Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another New Monthly Supporter…

thermometernewPraise the Lord!  We are getting close to our end of year goal.  Can you help us?

Didn’t see our “End of the Year Request for Help”?  See it here.

Give Online Now  |  Pledge Online Now  |  Give via check in the Mail

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Effective Consumption of Social Activity…

facebook_addiction_disorder_fadYes, as strongly implied, there is ineffective consumption of your social stream.  Facebook if often a never-ending black whole.  I am convinced that many jumped head first into the online social world, but now must pull back to a responsible level.  There is no end to tweeting and retweeting.  Don’t get me started on Google+.  Today, we find the consumption of our online social activity is more akin to drinking from a fire hydrant than a water fountain (bubbler for you Wisconsin cheese heads).  There is so much helpful, and unhelpful content.  It seems to me to be a good steward of our most precious resource (TIME) given by God, we must be wise in our choice of how to consume this massive flow of information.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ aren’t evil, but they easily can be.

Here are my top 5 suggestions for you…

  1. Use Google Reader, or some other RSS/ATOM web based aggregator for blogs and other online content.  Most online resources have a feed associated with them.  A “news reader” such as Google Reader allows you to check multiple feeds (example: blogs) in one location.  New content (blogs, picasaweb, flickr, facebook, etc) comes to your Google Reader when it's posted, so you don't need to visit individual sites.  One page, for all content. One of the most inefficient ways of consuming blog content is to actually visit all the blogs you want to read.
  2. Use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic or some other Social Media Dashboard to interact with all your social streams all in one location. For instance, Hootsuite receives and publishes updates simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (sort of), LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, Flickr, Tumblr, and YouTube…
  3. Set boundaries/limits.  Only check your social activity at specified times of the day.  Only spend a pre-specified amount of time online. For instance, maybe you want to check in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening before bed.  If you are addicted (which is quite possible), make some hard choices to break the addiction.  You will be fine without consuming all this data.  Go on a diet.  Go extreme if necessary.  Fast.  Have you noticed I have been much more quiet lately?
  4. Speaking of boundaries, keep your work life and your personal life separate.  Your employer is not paying you to check your granny’s Facebook (yes, these days, even granny’s are on FB).  Your employer is not paying you to write personal blog posts during the work day.   (Ask me why I worked on this post a little bit at work.)  Be a good steward of the time you have in the place God put you.
  5. Protect your family.  Your family deserves your undivided attention.  Facebook does not.  Set aside time to exclusively spend with your family, as in not your mistress (aka Facebook).  Husbands, avoid inappropriate chatter with other women.  Ladies, same idea. Children should be supervised.

I don’t claim to have all the above figured out perfectly, but I thought I would share with you what I know in case it helps.  Any suggestions you have?

Use it well.  In our day in age, I actually think it is a requirement and responsibility to have some level of social activity awareness.  Clearly it has it’s limits and pitfalls, but it also has it’s very helpful benefits, but personally and professionally.  There is so much to learn.  There is a great way to use the unlimited resources of the web.  There is also a sinful way.  Be wise about it.

By the way, find me on Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Google+  |  PicasaWeb


Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Need Your Help to Finish Strong.

imageWe just sent out an email to our list of friends, family and supporters.  If you didn’t see it, you can subscribe to our list here.  You may also see this email online here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday vs. Bleak Poverty

Frenzied pursuit of stuff with the reality of extreme poverty.  Black Friday vs. Bleak Poverty  The shopping is in my face online, the extreme poverty is in view from my back yard.  I can’t quite figure it out.  I don’t want to simply throw America (other nations for sure too) under the bus, but it just doesn’t seem right.

My only prayer is that you/I will seek God’s direction to live biblically in your/my context. Pursue him and his values.  How does he want you/me to live?  Are we being good stewards of our blessings/resources?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tarzan and Jane…

Our thatched-roof gazebo has been in need of a re-thatching for a long time.  Lots of holes.  They usually need to be replaced every two years.  On Monday, a worker came to take the old thatch down.  Tomorrow, he is is redoing it.  Here is what our gazebo looks like right now:









Well, today Drew and Tessa found where he put all the old thatch.  Right off the side of our cliff, under a huge tree, that has huge vines that the kids like to swing on.  They’ve never swung off the cliff on these vines before, mind you, but put the old thatch roof in a pile right under these vines… well, it didn’t take them long to start cliff jumping and vine swinging.

Here is a good picture of the tree and the cliff with a nice bed of straw underneath:


Here are some action shots of Tarzan (aka:Drew) and Jane (aka:Tessa) and friends.

First, ‘Jane’, who I couldn’t believe was jumping and swinging with no fear.  Not her typical personality to let go!




And ‘Tarzan’, who is often looking for adventure, as long as he thinks he is in control.  This is the same kid who really hates amusement park rides (I think because he’s not in control of what happens) but loves seeing how high he can climb a tree.




Some friends got in on the action, including the dog.













3-year-old thatch isn’t exactly clean.  The kids were coated in dirt when they were finished.  But, they sure had fun! 












Tomorrow is a Haitian holiday, so the kids have no school.  Let’s see how many times I need to put them in the shower.  Oh, and please Braden, don’t get any ideas that you are big enough to try this!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 Years…

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 5 years since I lost my Dad.  I’m really missing him today.

becky and dad phillies IMG_2380

I’m so thankful he got to know Drew a little.  He even got to spend time with Tessa right after she was born, about 6 weeks before he died.  I am forever grateful to the Lord for giving us that extra time with him.







I miss you so much, Dad!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why am I so impatient?

fetching2Today, I was “liberating” someone’s iPhone so they could use it here in Haiti.  The process stalled on a screen that said, “please be patient”. 

So, what do you think I did? 

I googled the “problem” because it was taking too long.  Guess what answer I found?  “There is no fix for this. All you have to do is just wait…”

Seriously?  Sometimes, I just frustrate myself.

I think God must feel this way with me sometimes.

“Patience is the companion to wisdom.”
---St. Augustine

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No, No, The Road is Not Easy…

IMG_1200The other day, we sang a song in our daily staff devotions.  It seems to me to be a perfect expression of the Haitian Christian mindset/culture.  The song was “Chemen an pa Fasil” – “The Road is not Easy”.  In fact, there is a distinct acceptance and resignation to this reality. Haitians even have a saying for operating in this context, “degaje” (make due with what you have). It’s a necessary reality.

In a much different way, this song is also a great explanation of my maturing mindset (I have a LONG way to go).  We are living in a context where everything is constantly in a state of disrepair, with not much expertise to fix it.  Every day our internet comes and goes, and no one can explain why, and no one can fix it.  Our plumbing leaks, electrical systems seam possessed, appliances are always acting up, people are constantly in need, vehicles are always broken down, equipment is constantly spent, etc etc etc.  I feel like a say every day, there is just no way I can write “home” and explain this context to you.  You have to live in our shoes to believe it.

So here is the song…

Chemen an pa fasil – The road is not easy
Jouk nou rive Genyen nan siel la – Until we arrive in Heaven
Li genyen pikan e piej anpil, – It has prickly problems and many obstacles
Chemin an pa fasil – The road is not easy
Men Jezi mache ak nou – But Jesus walks with us
Li rann ke nou tout a fe trankil – He makes our hearts full of peace

Ke: – Chorus
Non, non, chemen an pa fasil (bis) – No, No, the road is not easy (2x)
Men Jezi mache ak nou – But Jesus walks with us
Li pote fado nou – He carries our burdens
Gras Li fe ke nou rejuoi anpil – His Grace makes our hearts rejoice

IMG_1202Right after we sang this song, we reflected upon Isaiah 41:10. 
I translated this from the Creole Bible because I think it captures the Haitian spirit…

“You all don’t need to fear.  I am there with you!
You don’t need to let anything give you a jumping heart.
It’s me myself who is your God.
I am holding you with the strength of my wrists that will never lose a battle.”


Monday, October 10, 2011

Tessa Started Kindergarten!

Tessa started her second (and final) year at Kindergarten Lumiere last week.  Last year when she started, she knew very little Creole and everything was new.  There were lots and lots and lots and lots of tears that first week.  This year was quite the opposite!  She was very excited to go and see her friends again!  When she got home that first day , she told me all the girls are her friends. :)

Here are a few pics of her first day:







They usually start each day with an assembly outside in the school’s courtyard by singing the Haitian National Anthem and some other songs.  For some reason they did not do this the first day, so I stuck around again the second day to get some pics.  As soon as we arrived, two girls took Tessa by the hand and led her right to her class to put her bag away then they walked hand in hand all over the playground before assembly started.  It was so sweet to watch!








Tessa calls Medline her best school friend.  It took no time for them to find something to climb together!



Here are some pics from the assembly and marching up to her classroom.





She knows so much Creole this year, knows what to expect at her school and was thrilled to see her friends again.  She is loving school!  What a difference a year makes!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cultural Acquisition and Emancipation…

underconstructionRecently, I have found myself fascinated by my own cultural acquisition and emancipation.  Whether I realize it or not, I am becoming a different person.  I am under construction.

Culture.  I have been watching it.  Loving it. Confused by it.  Angered by it. Influenced by it.  Walking it.  Rejecting it.  Embracing it.  I want to understand. There are parts of the Haitian culture, that differ from American culture, that I love, love, love.  Other parts? Not so much!  There are parts of the American culture that are different from the Haitian culture that I love, love, love.  Other parts?  Not so much!

The other day someone said, in jest of course, that I am a Haitian.  Do I dream of the day that I will fully “be a Haitian”?  No.  It will never happen. It just isn’t who I am.  Do I long for and plan to return to my insulated American mindset?  No.  Well ok, some days, but I’m not interested.  The reality is that I am developing my own third culture.  I am developing my own culture, an amalgamation of both Haitian and American culture.  I would like to think it is more complete world view.

I am afraid. What will I leave behind? What will I embrace? What will I reject? What will rub off on me? Who am I becoming?

Right now, I feel the urge to list the things I love about Haitians and the things I love about American’s.  Right now, I was to scream from the mountain tops the list of things I will never embrace in Haitian culture, and all the things that completely annoy me about my own American culture.  Yet, I am still too new, too fresh, too idealistic, too myopic to confidently know all the answers.

Many have walked this road before me and I hope and pray that as I watch and learn from them, as I ask questions, as I seek the counsel of God, that I will continue to become who God’s wants me to be.  “It” really isn’t about being Haitian, or walking their walk .  “It” isn’t about being American, or the American dream.  It is about becoming who God wants me to be, with His values, His standards, His dreams, His sufferings.

God himself has given us a great example in Christ.  He came down, from His culture of Heaven, to a foreign earthly culture.  He remained God, and became fully human.  He contextualized, yet remained who he was in essence.  I like that. 

Lord, help me.  I am scared, but I boldly move forward to the adventure that awaits.  This transformation isn’t easy.  It hurts.  God make me who you want me to be.  Give me your mind and your heart. Give me wisdom to rightly divide influence (internal and external), confidence to embrace, humility to give up, strength to embrace.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

People Pics…

Here are a few people I caught on camera out in Chambellan.

All the other pics of the trip are here.

A Week in the Outback…

I just got back from another week out in the Haitian Outback.  Only 74.9 miles (42.4 miles as the crow flies), but it took us 10 hours to get there, and 7 hours to get home.  Long trip over the mountains, but well worth it!

We went out to Chambellan, Haiti (GPS Waypoint and GPS Trip Track), in the Grand Anse Department of Haiti with Crossroads Bible Church.  Crossroads has had this partnership with the Chambellan Baptist Church for the last 21 years through RMI.  Much has been accomplished in those 21 years!

This trip was all about coming together to put a roof on the church. Crossroads Bible provided all the funds, and Chambellan Baptist provided most of the

sweat! Crossroads thought they were putting a new roof on the old church.  But, the pastor at Chambellan pulled a fast one and built an entire new church just before the team’s arrival.  So, the new roof went on a new church!  It was exciting to see it come to completion.  Both US team members and Haitian church members worked very hard.  It always thrills my soul when the multicultural body of Christ works together to accomplish a singular purpose. 

Highlights?  Great celebration and welcoming parade upon our arrival after dark, someone accepted Christ in the Sunday morning service, finishing the church roof, teaching young Haitian kids how to hammer and take part in the process, ladies tea, taking part in the very first church service in their new building!

Here are a few more pics of the team work.  More pictures can be seen here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Drew’s New School

August 29th was the start of a new school year and a new school for Drew!  He started first grade at Cite Lumiere Christian School (which offers grades 1-12).  The school is less than a mile away from our house and this (or my four-wheeler) is his mode of transportation:


He has been anticipating the start of first grade for a while for many reasons: the biggest being an English-speaking/American-style school.  While he enjoyed things about his Haitian Kindergarten, there were things he didn’t enjoy that much.  He really liked his teacher there, liked learning to write in cursive and learning to read French.  He had an excellent opportunity to learn Creole and he speaks so well!  On the down side, he found it hard to make friends there: he didn’t like that the kids always wanted to drink out of his water bottle and that they were always touching him.  Haitian school is a lot more monotonous; much more about memorization and recitation.  Drew would tell you it was not as “fun.”  Overall, it was a great experience for him, but he was always looking forward to the day he could start first grade at CLCS.

Here is Drew ready for school!  Braden and Tessa had to get in on the photo-taking action.





There are 6 kids in Drew’s class:  four first-graders and two second-graders.  It is an international mix!  There are two kids from the US and English is their first language. Another girl is from Germany, but has been learning English for a few years now.  Two siblings just arrived here from Germany and they speak only a handful of English words.  And one boy is Haitian, his Mom is South African (I think, don’t quote me on that!) and both Creole and English are spoken in their home.  Quite a mix!  Drew’s teacher tells me she’s already had Drew translate into Creole for his Haitian classmate to help clarify some things!

The first day of school started with a chapel service for the entire school where the students were challenged with “as for me and my class we will serve the Lord.”  At the end, the incoming first graders were presented with a gift, which is a German tradition.







Drew’s teacher is Miss Renee.  She has a neat story how God led her to Haiti.  Last fall, she came for 6 weeks to teach ESL to adults at another ministry here called SEED (an agronomy school.)  She loved Haiti so much, she ended up staying thru December helping teach at CLCS.  She had graduated with a teaching degree from Illinois State but wasn’t feeling led into public school teaching.  Last fall, God showed her why.  He wanted her here in Haiti!

Here is Drew in front of his school and with his teacher:

IMG_6279 IMG_6298  

Would you pray for Drew and his class, Miss Renee, and CLCS this year?