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.


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.

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.


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!


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…