These trips have so many angles of reality, it’s hard to keep track. Today the alarm sounded at 2:00 am. We hustled around and did the final pack, drove to the airport and off loaded 44 pieces of luggage. We hit our first snag as the bag tickets printed, an alarm sounded behind the counter and the printer malfunctioned. It took an hour to resolve. The counter clerk kept his cool, albeit it was tentative for a while, and then upgraded our tickets to Group 1 boarding for free so we could make sure all day packs would be on the topside of the plane and not have a lost bag like last trip. Being up at 2:00 am paid off! Needless to say you live in a time warp your first day and it’s hard to keep track. At one point as we entered a plane the Captain asked my son Kelly to tell him who he was in 30 seconds. Kelly looked like a deer in the headlights for the first 10 seconds, then the Captains phone rang and the conversation was interrupted. I went to my seat thinking about that request though, “tell me who you are in 30 seconds”. Can we be summed up in 30 seconds? I tried to put together a neat and nifty reply. In ministry I have performed many funerals across the years, and have never felt a life was done justice in 30-45 minutes. There is a certain grandeur in each and every life, hidden clefts, sloping landscapes, pinnacles and breathtaking peaks, valleys too deep to measure, winters and springs, summer and falls, nothing at all that fits in 30 seconds. We are a culture of the summarized, the abbreviated, the condensed, the abridged. Plunging into Haiti is like a slow motion vortex. Already I feel the drag of the gravity of time as I strain to get there. Meeting deadlines that soon won’t matter I’ll join a culture that is forced to stay hostage to the present. Their dollar is plunging, the rate is currently somewhere around 26 Haitian dollars to 1 US dollar. With poverty as their warden, they live trapped and at the mercy of this task master for their next meal. How filtered is my life? How watered down and diluted can I get? Haiti grounds me, as I help these beloved people, they help reset my life parameters. No 30 second profiles for me. Look at the people around you more closely, try to set aside the demands of time and money for a moment and reflect on the beauty and majesty of the created lives next to you. Pay attention to the details. Don’t abbreviate, don’t condense, the good and the bad all write an incredible story, form a unique landscape, and have individual design and intrigue if you would pause to see it. When I get to Haiti, it used to be a sea of black faces to me, they all looked the same. But I have spent years now studying these people, seeking connection beyond just money, and it’s paying off. It’s no longer just faces in a dusty, dry, and dirty land, it’s people, souls, deep and beautiful, they tell stories, they live difficult but majestic lives, and one day soon, this struggle will be behind us all. But let’s not miss the moments, let’s not refuse to be present because we are too busy. The plane descends, to the tarmac of a far off country we go! Blessings from St. Marc.