to bring grace and help to the suffering of these incredible hearts and lives. Blessings to all!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Window

For years I was a window maker. I have built some massive window units for beautiful homes. I have stood back and marveled at concept design's I had to add angles too, measurements for cuts, and then build frames that eventually I filled with glass. I would inspect for flaws, flaws in the wood frames, the aluminum frames, and finally the glass itself. They told me a window was never designed to look at, but through, however, to this day I will notice all windows, and all glass. Last Friday evening, I received this picture in my email. My son had saved up the money to purchase the window frame and glass for the Radio station room at our church property in St. Marc. (One of a few visions he had conceived while there for three months earlier this year.) Robinson had managed to get the money Thursday, and had the window installed on Friday. That's quick, even by American standards. As my critical eye perused the craftsmanship of what I could see of the unit, I suddenly realized I was missing the most critical piece of the picture, what could be seen through that glass! In a moment I was filled with awe, staggering in disbelief at what my eyes had settled on. Our tent structure on the property had been added onto through outstanding measures! They have set up five new tarps to cover the massive crowds gathering for church on Sunday's and weekday prayer. Robinson had told me a while back that the church is growing again at an incredible rate, but this was the icing on the cake. With what meager funding they gather, they have sought to bring some comfort to their crowds from a debilitating sun by purchasing tarps and hanging them from wherever they can to bring relief and hope to the suffering they serve. I was moved in more ways than I could write by the sight. A sweeping sense of awe and wonder filled me, and it continues a week later. So much great good is happening on the ground in Haiti, and to think we have been blessed to be able to watch from an angle inside the country like this is humbling to say the least. It is amazing what faith can do, where hope will go, what grace will bring! I am reminded again to keep my eyes open, to make sure I don't get too fixated on the glass and forget to see the big picture. How we peer through a glass darkly, but one day all will become clear, and we will see how little effort, added with little faith, moved great mountains! This is an amazing photo telling an amazing story of what God can do with willing committed hearts. Our Haitian brothers and sisters are setting a high bar, and I still have much to learn from them. Working with them has changed me, and I pray we continue to grow with them as God allows us to impact them with help in their deplorable state of affairs. That we help them as we ourselves would wish to be helped if the roles were reversed and we were in such circumstances! May God bless all tonight who have labored, and given, and loved! Rejoice in this victory, pray for many to come!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Winter

I was just watching a few minutes of the Chronicles of Narnia in the sky high above the states as we soar toward Detroit and home. The scene that intrigued me was where Lucy entered Tumnus little house for tea. A little exchange takes place about winter, two very different views emerge, one sees what can be, what should be. One sees what is, the way things are. Haiti is a land steeped in a cold relentless winter. While the exterior of the land is hot...and I do mean HOT, the climate for the body is frigid. A cold curse of evil hangs everywhere. Broken down concrete structures, unfinished dreams scatter every neighborhood. You can't seem to find anything finished. And when it is it bears the mark of terrible imperfections. The landscape is wracked with erosion, barrenness is everywhere, pockmarked with litter. Everywhere you turn you see things spent, and spent again. It is at once fairly terrifying. You wonder how change can come, if change can come. Against that stark backdrop you get to witness the power of the human spirit to overcome, to rise above pestilence. In the midst of desolation, the spark of human determination flares a bright and sparkling light. I see this every time I enter this land, the inescapable beauty of the human heart. Great veils of evil do their best to bury, to hide, to nullify that spirit, that goodness, that profound gift of a mighty Creator, and on some fronts it succeeds. We are susceptible to it's wily ways, and so are these dear souls, and the temptation field is such a much more primal foe. It tempts not for pleasure so much as just for a loaf of bread to feed a hungry family. What do I know of such temptation and the power to resist when and where the very essence of life is threatened? To look into the face of your starving child with nothing to feed them, how righteously will you behave. But many do, and many resist, and for that they get my applause, my allegiance, my trust. There are so many stories of courage and grace under fire I witnessed this week, I don't want to re-enter the zone of indifference ever again in my life, to take all the gifts that surround me in my life for granted. I don't want to lose Christmas, or Birthday's, or any of the other ways the extravagance of love is expressed. I believe in Father Christmas! In our materialistic culture, I know in these things we can go overboard, but let us seize the real meaning, and never let go. Surrender not to the Ice Queen of the soul, with all her strange and treacherous delights, I have been to a land that has, and the cold of that wintry grasp has frozen a culture in a stony grip from which it's only deliverance will be the breath of Aslan. We go on His belief, caring the tidings of His return! With hope and help we travail in the darkness with the bright light of love! We will soon descend from the lofty and mighty skies of the universe, a universe that constantly reminds me of my smallness, and reminds us that out there is a power greater than that of any man. Narnia echo's of greatness, of the divine touch of a master builder who will restore it's beauty once more, we must not give up hope! Aslan comes! Blessings from Detroit!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pursuit

The morning is behind us. We completed several more tasks this am. We actually left late, had to bring an extra bag and made it to the gate ten minutes before boarding. Way too close for my comfort. Sweeping back across the countryside my thoughts wandered in a blur. Exhaustion overcame me once and I drifted off for a moment. We stopped a couple of times for drinks and a special peanut candy the kids have come to like. The passage back through to my civilized world was rough and ragged. But we made it through, and boarded the plane. I sit here tapping away on my iPhone, I really didn't use it much this week. I was able to use my iPad for most of my writing efforts. In a couple of hours it will rejoin it's network and be happy. So will I. The network that supports our efforts on the ground here has been incredible, and in the daunting moments words of affirmation and encouragement meant the world. Soon we will sit with the kids in a restaurant, their first time for REAL American food in three months. Haiti has changed my family. We have sacrificed a lot over the last few years in pursuit of the kingdom here. But I rejoice today that we are together again, that my kids are serious about their faith, that they are learning to love deeply, to exercise great faith, and experience the reward of that journey. We live in a selfish world. We must always war against it's ways. The dividends of the fight are matchless, the rewards constantly amaze me. As we shared our good byes this morning, I reflected on how much these dear people have given me, not of money, or beautifully wrapped packages, but of things much deeper. Gifts of the heart, noble gifts, tender gifts. Possessions are laid out for what they truly are in Haiti. And Haiti reminds me of what possessions will soon be. Just so much discarded rubble. Everyone who knows me knows I am a techno geek, I enjoy the electronic world, not for games, but it's powerful connectivity. But one of the very real things about technology is that what you buy today is outdated tomorrow! However I am finding that true about most things now. Time races along, so inconsiderate of anything or anyone. It never waits its turn, it is always next in line. Taking life, giving it, without question or delay. The last three months while my kids have been in Haiti, the time has flown by. Gone are the days of waiting for them to grow up. Gone are the days of childhood play. I feel all the more pressed to redeem the time, for the days are vanishing like the wind. The pang of good bye rings the alarm bell once more, take heed of Father Time, do what you can today, do what you must! It is what you have, your greatest luxury you cannot buy, but to you has been freely given. We have made the most of every day we were in Haiti. I am delighted with the success of this trip. I can only pray there are many more, that the tide and current of the force of good continues to rise in this land, and that of my own country. Thank you to our wonderful team. Your service of love is commended on the highest level! To our Narnian followers, we tumble back through the wardrobe today, spinning and turning, delight and confusion. Back we come, glad we went, sorry to have to leave, but somehow knowing now we are all connected in some spectacular way! There is something so incredible about this life, and I want to be locked down on it! I want to keep it real, I want to face my Creator one day and hear those mighty words, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!' Onward bound, outward bound, upward bound we go! Blessings to all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Debriefing

The first part of the team is on their way home. Everyone seemed to sleep a little better last night, but it was late when we were finally able to bed down. When dawn broke, we pushed through getting ready, had a final devotional thought, came to Rob's, loaded up the suitcases and packs, shared a warm and teary good-bye. With a last wave they were off, and we are still here. It will be a long day of travel for them, they will catch the reprieve of much better food than they have had for over a week, but weariness of body and the separation of the team will probably be overriding factors in their return. I can only hope and pray that their travel is smooth and uneventful. I can tell you, they will all sink into their mattresses tonight, clean from nice hot showers, dry via clean white regular towels, teeth brushed over a normal sink, fresh sheets to envelope their weary flesh, in a controlled atmosphere rid of sweating while just sitting, and they will be grateful! Haiti is rugged on the human body adept at it's climate and life, for us American's it's plain ruthless, malicious, and unrelenting. We have been debriefing with the kids for a couple of hours now, and their insight into the culture, their awareness of their surroundings, and their insights into people have been fascinating! A word to the wise, young people watch! They have so many positive things to say about their stay here, the team that was here with us, and how each person brought deep meaning and joy to their final days in Haiti. A special word of thanks to our departing team members, you counted in ways you cannot fully know, you were here for such a time as this...words from a grateful father. We have a host of administrative wrap up work to do when Robinson gets back, pray all goes well to that end. We will close up shop later this afternoon, the girls have to make final decisions on leftover food from the kids, and then we will try to catch a snooze before we head back to the States tomorrow. So much has been accomplished and things went so well for us this trip, the bar just went up even higher for our return, whenever that may be. Hopefully it will be part of a new adventure, the raising of a new tent over twice the size of what we have now! Until later, many rich blessings.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chatter

We are traveling along on our way to Desdunes. My thoughts are racing. We ended up needing two vehicles to transport everyone. I was planning on just the bus. But  it is smaller than what I have used in the past. As we were loading up , three more of Rob's family asked to go to their home town for a visit. It's a rare treasure to be able to go back to the countryside to see family and friends.  As we drive along they are chattering back and forth in Creole. I wish I could understand them. We arrived in Desdunes with a strong breeze blowing dust everywhere. It's funny that way here, a beautiful Carribean breeze annilated by the filth it picks and is forced to carry. That kind of sums up the country. Natural beauty is forced to become a beast of burden. So many beautiful people forced to carry poverty's staggering load. But the amazing spirits of these incredible people seem to rise up under that burden and shine no matter what. We just witnessed  this again at the 'dispensary' in Desdunes. A lovely nurse who we met in 2010 continues to labor to help her people with no tools. When we were here with the team then, there was a little medicine on the shelves, today there was none. A door opened today that has not opened before, and we are going to help her. It's another small miracle where a well placed and timely visit became a God moment for many lives. And then a second miracle happened, we always give out candy in Desdunes to the desperate children there and it has always been a massive challenge to pass it out. We have tried method after method, but they are children and they are sneaky! So they figure out ways to trick us to get more than one helping and it turns into quite the fiasco. A new thought came to me today, and we set it up, the children behaved to perfection, and we passed out candy to about 100 children in 2-3 minutes! I made them stay in line until everyone had their candy bag. After we were done, I told Robinson to tell them we loved them and would see them next trip. He said 'I did'. I said, 'what are they still standing here for?' He laughed and said, 'I don't know'. And then it hit me, they were as shocked as we were. Everyone had gotten candy, there was no need for pushing and shoving, no tears, everyone at once was happy! It transfixed them and they just stood there. It blew us away! It was another moment we felt the power we know has carried and marked this mission every step of the way. We are headed home now, our mission pretty well complete. We are hoping to get down to the ocean at sunset to gather some pictures and final memories of this trip. Then to bed and dawn will take the first group from our team home. It has been another amazing day in Haiti! Weary but grateful, blessings to all!

Risk

This morning has been an adventure. We started out the day packing up camp to move back to the church property tonight. Upon Rob and Germaine's return, we headed over to Robinson's. Germaine shared a devotional about finishing well, about the coming emotional part of this journey called 'saying goodbye'. Always a tricky thing here as I have mentioned in previous posts. Much more so than in our country, you never know but what it will be your last goodbye to some of these this side of eternity. There is always something sobering about that. When you risk loving people, you also risk losing them! And we have lost many through the years of ministry here. But to love and lose is better than to hate and lose! Or to simply live in a place of not caring. I ran into someone like that on our way here this trip, she was a counter clerk for AA. A really sad piece of humanity who has lost her way in life, and has nothing to give except bitterness and angst. I finally asked her to just keep her comments to herself and do her job. That seemed to curb her attitude a bit. But I thought how sad a condition, what a terrible human plight, worse than that of even the Haitians, the poverty of the body is one thing, poverty and rubble in the human heart, that is the worst! There is a rawness to pain that helps keep things real for me. So I would rather love and lose, than to take the risk of not loving at all. That always brings me back to my Creator and Savior, who risked it all and suffers the greatest loss and pain each day where people turn their backs on the greatest of all loves, and live in a vacuum never created for them!

We just had an amazing lunch. One of the necessary evils of team travel is food preparation. It is a hot, thankless job. It is done in the back round and often with little notice. Beth, Niche, Krystle and Ray, Germaine a little, have done a tremendous job of food delivery, cooking, passing out the food, over seeing the meal selections. Niche gets the award for most transformed team member. She has had a radically different journey this trip with us. She is one of the most aggressive self study people I have ever met in my life. She can bring into sharp focus areas of needful change in herself and will doggedly pursue the truth to expose herself to transformation. It splashes rainbows of beautiful color throughout her life. I have enjoyed having her this trip, we could not have done this without her. Her friends can be thankful for her to be in the impact zone in their lives, and take heed, for she has much to offer to all! Every team member has pulled their weight with steady hearts and great compassion for one another. It has been my joy to work with all! We ascended the mountian this morning, Krystle and DeVante riding motorcycles, Germaine, I, and a Haitian rode the rack on the back of the Toyota, while the rest rode in the Air Conditioning. It was a memorable journey, new for Ethan, raw for the rest of us. Krystle met up with Darlene and gave her a new dress and little doll. This is the little girl who's picture with Krystle a year ago helped win a contest that provided a way for our kids to stay in Haiti the last three months. Krystle wants to bring her home, she is a sweet little girl, but the country is ravaging her little body. Pray for her safety and care! In a few minutes we board the bus for Desdunes, Robinson's hometown, where we will see his family and pass out candy to the children. Now the hours are rushing by, final packing to go home is upon those leaving tomorrow morning. I always arrive at this time with anticipation and dread. Glad to be going home, so sad to leave behind these dear golden friends and brave souls. But I leave with the promise of hope, a promise of change, that our labors of the hand are not in vain, that change is occurring, that we have planted and watered, the rest I leave with the Creator. I leave with the knowledge that I will always feel we have not done enough, but that we have done in fact what was needful of us, that it counts in ways we don't understand, and bears fruit we may not ever see! May each of us leave behind the legacy of the faithful; faith, hope, and love, and leave mostly the greatest of these, love! Until later, blessings again!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Makeover


How do I describe today? Emotionally charged, moving, empowering, life changing. As we arrived at the church this morning, we found the usual packed house. So many faces, it warmed me to see what is happening here in ministry. Our greater mission has always been about the delivery of the magnificent message of hope, that which will truly change a person's life, and that is being done in a marvelous way through the church family we continue to support with our efforts on the ground here. We spoke this morning through an interpreter about the church, what it is made of, what it is not, and challenged the people to not be on the sidelines of service in the church, but to sign on to what God is doing and build on one another. It was well received. But prior to that, there was a very special moment when a young man who had been in the orphanage with Rob years ago had made a commitment this week to get his family back in church. I have worked alongside of him for years now, he has been a part of many church projects, he is an amazing mechanic, fixing things at the parsonage, at the orphanage, worked with us drilling for water, and has just been an amazing friend. You cannot fathom the joy that filled the church and myself this morning when he arrived with his family, wife and three children, and had made the determination to come to church! An orphans long struggle has found rest today, he is home, and we are thrilled, it makes everything worth the effort, expense, and toil. It is the crowning moment to everything else.

On top of that we delivered Krystle's package of gifts to her family she had taken on her heart while Kelly was drilling in January. I cannot fully describe the tranquility of the moment that we became part of, the sweetness and tenderness were sublime. We took some pictures as the gifts were handed out to very, very grateful children. It was a magical, powerful, delightful moment. On top of that, they raced off to their house and all the children that were there dressed up in their new clothes, shoes (yes Deloris they ALL worked) and carrying their new toys. If I could transport you to that moment when the first teenage girl came out of the house, well... lets just say; "Extreme Makeover" move over! There was no reveal quite like the one we received this afternoon. As we stood there admiring and shooting photo's, Beth took a few tender moments to share the message of Christ with the family, and the reason for our being there in the first place. The atmosphere was radiant! It was a piece of heaven in a horrific land! I wept at the scene as it unfolded, and wondered that I could be counted worthy to partake in something so beautiful. Krystle was so happy! A special thanks to the many who contributed both large and small to her mission, I can tell you, it was well worth it, a hundred times over! We arrived back at the house, have had dinner, I am going to send off this post, and then we will head to the orphanage for the night. Another amazing day in Haiti! Blessings to all!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oasis

It's almost 9:00 pm and we are set up at the orphanage. I am typing my thoughts in the same room my daughter has just spent most of the last three months. Our two precious orphan girls sleep on their bunks barely three feet from where I sit in my little plastic chair, a fan blowing across the room brings a little reprieve from the hot day we have had to suffocate through. Our only oasis was at the few minutes apiece were we all we able the ride in the AC of Rob's Toyota, which we managed to get into the country last November. Did I say what a Godsend it has been! Although, I just got a call that it won't start. Oh well, it's Haiti. We'll cross that bridge when we get to the river. Today has been a day of much contemplation for me, as I ready to minister a message in the morning to a massive crowd of people, my thoughts have wandered the byways of the years of engagement in this country, of all the changes, and all the merry-go-rounds. As we hiked the mountain behind the church this morning, it seemed to me the rubble was worse this time. And yet it also seemed there were more homes. What is this terrible war between good and evil. Ethan mentioned corruption and evil in his earlier post today, he's right you know. There is no other way to really describe what you witness here. Evil in a very raw form. I am one to carress words, to soft speak the truth, always the truth, but the truth in love. With a doctor walking with me, even more of the raw waste and filth becomes apparent. My constitution is very strong, and while I observe and contemplate much, I can also swallow a lot. Years of hard, dirty outdoor labor, and in pastoring while fighting alongside fellow believers have conditioned me, calloused me in ways that perhaps border a bit on the uncivilized. War is that way, and I don't mind the skirmishes. As I have walked beside a doctor and fellow foot soldier the last few days in this land, it has been a bit on the sensational side to say the least. I have written much and often of the pestilence of this land, but it is brought into sharper focus with this new microscope trained on it! And eight brave souls have fought through all that dust, and dirt, and grime, and all out filth with me the last few days. We have lost a few battles, but we are winning the war! As we watched Germaine and Krystle teach the Bell Choir today, twelve children get to make a new kind of music in their homeland, and the expressions on their faces were pure gold. Germaine was brilliant! I am so grateful for his leadership and life change. He and his family have been so rock on this trip, it is hard to fathom for me where God has brought them from, and to where they are going! Therein in part lies my hope for Haiti, what God has done and is so powerfully doing in them, He is also doing here! Little by little we advance, and it seems now each step is getting easier. As I said earlier, I sit now in front of a strong sturdy high velocity fan, this did not exist years ago, I am going to sleep in a couple of hours in an orphanage, this did not exist two years ago. I am sending this blog up in a couple of minutes from right where I sit, this did not exist until four months ago. Today we fixed a well, and pumped about a thousand gallons of fresh water for a whole community who has been carrying water from long distances for six months. The air crackled with excitement as water was restored to the area! Evil beware...your future has been written...good will prevail! Allow me to take you back to the Chronicles of Narnia theme for a moment...there is melting, and dripping everywhere you turn now in Haiti, the cold of injustice still has many in its grip, but the breath of Aslan can be felt all over, and I know in a very deep place in my heart tonight that good will prevail! Of that fact I am most certain! Out with the sword I say, mount your steeds, the dawn comes, let's ride! And besides, I have a message to write yet! Blessings again tonight from your trusted band of warriors in Haiti, good-night to all!

Saturday

I apologize for the redundancy of this post if you received this via email from Ethan, but for the rest of our followers i thought it provided different eyesight on the ground. Enjoy this post from Ethan simply titled Saturday. Good afternoon, my loved ones. Clearly the days are blurring a bit. Yes, yesterday was Friday despite the title to my email ;) What a beautiful ending to yesterday as we showed the movie "Courageous" at the church to close to 200 people using a computer and digital projector. I highly recommend this film for everyone including families. In it, real fatherhood is celebrated. Especially beautiful because Pastor Robinson, who shepherds this Haiti church, is a double orphan--abandoned by his parents, then again by his uncle. Now he is spiritually and practically a father to dozens of children, including our orphans, and to a couple hundred adults. This morning, I led devotions, reading from Colossians 2&3. I reinforced my previous comments on freedom (end Chapter 2). I encouraged the team to look for a common pattern in the New Testament letters: soaring passages of theology and doctrine, followed by the "so, therefore" of encouragement and admonitions. Faith coupled with deeds. Freedom with responsibility. Truth always translated through love. I encouraged them not to try to do (obey, reach out) to become, but to be who they are declared to be (orphans adopted through Christ) and go do. As always, we read the blog. "Ordinary" in the USA is indeed unimaginable here. After devotions, we hiked up the mountain through filthy alleys filled with trash and excrement, past the shacks that are homes here--dust flying everywhere. At the top, a pretty view and a breeze allowed us to dream a pleasant dream for a few moments. When I awoke, I thought: "Why is Haiti so barren and poor?" The answer is corruption and evil, especially in those who have led in this country. Untold money and supplies and more have poured into this country. Evil has wrecked it. Why are our hearts so barren and poor without Christ, even in the rich USA? Sin and evil. Pastor Robinson is the opposite: noble and true. He has carefully, diligently, and courageously used all of the help, money, and resources entrusted to him. He has used them well. He is bringing riches and life to this place. Today he told me about how is is training up the next generation of leadership for the future and "in case I die." He is a man of vision. I am privileged to count myself his brother and his ally. His picture is attached to this email. When we got back down, I inventoried my medical supplies and reviewed final tasks. Almost done. Tomorrow, church begins at 8am and runs 3 hours under the tent. These people are serious about their worship. What you are doing at home is essential--keep the emails, blog comments, and, above all, prayers coming. With tasks winding down, its easier to see the spiritual progress. My thoughts are beginning to turn to the future: to finishing , to saying goodbye, to regaining my luxuries, to reuniting with you all....but then....what? How will things change? How will I change? So many questions. My heart rests today in my Savior, my answer.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ordinary

How much do we contemplate the ordinary? In the moment by moment passage of our lives we tend to disconnect, at least I do. Take for instance getting a glass of water. Of walking to the kitchen, opening the cupboard, pulling out a glass, opening the faucet, waiting as the water streams to turn cold, slipping the glass under the flow to extract clean, clear cold water, pressing the glass to your lips, feeling the cool rush as the hydrogen and oxygen mix reach your tongue, your palate responds, and you swallow. What were you thinking the last time that sequence happened? Were you staring with dull expression out the window, did your brain even fire, perhaps you don't remember. There is so much more I am working on not taking for granted. So many miracles in the ordinary moments of my life. We beg God for miracles, but we are surrounded by them! If we can't recognize the littlest, simplest ones, we will never believe the big ones even when they happen right in front of our eyes! I just described a miracle in Haiti. 99% of Haitians cannot do what I just described, but I do it so many times a day I lose track. I know, it's my life, I'm supposed to just accept that, it is what it is...but is it? Why is it we have to be stripped of things to finally get it? God bestows His glory throughout our lives, and we refuse to acknowledge it, until he takes it away. After this many trips into Haiti, I really don't want to lose what I have. We need to see the extrordinary in the ordinary. In this place it is so terribly apparent. Every move I make seems at times to frustrate my purpose. We woke up to the news this morning that the hospital is out of vaccinations. Ethan was deeply disappointed. But it will happen! In due time, Haiti time, God's time. So much is being done in our ordinary efforts here, lives being changed and transformed! As I watched DeVante mingle with the kids the last couple of days, I marveled at the connections and hope he sows even at his young age. He has gained much polish and seasoning over his journey's into Haiti, any friend of DeVante's will now be a much richer friend for having known him. Remember that through the days activities today, find the miracle's buried in the moments and be revived with hope and promise! I can tell you we are! We are being made too!!! We have movie night tonight, 'Courageous' will be showing at 6:00 pm. Feel free to join us, it will be in French, but if your French is rusty, it will be showing with English subtitles. Lol Should be an incredible night. Great life changing film, and needful in this culture as well as ours. Blessings all!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cadence

Here we are closing in on another day in Haiti. So many times in my life I find myself wandering through all the corridors of activity, looking on through soul eyes, trying to examine my motives, trying to measure accomplishments, even as they unfold before me. Marking time well also reveals the speed of my travels which returns me to my opening sentence, we approach the evening of our fourth night in Haiti already!  I used to have a much more twisting sensation when I entered Haiti, but these days seem different. Perhaps it is because so much is happening so fast. Special words of appreciation go out to Krystle tonight. She has been as bullish as her brother, just on a total different front. Her legwork has really paid big dividends on the ground for Ethan, and on so many levels the rest of us as well. Her work is mighty, and the path she paved before us has been a four lane highway. So much of the success of this trip for us with Ethan in tow, is due to her attention to detail on the ground. All the orphans were seen this morning in clinic, treatment plans are made, just a little follow through and we will have healthier children than ever before in their young lives. Ethan has forged a wonderful friendship with a local, amazing doctor who has approved the vaccination of the orphans, and that happens tomorrow morning. Pray for them, as no children like shots, and a couple of the kids are terribly frightened by them. Our kids day service was the smoothest to date! Not quite as big a crowd as at other times, but the children seemed so steady today. You can feel the force field of prayer behind our labor, and I send out another word of grateful thanks for all the support from home. Things are happening. The ebb and flow of our days has picked up a certain cadence. When you're in a place like Haiti, the culture of life is anti-dance, and so it's hard to get a flow. The people possess rhythm, but sometimes there is a difference in the way you dance to music and how you dance to life. Especially when the music of life is reckless, off beat, and with a staggered rhythm, how do you dance to that? So it is noteworthy that I could mention something like cadence here. People have shown up for their appointments, timing for most everything has worked. That is a lot to ask for in Haiti, but we are getting cooperation, and it is refreshing. After a very emotional and honest devotional time this morning where Germaine tanked us up on servant leadership, we have labored diligently through this day serving each other and these people. The full measure of our success will be shown over time, likely perhaps long after we are gone. But the tide is changing, the ground shakes beneath me with a new promise, I believe! Not in the work of man, but in the work of God through men! I hope, and refuse to cave to the darkness. Not my will but His be done, but to the best of my ability...His will WILL be done! If this team has it's way, His will WILL be done for this journey! No one slept well last night, so we are hoping for a reprieve tonight. We are off to settle in for the evening. We have had a nice dose of the orphans this evening. Now we will apply ourselves to rest! Blessings again tonight from St. Marc.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ethan

Day three opened with a heavenly breeze streaming through most of the morning! It was amazing. If you could deprive yourself of other sensory perceptions, and only feel the breeze, it would have bordered on the magical, but sight, smell, and sound crash through with strong objection, and you realize the breeze is a relief for only one of your senses! Oh well, in Haiti you take any break you can catch, because the truth is there aren't very many of them. We had a great sharing time to start our day, and the comments have been so encouraging. You learn to relish anything from home, you are stripped of so much so quickly you enter a place almost like shock, your system collapses on itself, and you question your own sanity for a moment! Literally! But you sweep your eyes and scan the faces, as I have said before, the eyes will tell, and you are reminded of the needs, of the delinquent hearts, of the terrible void this land has brought. When you calculate how destiny was decided, and you measure the goodness of your life, in a moment you are filled with such a profound sense of grace, how the great Creator decides, if the tables were turned, and in a few days hence it was someone else going home and I was left to stay behind...for this lifetime...I believe the less fortunate deserve a turn of our hand, and we owe it to ourselves to keep it real. The more happiness and love I have given away, exponentially more cascades and flows into my heart. I am beginning to realize this. You cannot outspend certain dividends in your life, you can't give away too much happiness, you cannot give away too much love! They are oceans, massive tidal waves that seek to be spent, because so much more of them flows to fill your life even more! Such a profound mystery! Such incredible wealth we possess, spend liberally, don't be misers on this one, it's like the manna of old, fresh every morning, meant to be all used up in that day, for a fresh supply arrives like the morning dew tomorrow. If your life should last the nighttime, you can count on that manna for tomorrow!  The day has been profound, and it is not yet over! The team is like a well oiled machine. It is a wonder to behold. The fabric of this trip has been tightly woven, and the fabric is so durable, and colorful, and resilient! Our doctor has been amazing. Hero's I believe are not born but made, he was a hero before I met him, but this trip is setting him in a frame all his own. He won't take credit, Hero's never do. But among these people he shines like a noonday sun. His way with humankind is stunning to behold, every patient of his, every friend, every family member, can be grateful for this incredible gift of creation, this life so rich, so kind, so full of grace. Imperfections perhaps lie in all of us, I'm a pastor and know this full well, but Ethan has a gift, and is a gift, and I am so grateful he conceded to join me on this journey, even if just for this once. My life, my families lives, that of the team, and so many Haitians are now so much more the richer for this sojourn together! May God continue to use him in mighty ways this week!  Beth and Niche are off teaching the women, this is going to be a very rewarding night for them, at the close of the service they are giving out 50 creole Bible's to the women.The rest of the team is hitting a YWAM service in a few, so off with the team I go for now! Will try to post up some pictures later this evening. Thanks again for all the warm  comments!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Attitude

 As we wait on lunch, here's a quick update. We had a fairly productive morning, although everyone feels the sting of a short nights rest following a couple of long days in the last minute rush to put the final pieces together for this expedition, we are surviving. That is kind of the mentality of the first couple of days on the ground here. It is a grind the first few hours. Mind over matter, willpower over flesh, for this country delivers a crippling blow upon your arrival, and no matter your seasoning, it will put you to the test. But attitudes are great, we are giving out lots of hugs. Ethan has already been hard at work, meetings, patients, scheduling, and wrestling through decisions. Ray, Germaine, and DeVante are hard at work painting our office complex getting ready for clinic days starting tomorrow. The girls have been out with Ethan, and now are unpacking and organizing suitcases. Kelly continues to drive ahead on his finishing projects. He wants all these little things wrapped up! He gets the award for being the most bullish! His drive to the finish is to be commended!  It is hot as usual here, but not so bad that you simply can't stand it. As we shared this morning, Niches' devotional reminded us of attitude and how important a good one is. Ethan said at one point he had seen a lot of good attitudes today! As I am in this country, and mingle with these people, and see their bright smiles in such adversity, sometimes I wonder how I could ever have a bad attitude. Self-pity is a complex foe, luring us in with tiny innuendos, we fall prey to its mastery attempts in our lives with very little fight! I want to be reflective of all the good that prevails in my life, the bad will always linger near! But we must focus on the right. Getting on the right path here can be tricky! But practicing perseverance to the end will land you well, and land you on your feet. So here's to landing on our feet tonight, to landing in bed early and resting well. To receiving infusions of fresh vigor and vitality, and pushing again tomorrow. Much to do, and as time will show, little time to get it done in. Onward we go, spurred on by the encouragement of our supporters, accountable to your trust, we labor to see as much change as our actions of love can garner. Keep us in your thoughts! Blessings to all! Pastor

Just us!

Starting at 2:45 this morning we pushed off from Detroit, via Miami we landed safetly in Port, about twenty minutes late, quite common to Haiti travel, at about 4:40 pm. It was an unlikely and smooth transition through the airport this time, no running back to retrieve a phone or coat my son had left on the plane! As we hit customs, they never asked a single question. He said to me, 'Go' as if on cue from an order to simply let us pass. This has never happened to me, all my worries about our precious cargo melted like a flood, tonight I sit here in the big tent about to fall asleep next to a dream answer to prayer, my doctor Ethan Van Til sleeps in a bug tent next to me, we have a doctor on board to try to help these people, and hopefully bring some reprieve from their suffering. Did I say how amazing it is what God can do with just a little faith!  As I was approaching the customs official I caught sight of a very friendly face waiting in the crowd just outside the door of baggage claim, Kelly's warm smile and happy wave sent another wave of emotion through my frame. Our reunion with the kids was deeply emotional and tonight we are grateful to be together again as a family! We talked all the very long journey to St. Marc, for they have many tales of tall adventures to share, but ironically enough, food kept coming up! They are very excited to get back to food Stateside in a few days. Though a little skinnier, neither are the worse for wear! When we reached Rob's house, we quickly set up and organized for our sleeping needs, Kelly cooked up delicious Hot Dogs, we loaded up the team, came and set up camp, and are trying to pack it in for the night. It's been a long hard day, the first always is, but now we will rest, and hit it tomorrow. I wanted to send out a note of thanks for all the prayer support for this mission, so many were answered today, and while weary tonight, we are delighted in our hearts. Today couldn't have turned out much better. Will report more tomorrow, but the kids have turned things upside down here, it's pretty amazing.  I was watching the Chronicles of Narnia for a few on the plane today, and at one point the children were confronted with the Professor's house maid at the train terminal, she looked at them and said, "well you don't have much, is this all there is?" And young Peter answers, "this is all there is, just us". We may not be here in Haiti tonight with much as the world counts much, but we come representing and loving on behalf of someone far bigger than "just us"! We look forward to impacting these folks this week. God speed as we forge ahead! Blessings from St. Marc. Pastor

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sorrow

We are on our way again! We have arrived in Detroit, safe and sound, luggage safely stowed for the night, supper over, and in for a few hours of rest before the long day push tomorrow to move people and goods in to Haiti's desperate land. There is so much joy in this journey for us. We go to gather our children who have served tirelessly for three months. We go with a doctor, we go with experienced team members, we go with provisions, we go with love and much faith.  I have contemplated something deep and profound over the last few weeks. Our deepest joys are discovered at our moments of deepest sorrow. Joy and sorrow are inseparable companions. Link together, they take us on a life journey at once incredible and yet at moments incredibly disturbing. One wonders about this reality, scarred by evil and negligent choices, and yet rapture, inescapable and profound is all around us. We traveled quickly through the Michigan countryside today and the spring landscape was magnificent! Trees in bloom, green, green grass. As we raced along my emotions were firing, so many, so brilliantly, like fireworks of the soul. As we move toward this reunion with our kids though, something churns within me, happiness abounds on one hand and yet homecoming will bring it's own pain for them and us as well. New things have changed forever their young lives, they have been branded by poverty for they have lived among the least of these. They have seen the steady hands of people subdued by neglect, forsaken, and yet surviving. In this place among these people they have loved and sacrificed, and now they will pay the price for doing so. They will suffer loss, and desolation, they will feel the sting of sorrow, and their hearts will cry, torn between realities. I know this because of my own sorrows, because of my path, because I sensed it in Kelly's post last night.

And from this we run, don't we? Why sorrow, why pain? What is your answer. To addictions and affairs, to media, to all kinds of escapes we run. Often in panic. But wait a moment, what if we had this all wrong, what if sorrow was actually our friend, the friend who keeps it real, the friend who talks back to our insane ways, who rebukes our frivolous and ill spent time. The friend who is the only one who can introduce us to another remarkable friend, joy. And that friend, oh what stunning revelations that friend brings, such appreciation and wonder, and soul bliss. And so I am reminded tonight of these two companions of mine, we go to Haiti and both travel with us. I feel the presence of both tonight. I feel them often as I journey, for too long I have embraced the one while trying to bury the other. To somehow explain away it's purpose, like it has no place among us, but alas, there was a plan after all. The Divine Creator instituted a sense of loss within us lest we be forever lost to joy. I am beholden to my friend sorrow tonight, welcome you are at my door, for therein I discover the unending dimensions of another, for Joy comes with the morning, at breaking dawn sorrow steps aside for joys embrace. Pray for us this trip, for we will experience both in great measures. You cannot go to Haiti and not! That is what makes me proud of every team member who has ever gone with us, my family, and all who support us. To take this journey is to take a massive risk, and one from which when you return, you are forever changed! Pray for my kids, for this journey is not yet complete for them. We anticipate great joy in our reunion tomorrow evening, even now time slows it's margins, bends and warps with it's silly ways, and then we will rejoice! Perhaps this is not the most upbeat post I have written, and I have written a few, but it is real! So very real! My stomach is doing butterfly's, I tense like a cat about to spring, launch is upon us, and back to Haiti we go! Blessings to all tonight!

Home (Kelly)

Hey everyone, greetings from Haiti. I hope everyone is doing well back home! We've had a lot going this past week getting ready for the team's arrival. We went out and bought drinks, food, tanked up the truck, and got a group of people from church to come and help clean the church property today so it would be sanitized for Ethan when he goes to do his doctoring. So Ethan, your all set for OPEN HEART SURGERY!!! LOL. We spent this afternoon working on getting all packed, and are now all finished other then a few small things in the morning. Yesterday (Friday)we took the orphans out for ice cream, later in the afternoon we played octaball for a couple hours. They are all catching on really fast to this game. Afterwards Krystle and I went to the Deli Mart and bought chicken and french fries, then came back and had big party while watching 'Annie' the movie. We all had a lot of fun that day!!

I wanted to thank you all for praying over all the concrete work for George's room, God provided for the need. It was a great blessing for him. And now we find out this is going to be used as the office for Ethan to do all his clinic work. It's truly amazing how the Lord works. While I've been here in Haiti it has brought a whole new meaning to the scripture that says "ask anything in My name and the Father will give it to you". I've had to learn to truly lean on the Lord for stuff here. I can't just run off to work and make money to buy whatever I need or want to do, it doesn't work that way. In the past I've tried very hard to ask God for a really nice car and lots of money, but for some reason He still puts it on the back burner!

I'm getting really excited to see all of you soon. However, in a lot of ways I'm really sad to be leaving and coming home, I have developed deep friendships with quite a few people down here! I'm also struggling trying to figure out how to enter back into the American culture, maybe even a little fearful. For all of you life has gone on other then the fact that Krystle and I have disappeared off your radar scanner. As for Krystle and I, we are forever changed after this experience, there's no going back now, no rewinding the clock. I find myself even a little bitter with some of the big flaws in our American culture. Sure I know that every country has its flaws, but still we are so blessed it's not even funny. I've been pondering the question of what would happen if we lost it all. Our house's, jobs, money, maybe even family, what would we have left, would we be happy or devastated by what remains? Are you happy with the legacy that you've left so far, or do you want more? I can now relate to how the apostle's felt in the Bible! They got it, without Jesus what do we have? Nothing! When we lose it all without Jesus we have nothing in life, only time wasted in treasure that can disappear at any moment in time. I can also understand why these truly blessed and amazing people go to noon prayer everyday for hours praying to God to give them strength to continue on with their lives, as poor as some of these people are, they have found true riches, riches that most American's will never truly be able to comprehend. Till we lose it all!

Sorry you all have to deal with my feelings tonight, but what I speak is only the truth about what I feel. I ask that you all to continue to pray for Krystle and I as we are soon getting ready to leave and come back home. Pray that God will give us strength and courage to battle the culture shock that we have waiting for us at home! That Krystle and I will find peace with our newly transformed lives. That God will continue to bless the work in Haiti, and Haiti as a Country. Continue to pray for the team as they start their week long journey tomorrow afternoon. Blessings to all from Haiti. Kelly

Saturday, March 24, 2012

All Things New (Ethan VanTil)


As I sit here and write this, looking out my window, I see a spring landscape bursting with green and splashed with colorful blossoms. Recently we were in the grip of a devastating winter storm which knocked out power for tens of thousands of homes and brought down even large trees everywhere. Amazingly, not too long after, we had several glorious days of record warm temperatures into the eighties. What was once a cold, dark, snowy, and desolate landscape was transformed into a vibrant, bright, and beautiful place. A new place.

For some reason, the current team members have been drawn to C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia as sort of theme, an imaginary backdrop for this trip. In it, adventurous children journey from our world into a new one, Narnia. They find that Narnia is under a cold, perpetually wintry siege by an evil witch. The children join forces with friendly beasts, find their courage, and meet the Great Lion Aslan, the rightful King of Narnia, the Son of the Ruler Beyond the Sea. With His arrival spring comes to Narnia. However, because of one of the children’s treachery, Aslan must turn himself over to the witch to be killed, fulfilling the lawful demands of Narnia’s magic. All is apparently lost…until Aslan returns to life through the even greater power of His willing sacrifice. He leads the children and the beasts to victory against the witch and her forces. Along the way to triumph, He breathes on creatures turned to stone by the witch, bringing them back to life.

Of course, this is all just a story. Or is it? Our hearts, our world--Haiti included--ait-are under the cold dark curse of sin and evil. When we look inside and out, we see failures and suffering. We feel guilt and regret. We long for something better, Someone better, to be our Hero, our Aslan, our Savior, our King. Someone who can defeat evil and the death that comes with it. Someone who can make us, and all things, new.

I write to bring you good news—the best news. I have met this Someone, this Aslan, and His name is Jesus. He’s the reason I am going to Haiti. I’m Ethan, the latest Haiti team member, and I am so very grateful that the Pastor has invited me along on this adventure.   Through the highs and the lows, the successes and the disappointments, the laughter and the frustration, the Lord Jesus will carry us and will breathe life into hearts of stone. Hearts for now, as even our best efforts will never erase the suffering, but absolutely everything in the end. He will make all things new.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Refrigerator (Pastor)

As we chatted for a few with the kids tonight, we are all looking forward to the upcoming reuniting of our family in just 4 days. They are full of stories and insights, culture and characters, of victories and defeats. So much to say, but so little time. Beth has been cleaning and readying the house for their return. At one point she turned the camera on the little FaceTime app around to give them a glimpse of her work and the house. It was fun to listen to them revel in the rooms they have not seen for months. As she ended their little tour in the kitchen Kelly said, "hey, what's in the refrigerator?" Beth advised him that there wasn't much, we have had little in stock since they have been gone. But now Krystle chimed in and asked as well. We pulled the doors open for them and really, there wasn't much in the refrigerator...at least from our perspective! Suddenly there were excited exchanges taking place between brother and sister. "Oh," says Krystle, "there's mustard!" Kelly says, "there's Ketchup!" "There's tomato's! There's eggs! There's hamburger!" And the delight on the other end of the phone was palpable, and the listing continued. I'm looking at an empty refrigerator for our house, but they see something different. As I close the doors, they both say, "open it back up!" I was struck once again by perspective. Stripped of a refrigerator for 3 months, keeping stuff cold only with ice in a cooler which has been pretty much drinks only, they could see what I could not, they appreciated what to me was nothing. It's going to be quite a change for my kids coming home, and quite a change again for me, I will get to breathe the fresh air of a different view of our culture and "stuff".  We are grateful our kids have been brave enough, strong enough, and loved these people enough to set themselves aside at this age in their lives to go and minister while separating from so many luxuries they didn't even realize they had. They are beginning to open up and share things that they couldn't really afford to talk about just to be able to survive from day to day. Sharing the shattering and devastation they felt as the team left and they stayed behind, of when their Grandpa came and once again left them behind. As we were finishing up, I said to them, imagine what it's like to be dropped at an orphanage at age six and never to return to the life you had known. Such was the dilemma of Robinson, our Haitian pastor, Orphanage director, and leader of all the ministries we are engaged in Haiti. They were both shaking their heads. I was too, because even I was receiving fresh perspective tonight through my kids. I am ungrateful! Not intentionally, not on purpose, but because I take it all for granted. We all do, until something is stripped away, we are prone not to see or appreciate it. Relationships, family, cars, homes, food, pets, stores, jobs,... the list is endless. For me on so many levels, as I have worked and sacrificed to help Robinson help his people, I often come away feeling like I'm the one who has been helped the most. A culture with nothing, through it's suffering and pain, rebukes me for taking all I have for granted. So the next time you grab that refrigerator door and pull it open, and groan and mutter about the lack of contents, remember this post, take a second look, get a new perspective, for in reality, you are looking at far more than most of the world. I'm working on being more grateful for less! After a few minutes with my kids tonight, a few thousand miles apart, I found out I still have a long ways to go! Blessings Always!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Projects

Greetings everyone! The past couple of days have been rough to say the least. I came down with a flu bug on Tuesday and then passed it off to Kelly Wednesday, so we have been a couple of very sick Americans! Lol! We have been laying low all week now and plan to do so through the weekend. It would be awful for someone from the team to come and get sick, so we want to make sure it is completely gone! One good thing is that even though Kelly and I have been out of it, the two projects at the church have been moving forward. I think the mason is finishing up the floor upstairs in the guard house and it should be dry enough to start moving stuff back up there tomorrow, it really looks nice now! The power is on today so the welder was over at the church putting the railing, grates for the windows and the big lock up gate in. The team will be surprised to see all the changes when they get here!

Kelly and I have been talking about how we are going to spend our last week here. There are lots of projects to do and some little things to get done for the team, but we both decided we are clearing our schedules of everything except what is most important. We want to spend this coming week making good memories with all the orphans, family and church people. I think we will go home sorry if we were just working like crazy to get "projects" done. When we go home it's not important to me if people remember who built the octaball court, I want them to remember all the fun times that we had together playing in it! So in ways, this coming week will be relaxed because it will not be physically draining, however, I know in some ways it will be worse because it will be emotionally draining. Even though we aren't leaving Haiti in just over a week things are going to change drastically when the team arrives. Pray specifically for the orphans because we have to tell them soon that we are going to leave next week to stay with the team, and this time we aren't staying here when they go home. I know it will be hard because they have experienced so much loss in their young lives, pray that instead of pulling away like the Haitian culture does, that instead they stay close to us and enjoy themselves with the time we have left to spend together! We love you all and you will continue to be in our prayers! Love always,

Krystle

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happiness (Krystle)

Greetings from Haiti everyone! 15 days to go, but I feel like it might actually be possible to make everything happen before the team gets here! After breaking our backs getting things done last week I think everything is going to be much more manageable for the next while. We are very tired from working so hard, but I must say I think we feel pretty proud that we were able to do what we have done! Yesterday afternoon we literally just sat and watched movies on Kelly's iPad and read books all day! We even got to talk to a bunch of our family last evening! A very special treat! We are back to getting things done today but we aren't as pressed anymore.

I wanted to share a story from Saturday morning that really touched my heart! That was the day all the guys were working on the electrical work at the church. I was once again working on one of my lists and Robinson decided it was a good time to go and get something done I needed help with. So we went and did that, and when we got back to the church I remembered I needed to take Kelly's clothes for Sunday morning to the dry cleaners. I ran inside quick, got a little money from Kelly, then Rob and I went to take care of the dry cleaning. There is a little bakery between Robs house and the church that sells all kinds of little baked treats, often we will stop by and pick up something little for breakfast because it is usually inexpensive. The best thing though is that they got an ice cream machine right before Kelly and I got here, so our favorite thing to do is stop for a cup of ice cream! On the way back from the dry cleaners we stopped by the bakery to see if they had power, and if we could grab some ice cream! They did! We got three ice creams so I could take one back for Kelly. I was sitting in the car holding two melting ice creams and Rob was driving with one hand holding his ice cream! Lol! Then he handed me the leftover money to give to Kelly when we got back, needless to say, we had our hands full! When we got to the church I hopped right out of the car to get Kelly his ice cream because it was melting all over. A little street girl was standing there smiling and gave me a big hug as I was trying to make my way inside but I managed to not spill it all over! Lol! Kelly was happy so we took a break and sat down to eat it and talk for a couple of minutes. Rob came in a minute later after parking the car and he asked where the money was he had given me. I couldn't remember! He went outside to look and I was rummaging around in my purse because I have NEVER lost money while here in Haiti! He came in a couple of minutes later with the little girl from out in the street following behind him. He explained to me that I must have set the money on my lap and when I had gotten out it fell out onto the street. The little girl found it and when he came out looking for it she returned it to him saying what had happened. In the end it was not very much money, 250 Goudas which is just over 6 dollars American, but when I looked at this little malnourished girl with orange hair I realized how big of her it was to return this money that might have been her only hope for a meal that day. I gave her a big hug and had Rob translate how grateful I was that she had returned it, what a wonderful little girl I thought she was, and how blessings were going to come her way if she kept doing what she was supposed to. Then I asked Rob if we could give her the money or what we should do, so he took part of the money and bought her a whole armload of water, crackers and special treats!  She was SO happy and grateful! I felt bad that I had dropped the money in the first place but then I thought of how God had actually used my big mistake to bless this beautiful little girl. I am so thankful for such an awesome and all knowing God! If I had had my choice at that moment I wouldn't have dropped the money but then that little girl wouldn't have gotten that chance to make a good choice that will influence her life forever!
 
Now we will see what other great things God has in store for this week! Pray that we will get everything accomplished that needs to be! Keep the Haiti team in your prayers as the time is drawing near for them to leave, I know how the devil fights people getting ready to come on these trips! We love and miss you all, stay safe! Love and prayers being sent your way always! Krystle

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Overacheivers (Kelly)

Hey everyone, I know its been a while since I last wrote a blog, so please forgive me. I've been really busy working down here,  especialy when grandpa came. I've had many projects going on, been helping to quell many needs as they arise in the church and the orphanage, and helping Krystle with extracting the information that our Doctor is requesting to come down here and help treat people. That said, honestly Krystle has done most of that work. In fact I, without Krystle being down here there would be no lists, hardly any blogs as you can see, for I have not written much. She takes care of returning all the emails. If it involves mail, lists, taking notes, or blogging she's on it like fuzz on a peach, and on top of that, add private cook to the list! I like to refer to Krystle as my personal secretary, and not just any personal secretary, that award-winning poster dream-girl personal secretary!! AND SHE'S ALL MINE!!!!!!

Over the course of the past 2 weeks I've been working on building a storage lock up for tools, pipe and whatever else can handle the outdoor weather, Krystle and I have been working on building the octaball court, which I thought would be pretty simple to build... if you can buy enough screws to put it together! So far we've built 5 walls with 3 to go. As I said earlier, I've been helping Krystle with the lists for the doctor, been working on repairing the old sound system for the church via extreme air dusting and major cleaning. This weekend I'm doing a major electrical job at the church where I'll be roping Krystle in to help to (she won't know until she reads this post)! :-) Today we payed a welder to make up a railing for the church stairs, 2 window grates, and big gate for the lock up. We also bought a new cell phone for Pierre Paul, a young man who helps Rob with running errands, making deliveries of the orphans, and other miscellaneous needs for him and us. That's the raps on up, and what's been going on with all the projects in progress!

A little word of encouragement we received the other night I wanted to share with all our folks back home. When Krystle and I went to YWAM, they had a guest pastor there on a short term missions trip. He preached from Acts 3:1-26 and Acts 4:1-22. What stood out to me was Acts 3:1-10 about the cripple at the Beautiful gate when Peter and John came walking by. They told the man to look at them, so the man looked at them thinking that they were going to give him money. But Peter told the man, I have no silver or gold to give you, but I do have something else to give you. By the power of Jesus Christ stand up and walk! The lesson for me was this; we don't need lots of money, or big church buildings, or great pastors that give thunderous awe-inspiring, very moving messages Sunday after Sunday to help build the kingdom, though it can sure help a lot!! But what we do need is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus. With Jesus in our life's and truly following and giving him 150% goes a lifetime. It doesn't matter how much money you have, or what you bring to the table as long as your ready to serve. God will provide all rest of the materials for building the kingdom, not you:) He's a Very Big God with Very Big Plans for Man Kind, so watch out. I hope this is an encouragement to you back home too, I know it was for me. Remember Jesus will change the world, not you!!

I would ask that you also keep Krystle and I in your prayers as the trip is rapidly coming to halt for us. It's been getting very crazy the closer it gets to the team coming. I feel at times that Krystle and I are getting to our wits end, so continue to pray that God gives us rest and strength to keep on giving our 150%. Honestly, there are days we wake up and feel like throwing in the towel. But by God's grace we find someway back and land on course! I would also ask you to join me in praying about some concrete and ceiling work in the guard house at the church that I feel needs to be finished up. God has really laid this on my heart so I would ask that you help me pray that He will help provide the needs in His perfect timing. Blessings to all from Haiti.  Kelly

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Impermanent

It's another beautiful day in Haiti! You all probably just read that sentence in disgust considering all of Traverse City is buried under snow, but it really has been nice here the past couple of days, not so hot and humid like usual. We are officially back to the orphanage and having a great time, I must say, I didn't realize how much I missed everyone! Sunday afternoon might have been the best time Kelly and I have had in Haiti yet! Manius and I were going through the kids files to find out birth dates for these lists I have been making, and when I was writing down Kenley's information, imagine my surprise to see that his birthday was that day!!! Birthdays are not really celebrated here, at least not often. If you think about it though, there is no money to do anything, you don't have money for food, or a cake, or decorations. Kelly and I determined we were going to make sure Kenley got a party because it might be the only party he will ever get! While the kids were all busy, Kelly and I sneaked off to the Deli Mart to get some stuff. We ended up getting pizza, a ton of chicken wings, and a big birthday cake. When we got back and told Kenley we were having a party for him, he was SO excited! So we rounded up all of the kids, Junie, Manius, Catherine, and Boo-boo to start the evening with all the good food and some Beethoven (the movie). After dinner while the kids were still watching the movie we got all the young people into the kitchen, then paraded back out to the dining room with his cake singing happy birthday at the top of our lungs! Lol! It was the best, and only made better because it was the first time Boo-boo had ever had cake! You talk about hilarious! He was crawling all over the table trying to take the cake off everyone's plates and he was covered in it! We spent the rest of the evening watching movies and playing with balloons. I know it doesn't sound like much, but to these kids it was the most exciting party they have been to! I thank God for all these special moments He makes for us! I mean really, what are the chances of me going through the kid's files on Kenley's birthday and finding that out? It's a total God thing, and He is so great! I know I keep talking about how time is flying by and everyone's getting tired of hearing it, however, it seems like such a big part of this trip as crazy as that may sound! I thought three months was going to be a life time and it feels like that at times, but now that I look back realizing we have been here for over two months it doesn't feel long anymore. I have always felt how impermanent life is because of my battles with cancer early on, but even I start taking this time God has given me for granted. We have such a short time to get out there, live life and share God's wonderful news with all of the world and I never want to waste one second of it feeling sorry for myself, crying over things that don't even deserve a second thought, or anything else unimportant! So even though it's cold and snowy and a lot of you don't even have electricity, don't waste this time but reach out! You never know how you will speak to someone by helping shovel out their drive way or uncovering their car. Know that you are all in my prayers, stay safe and I can't wait to see everyone! Love and blessings always! Krystle