Haiti Day 5 = Chaos (and Bools)

So.  Yeah. Friday’s during Haiti VBS are nuts! Reason being…the kids all expect us to give them presents in the last day. We certainly has our share of soccer balls (about 50) and various other things…but when you have a couple hundred kids that doesn’t go very far.  Chaos is a good word to describe the atmosphere today. And shoving. Lots of shoving. With lots of yelling in CreoleEnglish telling us to “Give me bool.”  (Ball)

  
We did give away all of our “bools” via a contest where the kid lines up far away from the goal and gives it his best kick.  If he or she gets it in, they win the bool.  Here’s a pic of one of the attempts. I’m pretty proud of this shot, every once in a while I get a good one!

  

I had the opportunity to talk again with Alberto. He seems to be a legit follower of Jesus. I saw a man selling Bibles and bought one. After that Alberto asked me if that was a Creole Bible, which it was, and he told me that he didn’t have one. He only had a French one on his phone.  When I gave him the Bible his face lit up. He as so excited to have a Bible in his home language. Here is a shot of my bud and his new Creole Bible. 

  
Tonight we are going back to the town to hold a “crusade” – basically a church service. We will sing a few songs, and I am preaching from Luke 5. Please pray for the Word to go out and for it to penetrate hearts!

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Haiti: Days 3 and 4 – All In It

I think it would be safe to say that we’ve all experienced a wide variety of emotions these last few days. Joy at seeing the smiles, laughter, and hi-jinks of the kids; bewilderment at how things got this bad and how we can best help; a dose of conflicted aggravation from being asked for money, clothes, shoes, wedding rings, candy, soccer balls, or water over and over and over again; waves of sorrow that can momentarily overwhelm you; and moments of seeing God move that can bring you to tears in an instant. 

The children are precious. They are so loving it knocks you over – sometimes literally. I’ve spent most of my time in the town square just playing with the kids in simple games like thumb wars, arm wrestling, and the ever popular “slaps.”

We can’t walk around outside without being mobbed with kids – such a great problem to have right?  Perhaps the only thing that rivals the beauty of the kids themselves is the beauty of seeing Jesus in the faces of our team as they show love to them.

  

The kids today (Wed) were pretty amped up. I tried to give away candy but had to bail when a near riot started.  They live to see pictures on my iPhone, and the really cool thing is I was able to show some kids pictures of us together from 2 years ago. Their faces were priceless!  This too I had to cut short as upwards of 15 kids would swarm me, with lots of pushing and shoving.  There is a ‘fight to survive’ mentality here.  There is never enough so they fight for everything. This is strange to us as Americans where we have such “order,” but we also have enough…more than enough, we have excess. I need to remind myself of this before I judge. 

  

We have had several very young children – like 2 or 3 years old – literally put into our arms by others. We hold them for long periods of time, some fall asleep in our arms. 

 
Then there are the young adults and adults. They hang back in the shadows and we try to engage them.  We try to seek them out to give them a smile, a touch, some food and water, or if the opportunity allows, to tell them about Jesus.  We gave this older woman some food and I was able to follow up and give her water, she thanked me profusely in Creole and the only thing I could think to say is “Jezi” (Jesus). He is the reason we are here, what we give you food and water, play with the kids, hold them, teach VBS. It’s all about Jesus, even if you don’t rmemenber us – remember why we came. 

  

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭42‬ ESV)

PS: Be sure to follow our team via #GPBCHaiti2015 – there are some great pictures going around!

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Haiti – Day 3 – It Begins

One of the things I am liking the most is the chance that we have every night to sing together, be in God’s word together, and share what is going on in our hearts. Last night Alex challenged us from Matthew 19 that we desire most of the time to be first in yet Jesus calls us to put others before our own needs. 

 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

(Matthew 19:30)

When we do VBS in Haiti, unfortunately the opposite of this verse is in effect. There is a great amount of clamoring, yelling, and pushing and shoving him to be at the first of the line to have a chance to get in. 

I had the opportunity to preach to the crowd this morning – telling them we are here because we love them very much and so does Jesus. We see brokenness and the effects of sin and evil all around us – in Haiti or America, and God has done something about it. He has supplied us the restoration and healing in Jesus. Ours is to live by faith in Him while remembering what he has done for us in securing our new identity. 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20)

Today we started VBS and while it was controlled chaos, it still was chaos.  I saw some of the kids that we saw 2 years ago. But even in the midst of chaos,  the warmth and the love of the children is just absolutely amazing.

   

After our VBS classes we fed the community as far as two giant pot of rice and beans could go.  One of our translators suggested that would be a good idea to take some plates of food into the street and find the people that of been hiding in the shadows and bring them to them. This turned out to be a great idea as many were doing just that received the food gladly. 

 
After that we spent some time in small groups with children who wanted to learn English.  

We spent time showing them pictures from our iPhones are pointing to drawings and the books teaching them the English word for many common objects. The Haitian children are very excited to learn English and it was a blessing to spend some one-on-one time with them. 

  
We’re looking forward to a nice time together tonight over dinner and more singing and time of sharing this evening. Lauren has volunteered to lead our studying the word tonight and we are excited to hear from her. 

So far everyone is doing great and no one has become sick. Please pray for our stamina to keep up in the punishing heat and most of all for God’s word to have an impact in the hearts and lives of these precious children. 

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Haiti – Day 2: Orphanage, Churchnp, and…Oh yeah…the Citadel

Welp, after a time of worship and a word last night from Psalm 1, most of us slept pretty well. It is H-O-T. Personally I don’t think I’ve ever sleep-sweated like that before, unless I was breaking a fever. (Oversharing?) Still, with 3.5 hrs of sleep on Friday, a sweaty 8hrs felt great!

After breakfast (we have 2 Haiten cooks here who fix us yummy breakfast and dinner each day) we set off for the Children of the Promise Orphange. They have many kids there and a few house parents that raise them and care for them. They also have some children with special needs. This was particularly hard to see, but my brother Josh spurred us on to love and good works and suggested that we pray with each child. One boy who was very restless and noisy became silent when we touched him and prayed for him. Many of these children will not be adopted, but some will. Some also will be cared for by loving house parents. Perhaps you are being called to be one of them?

We also were able to worship with the staff there today. We sang some songs and the watched a video sermon from 1 Peter 3:3-12.  To sing worship after seeing the needs of some of the children was emotional, these lyrics hit hard: 

Heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love how you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours everything I am for your kingdom cause, as I walk from here into eternity.  (Hillsong United – “Hosanna”)

It was a solid message on video from Pastor Lee Cummings from Radiant Church– our feelings and reactions are wired to our hearts like buttons that get pushed. Will we be Christlike in our reactions and actions?

After the service and some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we got in our vehicles and headed off for a bouncy ride to the Citadel. (my wife actually managed to leave there without stealing any of the children.)

This was my second time to the citadel and I think I was even more impressed this time. The hike up is quite a workout, but once you get there the views and history behind the massive fortress are amazing. See below for a great shot of my dear friend Josh with some cannons. Josh loves cannons. 

After the Citadel workout, the team was very excited to get some relaxation by the pool. Tonight we are looking forward to a yummy dinner and then some VBS planning. And then a time of worship and sharing together.  We have given the challenge for some of the youth to lead in a devotion each night and for tonight Alex has taken up the challenge.  I’m always thankful and encouraged when youth take up the challenge to lead. 

    

  As you can see, our room (somehow dubbed the honeymoon suite) holds all the supplies for our week doing VBS. Tonight we will talk about how we are going to get things done, but also how we are going to share Jesus with the children there.  May we truly love God and love his children. More to come!

 

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Haiti – Day 1: We Made It!

 This is the view from the veranda! It is a beautiful mission house and a beautiful breeze and keep things nice and cool!

Praise God we had problem-free travel! Everything was so smooth. We are is settling in to the house here at Deep  River Mission. 

We are looking forward to tomorrow where we will visit an orphanage, go to church, and hopefully do some sightseeing. With and rest up and get ready for VBS which starts first thing Monday morning. 

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for us to be effective in the work that we’re doing here and grow and love and unity for each other and the people of Haiti. 

More posts to come!

 

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Haiti 2015: T-Minus 3 Days

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I’m still trying to wrap my bald head around the events of this week, on a few levels. Today, my son graduates High School…which just can’t be as he was just 2 years old yesterday, watching Toy Story 1 and 2 (back to back on DVD), sitting in his Elmo chair, with his blanket and pacifier. (AKA, the “Mookie”)

Then…early Saturday morning, or very late Friday night if you will (3:30am is still night to me) we start our journey to Haiti.

23 of us from GPBC, and a few extra friends, will be traveling to Cap Haiten, Haiti.  We will be going with Deep River Mission to work at a school there putting on a Vacation Bible School program, teaching some ESL, and also cooking humongous pots of rice and beans to feed to people in the town.  For most, it will be their only meal of the day, and many will share one plate with their whole family.

This is not my family’s first time there, we went in 2013, so I know exactly what we are in for.  (Above is a picture of the soon to be HS Graduate from the 2013 trip entertaining the locals with a marathon game of “Slaps.”) When I look at pictures of our trip last time and was instantly transported back there – the sights, sounds, smells…last time it was all new to me, I was sort of in shock.  This time, there is a very real sense that I know full well what I’m in for.

We would love for you to pray for us:

  • Travel.  Let’s face it.  For a guy who thinks caravanning is a result of the Fall, traveling with 23 people to another country is a challenge.  Please pray for smooth and safe travel, and for us to grow in unity through all the ups and downs of the journey.
  • Finances. We still are a tad short of our goal.  Please pray that the funds come in.  If you are so inclined, you can give online.  (Select “2015 Haiti Missions Trip” in the drop down.)
  • Team.  I am super excited about this team.  Last night at our final prep meeting (yes, there were spreadsheets involved) there was a sense of love for each other and joyful anticipation.  Flat out – this is a great group of people going and I can’t wait to be there with them.
  • Ministry.  Pray for us to minister well to the people we come in contact with.  Pray for compassionate love for the people, for opportunities to share the gospel, and most of all for God to open the hearts of those who hear to know the freedom he brings in Jesus.  Last night, we were reminded of God’s word fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 4) of the nature of the rescue mission of the Messiah —

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

I will try my best to keep up on blogging when there…you can add “wifi” to the prayer list.  :-)

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Listen Up

All of the Bible tells one story – God’s Big Story of who He is, His creation, our sinful rebellion against His Lordship, and His tremendous love in pursuing us to be reconciled.  It also points to a future hope – all of us know that this life with its cancer, personal conflicts, school closings, and endless winter is not all there is.  Eternity is the destiny that awaits us all, but which one?  

The central focus in God’s Big Story is Jesus. The Old Testament points to His coming, the New Testament is the account of His ministry, life, death, and resurrection, the birth of the church after he returns to the Father, and the hope of His future coming again to restore His creation to the purity that sin has defiled. 

We see clearly in some passages a direct link from the OT to the NT. A very clear one is Deuteronomy 18:15 

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭18‬:‭15‬ ESV)

Fast forward to the NT. People saw Jesus and knew that he was the foretold a Prophet, the Messiah…

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭45‬ ESV)

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. (‭Acts‬ ‭3‬:‭22‬ ESV)

Jesus actually existed, that is a fact. He was extraordinary – we see what he did in the gospels, we have extra biblical history that verifies His miraculous ministry. He is so much more than just a good teacher, or example. He is God in the flesh, the Messiah prophesied about hundreds of years earlier. He is The Prophet to whom we shall listen. Are we listening?

Here is what He is saying –

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…(‭Acts‬ ‭3‬:‭19-20‬ ESV)

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