Wednesday, August 17, 2016

8/19: At the end of every sentence...

Minute by minute, day by day life goes by. In every place on this earth, there are very, very few certainties. Life will begin and end as we know it, and time will go on. They are the things that you only bet on one side of the coin because we just know that they are true. Some people find a great deal of comfort in knowing what happens next and that a “predictable” life seems to be the one that may lead to the least heartache or will be the road traveled most easily. It becomes immediately obvious when you spend time in this place where God is working, that “easy” isn’t a word that rises to the top quickly.

As the saying goes, one traveler asked the other, “Why do you always choose the hard road?” The second, without skipping a beat replied “What makes you think I see two roads?”
Today if you paid close attention you saw that what really matters at the end of everything, no matter how hard the road traveled is or was, is that taking care of people is the very best thing we can do. Young children, elderly and those who have been called to eternal life all need to be cared for as best we can. We saw the light of hope in the side of a mountain carved out as a heaven called Grace Village. A place created to help the youngest among Haitians start their journey to an educated and invested life, so that, they can in turn create their own lives of success and lead their families to the same. It is a place designed to start, develop, educate and even reunite families to reach their greatest potential. With a scenic view that many on this earth would pay thousands of dollars a night to sleep by, a very small glimpse of the potential future of this amazing country and its people is taking shape. In the same space, a clinic designed to ensure the basic need of medical care sits so that those wanting to live a healthier life can get the attention they need and deserve. In the shadows of Grace, a start-up bakery that will soon feature goods created from Haitian products, by Haitian people. Each of these spaces and ideas designed to make sure that the beautiful people of this country can care and create their own destinies.

From there we moved to checking in on some of the elderly that Healing Haiti sponsors. Every culture views and cares for its elderly just a bit different. We watched today as a very young boy led an old man whose sight has been taken by the hand to his home in a manner that showed such compassion. It was an act that this boy could never know the true impact of and one that was unmistakably God’s work in his heart. Helping comfort this man and the woman we also spent time with you get the distinct impression that they know the end is much closer than their start. The certainty that life begins and ends isn’t something either of them seemed at all afraid of. Rather, the frail and beautiful smiles on their faces told you in no uncertain terms that they know what matters in the end. That being connected to another human in care and compassion is the period at the end of a sentence.

If the beginning of a life and the education and care of people to the success of that life is inspiring, our trip to the mass grave site resulting from the 2010 earthquake showed how God is present even in the tragic, unknown and unexpected events that sometimes leave us questioning and perhaps even angry with Him. We stood on the ground where the souls of over 300,000 Haitians were laid to rest and freed to eternal light. We heard from those who were here on the ground at the time the earth began to shake, how the chaos and panic led so many to their deaths. How homes crumbled on top of their owners and even a palace was turned into mere rocks and dust. How a country so overwhelmed with death understood that the only way to help life move forward was to create this one singular burial place for a number unthinkable to most anyone. In the midst of this time where the earth seemed to be so angry and panic was everywhere, we heard one man’s story of absolute faith. A faith that I have never even dreamed of experiencing. He spoke of seeing death, bodies, blood and people running all around him. He described in pinpoint detail lying on the ground and seeing the surface literally move in waves like a roller coaster. And then he said this. A statement that made my heart stop with both freedom and jealousy. He said that he heard people crying and screaming out to God, asking, pleading, and begging Him to save them. This man, with complete calm in his voice said that he did not exclaim to his creator, because he knew just as he was still breathing, God knew exactly where he was.

It’s the period at the end of a sentence. It is another of the certainties that you should add to your list. What matters in the end is taking care of people. Taking care of each other. It is a certainty just as life, death and time moving, that God is at the end of every road. He is that period, question mark and exclamation point. We take care of each other. He takes care of us. Period.


Day 2 Least of These

8/17 Day 2: Least of These

Matthew 25: 41-46
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Today was our first “water truck” day, and the need was great. Amidst the swarming children, mothers and their families come running with empty buckets and containers to help alleviate their thirst. For here, water is LIFE! Our team is a mix of veterans and first-timers, and everyone did great. We only have a team of 9, so it takes everyone working closely together to fill water buckets, carry buckets, and play with the children. It was not uncommon for one of us to be holding three children at once…often times even more! Being my fourth trip to Haiti, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect on a typical “water truck” day. But, today was a little different. I saw a greater appreciation for the help we are providing, but more importantly, I started to see the young men of these communities step-up and truly be an example to others. Change is happening…

Today we also had the privilege to visit Hope Church….a beacon of light that shines in a place commonly described as the poorest area in the western hemisphere. When I first came to Haiti, the ground on which Hope Church now stands was nothing more than 40 feet of garbage and sewage that led out to the ocean. But today, I saw the work of God. Who else could put a church and a school in the middle of such chaos? To think of the hope and opportunity this church will provide to this community is absolutely overwhelming!

For a quick 2 minute overview of Hope Church, please click on the link below.


Day 2 and 3 (Carrfour and 1st Water Truck Day)

Blog 8/16/16 Car For and LaLoo
Today was day one in Haiti, with the team and boots on the ground.  Yesterday was travel, but we learned a lot about each other which worked well to prepare us for our upcoming mission.  Began the day at Car For, where we saw many women in need of compassion and comfort from our Lord, Jesus.  They were so happy to see us as we entered their room, prepared to give them lotion, love and prayers.  In this day, three women stood out.  The first woman really wanted lotion but her legs were extremely swollen, she was obviously in a lot of pain.  But still, she so wanted to get the lotion, and some love, I was amazed as she insisted on moving her legs onto the bed.  She cringed, and broke my heart.  What could I do but comfort her?  She would smile and cringe as I gently put lotion on, her skin was so tight because of the swelling.  As I spoke to her, she would smile, I would ask if it was ok, she insisted yes.  But still, I felt I could not hurt her any more.  Finally, we had to move on, and I prayed for her.  As I prayed, she looked intently at me, realizing I was praying.  I watched as a peace and calming came over her while the words came out of my mouth… God is your refuge, He loves you with an everlasting love, may He bring peace and comfort to you as He protects you.  You are His beautiful daughter.  The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Love overwhelming covers you, in Jesus name, Amen.  As I left her I saw the light of God come over her, she was peaceful and a look of gratefulness and peace shined from her eyes.  As I left the room, she smiled again at me, and waved. 
Later, I saw a very young woman, extremely weak waiting to get a moment with one of us.  Her eyes lit up as I asked her if she would like some lotion.  As I came up to her, she told me her name, and I began to lotion her arms.  They were extremely thin and weak.  As I rubbed lotion on her, I started speaking to her.  She didn’t really understand me, but kept smiling as I spoke.  I kept speaking the joy of the Lord, to rest in Him for His strength comes from joy.  What a beautiful absolutely stunning smile came out of her.  We locked eyes, and all I could do was smile back.  I gave her some more words of encouragement, and prayed over her.  She lit up as I said Jesus loves you, and again, that stunning smile!  As I finished, I saw Kristine praying over a woman across the room.  She was praying, and crying.  I came across the room, and took the woman’s other hand.  She was in so much pain, literally crying from it.  I started to pray too, and the Holy Spirit moved as we were praying.  She looked at us with tears, crying for Jesus, as we prayed for Him to bring her home and end her suffering.  I wept.  My heart broke wide open.
As we left, I met a young man, who was excited to begin his life.  He spoke with such hope and faith, all about a bright future.  The contrast was amazing… these women, at death’s door, awaiting the ultimate end with our Lord Jesus, and this.  This bright, vibrant young man dreaming how he would impact the world.  As I left I could not help but think about his JOY.  Joy for life.  Then I realized all three of those women, even in pain, were grasping, and sometimes even showing joy.  The JOY of the Lord is their strength.

Blog 8/17/16 Water Truck Day 1

Today we had water truck day.  We didn’t have much time to really think, as usual, as the truck pulled up.  It always happens… we get there, and boom.  The doors open and “Hey You!”  The children come up and all sorts of fun ensues.  We didn’t have any issues on three stops, the team kept it all together as we ran the hose and alternated on who held it, and moved the buckets. The first stop was pretty calm, near Hope Church.  We enjoyed the time seeing the church, I remember when it was a huge pile of garbage, now a church and soon a school, too.  As always, it is tough to leave, but this time, I truly felt hope in Cite Soleil.  The eyes always get to me, the children’s eyes with such hope and beauty.  Even those that were so sick, I could still see Jesus in them.  The least of these, we helped them today, and for that I’m truly grateful.  The most enjoyable thing that happened to day was watching my team.  For many it was the first time.  Each had children at some point, and each was lighting up faces over and over again.  So great to see playing and bucket lifting and water hose splashing, and just plain fun.  In the midst of a world of little, we brought gifts of much more than we knew.  Thank you Jesus for bringing us this gift of doing this for these beautiful people!