Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I must confess writing over the last few days has made me miss my normal routine. Words hold a certain fascination for me, so much of thought can be gloriously shared through the proper construct of words. I am ever striving to work with words, I am a work in progress! Authors with great command of vocabulary quickly move up to the top of my favorites list. The drive of my work schedule and pastoral routines deprive me of time to devote to my writing discipline. Writing is work, and often when your tired you can't get the words to line up right on the page! But Haiti drives my fingers to the keys, a story must be told, I feel compelled to give the voiceless a tongue, to give the impoverished a platform from which to be heard. To speak of destitute children, to caress their struggle onto a page where they are no longer lost among so much generalized suffering, to write their story on the pages of history. How will history be altered, and a new generation with new hope be inspired, part of it will be in the words that are penned to study the success and failures of a culture. Most of it will be because of people acting on truth with conviction, most of it will be a combined effort, where people learn from each other the lessons of truth God bears out in our lives. I remain a student of the Haitian culture, so many Americans race in and try to Americanize this place, but with disastrous results. We must come to this place with humility, as they suffer in certain areas of ignorance, so do we. In sounding out each other's lives, therein lies the secret of God's revelatory plan. He puts us together, we must learn to deeply love and respect each other's way of life, and in so doing, find the freedom to bring healing to us all. For we are all broken, the fabric of our dreams tattered and torn with reckless abandon by this thing we call life. There is joy in the journey, part of the joy is we need not journey alone. As we took off from Miami this afternoon I struck up a small conversation with a lady about my age. In the mini discussion that followed where we shared general travel information, when I stated I was coming home from Haiti, she looked into my face and declared "Thank you!" She told me how grateful she was I was giving my time and efforts to help there. I was taken aback, I have never had that happen before. So then I started my quest to see where such a gratitude had originated. Turns out years ago she served for three years aboard the original "Mercy Ship". Life has handed her disappointments and she is far from that place of service today. So I encouraged her to not give up on her dreams, and wished her well as we debarked the plane. I new sense of gratitude came over me for the second time today, that in the turns of my life, they have lead me here, God has brought me here. I have a people's story to share, and I do with fervor. And not just the Haitians story, but the stories of lives here at home finding redemption. Whatever difference God should chose to make through this unworthy vessel, let that difference be made. These last few days have inspired me, difficult, yes, but worth it. As I sat in the terminal this morning I watched an old Haitian woman in a wheel chair take to a terrible coughing fit. I watched the airport service personnel in charge of her give her no heed, no one did anything, but then I did. I went and offered her the only thing I could, a cold cup of water. She looked at me with such grateful eyes. It was the capstone moment of a week watching people struggle without water. The only language we shared was the language of the heart, but we understood each other clearly. I was no longer in St. Marc, I had the proclivity to be thinking my mission was over, but God bumped me from the rear and said "what are you thinking?" Always be ready and watching for your opportunity to share compassion, you don't need to board the "Mercy Ship" or fly to a far away country, most opportunities are right in the same room you are, you already possess your gift to share, you just need to share it. As we do what we should, culture is shifted and changed toward the good. Working together I expect God to bring change to Haiti in His time, I need to stay patient, and not worry about the pace of the change, I just need to stay faithful to the process! Blessings from Chicago!


The canvas of my life has this ruddy feel to it. I rather like a smooth texture, but i suppose then the picture doesn't have the depth God desires to see. Painting through my life day to day draws brush strokes down into deep places in my life and then up across high points of ecstasy. Who would have thought one of those high points for me today would be a simple glass of orange juice! I was obviously up early, I guess the unease of missing a flight or a crammed ride back to Port left me restless another night, but whatever it was it was part of a deep stroke of the brush pulling along a valley, perhaps a depression in the in the canvas that was refusing paint! I wished for a calmer night, but I must not be in control of my emotions enough to sleep through certain venues. The barking dogs above the din of the generator added to the misery of the darkness that should have brought sleep. But dawn broke again and with it fresh enthusiasm, Booboo stepped into the doorway and lit my morning with his huge award winning smile that washed away vague memories of the nighttime misery that were already fading with the gray of the morning. As we drove along the route to Port the windows were down as there was no air-conditioning in the little Isuzu that was our ride, diesel fumes were so strong it gave me a headache. Electricity was never on for my entire trip this time, so generators had to run if we were to be able to run lights and work in the dark. Sometimes the still hot air allowed the fumes to hang in the porch, and I think that wore on my system a little. That and the fact that our little generator's rings are getting tired and it smokes a little. As we entered the Airport Terminal, a way of gratitude swept over me, thankfulness for being able to be in Haiti again, thankfulness to be able to return home, thankful for all the lives we are able to impact with love and generosity. Just as we went to leave, the city gave a little water again, just as they had late in the night of my arrival, it was if a benediction was being spoken, all the water I might have used from Rob and Naromie was returned to them in double bonus. You have to know we are the lucky ones, this water is coming out of a lower reservoir that can no longer feed the entire city, and Rob is in a low place in town, we received water this morning where as thousands of others won't. A lighter brush stroke to my day again. I think this day will be lighter strokes in general, Rob forgot his passport so he couldn't come into the airport with me, our good-bye was the shortest ever, they dropped me at the door and were gone, I never even saw them drive away. But the good-byes are a little easier now, internet and phone and data have widened the window through which our connection grows. The view of Haiti as we took to the air and looking down is not as daunting as it once was either, no longer quite as surreal. As my bonds with the county and the people grow, so grows my affection, and God continues to use it to paint mixed colors of different hues I never expected to see in my life, but which I am becoming more thankful for with each passing day. What a glorious day this is! Blessings my friends!


The gray of morning sky is creeping into the porch. Last night was a restless night filled with remembering all the last minute things I will share on my way out of the country with my friend and fellow-laborer in this ministry endeavor. All the sleepless and restless moments are worth it though. I am always grateful at the end of the day for my home in my country. By tonight I should be in my own comfortable bed, but this family for the most part sleeps on the floor. The heat on the inside bedroom makes it unusable for even the Haitians who are used to it. In just a few more minutes Booboo will rise for the day and this place will come alive with his laughter and zest for life. He is the littlest of our orphans, and he calls Rob and Naromie mama and papa. What joy his little life has brought. I fed him mac and cheese last night and he sang Happy Birthday to me switching back and forth between French and English, not bad I think for a 3 year old. He had an accident last night and wet his britches, some got on the floor and the next thing I know he is carrying the mop out and mopping up after himself! I thought I would lose it, how many 3 years olds do you see doing that! Now the sky is shifting to blue, a beautiful blue! The ground beneath us here is pocked with sewer and litter, gray rocks and brown dirt stretch for miles, but look up and raw beauty is smiling down on you. Up looks like your noteworthy Caribbean vacation hotspot. It's a good reminder to me this morning to keep my gaze ever upward in my heart as well! Great things are happening, we just have to keep our eyes fixed on the right thing. Time to hit the road home, I am grateful again for the journey of life that has once again brought me here! Blessing until later!

Monday, November 4, 2013


"Pastor, we are going to die!" That was the words from the neighbor lady this hot afternoon. "We have no water." I said to Rob, order a tanker truck of water to fill your cistern and give her water. He told her what we would do, and she came running over to give him a hug. She said "Pastor, you can never leave our neighborhood, we will lay down at the end of the street and you will have to kill us to leave!" Such a little thing, but maybe you can see how big the water issue has gotten. There are lines of people all over the city, people have started businesses selling buckets of water. They had to go after a crowd of people today with tear gas and baton's. It's turning into a little war for some. The government is focused on the upcoming election, so there is little they are going to do to resolve this right now. But on the brighter side we delivered a hand pump to some very grateful Americans who are going to hopefully have it set up by tonight or tomorrow so a team of Americans coming down can hand pump their water instead of bucketing it for their uses! My teams can take heart at the fact they have never had to bucket their water, and they thought they had it tough!! I shared a lot of knowledge with them, and they were so grateful as they drove away, not sure I've met happier Americans down here than them. One couple has been here for 7 years bucketing all their water! How's that for a perspective setter. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to hear another complaint from a team member again! Get out the iron britches to come here, or you better just stay home. This will change your life, but get ready, because you just don't know how much!
I held several meetings today, good meetings, a little painful, but good all the same. I spoke of vision, and direction, and warnings to leaders and staff alike. All listened and thanked me, but then again what are they going to do, I have them strapped over the proverbial barrel. But without vision the people perish, and this is a very perishing place. Yesterday a man perished digging a well by hand, he was 75' down in the ground and ran out of oxygen and died. Pastor Isa's dad fell from a banana tree a couple weeks ago and died a week later. It's a hard country, and these are hardened people to take the brutality of it all, but they are just people, and they do die. Pray protection over our leaders, they live on a very ragged edge, they are wary and savvy in the ways of the country, but they too are human!
Tonight is my last night here for this trip, I am grateful for what I was able to accomplish, we met the mechanic tonight and the head for the Toyota engine is at the machine shop in Port. They are trying to have it done by Wednesday, and the mechanic said he would go early Thursday, come back with it and hopefully have it running by Thursday evening or Friday. Lord willing that happens. I would like it done by the weekend. It turned out to be a much bigger project than we expected, but it is getting fixed, we know what the problem was, and that can be the biggest mystery to solve. I showed the truck to another American today who was interested in the work we were having done, he was really impressed with the vehicle! We are blessed to have such a great mode of transportation in service here, and soon it will be even better than it was. It will give us a solid time of service going forward.
Time to sign off and hit the bed-sack, or bed tent should I say. Tomorrow will bring another wave of travel, spinning me through timezones and warping me back into my other world. It will be good to be home, but I am already making plans for my next trip back. I don't feel my work here is yet done, so onward and forward we go. Thanks for all the kind words in the comments, for the texts that were able to slip through and the occasional email as well. There are a few technical bugs we are resolving, and next trip in should see smoother outgoing communication again, we will be served up 4G speed next time!! Oh yeah baby! Over and out for tonight, sweeping toward morning I go. Homeward bound! Blessings again from St. Marc! Sequels to follow, stay tuned!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Sunday morning in Haiti. What a rush! It's become my greatest payoff in my visits into the country. I love worship with the Haitians. They come with no expectations except to worship. They don't care what seat they get to sit in, how near or far they are from the platform, they don't whine about the heat or the music, they sit with rapt attention to the reading of the word, even if it's 30 minutes long. They come looking their best, and what a time of rejoicing they have together. I preached a message called "Rara of the Heart" today, warning against hypocrisy, for it exists to one degree or another in every culture. Our church is growing so fast, I felt prompted to warn against a "me better than thee" mentality that could spawn and grow. They received it well. They have let me know they miss the team, but they understand my mission, they all know how important that crazy Toyota is to both us and them. There are certain things I have gone to do, but then have had to say to Rob, "Oh, we can't do that, we don't have the truck!" He shrugs his shoulders, smiles, and says, "Yes, it is difficult." Difficult, difficult, difficult. Really? But then I find an orphanage that is bucketing all their water from a hand dug well. Hours and hours getting a gallon at a time from 14' down in the ground. Do I have any idea what difficult is! Tomorrow they get a hand pump from me, and they are so excited, they can hardly stand it. I am looking forward to speed improvements with the new iPad Air and they are excited about being able to hand pump water instead of bucketing it out of the ground. I think I'm suffering a terrible disconnect. I know, I'm typing up the blogs and communicating and fixing technology, but I can't get too plugged up with the non-essential. I must not, too much important stuff hangs in the balance. We find our ways to justify the means, but then a center line is dropped by God in our lives, and we have to see what measures up straight, and what has gone crooked.
Tonight I sit here at the house alone. Everyone is gone, this has never happened! Home alone! Home alone in Haiti! The generator purrs away in the background, the fan blows warm air across my sweating flesh, and I listen. 'Ears to hear' Jesus said, can I hear what I am supposed to. I spent awhile talking with the orphans today. Don't know why, but today was my 'tough love' speech day. Maybe after today they won't want me back in Haiti, but I have to say the important things along with the easy things. The kids listened intently, and gave me warm hugs as I left. We have some really precious gifts in these kids, and we are going to do our best to give them good lives! But as they listened, I also listened, I listened to their faces, their eyes, their actions and reactions. People speak, but so often they go unheard. Children suffer in silence, and these have suffered much. They suffer still, boldly with great resilience they face each day with a quiet hope that somehow their life will come right again. But that won't ever make their parent's live again, a new life has to be found, and we are trying to light that pathway for them, that they might find God and live! It's not as simple as it seems either. We will keep listening and loving, living and learning together. Sowing today, reaping later. A harvest is coming, it will be a very rewarding day!
So it's not all quiet, with the generator running, the neighbors are keeping me busy charging phones! lol The lights are on and somebody is home, and somebody can plug in the phones. That somebody would be yours truly. But Rob left orders no one was to get their phones back before he comes back tonight, he's afraid I will give someone's phone to the wrong person! And I just might, it's hard for me to tell the difference in all the dark faces!!
One more day and I head back home. I am feeling the sting of leaving again, but it will be easier this time because I'm going home to my family instead of having to pull them home with their tears and sorrow of having to leave these amazing people with me. I feel a thread of accomplishment settling over me, my mission is His mission, I get done what He allows, there is much to do, but He gets to say when is enough. It is wisdom I have come to understand about my journey into Haiti, it is what allows me to keep coming back. It is a lesson I learned when God first sat me down here and made me sit for 8 days. I refuse to forget that lesson, and I am spurred on today in the remembrance that sometimes I am only needed to set a plan in motion, and then He does the rest! I take the necessary step of faith, and am rewarded with more light to share with those in darkness. So I end this rather lengthy ramble tonight, I am full of stories, but it will take more words than you likely have time to spare right now! Blessings always!

P.S. Perhaps the most rewarding thing for our teams to hear from today's headlines: "Big Boy" as we like to call the neighborhood guard, is going to come to church! I met with him today, and he's ready to come home to God! He actually came looking for me two days in a row. He needs church clothes, so you have your mission should you choose to accept. I have sizes, we are going to hook him up! All you who have shared hugs and kind words, we have shattered his big frame with the love of God, and he can't stand not being on the inside anymore! Another great moment in my trip was to sit across from him and share the love of God today! Rejoice and be glad!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Behold another day slips beneath with a fading horizon. I sit here grateful tonight for all the mercies of my life. Today's activities inserted me into a bit of the Haitian underworld I have never experienced. Sometimes you only think you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes, today I actually did. I went shopping with a real Haitian woman in her shopping world, and got my socks blown off. It was surreal, and real, and unbelievable. Our American ladies have so much to be thankful for when they head off to the shopping marketplace. Some things I never want to forget, somethings I would rather never remember. Sights and sounds and smells ripped through my senses, and left me a little senseless! So many stark contrasts again today. It's like I get to see it all over again from yet another diverse angle. How many times and ways can a culture be observed, and to what end. That I further exclaim my thanks to God for my place in life? Or that I come to another deeper understanding of contentment regarding my place in life? Too many questions, not enough answers.
The stunning reality is the capacity for endurance by the human heart. And not just to survive, but to somehow rise above the circumstances and smile, sing, and taunt the savagery of a land! To bury its cruel head in the muck and mire of its own cunning brutality, and instead share hope and joy with each other. I watched in this deep underworld as Robinson lowered his glasses and said I am going to play a prank on a woman from the church. She obviously didn't expect to see him in this unique woman's world, I watched with curiosity as he approached her little stand and bent over to inquire about a product she was marketing, and the crazy surprise that lit her face when he lifted his head, while raising his glasses and she recognized him. I captured that moment in my minds eyes. The delight and joy that exuded from this private place that left me feeling out of place. Like this was a cultures right to privacy and I an inadequate stranger allowed in by a unique turn of events of which I was really unworthy. I am beholden to a goodness I don't fully understand. The depravity of the circumstance would deny the exchange I witnessed by my own code of sanitation.
Today also brought light upon the mechanical failure in the Toyota. A blown head gasket between four cylinders is the culprit. As of tonight the engine is totally taken apart, all the parts have been cleaned for reinstallation, and the head will go to Port on Monday to be machined, the valves will be checked and repaired, and Wednesday or Thursday should see our needed vehicle road worthy again. Stronger and better than before. I am so grateful for all the little but massively important things God has brought together for this trip. I feel at great peace tonight. I am getting better and better at this drill. You might have expected I would be a pro at this point in this labor of faith and love, but God keeps dropping me behind enemy lines with just a little less ammunition than I would hope for! All you mighty giants of faith may not be able to relate, but my testing is my own I guess, I'm just being candid and truthful.
I ran across another American in a store tonight, he has been living here for two years. He and his wife just had a baby here three months ago, and the water situation has affected them with great difficulty. They are borrowing water from a hand dug well, and bucket with a one gallon pail every drop of water. They are using cloth diapers for their new born, and he says it feels like all he does is carry water. When he found out I was a Water Well driller he asked if I had ever seen any hand pumps and where he might find one down here. He couldn't find any. We have two or three stored at the church! I am going to get him one Monday and change their lives! It's just simply amazing how God works. I told him how amazing in the middle of a different universe that our paths would cross, another God moment in my day. The day was packed with them, take a leap of faith and be prepared to land a world away, for when God is in your jump, there is no telling how far you will go, how far He will take you. His day-timing crossed our paths at just the right moment for us to meet. Who said I ran behind or ahead today, running on God's clock, I was right on time! Matter of fact, when I come to Haiti, I stop looking at my watch, it just discourages me in my driving need to meet deadlines. Haiti has no deadlines. You may end up dead in a line, but to try to push your way through will kill you with stress.
I watched as a crowd waited outside the church for water, patiently they stood there, quietly hopeful that their buckets would find water for their meager existence. I passed a truck being filled with water for distribution this afternoon and children, maybe 6-8 of them were under the belly of the truck capturing the drips of the leaking tank! This bombardment of my mind and understanding is at times almost more than I can bear. How vile my ways and demands when these little ones wait for the crumbs from under the table, mere drips, but not one drip wasted. Think twice about those helpings of food or drink you toss away in your affluence tonight, some child in a land not to far removed from your own suffers for but a crumb from under our tables. And we grumble and complain for what?
I guess enough said for tonight. I am grateful to be able to see myself in the true light sometimes, this has been a good trip for calloused eyes, you don't realize your building them until they get torn and the tender skin below is exposed, perhaps the callouses serve us well for a season, my hands have been grateful on more than one occasion for the added protection, but it often leave one desensitized on another level where tenderness better serves the needs. So away with the callouses, I accept the pain of their removal with generosity, for I want to feel along with these people, that I may better help in the ways I'm meant to help as God commissions me on this journey. Blessings always my reading friends!

Friday, November 1, 2013


Where to start. A blistering hot day working over a stubborn motor, no time to eat, and when I could, I had to cook for myself. Naromie asked at one point, is that enough? I laughed out loud. But my dear Haitian family is constantly watching over me, as I worked they wired up a tarp to shade me from the sun, they kept bringing me my drinks, and I survived! I have actually missed a team more than I thought, but it has given me some unexpected moments to share and get into people's lives at a different level.
It was a delight to get a window into Rob and Naromie's wedded life tonight. I watched with curiosity as they shared who knows what, because I can't understand a lick of Creole, but the light in their eyes toward each other was something we don't catch so often when the entire team is around with all our demands for care!
Naromie went with her mom and 18 other married women from the church on an evangelization trip to the mountain this morning telling folks about Jesus. They were gone from before I was up until noon. I asked her how many people they talked to and she said many! I have to be honest, I was a little in awe. I have Naromie tagged as a lot of things, but she is in love with Christ, and bold!! Those were actually not on my list until today!
I on the other hand slaved over a very testy Toyota, should have suspected as much, me being a Ford guy and all. But I found some really good help, a gifted little mechanic, who might just have had the problem pegged from when we met this morning, but he was a good sport and did all I asked, and tomorrow I think he will get his chance to prove his point! I learned early enough in my life, it's not what you know, but who. We established a good working relationship today, and it holds great promise for the future.I hope he never reads this blog, because he was so happy with what I paid he and his apprentice, but they worked with me pretty much all day, the pair of them, with great patience for $50.00 US. I can't begin to guess what a complete injector job would have cost me in the US, but $50 was a bargain, I can promise you that. And all the parts and hoses we had laying around, I was glad I was not alone! We made a good team, even though we are cultures and languages and times apart.
There was multi-tasking going on as well, and we were able to facilitate some other very important discussions as well. The water problem in St Marc has reached desperation levels, it's very sad, and the struggle to survive that is already complicated suffers another brutal ravaging with the added burden of no city water. A difficult commodity to acquire in Haiti already, becomes even more elusive. A small miracle for me happened in the night when they gave out a little, and this morning I was able to shower! I made it a super saver special, for I knew no one else here would be using it the same way. Through Robinson we are giving free water away at three well sites we have in town. It's pretty cool, so cool the people are telling Robinson he should run for Mayor! He would make a good Mayor were he not a GREAT and GIFTED preacher and pastor. I remember a pastor of old saying if God calls you to preach, never settle to be the president! I told Rob that today and he chuckled! Some sayings work in any culture, and he liked that one.
Tomorrow will start at the mattress store with the purchasing of new mattresses for the orphans, from there we will progress through a series of plans we made today, we will see what we get done. We really need a couple more motorcycles for our church leadership team, the little taxi motorbikes are okay, but are a constant drain of funds for the guys. We'll see what God provides. All in all another good day in Haiti, one thing I feed on here is their fortitude and persistence. It reminds me that "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". Something I'm a little prone to forget in my own culture! So peace and blessings to all tonight from a rainy St. Marc!


Then came the morning, or something like that. Dawn came early, and the rustle of activity stirred me awake early. The night was long and hot! Your first night in Haiti is always that way, at least mine seems that way! As I was typing up some of my thoughts last night for the blog, Rob,Naromie, and Klarissa we all playing together on the bedding spread out on the living room floor. Klarissa has just turned one, and has not seen a white person since our spring trip, I am a scary being to her right now, but she wants to like me, and after a couple of hours of working on her, she was trying to warm up. And of course Rob and Naromie want her to like me, so we are trying all kinds of little things to get her to change her perspective. It was funny to watch them work with her. And then I was lost in wonder at the joy of it all, here in the land of desperation and sacrifice people play. There is no water for the city, the hardships are too difficult to even elaborate here, and yet here is this joy and living taking place before my eyes. If we lose power for an hour in the states, its like a national emergency. Here, they just shift and adjust, and life goes on! So I will too. Going to go turn some wrenches this morning and see if we can get the Toyota road worthy again. Looking forward to what the day will bring. Today is like Halloween here, except it is a more evil celebration than back home. Lots of voodoo stuff going on later, so we will be keeping off the streets. They even close school for this, so hopefully I will have a little more time with the kids and orphans than I thought. Off to the races we go! Blessings always.