Monday, April 29, 2013

Calvary Bible Fellowship meets Vieux Bourg MEBSH Church

Calvary Bible Fellowship, from Sinking Spring, PA, sent a leadership team down last week to get vision, to scout the land, and ultimately to consider a long term partnership with the people of Vieux Bourg MEBSH Church, in Vieux Bourg d’Aquin, Haiti (pronounced Via Bou in Creole).  The team of 8 from Calvary, all Pastors, Elders, Deacon’s, and Stewards saw and experienced first hand, what a partnership looks like.  They were sent as scouts, I believed they returned as mobilizers for the Gospel.

Pictures can be seen here.

Both of these churches tested the waters to consider the possibility of a long term partnership.  Unity and harmony of belief, practice and vision are key.  The cultures are certainly different, and both must be strongly considered, respected, and even honored, but mutual love for the same Lord, and the unified desire to extend his kingdom inside and outside the church brings the Church together as one, as God intended it to be.  One body, one purpose.

We worshipped with one another, a lot.  We prayed with one another, a lot.  We laughed with one another, a lot.  We cried with one another.  We danced with one another.  We served the poor and sick with one another.  We held hands with one another.  We shared the Gospel with one another.  We dreamed with one another.  We listened to one another.  We learned from one another. We ate with one another.  We served one another.  We loved one another.  We loved with one another.

We came together for the Gospel.  RMI mobilized people, into a partnership, in order to transform lives in Christ.  As one team member said, “I will never ever be the same person again.   God did some things this week in my life that I never expected, and these things will never allow me to be the same again”.  Not only was that obvious among the whole team from the US, but it was also obvious that many lives here in Haiti will truly never be the same again.  Lives were transformed. 

I myself, will never be the same, because I was a participant, and a recipient, of these reciprocal ministries…   Thank you Calvary Bible Fellowship.  Thank you Vieux Bourg MEBSH Church.  I can’t wait to see what God does in the future…


Monday, April 8, 2013

3 Years in Haiti!

Today marks our 3 year anniversary in Haiti!  IMG_3081Three years ago today, we checked into the American Airlines international terminal in Miami with ten  50-pound bags, and used our one-way tickets to Port au Prince, Haiti.  Once there, we loaded up the RMI truck and Gary McLaughlin drove us 5 hours to our new home in les Cayes.  It was the first time Drew, Tessa and Braden traveled outside of the US.  They were 5, 3 and 20 months.  We were excited for our new adventure and confident of the call to Haiti that the Lord had placed on our lives.

Today as a reflect back on that day, I am amazed at how fast those 3 years have passed!  At the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago.  How can it seem like both at the same time?  I guess life is like that, no matter where you are. 

The other night I was feeling nostalgic and re-read all our blog posts from that first year.  The first thing that struck me was how little our kids were!  That first year was full of exploration and the newness of life here.  It was also full of contemplation  and “getting used to” our new host country.

After 3 years, what I realize most is how much I have yet to learn.  Life in general  is about constant learning; life in a country and culture other than your own is like starting life over from infancy.

Here is a little of what I have learned:

  • To be confident only in Jesus Christ.  He is my Father and is teaching me how to walk, talk and live all over again.  This has been and continues to be a hard lesson as I tend to put confidence more easily in myself or Rob before my heavenly Father.
  • To not be afraid to talk like a preschooler.  I’m happy to say that because of that, I now speak like a Kindergartener!  Baby steps…
  • To grow spiritually, relationally and professionally I need to step out of my comfort zone.   Living here feels like difficulties are manifested ten-fold compared to before.  Nothing is easy. Nothing.  That means actively looking for opportunities for growth in every area of life.
  • There are needy people everywhere and I cannot help everyone, nor does God expect me to.  I have learned to pray for wisdom in every situation (James 1:5).  I have learned to help those with whom I have a relationship first, when I can.
  • Marriage in this context is hard.  Communication is everything.  Lots of grace is necessary.

Here is what I am thankful for:

  • A clear call to ministry in Haiti:  it sustains us during the really difficult times.IMG_0844
  • That our home in Haiti feels like “home.”
  • For the amazing, adventurous and culturally rich life our kids are experiencing. 
  • For 3 years of relatively good health and protection of our family.
  • For an amazing partnership for the gospel with RMI missionaries and Haitian staff.
  • For an amazing husband and that we get to do this together.

If you are reading this, I am thankful for you! Your love, support and prayers have sustained us these 3 years.  We couldn’t be here with out you.

This list is by no means all-inclusive.  They are just a few of the ponderings of my soul today as I reflect upon 3 years of ministry in Haiti.  It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve said it before.  There’s no place better to be than right where God wants us.


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Ministry of Presence: My Personal Testimony

Last week, I  had the privilege of accompanying the team from Second Cape May Baptist Church from Marmora, NJ as they visited their sister church of over 30 years in Port a Piment, Haiti.  Over and over I was reminded of the basic reason Rob and I serve in Haiti with RMI.  For me personally, it was a stretching experience and just what I needed to energize my heart and soul.  RMI’s President, Dan Shoemaker, calls it “the Ministry of Presence.”  God’s presence, in us, overflowing in ministry to others.    

IMG_1728  IMG_1733

IMG_1685There have been a few times over the last 3 years that Rob has stayed home with the kids and I’ve gotten the opportunity to go out with a team.  I was excited to learn that my sister-in-law, Stephanie, was joining this team and Rob and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to join them.  On past teams I have gone out with, there have always been another American missionary with the team.  This time, I was it!   Our Haitian Administrator, Benjamin Altema, was the team leader and we had 2 more translators and a driver from our Haitian staff join us.  For a report on the trip and more pictures read The Ministry of Presence: Second Cape May Baptist and Port a Piment over at RMI’s blog.

While many of our teams come and do projects, that is not and has never been the thrust of what RMI is all about!  The team from Second Cape understood that.  They had many things planned for the week, but all were part of the ministry of celebrating Christ together and their relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.  They worshipped together during 2 services, and collaborated by having an open-air gospel service in the community.  Praise the Lord for a new brother-in-Christ in the Port a Piment area named Mackenson!  They planned special gatherings for the ladies and men’s groups and had a lot of fun during a gathering with the school kids.  We visited shut-ins and had the opportunity to pray with them.  Twice we visited 2 different churches in the district: Sentiment Church and Bosquette Church.  The goal for all these activities was to build relationships and share the love of Christ. 

IMG_1802My highlight was our visit to Sentiment Church.  We were told we would drive and then get out and have to hike about 30 minutes to get there.  We followed a river bed, had to cross the river by foot 3 times.  We all had squishy shoes when we arrived!  The last 10 minutes we turned from walking along the riverbed to walking up the mountain.  When we arrived a the top of this small mountain, the small, crude church building was decorated beautifully and was full of people waiting to worship with us.   It was very humbling to worship with this body of believers.   Not long ago, the evangelism committee at the church in Port a Piment decided to go to this area and share the gospel.  Many came to Christ and from this, the Sentiment Church was born. This area was the church in Port a Piment’s “Judea” (Acts 1:8.)  It was exciting to see the fruit of the Great Commission in action.

More pics from our visit to Sentiment Church:


The whole experience this week really energized me.  It served to remind me of why I am here. I not only enjoyed developing relationships with the members of the US team, but got to know and love on some of my Haitian sisters-in-Christ.  It was stretching!  I  had to step up my translation skills.  In doing so, I found much encouragement!  I felt like the whole week I was hearing, speaking and translating on a one-to-one basis better than ever before.  I was challenged to be stretched even more by sharing a devotional one morning and doing the team debriefing at the end of the trip.  This is not my comfort zone, but was so good for me personally to step out in faith. 

It’s easy to get bogged down with day to day responsibilities and living life here in Haiti.  So often I get frustrated with the constant flow of people at my house asking for money or things.  The trip reiterated in my heart and mind the importance of the ministry of presence: not just when I go out with a team, but the ministry of presence in my family, in my missionary community and in the Haitian community in which I live. Since returning, I feel more energized in these relationships!   The ministry of presence: live out this ministry right where you are.