Friday, November 26, 2010

Please help save lives today....Just $31 saves 14 lives from Cholera

Quick post as we are about to head out to Stewpot Ministries to serve linch to the homeles...

The people of Hait are in dire need of our help. They do not have the resources available in their own country to take care of this. Cholera is rapidly taking hold, and many thousands are going perish, but you CAN help. Our friend, Dr. Jenny Chapman has access to medical supplies, and can get these ordered quickly, and we can get them flown over to Haiti.

We need people to spare $31.00. This will buy a case of IV bags, so that the people infected with cholera can recieve the fluids they need to survive this disease, which truth be told, should never kill anyone.

In light of all the shopping for ourselves going on today, please consider contributing just $31.00. This will save 14 lives.

You can donate on this page securely through Pay Pal. or you can get a check to us or to Zion Hill and write IV bags for Haiti on the memo line.

Thanks and God Bless.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Did Jesus really say......

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need." Acts 4:32-35

I know many of us question at times, the real meaning of what Jesus "meant" when He told the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow Him. We wonder does He really want us to sell all we have today and REALLY give it away to those without? Can't I keep some for myself? What if I get hungry, what if I need it for myself....the questions cn become endless - to the pont that we we do nothing for anyone.

True belief and true faith demands that we take Jesus at His word. When he said sell everything and give to the poor he meant it. He did not tell us to keep what we need for ourselves and to THEN think about helping someone else. We are to put the needs of others before our own, not our needs before theirs. That is selfish thinking and selfish giving. It also says that we really lack faith, that we really do not believe that if we sell everything and go to make disciples, that He will provide for us.

That is DANGEROUS thinking and dangerous theology. Remember the widow in Mark 12 who gave "less" than all the wealthy who made sure their offerings were loud going in so everyone would notice - and the focus would be on THEM? She gave ALL she had, and Jesus used her as an example of how we are to give - sacrificially. We are are to give until it hurts, NOT as those who gave out of of their abundance, so it did not affect their lives at all. There is nothing sacrificial about keeping what I need for myself, and then seeing to it that others are helped with my leftovers.

The people in Acts knew that nothing they had was their own. Those who had homes and property sold it willingly so that no one would be in need. They did not sell their "extra" homes and their excess land. They sold what they had, knowing that God would provide for them in the end. They did not try to determine what they needed to be comfortable. They did not put their own needs first. They put the needs of the body of believers first. They all sold their belongings to take care of one another, so that no one would be without. To miss the true meaning of this passage of scripture, and to say that it means something else entirely is to say that Jesus wants us to be selfish, to not really love our neighbors as ourselves.

The passage above says what it says, and it means exactly what it means. It does not say that they sold their extra stuff or their abundance. It does not say they kept what they needed for their basic survival and THEN sold the extra to give away. It says they selflessly sold what they had so that no one would be in need.

That is love, and that is putting the needs of others before your own needs. If we will notice, Jesus gave us a model to follow. He was the model of sacrificial giving and sacrificial love. He did not give us His leftovers. He gave us His all, and THAT is what he expects His children to do as well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homesick for Haiti

I find myself at a loss for words - yet I feel as if I have so much to say. We flew in from Haiti Sunday evening, and I went to work Monday morning. I have not really had the "decompression" time that is needed to fully process the 11 days in Haiti. The thoughts I AM able to get together are scattered, and I know try to bear with me, if you will.

I think there are probably a lot of people who do not understand why we went, and truth be told, it is hard to explain. Paul and I were called to missions before we even met one another, so it is something that we have known, or hoped, we would do together. We did not go on this trip for ourselves, or to say we "went on a mission trip, aren't we cool." The purpose was not to go have a good time or go on a "Christian" vacation for fun.

We feel as if missions is going to be the way we live our lives. We have been praying for years and trying to listen - so that His voice alone guides our steps. So if it makes any sense, this trip to Haiti was meant to go and meet people, take supplies that were needed, and to help in whatever way He led us. But it was to ultimately determine how or even IF He wanted to use us in Haiti.

I have to say that we saw life as we never have before. It still defies explanation for me. What I did learn, is that there are beautiful people there who do NEED our help. Who welcome our help. There are needs that He put right in front of our faces, needs that if we ignore as though we never saw them, will be a slap in the face of our Almighty God. I am not prepared to do that. I do not want my "religion" to be in vain. I want to do whatever it takes to say "yes" to the One who gave me life. The One who expects me to do the same for His children when they cannot do it on their own.

I find myself thinking of the children of CHOH, our new friends in Haiti, baby Marie, and the people I saw on the streets each day all throughout the day. They are in my prayers when I awaken, when I go to bed, and all throughout my day. I find myself wanting to check the news for what is happening with the cholera outbreak, with the protests against the UN presence there...with the ordinary events of the day - although very little of what happens in Haiti can be considered ordinary.

Everyone who has been to Haiti, has phrases that help describe what you go through....and it appears they are pretty universal. Haiti seems to have a pull, a way of drawing you back to her...even when you might want to resist...

There is what Dr, Jenny called the "Haiti Heartbreak" - and oh yes it is VERY real - I experienced that with baby Marie and Obed. I think my attachment to Marie was fairly obvious to most, and something about Obed still tugs on my heartstrings...I have kept that one mostly to myself. I can only deal with so much emotion at one time. It seems that the uncontrollable shedding of tears is part of the this thing they call the "Haiti Heartbreak." I don't like it.

The "Haiti Hangover" is that feeling you have after you leave Haiti - I think mine started on the plane. I thought I was great and made it out with no tears....How wrong I was...Before the plane took off, the tears were flowing, and I wanted to be back at the guesthouse, back at CHOH, just back on the ground in Haiti. Just get me OFF this plane!

Finally, there is what I am calling "HaitiSick." It is being homesick for Haiti. That's where I am at this moment. Haiti and its beautiful people are in my prayers, in my thoughts, and in my dreams....I am restless, and I do not feel like I will be at ease until I am back in Haiti - trying to show the love of Christ to some of the most resilient and amazing people I have ever met.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Captivated by Haiti

Today is our last day in Haiti. It is hard to believe we have been here 10 days - feels like we just got here yesterday. We have seen so much, and met so many wonderful people, that it is hard to put into words what I am feeling right now. The simplest explanation is that I am not ready to go.

As I try to capture my thoughts, I struggle, since I am scattered and overwhelmed today. I am trying to process everything and be rational, but am quickly learning that when you come to Haiti, be prepared to have your heart broken in inexplicable ways. It defies reason and it defies logic. I can say at this moment that I don't like the feeling. Most likely because it is out of my control - and that makes me very uncomfortable to say the least. I don't like sitting on the balcony of the guesthouse crying for no apparent reason - although I am sure baby Marie and the other beautiful children have something to do with it.

Spending time with Greg and Michelle and Dustin and Ashton as they serve the Lord has been an eye opening experience for us. We came to Haiti in the hopes of this being our first trip that would set the groundword for future trips. I am sure we came with a "plan" of what we might be doing, of what we might see - even though we had no idea of what to expect. Travelling around with them for a few days before the rest of the group got here helped us clarify how we might be used here in the future.

It is still overwhelming to me - because everywhere we turn, someone needs something. What we learned from spending time with Greg and Michelle, is that when you come to Haiti to do mission work, the first thing you have to do is throw your own agenda out the window. Follow God's lead, ask what He would have you do, and then do it. Only then will He be glorified - and that is the goal of any missionary - to bring the Father glory. It does not mean you can't come with a goal of what you hope to accomplish - it just means that you better be in tune with His will.

We are just getting to know the group from Church of the Cove in TN, and I wish we were going to be here to work with them next week. They are such a wonderful group who have such a heart for Christ, that they are just a joy to be around, and I know we could learn much from them were we to be here a few more days with them.

Bobby, Lourdie, Momma T and the rest of the workers at CHOH - what a blessing to have met them, to see love in action. To see the sacrifices they make for the children when they could very easily be doing something else that would be easier for them, is humbling to say the least. The children at CHOH are so full of love, and so respectful of one another, and so grateful for any attention they get. They simply blow my mind.

Haiti as a whole has captivated our hearts. Everywhere we turn there is one paradox after another. There is beauty amidst the destruction, joy in faces filled with sadness, strength in those who are broken. It is this very quality of Haiti that guarantess we will be back, again and again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crazy Beautiful Haiti

So I have been thinking a little this morning - been up awhile with Marie Jane, she has decided she likes it when I do not put her down! :-)

Haiti. Unless you have been here you cannot possibly understand why someone would even want to visit. As you can see from the pictures I have posted, there is devastation and filth everywhere you turn. The daily scenes just make you want to cry, throw up your hands and go home. Homeless children and adults are everywhere you go. To the average American this would be a hopeless situation. Why bother, right? WRONG.

Hope is why we come, and it is also why we stay. The church service on Sunday was amazing, An armed guard was at the gate during worship. The "sanctuary" was packed - wall to wall and with people standing ourside. Worship was led by beautiful Haitian youth, who have seen God only knows what in their young lives. They sang, "Mighty to Save", "Halleluiah, God is Good," "I Just Want to Thank You God," and several other songs praising our God. They sang with such conviction and hope, that I was left speechless at their sincerity. They were filled with His joy. Their faces were radiant. They raised their hands, They did not get in their cars and drive to church as we do. They walked. From who knows what conditions to worship. They MEANT what they were singing. They are truly thankful in the midst of their turmoil and loss.

This is just one of the reasons you come to Haiti, and one of the reasons that once you are here, you don't want to leave. The people are beautiful and strong. Those who have faith in God, have it for real. You see it and you feel it. Their warmth and their smiles are contagious.

Humbleness. Paul has been to places here that I have yet to see, areas of extreme poverty where the faces of young and old alike are still radiant with joy. But even from my trips to the orphanage, it is evident that with so very little - in our eyes - the children are filled with love and hope. A level of poverty we cannot even fathom, that would destroy many of us, is just part of life. They have not been tainted by the world of stuff, and I pray that we Americans do not bring that to them. Part of  what makes the Haitian people so beautiful is their ability to be content in their current circumstance. I am not saying that they do not wish things were different - they alone can answer that question - but their circumstances have not broken them. They have survived so much, and still they shine.

The lost. The other reason we must come is to reach those who are dying. Voodoo is real. The Catholic Church here has been infiltrated to different degrees by voodoo. It is so important that we provide the means and training and resources for local spiritual leaders to lead their communities to Christ. We cannot come here and effectively evangelize, but we can make it possible for the local pastors to meet the overwhelming needs of their communities.

I know that it is not reasonable to think that we can come down here and change Haiti overnight, maybe not in our lifetime. I do believe that by taking one step at a time, following the lead and direction of our Father, that if we take the time to invest in one child or one family at a time, we will impact Haiti, and our Father in heaven will be glorified. That is afterall, why He put us here. Those who have the means, are to help those who do not. That is what He calls love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

God is awesome - prayers still needed

Ezechiel and Daniel took Marie Jane back down to the clinic. The voodoo man decided he did not want her, and said the mother could do whatever she wanted with her. Her mother and two brothers are staying at the police station tonight, and Marie Jane has been returned to Michelle. Tomorrow it will become more clear what the plan is going to be.

It is beyond amazing how one little soul can tug on your heart in an instant. Maybe you have to be here to understand, I don't know, but it is obvious this is one special little girl - as they all are. She just happened to be the one God placed in our lives today.

Our God has once again showed how He is mighty to save, and how He hears the prayers and cries for mercy from His children.

Please continue to pray for all involved, and pray that His will be done and that He be glorified. It is our hope that if possible, this mother can stay with her children, as that seems to be her desire at the moment. She had been beaten and kicked by him before she fled to the clinic with Marie Jane, and she was in pretty bad shape. God heals, and He restores. He alone can bring beauty from ashes.

Voodoo - Pray for Marie Jane

I am sick to my stomach right now, and tears are flowing. The precious baby Marie Jane, who is pictured on my Facebook was brought in by her mom today to a clinic in Haiti. Michelle got a call to come pick the baby up, because her dad, who is a voodoo priest, beat up the mom and wants to sacrifice Marie Jane.

We went to the clinic, and brought Marie Jane back with us, and have been trying to find a solution that would allow the mom to remain with Marie and her two brothers. She wants to be with them, but is in very real danger if she remains anywhere near the voodoo priest husband who wants to kill her and sacrifice little Marie Jane as a voodoo offering.

After we got home with Marie, we got a call that she has to go back to the clinic. The mom had left the clinic to go back and get some of her belongings, so she could seek safety, and the dad demanded that the baby be brought back to him. We had to send her back with a couple of the Haitian men who work here at the guest house. We are praying for safety for all, because this could turn into a very bad situation, very quickly.

It is our prayer that the local pastor, who has gone to see the dad now, will talk reason into him, and she will be able to come back here tonight.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Impressions of Haiti

Well, we made it in one piece to Haiti after experiencing what the pilots called minor turbulance along the way! I call it something else entirely. The landing was less than stellar, but it was a landing at an airport, so that is definitely a plus!  The experience at the airport was just that - an experience! Mere words cannot describe getting off the plane, being herded onto a bus and taken to customs, and then to the insanity of  the "baggage claim" area - a giant room filled with men and luggage scattered everywhere - because by the time you make it through immigration - the baggage is who knows where!

You are immediately accosted by numerous workers wanting to retrieve your bags, put them on the cart and just start walking off with them - as they argue with one another about WHO is going to take them. It is a little unnerving, because these guys did not speak English, and we did not speak Haitian Creole! Pointing to the bandana I had tied around my carry on backpack, did make it so they could find our bags, since I had tied a bandana on all the bags. Yay me! :-)

Once we had finally made it through immigration and retrieved all 5 checked bags, we had to go through customs (all in a large overcrowded building with no air). I made it past the customs guy no problem - he looked at my loaded down cart, looked at me - hesitiated a moment and waved me through. Meanwhile this same guy stops Paul (as my guy is sprinting away with my loaded cart) and asks him what is in one particularly large (76 pounds to be exact) bag. Paul makes up some stuff which happens to be true, the guy hesitates and finally waves him on. Praise God, cause I was not ready to have them go through all our stuff and lose it.

We hurry outside with our carts and see a young man holding a sign that says "Paul and Melody."  I breathe a sigh of relief, however, other men want to carry our stuff, I tell them we have it, they are persistant, our guy and the other guy are arguing....Uh OH! The two guys are racing off with the carts and arguing, and I am doing my best to keep up! Thankfully I spot Michelle in the distance and feel MUCH better about the outcome of this event.

The adventure continues after we make it to the truck...Suffice it to say that driving in Haiti is NOT like driving in the USA. I saw maybe one light. Let's just call it what it is - it's a free for all. No rules. Whoever drives faster and crazier wins. Cutting people off is apparently part of the driving process....It is an amazing experience to say the least. Add the "potholes" to the mix and you feel as if you are in a video game - continually dodging oncoming trucks, potholes, chickens, dogs and goats! Yes, they all share the road! :-)

After we had lunch, we went to the Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice where we were greeted instantaneaousl with hugs and kisses from the childen, and then from Mama T and Lourdes. The children are precious, and so are these ladies who love them so.

As everyone  knows, a hurricane was approaching Hait as we left, and it was suggested that we postpone the trip. Paul and I talked about it, but it was never a serious consideration for us, as we really believed that Haiti was not going to be hit.

Everyone we know sent up prayers that Haiti be spared more destruction. We just prayed and prayed and prayed. Even today we were under a hurricane warning. We got a little rain. It just shows the mighty hand of God answering the prayers of His children. He always hears and he always answers. He is so good.

This afternoon, Greg took us for a drive around the area. Pictures can not really prepare you for what you are going to see. And smell. The level of poverty here is completely indescribable. Our poor in the US are wealthy compared to what we saw today. Living in squalor doesn't even begin to describe the conditions. Tents, shacks, shantys, overcrowding is an understatement. The smell of the area close to the port was like nothing I have ever smelled.

So when you come to Haiti, your senses are overwhelmed, and you shake your head, and your mouth kind of falls open in disbelief. And you shake your head in disbelief at what you are seeing, thinking it must be a scene out of some horrible movie about what it might be like in the last days. It is NOT something you expect to see in 2012. Not when so many have the means to help - yet do not.

While your senses are overwhelmed by the sadness and destruction that you see, your heart is also filled by people who are still so full of love and hope that it is contagious. Their smile simply warms your soul.

Monday, November 1, 2010 still.....

Call me crazy if you like, but as I sit here thinking about what lies in store for this team of about 15 travelling to Haiti in the coming days, I am left with just one conclusion.

God is waiting on His children to demonstrate that they really believe that He is control of it all. We all say we believe that He is in control, but when it comes right down to it, if we are honest with ourselves, many of us will have to say that we spend much of our time trying to control everything and everyone in our lives - EVEN our God.

I have been watching this storm for days now. Watching what can only be considered a bizarre turn towards Haiti. It turned in to a hurricane pretty quickly, but has since weakened considerably to the point that it is now very disorganized.

In my simple little mind, I see satan himself attempting to bring more devastation to a people who are already destroyed. Many of these people rely on voodoo and other false "religions" to get them through. What a win for satan if he can get us to turn our back on Haiti. Think of all the souls he will gain if we (meaning Christians - not me in particular) stay away out of fear, or even worse, out of indifference.

I say if satan is the one trying to send Tomas to Haiti, then perhaps the wind shear and the dry air that is weakening Tomas, is nothing less than the hand of God himself taking command from the hands of his fallen angel. God is in control of everything that happens, and God is good.

We must continue to pray, BELIEVING that the God who created the universe hears and answers. We do NOT sit back and say that it's the weather and it is beyond our control and there is nothing we can do! NO! We pray to the One who DOES have the power to calm the stormy seas. "Peace. Be still..."

He did it once, why do we believe He will not do it again? Let's be faithful to our brothers and sisters in Haiti. They are depending on us, and they don't even know it.