Thursday, November 12, 2015
I mentioned in my earlier post how the exchange rate between the Haitian dollar and the U.S. dollar is an ever widening gap in favor of the U.S. This is bringing even more difficulty for an already hideous economy. If you go to Haiti to find any sort of financial hope, you're in for a nasty rebuff. Could there ever be a future where this changes? Of course, but we're a long ways away from that. However, there is a currency woven into the fabric of this culture where the exchange rate favors the Haitians by a margin that makes the current dollar exchange rate look insignificant. It's the currency of relationship, and the Haitians are very rich in this area. This subject surfaced in a conversation I held with a friend tonight on the phone. Our culture is actually becoming proficient at inventing ways to drive ourselves into isolation from each other. At one point I myself was a pretty big proponent of Face Book. But it's really not socially relevant. It puts us in places of even more isolation. We are meant to be together, to be in the same space, Face Book gives us license to think its okay when we're not. I get it when we're states apart, but we have been reduced to quips and clips, not complete thoughts shared back and forth in a dialogue stream. At one point in time as we were waiting for youth service to start Sunday afternoon (which was supposed to start at 3:00 pm and didn't start until after 4:00), rather than wasting energy like his counterparts the Americans on fretting about when we should start, Robinson sat down with Claudy in chairs next to each other and proceeded to shoot the breeze for roughly 30 minutes. No stewing, no wasted energy on what they couldn't control, they literally redeemed the time in relational currency. Would to God I could get better at this. We always feel the need to fill time with some project, something that turns time into money, not one wasted minute we say, and yet in the currency of relationship, time is also gold. The mines of time in the States are swollen rich with this kind of gold, but we keep dashing past the entrances steaming our way to meet the demands of the culture to own our toys, our houses, our lands, our cars, our retirements, and then we're dead. Death claims all things material, and we pass bankrupt on the one thing that will have mattered most, relationship. Both with fellow man and God. I don't mean to be judgmental here, just to till up the soil of our hearts. I find myself in need of adjustment here all the time, and when I hit Haiti and encounter these relational people I become radically aware of my need for working on finding better balance in this area of my life. To build my treasury not in moth and rust, but in Christ and people. These are just more thoughts as I settle back into our cultural norms, trying to avoid the callouses that are prone to reappear on my heart as I race to catch back up from being gone for a week. What a dilemma we are in, finding faster ways to get things done, only to fill the time with finding yet even more faster ways to get things done. While the most important thing goes mostly undone! May God help us adjust, as we head quickly toward cultural bankruptcy in this department of currency. May He save us from our strange bent to isolation before the isolation kills us. Blessings always!
Posted by Pastor at 11:23 PM
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The leaves sparkled with icy crystal's as the crisp cold Michigan air laid down it's frosty covering in the night. As I walked out this morning heading to work I couldn't help but notice the freshness, and cleanliness as the air raced up through my sinus' and my lungs seized the life giving oxygen. This is one of the many small things I am grateful for this morning as I wake back to my first day in the States in a week. But the same sun that greeted me this morning is the same one that has greeted me some 2000 miles away each day this past week. My eyes drink in the beauty around me as I look at the canvas of the landscape that is uniquely Northern Michigan. I have often said I struggle taking in the beauty that is Haiti, my eye for details see the savagery that has happened to this tropical landscape, they see what is to be as opposed to what now is, and my heart weeps for what is. It gives me some perspective of what God sees when sin has devastated the landscape of the lives He has created, and created to be this beautiful tropic of radiance and beauty that gets raped by the destructive power of sin and corruption. But something new is happening for me in Haiti, I am beginning to see what can be again, the tapestry of what is has had a filter placed by the heart of God in my heart, so that I can see through the lens of His eye what grace is doing. And its a marvelous thing to behold. We all want things in our lives fixed instantly, the only thing promised to be fixed instantly by God is the cleansing of our heart, the rest is often a process of beauty restored across days, and months, and years. Like any restoration process, at certain times we can begin to see the end product emerging. This happened for me this trip, restoration is happening in hearts, in community, and in the country. Little things here and there. This is what's on my mind as I immerse myself again in my own culture this morning, and thought I would share. As I head for work, I'm grateful for a job, for a life calling, and for the life-giving grace of God that has not diminished one fraction in its power to redeem all that has been lost, is being lost, or is being restored! Blessings today!
Posted by Pastor at 10:30 AM
Monday, November 9, 2015
At the end of a very busy week, 4:00 am comes really early. We quickly folded up the operations center at the missions house (i.e. bug tents, mattresses, sheets, pillows, towel, etc.) and loaded the bus by just after 5:00. The political climate is a little dicey here right now, they are in an election cycle, and while they claim to be a democracy, there seems to be a lot of dictatorial style leadership going on. It seems the people are really skittish, and anxious. They are desperate for change and change continues to elude them. The Haitian dollar is plunging in value, with the results posted Thursday, we were trading money on the street for an 11.2 exchange rate! Last year it was at 7.1. It's dropped in value this week while we were there. It's the signal that fraud in the elections is actually happening. I feel bad for them, everyone on the street wants the American dollar. As we rode along in the bus this morning we came up to some taxi drivers who said the road was blocked. I could tell the bus driver was really intimidated, but Robinson told him to keep going, he said they won't stop the vehicles going to the airport. There was no road block and we had a pretty incident free trip. When we arrived at the airport, we checked in through AA kiosks, which was the first, but by the time we made it to the departure gate we slid back years as they hand searched our bags because the X-ray machine was broken. I couldn't believe it, and yet I could. That's the way Haiti is. Dan made the comment 'you have to stop feeding the fish'. In part he's right, we build them buildings they don't or won't maintain, we send them massive amounts money with no real strings attached. That's why I feel so strongly it's important we not just support them, but that we go and build connections that let us teach and instruct. Early in the trip the Toyota quit one night and Rob called to ask what he should do, I said I thought it was the alternator, he said he thought it was the battery. I said we should have the alternator checked, and he held fast that he was sure the battery was dead contending the batteries in Haiti are just not very good. I told him I would do whatever he wanted. He went out early the next morning and arrived back with a running truck. He was very pleased all day long with how it ran. Two days later Jake called from the church property and you guessed it, the truck was dead. We had the alternator rebuilt and by non Friday we were back in business. As we drove away from the mechanic we had a humorous little exchange about a memory I had had about the possibility of the alternator being bad a couple nights earlier when the truck had quit. Rob said to me, 'brother, it seems we are still learning, we have not had the same opportunities to learn'. It was actually a great moment in our relationship. I am careful to respect his culture and allow circumstances to develop for instruction rather than jumping into a telling them what to do method. To learn well, a relationship really needs to be developed between instructor and student. We are developing a deep trust with these people we are working with and now some cool changes are happening. You can't see this without the investment of time in a culture. And we don't have all the answers to all that is broken in this country. Actually there is a part of their culture that is leap years ahead of ours when it comes to relationship and interaction. But that is something I have alluded to in other posts. This was in its own way our best trip ever. This team was the smoothest team I have had on the ground yet. It may have something to do with my own personal growth as a team leader, it may have some to do with the challenges that have lessened, but I think it has more to do with this teams chemistry. Having Deloris along was like having our own personal heart salve right with us at all times. Ray was dearly missed by all, both the Americans and the Haitians suffered. But her presence lent a 'Ray' of his presence, and broken hearts everywhere have begun to mend. We will never replace him, but his memory and drive help us carry on what he labored so hard to establish. He would be so grateful for the promise of what we were finally able to do to get to the heart on one of his dear boys, Peterson. 'Grán' as they called her was at her finest. She never missed a beat, and the harmony she brought to the team was delightful. She had special plans with each of the kids, and they devoured the attention. It was tough walking away last night, Bigodson had actually cried himself to sleep and when we woke him up, he was sleepy and crying at the same time. The kids made a new attachment to us this trip. The harm of their childhood they are starting to let go of, and take the chance at love again. I told them last night as we left, that it was sad, but to remember all the great times we had shared together over the week. To soak in that joy. To truly love is to run the risk of loss, but better to have loved and love well than to have never loved at all. We risk so much on the cheap vain stuff, what's wrong with us that we won't, we don't take the risk of love. It pays the greatest of all dividends. Too many find out too late that even in spite of the fact that love hurts at times, it's the best kind of pain there is, and one day, it is going to vanish altogether. And all that will be left is only love, loss will be no more. So we are on our final leg home. A long day of travel, And we will rest our weary bodies in our own homes, and in our own beds. It's going to be what we always now expect, bittersweet. And tomorrow when we rise, it will be time to start our journey back, plans and preparations will get underway, and as God grants us opportunity, we will return, but in our absence now, a great work goes on. We are so grateful to have even a small part in this great God adventure! Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 6:31 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2015
I’ve said it before; tears are the cleansing agent of the soul. Today was the day of tears. Whether you cried on the outside, or cried on the inside, you cried. Some tears of joy, some tears of sorrow, but tears all the same. It really was the complete day. We started out early for church, and the place was more packed than I have ever witnessed. Two of our team tried their hand at Creole, and Lee took the dive and went all the way to the finish line. She spoke her whole introduction in Creole, and became the instant sensation! We spoke on the Leader Servant today, and for the first time experienced what I call dynamic translation. I told the people I felt it was the most important thing I have shared with them to date. When church was over we came back to the mission house and changed, went to the orphanage where the afternoon and evening were spent in hours of play and final clean up from the week of our invasion. And it really is an invasion. All our luggage and all the food, all the supplies, there is literally stuff every where. But things thinned out through the week and by the end here it was pretty well sifted into proper places. The house now gleams from the street, it’s the best looking house for at least a mile either way of the main road. The added strain of the day is the realization that this is the last day here. In spite of slogging through the muddy waters of the emotions of this day, everyone really enjoyed today. Perhaps there was one glimmer that had everyone longing just a little for home, it was the fact it was so terribly hot. The warmest day on the ground here this trip. But the show went on, and the hours swept by. Jake shared with the young adults this afternoon, and did an excellent job. Part of the team ganged up on Peterson, the boy whose teeth Dan pulled. He’s a great and special kid, but really lost. Dan asked at one point if this really mattered to try to help him. We love this boy deeply, he’s full of charisma, and life, but executes poor life choices. And before you get too judgmental, his life has been really tough. Krystle, Kelly, Dan, Rob and Claudy sat an poured out their hearts to him tonight. Dan really saved his life this week, well God did through his efforts, and they finally helped him to see how much we really do love him. Tonight was genuinely tender, Peterson came to tell us good-bye, tears flowing down his face, I could tell he was trying to be tough, but love has cracked his Haitian hardened heart, and I am anticipating great things out of this boy. If we can get Peterson, I think we are going to win many of these young men around us. He’s a special key to a passage into the hearts of many. I will fill in more details tomorrow as we fly. All are tucked safely into their bug tents for a few hours of rest before we hit the road at 5:00 am, and commence our travels back out and home. Pray for a safe journey, and pray the seeds sown this week by these great travelers will bring a beautiful harvest of hope! Blessings on this final night from St. Marc.
Posted by Pastor at 11:38 PM
Beneath the rubble of people’s lives, buried in the cracks and crevices of their history and the frame of their creation, there is gold. How ever much the Haitians find themselves ravaged by their poverty, stricken by their circumstance, and wasted by the savagery of this land, this gleam, this radiance pierces the darkness. As I walked along the roadway to the mission house as I have done nightly this trip, from the dark a lone voice calls out ‘Pastor Doyle’. I say ‘How are you?’ in English and the reply bounces back, ‘I am fine’. I still don’t know who it was in the darkness, but 2000 miles from home, on a dusty, filthy street in the dark, two lives connected in spite of the cultural distance between us. I hear my kids names called out a lot on the street, especially my daughters. But this moment had significance for me. The truth I have poured my life into in these trips for the Kingdom came rebounding back, and like the dribbling of a ball, it felt good to feel the ball of truth caress my being as the exchange took place back and forth between us. The Sovereign is at work, change is happening, lives are being transformed, the gold is surfacing due to the mining of love. We see it everywhere, in the hearts of our orphans, in the church, on the streets, the tolling of the bell of the freedom of the heart that cannot be stricken from us, stolen from us, or purged from us by any kind of evil is ringing, and calling like our old dinner bell mom would ring, calling the wandering, the hungry, the lost children home. As the peeling of the bell we ring sounds across this city, and to all the places we carry the confident message of the One who must be heard, we see them coming. And what a joy it is to see! Exhaustion gnaws at the team, but it’s the good kind, the kind all know who would take this journey. Our trip draws ever closer to it’s end, and the heart starts to bleed. You pump so much into the days, and the rawness is almost like a carpet burn to the heart. You share everything you have, you give all you can, and the ragged edge of service grinds away at the core of your emotions. You feel the taxation tugging, it’s not bad, but its very real. We go to preach to the people this morning, all the week comes into focus for me, it’s time to speak, and in spite of the language barrier, I pray for the success of the gospel today. I will write more later, but this is what I woke up with on my mind and wanted to share quickly. Time to clean off the night sludge, and go! Blessings to all today.
Posted by Pastor at 6:50 AM
Friday, November 6, 2015
One great thing about this team trip is our ‘pausing’ exercise. We have started out daily with a reflection and devotion time. Today was extra special as Dan shared openly and with candor during his devotional he was to present. The tenor of these moments in Haiti seem to always solidify our team endeavors and build strong bonds of connectivity that act as a binding agent for good throughout the day. It’s not something new, but something old and forgotten in our culture. Our day was grand, and much was accomplished. A profound surprise surfaced this afternoon, when I walked around the corner coming back from a run to find the painter working on the outside of the house. I was wary for a moment and asked Rob what on earth was happening. He said they are painting the house. Of course I knew that, I was the one who made the contract for the downstairs and the upstairs painting project. Inside that was! He is painting outside! Turns out the painter meant upstairs, downstairs, inside and outside, for $400.00 US! Not sure what kind of deal you American painters think this is, but I’m thinking on a building the size of our orphanage, this is the mother deal of all my Haitian deals! Our paint crew has been 3 guys strong and they are flying. It’s not the job Ray would have done, but by Haitian standards, the household is loving it. The whole house is fresh, clean, and sparkling, and soon the outside will match the inside. Apparently, and unknowingly, we bought enough paint to do the entire house, and tonight we revel in the provision of the Almighty. We have connected with our orphans on a brand new level, and the enrichment flowing both ways is a beautiful conduit of love to behold. There’s a lot of what could be called mild contact games going on, these kids are devoid of all things digital, and as I watch them dance and play with my team members, I would dare to hope for such connection in our culture again. Even Jake can rip it in the hand clapping contests! Good grief can the big guy move! And the culture is fascinated with him. The kids think he’s a football player, no matter what, to them he is an American wonder. One of the radical changes that has happened is the shift in kitchen duties. Our young Krystle and Emma are baking queens, and have stunned the team with their abilities. I ask my wife now what’s for dinner and she has no idea! People, if you know my wife, this is like a planetary shift. They have cooked it out of the ball park for real. We made our way to the book store to add to the growing library at the orphanage and purchased another big box of books, then we headed to the mountains to have a children’s service in Terre Blanche. It’s a wonder how far the children came from to be at the service today, over 150 when we had a plan for 75. The pastor was really happy, he said they had never had that many children in his church. And the difference in the reaction between the mountain children and the city kids is really remarkable. They are much more reserved, they are the toughest of the tough. We checked on a couple of our children that we have watched over across the years, and they are doing really well. We made it back just before the hardest rain storm we have experienced here in all our prior trips. What a refreshing relief it brought in cool air. As the rain poured down you could literally smell the cleansing happening to the atmosphere. For a moment you were reminded of a place where the air is so clean and breathable, a place so distant and removed from here. A place we get to call home. Robinson has had a busy week along side of our activities as a 30 year old woman from our church passed away unexpectedly and sent shock waves through the church. The funeral is in the morning, so pray for our stricken church family down here. While death is common, even here it sometimes strikes in unexpected ways, on unexpected people, at unexpected times. We helped them with the final funds needed to finish the purchase of a new and larger generator for service at the church, and so they are going to be able to start using it this weekend. We are hopeful it sheds a little hope in the midst of the darkness of death and sorrow. The vortex of time sweeps us toward the conclusion of this mission, but even as it does, much continues to happen each day, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve these delightful and amazing people. Grace and peace to all, blessings again tonight.
Posted by Pastor at 11:42 PM
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Mission accomplished! October was pastor appreciation month and I really wanted to do something different and special for my beloved Robinson. With Krystle in country two weeks early, we had information gathering time, and what surfaced was a need for a book shelf. Krystle had one constructed for the start of the building of a library and it turned out to be a stunning handcrafted piece of furniture. So behind his back I executed a special mission that I thought with all his connections would certainly be blown by someone. But it turns out I have a loyalty on the ground now with our special operations team! And the final execution of the plan came together tonight following our itinerary to visit a few locations for the team to see. As we drove back from our final destination a tap from the back of the vehicle brought the Toyota to a stop. Claudy told Robinson he needed to see Franz at his work shop for a minute. So we backed up the road and the team exited, I moved quickly ahead and at the roadside stopped him with the team and told him October in the States is Pastor Appreciation month and I had a gift for him. We step aside and the enclosed bookcase stood in stark contrast to a dirty lot and a rough gray concrete wall. The carpenter’s shop is an open air space with a few metal sheets on some logs standing as a weather shield, rough at best. You wonder how something like this could come out of such surroundings. But again, that is Haiti. I could tell Rob was stunned…and grateful. Today was spent navigating the painting of the upstairs at the orphanage. I arrived this morning and leaned right into the paint on the staircase with my fresh shirt for the day. Fortunately, I had a spare one on me and one of the girls at the house swept it away and like a boomerang it resurfaced in a couple hours fresh and clean. At noon Dan took off with Krystle in tow, and with Claudy and a local dentist did a triple root extraction in a 95-degree office with off brand, non specific tools. He’s a guy who likes adventure, so I loaded him up today! It’s great to bring travelers Haiti and hear them say something was the first of it’s kind. Well, the doc got his first of a kind today. His experience level compensated for lack of tooling, and tonight Peterson is resting pain free. In a couple of days, he will experience a pain free zone he has not had for 3 years. We stopped in to visit my sister’s sister who just had a baby last Saturday, and tiny Marie was a beautiful sight. She is really small, and we are praying she can survive the violent and vexing Haitian landscape. We sat with Papa at the old Parsonage and sang songs together. As we sat on that old porch memories of earlier years begun to spin through my thoughts, and lay down across the lawn of my mind, green and familiar, like fresh cut grass. I wept partly because of what has been accomplished, partly because of what has been lost, but mostly because I’m still here, allowed to work this beautiful garden, planting seeds of hope and help, often one person at a time. As we visited at Claudy’s church (a church build project sponsored by Westside Community Church) the pastor came in and in quiet gentle tones thanked me on behalf of his board and himself for what was done on their behalf, I told him it was not me, but God who had plans, and I was only a small component of it. Jake and Dan as newbies have been extraordinary. Assuming roles and posturing quickly they have absorbed the culture and connected without any trouble at the docking station of cultural transition. We have come to the day 5 evening already, the trip is blooming with the flowers of accomplishment. In the midst of all this good though today we witness two pigs hog tied and being carted up the mountain upside down in wheelbarrows. As they squealed and wiggled to be free, it was obvious the day of reckoning had come. The scene lasted several minutes and we were unable to get away quickly, so the drama was intense, and the moment turned the mood somber. It’s a reality starkly contrasted from our own, and moments like these remind you just how different and removed from each other culture and peoples can become. Morning comes early this close to the equator, so it’s time to pack the keys and screen. More thoughts tomorrow! Blessings tonight from St. Marc.
Posted by Pastor at 10:45 PM
Posted by Pastor at 9:39 AM
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Interruptions are a normal part of a Haitian day. You only have to wonder at what the severity of the interruption will be. So after our devotional time this morning while waiting for Robinson to fix a paint deal gone bad, we climbed aboard the Toyota and headed for the orphanage, and other pre-determined destinations. We didn’t make it 200’ before I knew we had our first serious interruption commencing. A burning smell filled the interior of the car at the same time the temperature inside also began to climb. I had Robinson shut down the AC and we finished driving to the orphanage. I had him call our talented mechanic, and the itinerary for the day washed out. Well, not quite, but our time lines were altered as were a few of our plans. The news was not what I wanted, and several hours and $300.00 dollars later, we are back in our trusty vehicle. I say Haiti has helped me with perspective, I spent my first journey into Haiti for eight days learning this lesson. But apparently God sees fit to send me though this training each trip so I don’t forget the perspective adjustment. I could have seen this as a set back for our team, instead I see it as great timing for a breakdown. As I contemplate the Sovereignty of God and His ultimate hand of control on everything good and bad, I see now that the vehicle is going to have a problem, and better it has it while I’m here, than after I am gone. Needless to say, the AC is working great, and we’re back in business, this interruption is behind us. We issued a contract for the carpenter to build some more shelving for the orphanage today, the painting was finished downstairs and they started the upstairs today. It looks amazing. And we have had many other things happening that have filled our moments here. The children’s service was at 3:00 this afternoon, and Lee did an exceptional job with the Red Sea story. Moses (me) and Pharaoh (Dan) had our standoff, and at the parting of the Red Sea, the children erupted in a cheer. It was one of those unforgettable moments in amongst the tattered and starving children, free of video games and on demand video, where imagination meets reality and it was a story telling and skit exacting wonder! At one point I looked sideways and almost all 500 kids were on their feet. Mind you, we are not trained actors, but for a moment, we felt like superstars. Well…as far as I’m concerned, this is a team of superstars…but for the sake of real acting, we leave a lot to be desired! Beth taught on “The Power of the Praying Wife” book for over 100 wives tonight, and the result was they are asking for more teaching on it. A visiting Pastor asked her to open it up to all the area churches the next time she comes to teach. I wondered in the midst of such a praying church how this material would translate, but tonight, the answer lies again in the response. Through our own personal trauma I have learned prayer need to be specific, and that often we pray to non specifically, or we pray to our own advantage. We could all stand a few lessons on how to pray on target. We are feeding on average 40 at both lunch and dinner. Tonight Emma and Krystle cooked while Beth and the other ladies attended the workshop with her. I will try to post up some pics tomorrow. A surprise for the night as we arrived back at the mission house is that for the first time in about a year, they turned on the power. They are supposed to be announcing the election winners tomorrow, so tonight they woo the people to calm by giving power. Corruption in at its finest attire. We will see what tomorrow holds! Good night and blessings!
Posted by Pastor at 10:59 PM
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Tonight the house walls echo with laughter, for they are being pummeled with the sound of many voices in a unique symphony. I wrote the post about chantè last night about singing voices in harmony, tonight it's voices in the cadence of joy and relationship. The team intermingling with the children, playing with them, teaching new games, and learning the language of the heart that even in the states often we don't get. Smiles abound in droves, eyes sparkle with life and happiness, peace reigns, and joy radiates like the Carribean sun. Did I say this is a great team, and in so many ways we feel empowered by Ray's memory. We brought a magnificent little projector this trip and last night we showed pictures up on the orphanage wall and listened to the responses as memories were triggered by the photos glowing bright in the dark Haitian night. It's a strange twist in the States where we drive all emotion into a straight jacket, and well we should on some levels, for our lives must not be driven by them. But here, in this raw place, even a proper emotional straight jacket cannot fully restrain them. They find the cracks in the armor much like the amazing transforming Octopus, and wiggle out unexpectedly. This morning as we left the mission house, Rob made a different turn, and I asked where we were going? He said, "I am looking for some information". Abruptly he put the Toyota in park in the middle of a strange open area by some concrete walls, got out, and walked away. He vanished through one of the openings and suddenly appeared with a child in tow. It was little Richie, Jake's other school boy. In a blink, for Jake it all came real as he looked squarely into the little eyes of his boy who greeted him in English no less. Tears flowed as Richie thanked him for helping him, the gratefulness in the air created its own atmosphere. It set the tenor for the day. The painter started early this morning with a three man crew and blew through most of the downstairs. I think the house will be fully painted by the weekend. And it turns out that we have had plenty to fill our time. We made arrangements with a dentist in town for Dan to set up shop and pull three teeth of one of Rob's nephews who we have supported in school through the years. He has been here every trip to help us, and has been struggling with teeth broken off at the top and the roots left in place by practicing dentists. He has suffered for three years with this condition. It turns out this is a common practice in Haiti, dentistry in the rough. It makes me wonder how many die when the infection goes septic in their systems. Fortunately for Peterson, he gets delivered Thursday at noon! The day has been filled with lots of beautiful moments. This country sits perched on an unknown moment, the new president as a result of the elections Sunday is to be announced momentarily. They have cancelled school for the week which has been a huge blessing. We have had the joy of being with them almost all day long, I can tell the kids are happy, and the team is ecstatic. They have been an energetic bunch to match the energy of the kids. We have had full on wrestling taking place between the Americans, I hope the guys can get out of bed in the morning and haven't pulled something. The kids were howling with glee taking in the madness. Tonight my Mechanic delivered a rebuilt Honda generator that I brought parts for, and on the first pull, it was running, and running like a top. It looked brand new. I was stunned to say the least. I knew this man had talent, but this brought things to a new level. This is a man who when I started working with him was not attending church, but now, after all these years has found God and hope again. Another orphan who has found home! Time is moving much faster than on earlier trips, I'm still trying to figure out why, but perhaps I have found a Haiti groove where time has begun to be compressed even as I enter this land of the forsaken. The relationship ties that bind have multiplied, and my vision has broadened, so the clock has shrunk, and as have the hours, minutes, and seconds. Off to shed the days accumulation of sweat and dirt, and to get rest for tomorrow. Data is fixed, as is the router, so now the Americans feel a little more connected. A happy team makes for happy team leader. Blessings to all and good night!
Posted by Pastor at 10:39 PM
Our last flight out of Fort Lauderdale was delayed 55 minutes. We landed in Port late, and adding insult to injury of a late arrival was the first ‘missing bag’ dilemma we have ever had on our travels to Haiti. And it wasn't even one of our regular bags. How does an airline lose a carry-on? Well, that’s an American question, to be answered later. Of all bags, it was Emma’s. It was located before we left the terminal, and made in on the early morning flight this morning. When AA called, our dear Claudy hit the bus terminal on a rescue mission and spent 5 hours on a retrieval mission. He was back by the middle of the afternoon with Emma’s lifeline in tow, and now we are all settled in for the week. Everything went well as we headed north in the dark last night, we arrived safely in St. Marc and pulled our first night sleep gear inventory in a few minutes and then spent the next hour looking for the ketchup because our Haitians love ketchup on their hotdogs. As I said in the blog I wrote Sunday, it was a delicious meal! And it was all the more special because of the company we were able to share it with. Morning broke early, Vladimir was up stairs to greet us and proclaim he was sick…he had a tiny cut on his finger…that a little bandaid by Krystle seemed to instantly be healed. What skeptic can deny the healing power of a well placed bandaid! Today was filled with many happy reunions, and our morning climb up the mountain behind the church brought lots of happy children out to greet and assist our team as we took the summit to gather pictures of the town, and to embrace our week of ministry here. We ended up with a bit later start that resulted in a pretty warm climb, but not without the fulfillment this climb always brings in seeing the city with only the filter of height turned on. Darlene made the climb at the young age of 78, and her reward was to get ride the return route on a motorcycle. If anyone claims age as a limitation, you should have witnessed this day on our team trek! She takes the heartiest climber award of the year! We came in all prepared to deck the upper story of the orphanage facility with a coat of paint, only to discover that the orphanage is in need of a refresher coat. So we contacted a painter who came and gave us the price of $4000.00 Haitian to paint not just the upstairs, but the whole of the house, top and bottom. In case your wondering, with an exchange rate of 10.6, that’s less than $400 US dollars. I called a quick team meeting to see how sad everyone would be to let the painter “bless us” as he called it, and it turns out we won’t be painting a thing this week. That’s okay because there are plenty of other things to lay our hands to and fill our short moments here this week. As we wrap up the day, and I sit here in my bug tent with weariness bartering for my undivided attention, gratefulness wraps it’s delicate arms around my heart and caresses my soul with deep affection for these amazing people and the goodness that abounds in their poverty. Madam Robert stop by late tonight and quickly Beth roped her into ‘chante’ (Creole for singing) with her. As their Haitian voices blended with her rich alto the music swelled the room, and even though the words were beyond my interpretive skills, the harmony of hearts seized my soul and a special beauty filled the atmosphere. It’s in part why we come here to serve, it’s really not so much about what we do, but how we do it, and why. With the power of the new series of flashlights hitting the darkness with astounding beams of penetration, so it would seem the hope we are sowing with each hug and each touch is being magnified 100 times over in encouraging these people to action, to spur them on to even greater works of faith, and to find the sowing reciprocated with our own hearts being fill to overflowing with joy and strength for the journey! Time to break and rest, morning is coming, and right early. Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 10:51 AM
Sunday, November 1, 2015
The morning here in Chicago is splashed in glorious sunshine. The turbulence over Traverse City gave way to some of the smoothest air I can remember in my short flying history. We received a wonderful blessing at the TC airport early this morning (details to remain private) that set our morning on a joyful strand. We sit here chatting among ourselves and with Krystle via text who is anxiously awaiting our arrival this evening. She went out late with Rob last night and bought our luxurious meal of hotdogs that we will eat sometime tonight. Having started the day so early, the hotdog will taste delicious, I can tell you this from past experience. These travel days’ burn through the calories. The pre trip jitters are pretty well gone as we settle in for our journey to St. Marc. We are so grateful for this team that is carrying the torch with us this time around. This trip is unique; we travel without one of our staples who has raced ahead of the pack into Heaven this last year. Ray, we miss you! The suddenness of life change still is a daunting challenge, even when faith is strong, the human frame resists change, inflexibility seizes the soul, and we stiffen. But by grace we adjust and carry on the mission for those left behind. The air currents supplied by the Almighty lift and carry us south today. We carry precious cargo of sustainability for our beloved friends, and so many have gathered and collected, labored and packed and made this trip possible. We remain so grateful for all the support and care given to help these people in a struggle almost a lifetime removed. 101 kids are now attending school this year! Its an increase of almost 25% over last year. Krystle has met with almost every child now gathering their new photograph, and a signed thank you card. It’s a lot of work, and on top of the hard work, this part is being done in Haiti. It takes a tough nut to pull this off, so she gets the tough nut award of the day! These trips are often about building bridges, each trip building on the last one, all with some great ordained plan. Each time we glimpse more of the pieces coming together, each time we witness the outcroppings of hope seeded in grace and Christ. It’s incredible to be a part. The wheels of time will churn us through the next few days, some moments will crawl at what will seem an interminably slow pace, and other will flash by like lightening. In it all a purpose is being fulfilled, not our own, but one greater than we may ever understand this side of eternity. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the outcast, the forgotten, the stricken, and the empty. We go to fill in the name of Him who is love, and we know His pool will never run dry, that every life can drink deeply and without reserve. And as we accomplish that for which we are sent forth, great joy is our reward. Blessings via the Haiti pathway today!
Posted by Pastor at 1:23 PM
Saturday, October 31, 2015
9:37 pm. Where has the time gone? 5 hours until go time, and 9 travelers will gather our 22 suitcases, 9 carry-ons and 9 personal bags. A year has past, and what a year it has been. The infirmary called on Dec. 30th, and it was my name that was called. But through sickness, death, and other unmentionable changes, God has moved His ministry in Haiti forward. While my pen has been slack and lax, the tireless efforts of many have forged ahead. In the coming days in country I will try to bring as much information forward as due diligence will allow. At moments this year I wondered if this moment would arrive for me again. It has, and we are going back into the time ravaged culture and country of Haiti to see our beloved friends, to labor to bring tokens of hope and help where we can, and to see the work multiplied by the master of the loaves and fishes! Krystle has been ahead of us in country for 2 weeks, and has found plenty of struggle with technology, heat, and the setbacks that the culture imposes by virtue of communication and understanding of this thing we call life. As we set out on this venture with some veterans and a couple new timers, a certain excitement crackles in the air. Expectations, hope, and love are brimming as we look to load our goods and shuttle our cargo south. What tomorrow may bring is always a tricky question, and more so when it includes a submersion into a different culture, but tomorrow will bring whatever God intends, and we intend to be there for it! I must apologize for a quiet year, but the silence is broken, and the veil has lifted for now, so into the blue we go to carry the banner of the One who has called us. To serve and to share, to sow and to water, dear Haiti, here we come once more. Blessings to all!
Posted by Pastor at 9:55 PM