There are times in life when I feel alone, confused, anxious. Then there are others when I feel the Hand of God all over my life. Last week was no exception.
God is teaching me the true meaning of Philippians 4:12-13 and 1 Peter 4:10:
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
The following are excerpts from my journal last week. I am so blessed by what God has shown me, by what He has shared with me and by what He has done through me. He is an amazing Father and I am eternally blessed! Enjoy!
We are here! The airport has so many people! Sak pase! (What's up?) Nap Boule! (Just Burnin' in lieu of chillin) There was a band waiting as we entered playing a lively tune. The excitement of our team is palpable! I know that God will do a great work this week!
Arrived at Mon Chez Moi Guest House in Port au Prince in one piece. The traffic is a wee bit different from what we are accustomed. Cars, trucks, motorcycles everywhere! And passing seems to be the norm regardless of volume. Apparently, the rule is that you honk to pass or you honk when coming around a curve to let people on the other side know you are coming. God, we know you will protect us this week, and we thank You, in advance.
Yeah Air Conditioning!!! Being near the equator puts a new meaning on "sweating bullets".
Let me tell you about our dragon (aka salamander) living in our room. One of the girls went to move the curtains and out flew out new roommate! Matt (our knight) came in to try to rescue us all :) but alas, the dragon was forever lost. Hopefully, the dragon won't resurface during our stay.
Met "Lela", our food preparer. A beautiful lady with a sweet laugh. And a great cook! I am forever blessed to be able to hug on her precious neck! Thank you Father!
Met with Jedlain, our Local community coordinator. Reminding us to open and search our hearts using the beautiful example of Psalm 139:23-24. Our devotion reminds us that God is the melody and we are the harmony.
Father, we thank you for the moon, a reminder that Your Spirit is with us everywhere we go. Please search my heart God and remove my anxious thoughts. Allow me to see and love as You see and Love. Oh and be my First Fiddle!!
The rooster crows and God's beauty rises with the sun. Our scripture for the day is Proverbs 22:2 Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. The way we believe shapes the way we pray, have an open heart and be obedient. Be intentional with seeking God and spending time with Him.
On our way to Cercady! 4 Hours north of Port au Prince through the mountains. Such beautiful landscape! Sandstone built into the mountains. Unfortunately, deforestation is creating quite a problem with erosion.
Experienced a little nausea, but not bad. I think that Austin experienced much worse, but luckily nobody had to stop. Thank you Lord!
Wow! Watched a group of 16+ people carrying a tin roof, (Yes a roof) down the road. What community!!!
Goats are everywhere! Dogs (have ears like a coyote), horses, roosters, chickens, pigs, donkeys, but goats mostly. (Not too many cats.)
We stopped for pictures on the side of the mountain and 2 kids popped up out of nowhere! Just to say "Alo", I guess.
Traveling through Hench, we passed a horse laboring. Must have had an injured leg, breaks my heart to see, but they just keep moving, one foot in front of the other.
We stopped at a hotel to go to the bathroom and I met beautiful Lila. Beautiful eyes and a warm smile. Very gracious.
The Haitians are Beautiful people! Such clear skin, bright eyes and beautiful teeth! God has certainly blessed these people with beauty!
Arrived at the guest house in Broho. Beautiful place on a secluded piece of property. Wow, these cacti! Are these planted purposefully?
At the guest house, the kids played a game of volleyball, I took a nap. A wonderful nap it was! No A/C in the guest house, but the house is beautifully designed with a nice cross breeze.
First day in the community. Met with The Leadership Council, they told us that we are family and we are "Home" in their "Home". Very gracious people. They explained that God is their provider for everything. How does this change our view? Philippians 4:12 tells us that Paul learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, I believe that these beautiful people understand what Paul taught. Think I feel the inklings of a song coming on . . . Esther's beautiful singing is giving me inspiration :)
Monday 6/24/13 - DAY ONE - Relying on God
Moses was nervous about the mission He was called to. But God reminded Moses that He was His provider in Exodus 4:10-15. And just as God reminded Moses, He too reminds us that we may have translators, but that doesn't mean that we don't have a voice. Father, we trust You to provide the means to communicate with these beautiful people.
Met Barnabus today, beautiful story of healing and redemption! Barnabus wanted to be a lawyer, but God called him to be a pastor. After a motorcycle accident, he finally surrendered to God's will. Through every moment, every challenge, God shined His Light on his life giving Barnabus the confidence and the strength to move forward in His Will. God you are so good!!!
Psalm 55:23 - Surrender everything to the Lord
Wow, the beauty of this mountain community! Everything is so clean! The properties are well tended. There is cactus which borders each individual property (used to
keep water out and animals in). The houses made of adobe, sticks and mud, with tin roofs.
Met with the community, learned that students walk to school. Approximately 1.5 hour walk to school everyday. Their school day is from 7-1. Some schools give food, some do not. Some children go without during the school day. Their summer is 3 months from July - September.
The men of the community either work in other places leaving their wives at home, coming home at the end of a week. Or they tend the farms. Medical care is difficult to find. There is no clinic in Cercady. They have to go far away. Difficult to take a pregnant woman to hospital as there is no truck to carry them there. In the instance that a person needs a hospital, their family will place them on a chair, and will walk many miles to the nearest hospital carrying them on the mountain dirt roads, through rivers, down slippery slopes.
Cercady relies on God for all of their needs. They have asked for prayer for a Clinic, for clean water and for a local school. Please also pray for strength in positive change.
Students have to leave the community to go to university. Some come back to help the community after they graduate.
The children enjoy soccer. The teams they cheer for are primarily Brazil and Germany.
Men typically do not marry until they are 30, women when they are 25; although many have children beginning at 12-13 years old. Most community members are farmers.
They make money by cutting rocks into gravel and by cutting down trees to make charcoal.
This is a big challenge as the mountains used to be covered with trees. Now, due to deforestation, there are holes and erosion in the mountains. There is no way to make a nursery bed to grow trees. Please pray for training for these people to be able to replant trees. Deforestation causes
2- loss of good land for crops,
3- makes the land weaker,
4- streams dry up.
Cercady has only been open to external world for about 20 years. The road used to be very narrow, only allowing for travel via donkey. They couldn't even travel to the market. In the last 20 years, the community has worked together to widen and maintain the mountain roads for external travel in and out of community.
Wow, the rain makes the roads quite dangerous! Not sure if we will be able to go back and forth all week.
Dinner included Soup Jo Mou (Pumpkin Soup)- YUMMY!!! - When the French enslaved the Haitians, they would not allow them to eat pumpkin soup. So when The Haitians received their independence, they celebrated by eating pumpkin soup. Now on January 1st every year, they celebrate with pumpkin soup.
So sad, we killed a pig today. Please forgive us Father . . .
Thank You Jesus for keeping us all safe through the mud and bringing us back safely. Thank You for allowing us to really connect and bring joy to those in Cercady. I pray tomorrow that we will continue to bring Your Love to these beautiful people. Keep us strong, keep us well. We Love You!
Tuesday 6/25/13 - DAY TWO - We are broken
We are broken people. Humble hearts, willing to ask for help. God can build us up into what He wants us to be. In our brokenness, God shows His power and glory. What do I need to lay down so God can work in me?
Met Woulene (20) and her baby Jamelika. Such wisdom in her young eyes and her baby is so beautiful!
Willnot is a worship leader- beautiful voice! He leads in a Church near Broho. A large male choir and they allow the Youth to lead worship one day a month. I would love to go to a Church service here!
LoZanie Papilite is Woulene's cousin. Shy, reserved young lady. We shared addresses to keep in touch in future.
SonSong is a 17 year old living with his grandmother. He is responsible for providing for his family. His mom works in Capacion and his dad in the Dominican Republic. Such strong serious eyes for one so young. Father, please bless this young man and allow him to be the man You have called him to be, bless His family, bless His life.
It is amazing how much this community loves! They truly understand the meaning of I Corinthians 13! The girls love to hold hands, to be held and to sit on our laps. Little Tfaun has held my hand all day :)
Okay, so we tried to teach the girls jump rope, and guess what? They are better
than we are!!!
And yes, they are better soccer players, although I do think that Mikhaila gave them a strong run for their money!
The communication is becoming easier, we are learning to use hand motions. Thank you Father for answered prayer!!
One of our primary objectives, next to building relationships, is to share leadership principles with the council. Working in Nehemiah, the leaders on our team are helping the leadership council to be able to self sufficiently meet the goals they are set for themselves as a community. The clinic is their first priority with clean water a strong second. To obtain water for drinking, cooking, bathing they must travel down a mountain road to the local river. Fill up a bucket for their day's need then travel back up the mountain with the bucket on their head.
This week, we are learning to listen first then serve. It is not for them to be dependent on us, but instead to be dependent on The Lord.
Tonight we made a list of things that we in the US value, a list of the things which Haitians value and a list of things which God values. Wow, need to reset our priorities and mark some things off my list.
Remember who we really worship and where our priorities should lie based on God's values. We are called to find our identity in Christ, not in the World. I need to line myself up with God's culture.
Father, please help me to be first to listen and last to speak.
Wednesday 6/26/13 - DAY THREE - Identity
What does it mean to be a Christian? John 6:26-40 - Jesus said, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." ... "It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world." ... "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty." ... "For My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life and I will raise them up at the last day." Keep my identity in Jesus, The Son, The Bread of Life. :)
This week, we have been providing Vacation Bible School to the children. Bible Stories including "Noah and The Ark", "Moses parting The Red Sea", "David and Goliath".
We colored with them. We sang songs, including "Papa Abraham" which everyone loved! We danced with them, even teaching them The Macarena :). Played Duck Duck Goose, played Little Sally Walker and The Hokey Pokey. Oh and had a 3-legged race. Everyone had a great time serving these wee ones!
Today, we met Sabetsa Isalak. A young girl from the community who just yesterday was playing, came to the Church this morning with a charred hand. 3rd degree burn, looked like a charred piece of blackened chicken. A plate of hot rice was accidentally dropped on her hand. It looks so bad. Possible infection. She is so quiet, holding her hand in front of her body. A Quiet strength. This little girl can teach me so much. God, please heal her. The words of "God's Hand" infiltrate my entire being . . . "We seek Your Hand, Your sure strong Hand, Please hold us, Breathe out Your life like grains of sand, we breathe in Your might as You shape Your Hand, In You our being lives, Your will keeps us strong, Your Perfect Hand helps us carry on....." Father, You are the God of miracles, please bring healing to this sweet girl.
Debrief was powerful tonight. So many stories of redemption being shared this week! Thank You Father, for Your grace in our lives. For delivering us from anxiety, fear, from family heartache, from loss. We are learning how to completely trust You! To give our challenges, our trouble and our joy back to You! We Love You!!
Thursday 6/27/13 - DAY FOUR - God's Glory
Today we got to meet with the women, learn about their day and hopefully give some encouragement on what God says about being a Godly woman. We prepared scripture, but God in His infinite wisdom shared completely different scripture when He steered us to listen to their struggles first. Every girl rose to the occasion! So proud of these young women, they each know just where to find God's encouraging Word! Father, thank You for allowing me to see You work through them!
A day in the life of a woman in Cercady: They must work very hard so their children can go to school. On Monday, they travel miles to go to market. Transportation primarily by foot, donkey, horse, but sometimes via motorcycle . Everywhere they go,
they carry their goods on their head, some balance very well!! Sometimes they have to walk in the rain or dark.
Typical chores include: Sweeping, cooking (over open fire), laundry in the local stream by hand, removing the weeds from the garden, farming in the garden (tilling of the garden is performed using bulls), making charcoal so they can pay for children to go to school.
The children walk miles every day to obtain water from the local stream. Some as young as 4 years old.
Today we had a 115 degree Heat Index. HOT HOT HOT!!! And these strong women deal with this daily!
Learned some new words! Zanme - Friend, Patage - Share, Veet - Fast, Shat - Dog, Pita - Later.
Met so many women today, both young and old! Father, thank You for allowing me to learn of their quiet strength! I pray Father that You will heal their hurts, given them strength to move forward and bless their steadfast Faith. Out of the 14 women we spoke to, 6 of them had lost children and 2 of them had lost husbands. One woman had lost 7 children. Their life is very difficult, but they trust in God for all of their needs.
Got to see Sabetsa again.
She looks great! The doctor was able to scrape off the dead skin (painful) and there is NO INFECTION! GOD IS SOOOO GOOD!!! She has to return several times for observation, but it looks like she will have a complete recovery. Thank You Father!! Got to sit with her for a bit, she drew me some pictures :) Not quite sure what all of them are, but they are beautiful nonetheless.
As mentioned earlier, the task of the leaders this week was to share the leadership qualities of Nehemiah with the group. This team of leaders is inspired to make change in their community! It is so awesome to see their obedience and perseverance! The final task was to build a wall as a team. Now understand, our team did not do anything for this group, only share the Word and give encouragement. The team of men and women took a roll of construction paper, cut
it into brick sides pieces and built a wall. As you would a real wall. The diligence and need for excellence is an inspiration to me. Father, I pray that You will provide them with the desires of their heart. That You will give them wisdom and continued perseverance to bring these projects to fruition. We thank You for what You have provided in their community to date and we thank You for what You will do in future.
Today we had a mini-market brought to us. Different women selling their goods. Many the same type of merchandise. But I loved seeing the different homemade goods provided. What a talented group of people! Each "booth" owner (they weren't booths but were blankets with their wares lined up on them) was very persistent. "Mrs", they would say or "Madame come look". But they were very respectful if I had to say "Pita" or even "No more money" when the money ran out. I wish I could have purchased from everyone.
Today is our last day in the community. The leadership council was very gracious. As the 1st day, they returned to us as family. And they said that although we will divide we will see one another again, if not in this life, then side by side in Heaven. Oh God, I Love You so much!! That You chose to bring us together here even for a short time with a promise to meet again! You are so good!
Debrief was awesome! To hear the stories of each of these students brings so much joy to my heart. God is a Loving and merciful God and when I hear the stories of others, it serves to remind me that the Lord is creating a great quilt weaved together with Love for His People. Thank You Father that You never give up on us, even though we are sinful, even though we are broken. Thank You for Loving us and granting us grace! Thank You for sharing the butterflies with us, they remind us of Your everlasting beauty.
Friday 6/28/13 - LAST DAY - Joyful Reminders
The morning starts with the rooster crow at 6:15. Droplets of rain fall from the night before. A reminder of the beautiful downpour on a tin roof. A donkey's bray in the distance. You can hear voices through the trees. Neighbors from afar. Many different kinds of birds. Some I recognize, others I do not. Think I hear a macaw maybe? I will miss this place. Tfaun's sweet and shy face and warm hand. Her efforts to make "kissy face" and her need to stay close. I will miss seeing the other girls on our team develop their own relationships with these beautiful people. God You are good like that. You have placed a hole in our heart that only You can fill; and You choose to connect each of us together through this opening in our hearts. What a blessing. Then there is serious SonSong. He will be a great leader some day. Of that, I have no doubt. So serious, looks like the world is on his shoulders. I pray that You Father will develop him with wisdom and guidance and allow him to become the person You have for him. Grant him a beautiful wife, one who will love him and stay true to him for life. One who will give him beautiful children. Oh and cannot forget LoZanie. A sweet girl that I hope to get to know through correspondence. I pray that God will bless her and her family and will help her to become the girl / woman that He has called her to be. Father, I thank You for our translators! For their tender heart for their people and for their sense of humor. It is wonderful to see them interact which this community and with us. Father You have blessed them with a beautiful talent. Please bless them all with loving and steadfast families. Finally, Sabetsa. I will never forget her beautiful face. Such quiet strength, unlike anything I had ever seen. A true testament to this beautiful community! Her smiles lit up the room, I am in love!
We were blessed with a surprise visit from a local men's choir. These guys could definitely belt it out! The kids all loved it!
Father, I thank You for this opportunity, for these wonderful people. For their quiet strength, their love for others, and for their sense of family. Please God, help them to recognize that their struggles build their strength which honors You. Allow them to be the family that You have called them to be.
Thank You for the organization of our leaders and coordinators, they served to make this trip very smooth and fun for all. Thank You for the weather allowing us to continue going every day. You truly allowed us to have complete reliance on You when returning to the community. Thank You for our devotions, our debriefs, for the time of Volleball, the great meals provided (especially the homemade donuts!). Thank You for the students: For Esther's song and sweet nature, For Mikhayla's joy with and love for the children, For Nathan's courage, For Cameron's humor, For Brenda's Love for the children, For Grace's beautiful smile, For Paige's diligence and Love for the children, For Sam's beautiful smile and quick action for Sabetsa's hand, For Alex's ability to lead when called and loving heart, For Cody's ability to have great fun with the kids, For Alex's strength and playful attitude, For Felicia's beautiful heart in wanting to get to know Your Children, For Emily's
steadfast diligence and Love for these children, For Lauren's Love of these beautiful women, For Courtney's personality and ability to bring joy. And thank You for Kerry, her great love for these people and consistent diligence to share with us this love and Your love for them, thank you for the amazing sense of humor in Matt, Kevin and Danny and Austin's quiet strength leading us throughout the week. You know each heart and have blessed each one, I pray that Your blessings will continue for each and that we will always remember and never forget!
Saturday 6/29/13 - Going Home!
This week has been so wonderful. As Derik promised, we went to serve, but God served us by teaching us the meaning of a Philippians 4:12-13 Faith, a Psalm 55:23 Surrender to God and a I Corinthians 13 Love. Complete reliance in Him. Learning not to judge. Recognizing that it's not me, but instead His Glory and His Light which attracts and serves others. God uses my challenges to impact who I am. And that my story is His story.
A wonderful week! Proverbs 27:19 shares that “As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart”. I have been humbled by how God works in His people, how His Light shines in their hearts and through their quiet strength. May we always remember and never forget what He has shared with us this week. And may our life reflect His Love in our hearts always and forever.
Check out the song written for Cercady: