27 January 2012

You Can [still] Call Me Gershom

It's been a long couple of weeks since we have been back in the States.

It's been long.

Haitian Market
When I first moved to Haiti, it seemed that for the first few weeks, all I did was fight back the tears.  I would be with the children in the compound and have to go inside because I could feel this great wave of emotion coming over me.  I would be in the store and have to fight back the tears - pretend something was in my eye.  I would be in the truck on the road and have to keep looking out the window so those I was with wouldn't see me crying - but what I saw out the window only made the emotions well up more within.

I was overwhelmed by the lack.  Complete lack.  I had come to the conclusion that the people of Haiti [and I know this is a generalization] had less than nothing.  The poverty was overwhelming to me - this suburban-bred white guy.  They had less than nothing.  If they had food, they shared it; shoes, they shared it; clothes, they shared it; homes, they shared it; tents, shared. Less. Than. Nothing.

What really got to me was that they [another generalization] were happy.

That was then.

That was culture shock.

Fast forward to present-day America.

When we came back a few months ago - and the short of-necessity trips we've made in the past year and a half, we knew when we were going back.  This more recent trip carries no defined return date and therefore has a greater sense of permanence, and so, a greater effect on us.

American Shopping Center
When we came back this time, it seemed for these first couple of weeks, all I did was fight back the tears.  I would be with my family and have to go to a different room because of the wave of emotion coming over me.  I would be in WalMart and have to fight back the tears - pretend something was in my eye.  I would be in the car, on the road and have to keep wiping my eyes so that I could see to drive.  But trying to keep it in only made it well up more within.

I am overwhelmed by the lack.  The lack of ... lack.  Complete lack of lack.  I have come to the conclusion that the people of the USA [another generalization] have more than enough.  The over-abundance is overwhelming to me - this suburban-bred, but Haiti-experienced blan (creole for white guy).  They have more than enough.  They don't share much.  Too much food, they throw it out; old shoes, send them to Haiti.  How many types of popcorn or cookies can one family need?  Pantries full.  And if you can't afford it, your government will buy your food for you.  So many cars.  So many choices.  If WalMart doesn't have what you need, maybe Kmart, or Target, or Staples, or Marshalls, or ....

What really gets to me is that they [another generalization] are so unhappy.

That is now.

That is reverse culture shock.

I'm not sure who is better off.  Many of you would easily say, "Oh, we are way better off."  I'm not so sure about that.

And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. 
Exodus 2:22

15 January 2012

It Burns so Hot!

And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
Exodus 3:4

Photo Credit: Realistic Imaginations
Moses was just carrying out his everyday work.  That's when God will show up; when we're going through the monotony of everyday life.  On the job, at school, in your commute - God will speak.

He was guarding the flock as he did every day.  God showed up.  But He didn't speak until Moses showed that he was interested in what God was doing.  Do we ever see God doing something extraordinary but don't show interest?  Sometimes we become preoccupied with our everyday life and don't bother to notice.  Maybe we don't have time to stop and look or listen.  Maybe we have grown too accustomed to God's moves in our life that the extraordinary seems just ordinary now.  When God shows up. We have to show our interest if He is going to speak.  We may miss our appointment if we don't.

Finally, God used the unexpected to speak to Moses.  How is it that you are expecting God to speak?  Are you expecting Him to speak through His Word, your prayer time, your pastor?  All those are definitely ways that God speaks - and they're good ways too.  But, what do we do when God tries to speak to us through

your parent?
                  your child?
                                  a street person?
                                                          a missionary's blog?

Do we listen?  Do we follow?

If Moses hadn't listened; if he hadn't followed, a whole nation would have stayed in bondage.

Would God have found someone else? Probably.  Would Moses have been blessed that way? Nope.  He was who God had planned all along to do the job.

If you recognize that God is doing something spectacular, are willing to listen and follow, you may just set a whole nation free.  Lord knows there are enough nations that need it.

13 January 2012

The Old Rugged Cross

[Warning: This post is linktastic]

I was out on the road today.  Usually when you are out and about in Port-au-Prince, there are great opportunities to see some very funny, interesting, or inappropriate t-shirts.

I once saw a 70 year old-ish man with a bright pink shirt that said "Calvary Girls Rule".  Once I saw a young boy with a too-large shirt that said "I Love my Italian Girlfriend".

Today, I saw a young man with a shirt that had Brad Paisley's face on it.  Brad Paisley is a country music artist.  I only knew that by the way he was displayed in full western regalia on the shirt.  Country music is not a big draw here in Haiti, in case you hadn't guessed, so it was an unusual shirt to see, albeit not quite as funny as others I have seen.

Just a little while ago, while catching up on email during our daily electricity allotment, I was also listening to Elijah Streams.

The song, "The Old Rugged Cross" came on.  I started to cry.

First, Elijah Streams doesn't play a lot of older gospel tunes, so it was unusual.

Second, I have always loved the lyrics since I became born-again.

Third, it's been a couple of very emotional days here.  We desperately miss "The Mama", yet are a bit sad to be leaving the children here - we have become like family too.

So what do the t-shirts have to do with it?

I decided I was going to post a Old Rugged Cross video tonight on the blog.  When I googled it, the first one to come up was by Brad Paisley - the guy on the t-shirt.  Who'd-a-thunk-it?

So, here's "The Old Rugged Cross" as performed by Brad Paisley. :-)

12 January 2012

I Will Never Understand

We didn't live in Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Many of our friends did.  We will never understand their outlook on life because we will never understand their experiences of January 2010.

If you would like to know more about that whole experience, here are some links to their stories (some may have photos).

We didn't live in Haiti on January 12, 2010.  But the events of that day brought us here.



Troy & Tara

Aaron & Heather

Jared & Jalayne

The Mangines


Bud & Jane

Ben & Katie

Ben & Lexi

...and this from Barbie, one month after the quake:

In the dark, we returned from our journey to our field hospital, our souls now overwhelmed with the young mother's devastation. As we opened the metal gate from the dirt road, in the darkened tented courtyard, we found our the patients singing loudly in deep prayer, arms raised and swaying over their heads. They had called the medical staff to the courtyard...and were singing to them. A deep soulful harmonious blessing. Nurses stood, stunned, eyes filling with tears, as their patients -- broken, suffering, tormented -- rose up in song, honoring them, praying for them.

So is the sound of the soul of Haiti. The sound of suffering and pain. The sound of hope, and joy, and love, and strength. Haiti...Such a strong word.

08 January 2012

Do You See the Hand of God?

James is a Haitian boy who will turn 16 this February 12th.  His dream since he was 10 has been to become a pilot.  For most Haitian boys, that is an impossible dream.

On January 12th 2010, James, then 13, was sitting outside the small cement block home he shared with his sister and two brothers along with his father.  His father was down the block and his siblings were inside the home.  The sudden shaking of the earth was so incredible that James did not know what was happening.  He had never experienced anything like this before.  He thought it was the end of the world.  He saw his one youngest brother coming through the doorway.  Seeing that falling blocks were about to move the door, James pushed him back inside and down to the ground.  As James pulled himself back, the heavy steel door slammed shut.  It would have crushed his brother's head for certain.

"There was so much dust", James says, "everything turned black.  I could hear a lot of noises, but couldn't tell what it was.  I walked toward the noises."

While the dust rose quickly, it settled slowly.  As the dust cleared, it revealed neighbors homes reduced to nothing but rubble; it revealed the wounded; friends and acquaintances; it revealed a shut door with siblings behind it.

During the 25 seconds it took to reduce the capital city and its surrounding areas to what resembled a war zone, James life had changed.  As he coughed back the dust and took in the sights around his home, he made his way back to the front door.  His father had arrived.  As they opened the door, they found Leonard, the smallest, unharmed because of James' actions.  His other brother, Gladimiy was seated on the floor with fallen cement and blocks all around him.  Where was Estherline, their sister?  She had hidden under her bunkbeds, which now had cement and block all over them.  James' father pulled her out.  Their home was destroyed.  They were alive.

Time soon found them on the grounds of the children's old school, where a tent city was now sprouting.  That's where I met James and his siblings, in March, 2010.  They had captured our hearts and the hearts of our leaders.

James & Estherline, March 2010
James and his siblings lived on the school grounds in their tent for 5 months.

Fast forward.  James and his siblings lived at the orphanage where we served in 2010 and 2011 and have been with us at LHC since our return in August 2011.

As we prepare for our departure back to the States, we've been tying up some loose ends.  We had one more thing to take care of.  We won't be here for James' birthday.  I wanted to really bless him good.

The Haitian people are a great people.  They are full of dreams for a better life.  James is a dreamer.  Through all he has been through, though he has a more realistic view of his dream, he still holds tight to his dream of being a pilot.  Those who are bold enough to dream big, may be fortunate enough to realize their dreams.  Unfortunately for teenage Haitian boys, most of them will never have the opportunity to realize their dreams.

Then he took him outside and said, "Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You're going to have a big family, Abram!"

Genesis 15:5 (MSG)

God is about tangible dreams.  God wants to give us something to hold onto until the manifestation of the promise.

We had the opportunity last Saturday, to make James' dream more tangible.  Through the help of a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot and friend named Michael, James took to the skies.

It was his first time in an airport.

It was his first time on a plane.

It was his first flight.  
Seeing his land from God's viewpoint was nearly more than he could bear.

It was his first time in the co-pilot's seat.

Please scroll back to the first photo of James from 2010.  Then I have a request.

See the difference?

Would you pray for James to continue to do well in school and to be able to achieve every little goal on his way to the big goals?  Haiti is no easy place for anything.  Success here takes prayer, help, and God.

Then would you consider giving to Love Haiti's Children?  They are doing a great work in Haiti.

The earthquake changed a lot of lives.  It changed our lives.  It changed James' life.  Will you let it change yours?

Who would have known what God had planned?

Do you see the Hand of God?

05 January 2012

Help is Here

Someone who has become a very good friend of ours here in Haiti has posted something that, when read, was a great help to me in our current situation.  John McHoul has really reached out to our family the past few months and we are grateful for his friendship.  He and his wife Beth have been in Haiti for 22 years and have a wealth of experience and knowledge.  To say that they are doing a great thing here would be an understatement, because actually, they are doing several beyond-great things here.  The original post can be found here.

Thanks again, John!

Those That Help Us Live in Haiti - Part One
by John McHoul

We have lived in Haiti for 22 years.  There, in that time, have been, as in life, easy times and difficult times.  The one constant has been God’s faithfulness and the faithful support of His people that has allowed us to live in this land of unlimited impossibility. And there, of course, have been the examples of others that we can look to and which bring encouragement and  help us to hang in there in the struggles.I over the next couple of weeks  will be posting about some of those that through their lives and faithfulness have been examples to us that have helped us live and minister in Haiti.

Let’s begin with the Old Testament Judge, Gideon the son of Josiah.  You can read about him in Judges chapters 6-8.

God used him to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites.  He confronted his own weakness and doubts and saw his own plan for victory succumb to God’s plan. As so often, man’s plan put a lot of trust in man and man’s resources.  God’s plan does just the opposite.

So Gideon recruited 22,000 men to fight against the 120.000 Midianites  But God liked His odds better and had Gideon reduce his army down to 300 men.  He said He did it because He didn’t want Israel to think that it was their power and military strength that defeated the Midianites.

God’s plan worked and Gideon and the 300 slew 120,000 Midianites but the job wasn’t yet finished and here in where I find HUGE encouragement and the oomph  to continue on even when weary or discouraged.

There were two Kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, who decided not to hang around as Gideon’s 300 defeated their 120,000 so they fled as fast as they could to get away from Gideon and his army and although Gideon and his army were weary from the battle, the task was unfinished and we read in Judges 8:4 Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing.  Gideon caught up with these two Kings and they came to the same end as their 120,000 soldiers.

I can’t tell you how many times over the past 22 years that I have come back to these three words: WEARY YET PURSUING and have found the inspiration to keep going on and not give up.  Perhaps, you, as well will find encouragement and strength through the life of Gideon and in the three simple words: WEARY YET PURSUING.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9

04 January 2012

Alter the Altar

Alter /vChange or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.
Altar /n/ A table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, esp. for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.

And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. Genesis 35:1-5
As we enter the new year, it's a time to reflect upon our habits as a believer and see if there are areas where we can adjust or change.  Is there a devotion that could be greater?  Is there an area of faith that needs feet put to it?

Jacob led his people to dedicate themselves to God.  First, they had to get rid of all the idols [mess] and be clean [a new dedication] and change their garments [a concerted effort].  Then they buried the gods [former practices] and the jewelry [unity with those who have same bad habits].  

Then they journeyed.

It takes time to get from one 'altar' to another.  They should be in different places.  That's not to say that you should pick up and move your whole household just because you've decided to dedicate yourself to more devotional time.  But the 'where you are' should be different.  It must be if you don't want to be confused about which altar to go to.  They left where they were because then they couldn't dig up the idols again.  Very. Important.  And let's not condemn ourselves if it seems we're without an altar for a bit.  God will protect you during your journey when He notes that your heart is right - and headed in the right direction - toward Him.

So, what is it for you?

Whose altar do you have now that's just not quite working for you?

What idols do you need to bury?

What altar should we build now?

{new devotions

{faithfulness to the body of believers

{more time for prayer

{greater giving

{praying as a family

Happy Building!

01 January 2012

Mama is Ranting Again!

One of my favorite bloggers is blogging again.  You are, right?

She can be found here - and is now linked on the side, too.

Welcome back, Mama.

*Note: For those of you who know us, this Mama is not the Mama (also known as Perla).  She's a different Mama.