Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giving Thanks

Living far away from family is definitely a sacrifice—not just for us but for those family members we have left behind.  It seems more exaggerated with the ocean between us.  It’s during the holidays especially, that I am so thankful for this missionary community that we are apart of.  We all come from many different parts of the world; all missing our families and friends. I’m thankful that this community has become like family and that we are able to celebrate the big holidays together.

Thanksgiving day is not a holiday in Haiti, but as an American, it’s one of the most important holidays of the year.  There are many different (Haitian) holidays we celebrate and observe throughout the year and many US holidays we tend to forget about.  For us, Thanksgiving isn’t one we forget about!  The last few years this has been a very special gathering for us and it wasn’t any different this year!

Once again, we hosted over 100 people at our house for American Thanksgiving!  The final count this year was 104 to be exact.  There were many old friends, a good amount of new friends and a few we don’t get the chance to see that often.  We welcomed Americans, Germans, Canadians and Haitians.  I really enjoy organizing and hosting this gathering every year. 


People ask how we pull this off every year.  Well, we have lots of help!  Our job mostly consists of organizing everything and communicating.  Some people donate their turkey that they received from Agape Flights and I asked Agape to purchase and send in any extra turkeys we needed to feed 100+ people.  This year, we cooked 6 turkeys!  Everyone signs up to bring one or two dishes, we gather all the tables and chairs the missionaries have and sit down for an American Thanksgiving feast.  Don’t think I’m fitting all these people in my house!  We have ample outdoor space and we pray for no rain, which thankfully we had none.  Many people came down earlier in the day to decorate and make the tables pretty.  After we ate dinner, we had a time of sharing then dessert and lots of conversations.  The kids enjoy a kids craft and time to play with each other.

It was a fun day, one that left me feeling contented and grateful.  While we really miss our family, we feel really privileged to be serving alongside this community of people furthering the gospel in Haiti.

During this season of thankfulness, we want to say an extra “thank you!” to those of you who support us financially, prayerfully and emotionally so that we can serve in Haiti.  We are appreciative of your sacrifice!

~Becky

Expansion of the HFK Deworming Program

Last Tuesday was an exciting day for me and for those of us who work with the Hope for Kidz Child Sponsorship Program because we rolled out phase two of the Deworming Program.  Earlier in the year, we rolled out phase one of the program.  I wrote a report in March on all the reasons we believe deworming (one pill, once per year) is an important part of the HFK program.  To read about that again, go here

For the 2012-2013 school year we dewormed 9,000+ kids in 33 schools.  This year, we were able to add all the satellite locations that have sponsored kids as well as a few new sister church schools.  That alone is a huge expansion. For the 2013-2014 school year, we dewormed 12,000+ students and teachers! The deworming program is not just for the sponsored kids, but for every child in all of our schools that have sponsored kids. 


For phase two, in addition to the increased number of students treated, we added an important aspect to the program: worm prevention education.  Last week, we asked all the school administrators to come in for a meeting.  We reviewed with them the process of distributing the meds to the students, went over how we want them to keep records and distributed 12,000+ pills and cups.  Then each school received an educational illustrated flip book.  Much thanks goes to those from The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Chicago’s NW suburbs who developed most of the educational materials that we use for the deworming program!  It is a priceless resource.  We taught the administrators the information in the flip books including how you catch worms, symptoms and how to prevent catching worms.  There were many questions and dialogue.  At the end, we taught them all a catchy song about worm prevention that they can use with the kids.  The information and materials were well received. We now require that the educational materials are taught to every class in every school each year.

Overall, the HFK Deworming Program is just a small part of the child sponsorship program.  The one pill per year and prevention education once per year is a tiny financial part of the puzzle, but is having a huge impact in the health of these students.

To those of you who sponsor a child, we want to say a big THANK YOU!  Your sponsorship is impacting more than just the single child you sponsor—it’s impacting the whole school. 
~Becky

Sharing the Gospel with our Hands, Feet, and Mouths...

We had a great week out in Desriveaux. It was great to get out into the country once again. I spent the week with Walloon Lake Community Church in their first visit to Desriveaux Church. This was their first trip, an opportunity to consider officially becoming a C3 Partner (Sister Church).  Where is Desriveaux?
 
School Gathering
The week began with a welcome like I have never experienced. There was such an excitement in the air as we arrived. The Haitian church shared immediately that they had been praying for 15 years for a visit from a team like this. Their prayers had been answered. The hospitality of the typical Haitian puts the hospitality of the typical American to shame.

Friends.  Boys.
While we were in Desriveaux, we had lots of gatherings with the different groups of the church. We met with the Youth Group, School Kids, the Ladies gathering was truly SPECIAL including a fashion show!, as well as several services with the church at large.  We held an evangelistic service. We delivered food to widows and the desperately poor in the area.  We gave out a total of 50 Food Boxes.  We visited a Satellite church to encourage them.  We gave a quitar.  We built benches for the school.  We handed out 750 Jesus Story books to every child.  We truly shared the Gospel with our hands, our feet, and our mouths.  I use the word "we" carefully.  RMI made it all happen for sure, but it was only because of Walloon Lake Community Church's generosity and preparedness to bless the socks off the Haitian Church.  Of course, I know the US team members would say they received the largest blessing themselves! 

Building School Benches
Due to lots of rain, the main road coming home was cut off. We had to spend an extra day "on the road", actually in the Duchity MEBSH church. It brought back memories of staying at this same place during Hurricane Sandy in 2012! Luckily, this time, we were only there 1 night.

Praying with a Widow
God was honored as I believe lives were changed, both Haitians and Americans.

One of the team members wrote on her Facebook page...

"I left 10 days ago on a trip not knowing what to expect... but it wouldn't have mattered. My expectations would have been far exceeded. God is so good! He has amazing ways of showing me new things that I never realized before. I pray each and every day I will wake up with the heart of the Haitian church at Desriveaux. With their attitude of joy and thanksgiving for God's never ceasing love. My home might be here but my heart is in Haiti."
You can see all my pics from the trip here

Stuck in the Mountains... Again... v 3.0

In Haiti, we have to remain flexible.  But, sometimes I think God has a sense of humor.

Remember Hurricane Sandy in 2012?  I was stuck with the team from NewChurch Georgetown in the town of Duchity, on the wrong side of the Glass River...  Here are the pictures and a video to remind you.

By the way, if you want to see what progress looks like in Haiti...  Look at this picture of the Glass River last year, and now look at this pictures of the bridge that is there this year.

1 year later, just a couple of weeks ago, we, yes, the same team and I, got stuck AGAIN in Duchity due to a road block.  The team and I just looked at each other.  Really?  Luckly, this time, we only stayed in Duchity about 45 minutes and the road opened up.  It gave us a nice opportunity to visit with our friend the Pastor, who we had spent those long, windy and very wet days with 1 year ago.


Here we are, stuck in Duchity, Haiti
Again, yes, AGAIN, a third time, coming back with another team, this time from Walloon Lake Community Church, we got stuck... in the same place!  This time, the main road was cut off, due to 5 days of heavy rains mixed with road construction.  Apparently, the road slid down the mountain, and the more rock and dirt they would add, the more it would slide.  Finally, after several day of fighting with heavy equipment, they got it to stick.  But, now all the dirt they had added was like a big bowl of wet soup.  We waited, and we waited, only to realize we had to back track and spend the night.  The next day , we waited and waited. After parking the trucks, and walking up to see the scene, we watched truck after bus after truck make a run for it, only to get stuck and have to be pushed or pulled out.   Finally, after sitting all day, we made the decision to hike out with our essentials.  We had no idea how long the road would remain blocked and we had no desire to stay another night!  After some phone calls to friends with trucks on the other side, we hiked out across the mud and jumped into the trucks of friends.  The team was tough, they took it well.  The team was on it's way.


Hiking out in the Mud
Here are 2 videos of a bus trying to make it out.  #1 and #2.  We watched this scenarios happen 50ish times.

What an experience.  I am sure it won't be the last time I am stuck on a road in Haiti.  It's totally worth it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Visit to Maniche with Florida Bible Church

Last week, I (Becky) had the chance to go out with the team from Florida Bible Church from Miramar, FL to visit their sister church in Maniche.  Rob was brave and stayed home with the kids for the week. I really enjoy these opportunities!  RMI always says our ministry is the “ministry of presence” and usually my ministry of presence is in the home with my family and in support roles with RMI in the areas of bookkeeping and hospitality.  It sure is good for me to get out into the village with our teams.  It really gives me a renewed sense of purpose and perspective.  Well, enough about me!
This week we had a team of 11 and one of RMI’s new missionaries, Star Harvie, came with us for her first experience with a sister church team.
The team with Star and I:
photo (1)
Maniche is less than an hour’s drive away.  When we arrived, we were greeted by the church’s Brigade.  There was so much excitement from the church and the team members!  I’ve seen many Brigade groups—they are so fun to watch and do a great job!  But this team, with many seasoned team members, have never been greeted in this way before. It was the first year the Maniche Baptist Church has had a Brigade so it was a real treat for everyone.

Click on "Post" to view a video of the brigade...
This was the first time that the Senior Pastor and his wife from FBC visited their sister church in Maniche.  This was extra special for Pastor Enoch and Madame Pastor!  Church was packed Sunday morning and they saved Communion for that Sunday so they could lead it together. 
Communion Service:

Star and I:

It was a full week of ministry to encourage the church in Maniche—there was little downtime!  The youth had a Bible Quiz: Jeopardy-style.  They made team names and had chants going and were trash talking—all in fun!  The loser’s had to salute to the winners.  The team used the kids to re-enact Joshua and the battle of Jericho during a program for the school kids.  At one point I thought the church walls might come tumbling down!  There were over 250 kids making as much noise as they could!  They had special gatherings for the ladies and men and both played some games, including musical chairs for the ladies.  It’s always a joy to see the Haitian ladies and men let loose a little during a game—they are very competitive! 
Men’s Bible Study:

Visit to Robert Church:
SAM_0769
FBC really has a heart for the people and as a whole church, they are very involved in the Hope for Kidz child sponsorship program.  Spending time with and loving on the ladies, men, kids and youth was their goal, and they accomplished it well.  They went out of their way to do special things for each of the people they came in contact with.  And it wasn’t just the FBC team—the people of the Maniche church went over and above to love on their visitors.  These 2 churches have a heart connection that is obvious and infectious! 
~Becky

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just Got Back from the End of the Earth...

Some of our partnering Haitian churches are in the epitome of remote.  I think it was Dan Shoemaker who used to say, "It's not the end of the earth, but you can sure see if from here!"

I just got back from visiting Abricot Church, and from there Saint Victor Church and Baptiste Church.  I went with NewChurch Georgetown from Texas.  To say we were remote is an understatement.  I love the RMI church Partnership program because it get's the church out there-- way out there (uttermost parts of the world).  We get to touch lives who need the touch of Christ.  We get to be impacted by people who love Jesus, regardless of difficult circumstances.

Saint Victor Church
I must tell you a story...

We left Abricot, to head up a mountain to visit another district church.  I've never been to this church, but I know better than to fully believe the Pastor when he said the road is "no problem". Abricot is remote, but Saint Victor is remote remote.  The road leaving Abricot is worse than any dirt road you see in the US, but it is the best part of the road to Saint Victor.

After getting a little ways out into a valley, we dipped down into and across a river.  Not too deep, but deep enough to open wide the eyes of our new team members.  The other side of the river was steep, followed by a true 250'ish mud bog.  Deep.  Greasy.  Heavy. Mud.  The ruts (canyons) of mud were filled with water.  No one knew the depth.  I said to myself, "low four-wheel, keep moving, look calm... don't stop."  Then I stopped.  Not by choice, but because the truck hit hard as I bottomed out (luckily our trucks have plates underneath to protect from this).  We try to keep the vehicles on the berm, or on top of, the ruts.  But that greasy mud just pulls and pulls and pulls you right in.  Once you fall in, there is no choice but to ride it out (willing the truck to comply, keep going).  Now I am stopped.  After a quick consideration of the options,  I rocked the truck back and forth, and gave it a little extra gas.  After whining and chugging, the truck started moving again.  Slowly, churning its way through the 50 yards of muck.  Did I mention I had 6 people in the back bed of the truck?  After some more mud, we started our ascent.  So steep at one point, that I had to lift myself up out of my seat to see the road ahead over the front hood of the truck.  Yep, serious stuff.

Finally, we reached our destination.  Saint Victor.  As the team assembled in the half-finished church building with the local church congregation, I lingered on the path in front of the church to speak with a couple of Haitians who were sitting there passing the time.  One was sick with ongoing stomach pain.  One was upset because the school sent his kids home because he hadn't paid their tuition.  He can't pay.  He has nothing.  I mean nothing.  What does one do?  I moved on, another person patting their dirty belly.  This girl was hungry.  What can I do?  What can I do?  Seriously, what can I do?  I walked into the church.  Emotional.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Should I take the shirt off my back or the shoes off my feet.  I can't help everyone.  Right?! Refocus.  In the small, spontaneous church service, we sang.  We prayed.  We shared.  We sang more.  We loved on each other.  We smiled.  We enjoyed the presence of one another.  We shared Jesus.  I wasn't planning on saying anything, but I had to.  I spoke up...  fighting my internals, I reminded the people of my favorite Creole song... “No, No, Chemen an pa Fasil”.  "No, No, the road is not easy".  We sang it.  I told them about the road we had just passed over to get there.  The thick mud.  Running rivers.  Steep hills.  Unforgiving bumps.  It's like life.  I've blogged about it. Who am I to even speak of a hard road?  I don't know, but I am one who can remind the broken that they are in the hands of Jesus.  The song goes on to explain that although the road is tough, although there are many difficulties, Jesus is walking with us.  We are in the hands of Jesus.  It's the truth of the Gospel.

In the church that day, in fellowship, there was and is joy.  Outside of the church, there was desperation and a lack of hope.  Fellowship in Christ encourages.  It encourages the Haitian people.  I was reminded.  I can't give my shirt to everyone, but I can make a difference.  It's why we are in Haiti.  Jesus must have been smiling when we had to stop on our way down to change a flat tire due to a screw.  He must have been laughing when on the way back my truck was teetering on 2 wheels at a moment when I tried to avoid a deep pit of mud.

Yep, the road is not easy, but Jesus has us, and the Haitian people, in the palm of His hand.

Here is a portion of the Mud
Lots of pictures of our visit here.

Rob

I'm Proud...

Recently, I had the high pleasure of getting to help introduce "RMI" to some visiting people from 2 different churches.  Frankly, it's impossible to appreciate the depth and breadth of what we do here on the field without seeing it first hand.

Here the Vision team is praying for and
delivering food to a desperately poor family.
I am proud.  Proud of the volume of ministry that we accomplish.  Proud of the RMI Team that is making it happen.  Proud of the character and values that we remain unapologetically committed to.  Proud of our stewardship of resources.  Proud of the national leaders who are rising up to do the work.  Proud of my family who stand with me as part of the team.  Proud of our missionaries who have given up much to join in the work.  Proud of the RM staff in FL for their tireless leadership, care and service. Proud of the lives we are impacting, both Haitian and American.

We keep repeating...
"I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me". Phil. 4:13
"For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that he powerfully works in me." Col. 1:29

I can simply say it was awesome to hear this vision team say time and again, "I had no idea you all were having such an impact."  It's nice to celebrate and be celebrated.

Please understand, it's not about me.  It's the sum of the whole.  I can lead here on the field, but a leader without a team is just taking a walk.

We have another vision trip scheduled for Feb 14-19.  Interested?

It doesn't tell the whole story, but you can see pictures from this recent vision team here.
Rob

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lost Things...

We missed church today because we couldn't find our truck keys. Unbelievable. We looked and we looked. EVERYWHERE. I even looked in the refrigerator.  But, we couldn't find them.   Finally, we found them when Drew went to get a drink. It was way too late for church. They fell off the kitchen counter into a lower drawer that has all of our kid friendly cups. I am sure it was Becky's fault. ;)

I guess the Lord wanted us to stay home and do family church together.  We had a sweet time.

Wow, how hard do we look for lost things? Nothing is left unturned. No place is off limits.

It reminded me...

"For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10



Tired Tires from Donkey Paths...

We push our trucks to the limit.  We pray our trucks don't get tired too quickly.  But surely, our tires do.  It can't be avoided.  We often find ourselves grinding/churning up a steep mountain road completely covered with sharp rock.  Many would call these roads donkey paths.  Sometimes that rock is loose, sometimes it is immovable.  Sometimes we find ourselves crossing hours of rough "dirt" roads.  That "dirt" is often rock, stone, hard or soft.  Sometimes, we find ourselves deep in mud, where only low 4x4 driving allows progress.  Every now and then, we even find ourselves on pavement, which is no friend to a mud tire.

Here are the 2 causes of 2 flats just this past week.


No matter where we find ourselves, our tires wear quickly. They are punctured, cut, and worn. RMI currently has 10 trucks in constant use (not counting motorcycles).  Some of the larger trucks have more than 4 tires.  This is approximately 46 tires (not including spares).  To say we need to buy tires all. the. time. is an understatement.  They simply get tired.  Quickly.  We travel with spare tires to be sure, but that often isn't enough due to multiple tire issues.  Therefore, we travel with plug kits so when we get flat tires, we can plug the hole in a remote location and keep going.  Do you know how long it takes to pump up a truck tire with an old inefficient bicycle pump?  I do.

This is only one small part of the constant financial burdens we carry. Constant multi-vehicle-travel over rough 3rd world context roads requires a LOT of resources.  Example:  46 tires, changed every 6 months, at about $150 per tire equals $13,800 per year in just tire money.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Harvie’s Who?

I talk about our Haitian staff A LOT, but wow is it good to have more US missionary hands as well.  Even though they are focused on learning Creole, Greg and Star Harvie are already making a huge difference in their work. 

Greg is always ready to jump in and get the job done.  He is already rotating tires, checking and changing brake pads, unloading containers, ordering car and moto parts from the US, etc. 

Star is crushing the work that we have thrown at her.  It’s a LONG list, but no complaints from her, she is just pushing through and getting the job done.  She is making a huge difference as an assistant to me, an assistant to our Go Team, and as an assistant to Hope for Kidz.

Both are really making a difference.  I’m grateful.

Rob

I’m crying, but I bet you don’t know why…

I am here working in my office.  It’s really quiet.  Too quiet…

It’s a day off for our national staff.  It’s a national holiday here in Haiti.  As Americans living here in Haiti, we tend to take the major American Holidays off.

But, today, on their day off, there are 2 ladies working in the kitchen.  They are preparing food for the team that arrives tomorrow from TX.  No break for these ladies.  No rest for the weary as we say.  I have said it so many times already.  There is no way I can describe the appreciation I have for the national staff.  They work hard.  They are dedicated.  They come when they must.  They leave when the job is done.  They don’t complain.  They are servants.  They are a team.

Why am I crying?  Not because I am sad.  Not because I am happy.  It’s because these ladies are cutting onions.  The tears are rolling down my cheeks!



Rob

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Balancing Act with Eternal Consequences…

Some people take the time to smell the roses.  Some people ask, what roses?  Some people try to do too little.  Some people try to do too much.   Which are you?

I have found that some people are running an incredible race, in so many different directions, without even considering the point of it all, and sometimes accomplishing very little of value.

There is a proper balance between fully being who God wants us “to be”, and being highly productive in doing what God wants us “to do”.  This balance can only be realized through honest Spirit filled introspection (Romans 12:2), followed up by Spirit empowered choice and action (Colossians 1:29).  Both are required, but both are often neglected.

Love the LordThe great commandment (Matthew 22:37-39) that Jesus gave us before he “left” us was the “to be” command.  Be in love with Jesus and others.  Another way of putting this might be to enjoy and celebrate both divine and earthly relationship.  Be present.

The great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) that Jesus gave us before he “left'” us was the “to do” command.  Go and make disciples.  Do because you love.  Another way of putting this might be to get busy with getting done what Christ began doing. Be productive.

Be present.  Be productive.

Remember Mary and Martha?  Martha’s busyness of scurrying around blinded her to the unique opportunity that she had.  Mary was commended for her great sacrifice and choice to disregard the work that everyone would agree HAD to be done.  Mary fulfilled the “to be” command by sitting and enjoying Jesus and she fulfilled the “to do” command through great sacrifice and pointed action.  She DID something because she LOVED someone.

Some people are just so laid back, that they never get much of anything done.  Some people are just so busy, that they never get much of anything done either.

I don’t care what you are doing, if you don’t consider the point, you will miss the point.  (Example:  Try shooting a bow without taking time to fix your eyes on the target.  This is what you call insanity, and it is also where we often find ourselves.)

Let’s seize the day and accomplish BIG things, because we are rooted in love.

I certainly don’t have all this figured out, but I’m going to die trying…

Rob

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Getting fired…

Have you ever been fired from a job?  I have.  It doesn't feel good.  But, have you ever fired yourself from a job?  It's not easy at first, but in the end, it feels great!


Do you have too many jobs?  Do you wear too many hats?  Sometimes, you have to fire yourself from a job in order to focus on the most important, and in order to engage others in those other jobs.  We often actually rob others of a blessing and opportunity by hoarding tasks and responsibility.

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to prune, trying to evaluate where I should remain focused, and what I should let go and let others do.  Everything seems to have value, but not everything will be the most strategically important in the long run. 
I want to be a change-agent.  The most successful way for me to influence change, is to focus my God-given energies in the areas that will have the greatest long term impact.  Where can I have the greatest impact?
People, Projects, Planning…  These 3 “P” words seem to sum up my pruned list of priorities. 
  • People – I must develop the people around me.  Specifically, I believe my call is to develop them spiritually and vocationally.  If I develop people, they will impact other people, and so on and so on… (can you think of anyone in Scripture that employed this model?)
  • Projects – I must keep the ball rolling.  We have so much to do.  We have HUGE dreams/plans.  We will never get there if we get comfortable.  Ensuring productivity for myself and my team must be high on my list.
  • Planning – One of my first leadership classes in my education defined a leader as “one who knows where they are going and how to get there.”  Thanks Professor Peter Hook.  I must always be planning by setting the vision and goals, helping to establish a plan, and making sure we are intentionally working the plan.
Rob

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Lack of Excitement Here…

So I thought this would be a slower month for us here.  It is a slower month team-wise, with just one team already come and gone, and the next one not arriving until October 12th.  This is always the perfect time to get caught up with all the administrative work and work on getting ahead with responsibilities, planning, training and team-building with our staff.  And we’ve been able to do this!  Just yesterday Rob was talking about how we, as a leadership team, want to be proactive vs. reactive.
Well, a few weeks ago Rob and I were discussing how we needed to have quite a few branches in the trees around our yard trimmed.  We should have been more proactive, because today we are handling the after effects of a huge part of the tree over our covered outside area crashing down in the middle of the night and completely destroying the roof.  No lack of excitement here…



There was no wind or rain last night.  Looks like there was termite damage in the trunk that we had no knowledge of and the large branch got too heavy and just snapped.  I’m very thankful it happened in the night and not during the day when any of us could have been outside under that roof.  Some of the 2 X 4’s holding up the roof snapped and threw large shards of wood across the yard.
Seems to me a good analogy of what can happen if we don’t undergo regular pruning in our own lives. Is there huge area that needs pruning and was put off? Maybe, like the tree in our yard, I don’t even realize it needed pruning!  Here’s the warning: it may just come crashing down any moment.  Better start being more proactive in my life, looking for areas that need pruning.  The aftermath of not doing so could cause a lot of damage and make a big mess.
~Becky

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We will not fear. We will charge ahead. It’s Go Time.

I couldn’t be more excited.  The picture below is our team of 5 Partnership Facilitators (Perguens, Pierre Rony, Frantz, Manno and Parick), plus 2, their direct supervisor (Benjamin – Field Administrator), and his right hand man (Benson – Project Supervisor).   Although we are all learning, the 5 facilitators have been in boot camp style training (they still are, but they can’t stay).  We are calling this team our “1:12 Partnership Facilitators” (some other day I will explain the 1:12 bit). It’s going to take many more servants behind the scenes, but these are at the core.  

Staff Badge Pics - Copy2

We believe in our Haitian staff and we are committed to empowering them and releasing them to change the world. Now, it is time for the next step.  It’s “Go Time”!

We’ve been preparing.  We’ve been dreaming.  We’ve been calculating.  We’ve been praying.  We can’t wait any longer.  What do I mean by “Go Time”?  The 5 Partnership Facilitators will be visiting every one of our Haitian C3 Partnership churches and communities throughout all of Southern Haiti over the next 3 weeks for face to face, on site, exploratory meetings with Pastor’s, Deacon’s and School leaders.  After these visits, there will be much evaluation, assessment and planning for each unique partnership.  It’s going to be a ton of work.  But, it’s worth it. 

Why are we doing this? 

We will establish Dynamic Partnership Profiles – It’s dynamic, because these profiles will always be changing (not static) as progress and development happens.  This profile will include Pastor’s info, Deacon’s names, how many are in the ladies group, how many in the youth group, how many in…  well, you get the idea, all the data.  Each C3 Partnership Profile will also have a Timeline where each event, US Team Visit, RMI Accountability Visit, projects finished, pictures taken, etc., will be recorded.  Each of our US Churches will be able to visit their profile at any time to get the latest info, story, link, report, etc.

We will assess each Partnership’s Position within our Starfish Strategy – We must establish a baseline so we can celebrate the past, plan for the future and measure our effectiveness.  How can we plan for tomorrow if we don’t understand yesterday (What has already been accomplished) and today (the current state of being)?  We will be evaluating each partnership within the framework of our 5 Points of Impact: Evangelism, Discipleship, Social Compassion, Education, and Community Development.

We will Create a Pathway – When our teams come, we talk A LOT about being present.  I can’t tell you how important it is to simply be present with one another. It changes lives.  We will NOT forget this.   But, would Jesus want us to only be present with one who is desperately thirsty?  No, he would want us to give the thirsty a drink (of course you won’t know if they are thirsty if you aren’t present).  So, we want to collaboratively create a pathway, a map, or a plan, for each of our C3 Partnerships for what we want to DO together, shoulder to shoulder (RMI, Haitian Church, US Church).  Once a plan is established, the Haitian Church and the US Church can prayerfully plan and proceed accordingly.  We will start mapping out a pathway between RMI and the Haitian Church, and then we will finalize the pathway by working directly with each of our US C3 Partnering churches.

Paul challenged Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7… “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

This is BIG.  We will not fear.  We will charge ahead.  It’s Go Time.

Rob

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am Nothing Without Others

I get a lot of credit for the things that other people do simply because I'm the leader. But to be honest without the people that surround me I am nothing.

I'm grateful for the people that have gone before me to set the foundation, to set the table, to prepare the way, to invest in my personal development. Without my bosses (past and present), without my coworkers, my team, my wife, without our supporters who faithfully support us financially and with lots of prayer, without my extended family, I am nothing and I will accomplish nothing.

Most importantly without Jesus I am nothing. It is only because of what he is doing in me and through me that I'm able to lead and do what I do.

I just got done reading toda's entry in You Versions study, "The Leadership Style of Jesus".  Great reminder.

Here is a direct quote from the study...

"But Jesus was not driven, as so many leaders are today, by the need to receive credit, applause and attention. He was driven by love for the Father. Jesus acknowledged those who went before Him, including Abraham (see John 8:53) and Moses (see John 5:45-46). If we want to follow the leadership style of Jesus Christ, we must acknowledge others in the same Christ-like way He did."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Beginnings

I love new beginnings.  They are a chance to start over, begin again, hit the reset button.  Since returning from vacation August 22nd, we’ve had a busy time of new beginnings! 

August 22nd was Tessa’s birthday and we celebrated her turning 7 years old. It was the beginning of another year of her life.

Tessa's 7th Birthday Party August 2013

August 23rd, new RMI missionaries, Greg and Star Harvie, arrived on the field (all the way from Nebraska).  For them especially, this a very significant new beginning: one they will mark every year they are here.  The past week has been full with helping them get settled into their new host-country and home, showing them the ropes and field orientation: all with the goal of helping  set them up for them for success in their ministry with RMI and in Haiti.  September 9th, they start language training.  This whole year will be filled with firsts for them!

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August 26th was the start of a new school year for Drew and Tessa (3rd and 2nd grades, respectively.)  I love this time of year.  It’s a time for our family to hit the reset button and begin again with the daily routine and responsibilities that were more relaxed during the summer.  It’s new and exciting every year.  Cite Lumiere Christian School started the year off with a family chapel service.  Rob was asked to speak and he challenged the kids (and adults) with Romans 12-:1-2: to not be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds.  It was a great service to kick of the beginning of a new school year.

Drew and Tessa's 1st Day of School Aug 2013

After a great vacation, it’s been a time for Rob to get back into work and ministry with a renewed spirit.  With school starting, it’s a time for me to get back into routine at home and with my RMI responsibilities. Summer is fun but it’s also a challenging time for me to keep up with my work when the kids don’t have school.  The school year gives me a renewed sense of purpose.

This life we have in Christ is a new beginning: forgiven, redeemed, “reset”.  I am so thankful for the redeeming work of Christ on the cross and for new beginnings at different times of the year to remind us of the greater work He is doing in our lives! 

Pray for Greg and Star Harvie, Drew and his teacher, Mrs. Ferris, Tessa and her teacher, Mrs. Leger, RMI as we enter into a busy fall team schedule and our family as we adjust to new routines and a new school year.  How can we pray for you?

~Becky

Friday, August 30, 2013

Running…

I’ve started running.  Or maybe I should say schlepping.  Dragging my unwilling body up and down very loose stone, rocky and hilly roads in 157% humidity probably shouldn’t be called “running”.  August in Haiti is no time to start running.  And yet, here I am.  When I run, my lungs burn.  My heart pounds.  My back aches.  My will shrinks.  My legs become jelly. I. AM. OUT. OF. SHAPE.  I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I must do something.  In time, I am told it can only get better.  I promise you, it couldn’t be worser (yes, I know worser isn’t a word).

It’s not easy.  I am weak.  But in my weakness, He is made strong.

It’s reminded me. No matter what “hill” I am facing…  God is present.  He is aware.  He is speaking.  He is moving.  He is conducting.  He is working.  He is strengthening.  He is empowering.  He is mediating.  He is transforming…

Change me Lord.  I want to be who you want me to be.  I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (and body).

schlep

Rob

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Visit to the Citadelle

One of the highlights of our recent vacation was our stop to visit the Citadelle located near Cap-Haitien in the north of Haiti.  On our way home from the DR, we spent two nights in Cap-Haitien, before driving the rest of the way home to Cayes.  It’s a long drive to get that far north in Haiti and we didn’t know when or if we’d ever get that way again, so we decided to take a day to visit this magnificent fortress. For some history and background on the Citadelle, click on the hyperlink above to see what Wikipedia has to say about it.  It’s a fascinating and rich history and is worth the quick read. 

We arrived at Sans-Souci Palace where King Henry Christophe lived.  Here is where we hired a Haitian guide to take us on a guided tour of both the Citadelle and the Palace.  From here it was 7 miles uphill to reach the fortress.  We were able to drive 2/3 of the way, park and then we “rented” horses and rode the rest of the way.    It well worth it to take the horses.  It’s a very steep hike and while the path is concrete and stone, it would have been very difficult for the kids. The kids loved riding the horses up!  It was so much fun!

Vacation Citadel August 2013

The cool thing about visiting the Citadelle, is you can pretty much walk around everywhere, even some dangerous places!  Our guide took us through it all and explained what each room was and what it was used for.  There are hundreds of cannons still there and thousands of cannonballs still stacked high.  There are not many railings and you can walk all the way to the roof.  It was breathtaking.  I don’t even know how to describe it.  Pictures in this case are better than a thousand words, yet the pictures we took can’t begin to describe the magnificence that is the Citadelle.  Click here to see all the photos.  This is one time I’d tell you it is worth your time to view them all!  Here is our family on one part of  the roof of the Citadelle:

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And a few more favorite photos:

Vacation Citadel August 20131

After that we rode the horses back down the mountain and toured Sans-Souci Palace.  A large earthquake on 1842 destroyed much of the grounds, so it is more  in ruins, but was fascinating history nonetheless.  Here are a few highlight photos of the palace:

Vacation Citadel August 20132

What a fantastic ending to our vacation.  We enjoyed a great time of rest in the DR and a fantastic tour of what many Haitians call “the 8th wonder of the world.”  If you ever happen to be up in the Northern part of Haiti, this is a must see!

~Becky

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again…

back in the saddleAs you read Becky’s vacation updates, you will read how amazing it was for us to get away and rest.  Truly, rest is a discipline that God set forth at the beginning of time, but yet it is one of the most overlooked disciplines of the modern era.  It was truly awesome.  For a long time to come I will look back and nostalgically remember those sweet days with my family.

But now, we are back.  “Back in the Saddle” as we say.  The saddle rubs.  The saddle stretches us.  But, the saddle fits.  It is truly good to be back in the thick of things.

By the way, I am the Pirate Cowboy…  You should see my chaps and cutlass!

Rob

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Much Needed Vacation

We all need a break.  We all need time to settle down, disconnect from the busyness of life and reconnect with our family.  For us, living in Haiti accentuates that need for a break to an even greater degree.  Here we live in a proverbial fishbowl.  Everyday tasks seem harder, work can feel like it’s 24-7, and even in our own home we are rarely alone.  Driving is more stressful, errands take more effort and there is always someone at our door asking for help. 
Last summer, we spent 3 months in the States on home assignment.  We had some vacation time built in and it was a break from the busyness of Haiti.  But our schedule was packed full and we were still working!  This year, because of a busy team schedule over the summer, we had a limited amount of time time for a break.  The expense of going to the States for a vacation didn’t make sense. 
This summer we decided to go to the Dominican Republic.  Since Haiti and the DR share the same island (Hispaniola), this adventure made sense for the time we had. We have German missionary friends who have driven there before and were able to secure us a very good rate at a Dominican all-inclusive resort.  We made plans and off we went! 
The plan was to drive north to Cape Haitian and then cross the DR border and arrive in Puerto Plata on the north coast of the DR.  We left at 3 am and arrived at the resort at 6 pm the same day.  For those of you who know driving in Haiti, this is not relaxing highway driving!  Hats off to Rob for getting us there in minimum time.  3 hours of the road was just dirt.  At one point we were stopped for 45 minutes because a huge bus was stuck in the muddy portion of the road and was totally blocking the road.  The driver managed to get the bus stuck even worse, but he had turned the bus to make a way for other vehicles to pass.  I really don’t know how Rob got thru without getting stuck ourselves.  He put it in low 4-wheel drive and didn’t stop!  We were praying the whole time and I just couldn’t look!  I was also anxious about crossing the border.  We paid a Haitian guy to help us with every step and he took care of everything for us.  After 1 hour 15 minutes at the border we were on our way.
My favorite 2 pics:
Vacation DR August 2013
We stayed at the RIU Bachata in Puerto Plata for 10 nights.  It was a beautiful and restful location!  The resort had a huge, gorgeous pool and beautiful beaches.  We spent most of the vacation sitting at the pool or on the beach, swimming to our hearts content.  We ate too much, laughed a lot and lived in our bathing suits most of the time.  We snorkeled right on the beach, kayaked and rented the jet-ski for an hour one day.  We did a snorkeling excursion on a glass-bottom boat which was all of our favorite part of the week.  Even Braden got in the water, and although he did not snorkel, he could still see all the fish and his squeals of delight were priceless.  Each child had a time with a one-on-one date with either Mommy or Daddy.  Drew and Rob went on a dune-buggy excursion, Tessa and I went to the spa for a manicure for her and a pedicure for me, and Braden and Daddy played on all three playgrounds, did  a little shopping and ate ice cream together.  Rob, Drew and I spent a lot of time reading, which we enjoyed immensely!
Here are a few favorite pics:
Collages
It was such a relaxing and renewing time for our family.  A time of just being together with no outside pressures.  I am so thankful for my family and the time we had this summer to truly get away together.  We really needed it!  I’ve posted a few pictures, but if you want to check out all 260+ pics, you can find them here.
We extended our vacation by a few days to stop to visit the Citadelle in Hati, but that is a whole other blog post (and 175 more pics!) and was an amazing experience.
So many of you prayed for us as we drove there and back and prayed that we would have a restful family time.  Thank you!  It was a wonderful blessing for our family.
~Becky 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A collision of ETERNAL proportions…

We are privileged to have “box seats” to an amazing race (rat race?).  One moment the race is happening, life is moving on at a crazy unbelievable pace, the noise/roar of the racing engines is beyond bearable (yet sometimes not even noticed). Then IT happens.  Sometimes it happens as if in slow motion, and at other times, it happens at break neck speed.  A collision of 2 entities that were powered by different fuels, who may be heading in opposing directions, who may have had very different destinations.  It happens, and it is a ugly beautiful event.  In fact, we facilitate these collisions, and I like to watch.

It’s a collision that happens between…

  • The “wealth” of Americans crashing into the “wealth” of Haitians. 
  • The “poverty” of Americans crashing into the “poverty” of Haitians. 
  • The “poverty” of Haitians crashing into the “wealth” of Americans. 
  • The “wealth” of Haitians crashing into the “poverty” of Americans. 

How do we define wealth and poverty?  Who is more wealthy?  Who is more impoverished?  We have found this very difficult to answer.

A question…. It is the PRESENCE/WEALTH of what that produces JOY/SATISFACTION?

The presence (wealth) of something brings joy and satisfaction.  The only presence that will bring true wealth and satisfaction, is Jesus.  It is not all the other things that we could create and/or potentially find on this earth.  This earth is dry and void of any soul satisfying “thing/person/presence”.

Psalm 63:1 – O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Rob

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thank you…

We are grateful to our friends and family who support us.  We often reflect on the fact that we are only here in Haiti, because so many others are behind us supporting us.  We can’t be here, if people like you didn’t support us month in and month out.  Many of you have financially supported us for years!  There are no words to adequately say… THANK YOU. 

Each month we send these updates with stories, pictures, reports and reflections related to our lives and ministry from the field of ministry.  We do this, to remind you, that we are here as an extension of your arms.  We hope that these reflections will be a reminder of what God is doing through you, in another land.

1 Thessalonians 1

Rob

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There is no “I” in Team…

Actually, there is an “I” in the Creole word for team (ekip), but you pronounce it like an “ē”, so I think it still works… ;)


Left to Right: Pierre Rony, Naga, Manno, Rob (Me), Benjamin, Perguens, Frantz


Left to Right: Perguens, Benson, Amy, Benjamin, Naga, Daniel, Rob (Me)

I love the RMI Team. This is far from the whole team.  Pray for us, and the rest of the team who are here in Haiti making it happen.

Would you like to support the RMI team?  Click here and choose “Haitian Staff”.

We went to the tip of the Island…

Last week, Drew and I had the opportunity to go with Harper EFC, of Port Orchard, WA to visit their partnering church in Les Irois, Haiti.  It was a great week!  It is truly at far western tip of Haiti.  On a clear day, you would almost think you could see Cuba from there.

Right away, I could see that the team from Harper LOVED the people of Les Irois, but especially the children of Les Irois.  They have for many years been largely invested in RMI’s Hope for Kidz program.  It was evident.  They came prepared to love on those kids like I have not seen before.

While there, I watched as a long term partnership between these 2 churches further blossom and deepen.  It was a joy to listen to their prayers, to watch the way they did life together, to see the constant fellowship filled with laughter and sharing, to see the reunions upon their arrival, and even the moment of separation upon their departure.

While out there, we visited 3 satellite churches in the Les Irois district.  We visited Mandou, Carcasse, and Merise.  At each place, the team took careful time to encourage and be encouraged by the ministry of presence.  At Mandou, it was a joy for the team to see progress on the parsonage that Harper church has invested heavily in.  Soon there will be a roof so the pastor and his wife can move in.

There was a gathering for the ladies, a gathering for the youth, a gathering for the Hope for Kidz children. There were worship services.  There was an evangelistic service.  Each of these gatherings went so well.  All were encouraged in the faith.

This is only the second time I had the opportunity to take Drew with me on a partnership team visit.  Each time he goes, he gets better at figuring out how to do life in a village in the presence of a team.  To be honest, he struggles with so many eyes and so much attention on him.  He battles his desire to help translate and be involved, along with his fears and spirit of timidity.  With age and maturity, I totally expect him to grow into a strong leader.  He and I talk all the time about leadership.  My job is to be gentle, to remember he is only 8, and to not put too much pressure on him!  It’s fun to watch.  His latest 3 leadership lessons are that a leader must  (1.) know where they are going, (2.) know how to get there, and (3.) look back and make sure others are following.

Many more pictures can be seen here.

Rob

An AWESOME Visit to a very REMOTE Church…

We were really “out there” in Chardonette, Haiti.  Crossroads Community Church, of Doylestown, OH, came for their very first C3 Partnership visit a few weeks back.  I had the privilege of going with them.  We changed lives.  We were changed.

From the moment we arrived, the marriage between Crossroads Community Church, Chardonette Church, and RMI was real.  It is hard to put my finger on it, but there was something different, something special in the air.  There was such warmth and joy.  There was a true collaborative humble spirit.  There was an immediate mutual desire to reach out to the community with the Gospel.  There was a quick bond, only possible by the mutual love of Christ, and therefore a love of one another.  It was truly special to have experienced it.

Chardonette is a church that is stuck.  To be honest, they are on the bottom rung of the development ladder.  Injustices were everywhere.  Clean water is an issue.  There is no school building.  The parsonage walls are mud and the roof is rusted and full of holes.  The one room church is crumbling.  There is no electricity.  They are off the beaten path and therefore have little hope of external support.  They are full of the Spirit, but empty of resources. To be honest, they were only considered as a next Sister Church since RMI saw their situation, stepped in and added them.  This church is pretty much forgotten. No special treatment for them. We roughed it a bit.  But the people of Chardonette who hosted us, the 15 US team members, and the 8 RMI staff members all took it in stride since it was all for Jesus.

What did we do?  As we say so often, our partnership visits are much about presence.  When a friend or family member is sick in the hospital, what do you do?  You go and stand by their side.  Surely, you look for opportunities to do something tangible as those opportunities arise, but the visit is most about presence.  It is about standing together, encouraging and praying with one another.  Even being silent…. simply being present.  This was realized.

Having said that, Crossroads Community Church did some very tangible things that clearly made a difference.  Together, we walked far and visited homes of believers and unbelievers alike.  We visited the homes (each strategically chosen by the local church) of widows, of the desperately poor, the blind and broken, of the unsaved.  Each received a bucket of food, prayer, and the Gospel.  Out of about 25 homes that we visited, we saw about 5 people submit to the Lordship of Christ and pray to receive Him as their savior. We traveled to another even more remote church to encourage and bless them with some food, 1 hour UP a hand-made mountain road that was only accessible by low 4 wheel drive.  Truly, this is what God called us to do as believers.

We played games with kids and adults like I have never seen before.  We worshipped.  We prayed.  We ate.  We talked.  We dreamed.  We hiked.  We shared.  We cried.  We sweated. We laughed.  We lived the life that Jesus called us to.

Many more pictures are available here.

Rob

We get to walk in dark places…

Front Line n
1. military the most advanced military units or elements in a battle
2.the most advanced, exposed, or conspicuous element in any activity or situation

It is truly a unique privilege and blessing to be on the front lines of ministry. 

Pinch me, I get to do this every day! 

We are often blessed and treated almost like hero’s by those in supporting roles.  Believe me, that isn’t us.  We just strive (not always successfully) to be faithful to the task (the task of testifying the Gospel of God’s grace – Acts 20:24) in a different part of the world.  The greatest blessing, is being here.  We get to get our hands “dirty”.  We get to walk in dark places.  We get to unbind, loosen and free the oppressed.  We cut chains. We get to bring the justice of the Gospel to bear on disgustingly unjust circumstances.  We get to be the ambassadors that others have sent.  We get to feed the hungry.  We get to encourage and care for widows.  We get to transform lives. We watch out for orphans. We get to mobilize the lethargic.  We get to speak truth in the midst of untruth.  We get to train up and believe in those who have not been believed in.  We get to be a light in a very dark world.

SO. DO. YOU.

We are no different than you.  We aren’t special.  Together, we are equally loved and called by God.  We happen to be in “the uttermost parts of the world”.  Maybe you are in “Jerusalem”.  No matter, we are all reconcilers and “free’ers”.  Are you on the front lines of ministry right where you are?  Have you considered where your front line is?

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Rob

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Funeral, Unexpected Surgery and a Huge Amount of Thanks!

Many of you know that in June, I (Becky) made an unexpected trip to the US.  My maternal grandmother, Kay Kattman, passed away at the age of 93, just a few weeks shy of what would have been her and my grandfather’s 70th wedding anniversary.  We did not plan on coming to the US this year, but I was able to keep my eye on ticket prices and after 2 weeks found something reasonable to return for her memorial service. 

The plan was to come in on Tuesday June 18th and leave Tuesday June 25th.  It wasn’t the best timing as we had 2 teams in-country that week and many more coming this summer, but Rob and I agreed that it was important to go if the price of flights dropped.  They did go down, and I was off to NJ.

I stayed with my Mom during this visit and it was really fun because my grandfather and Uncle also were there.  It was really fun to hear stories I never heard before.  My grandmother served in the Army Air Corps during WWII.  It is where she met my grandfather and they were married 2 months after meeting!  Here is their wedding picture:

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Because she was in the service, she was honored with a military service at the local Veteran’s Cemetery.  My brother led the service and it was really cool at the end when they played taps and honored her service to our country by presenting my grandfather with a flag. 

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The day before I was to head back to Haiti, I had plans to go fishing out on my in-law’s boat.  I was really looking forward to this!  Unfortunately, I woke up in the middle of the night in serious pain.  I knew what it was; I had had this a few times before.  It was pain from my gallbladder.  So instead of fishing, I called my doctor who said to head to the ER for testing.

I spent that Monday in hospital getting all the tests to diagnose gall stones.  While it didn’t need to come out right away, there was a top surgeon on call who consulted with me before any tests were back.  He said he was available to do the surgery that Wednesday, as long as all the tests confirmed the diagnosis.  These pain attacks had been reoccurring with more frequency.  I didn’t want it to get to a point where is was an emergency and be in Haiti!

All in all, I ended up staying an extra week in NJ.  I think it was harder on Rob and the kids!  It was hard for him to be both Dad and Mom for 2 weeks as well as keep up with his work here, especially since it wasn’t expected.  Many of you saw his running commentary on Facebook, which was pretty comical as times!  My Mom took good care of me! 

I was able to return home July 2nd.  There was no better feeling than to hug and kiss my family.  I’m recovering well and feeling pretty good.

What I want to say, Rob has already said here in a earlier post, but I want to say it again.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers, encouraging words and support!  We felt so loved!  So many people had words of encouragement for us and expressed they were praying.  You were the body of Christ in a tangible way.  Thank you!

~Becky