Thursday, May 30, 2013

Teams, Teams, and more Teams… but Why?

We do teams.  We do LOTS of teams.  These teams facilitate transformed lives.  Haitian lives.  American lives.  This is why we do teams.  It’s not lip service, we really do Mobilize Global Partnerships to Transform Lives in Christ.

This month, we have only had 1 team. This is unusual.  Coming up very shortly, we will have 8 teams in 8 weeks.  I can’t even describe to you the amount of work that it takes to not only facilitate these team visits, but also to facilitate these partnerships year around.  The RMI team here in Haiti is “firing on all cylinders”, but it takes a lot of effort to keep us all moving together in the same direction.  We have been growing in quantity for sure, but we are investing lots of time in making sure we are growing in quality as well.  There are all kinds of things in the works.  It takes time to build depth, but we are committed to the hard work of making it happen.  I can’t wait to launch some of the new things in the pipeline.

Just last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of our churches, from Crossroad Church, Jacksonville, FL.  I enjoyed getting to know the team, including the team leader, Pastor Lance.  This was his first time visit to his Sister Church in Tiburon, Haiti.  It was fun to watch him soak it all in.  He get’s it.  He’s pumped for the future.  It was exciting to watch him listening before planning, putting love before agenda, giving before getting, practicing sacrifice before self, playing soccer before doing something tangible.  I was excited to watch him respond to what he was experiencing.  I was excited to watch his life be transformed as he rubbed shoulders with his new found Haitian family.

Lance says, “What happens in the mission field, never stays in the mission field… and it’s not supposed to.” 

This is why we do what we do.  We are transforming lives…

Take a look…

Rob

Monday, May 27, 2013

Support Update…

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For those of you who are currently giving, THANK YOU!  We are grateful for your sacrifice, your consistent generosity, your investment in us and the Lord’s work through us.

We are currently $559 per month under supported. 

This means we need more people/businesses/churches to join our team who keep us serving here on the field.  Can you help?

Donate  |  Pledge

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Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Ladies’ Missionary Retreat

Last weekend we held the annual Ladies’ Missionary Retreat at RMI’s Retreat Center in Zanglais, Haiti.  This is the third year that Amy and I have organized this event, and RMI has been planning/sponsoring it for many, many years.  This is a weekend the missionary ladies look forward to every year, and it seems the excitement has grown each year since I have been here.  This year we had 40 missionary ladies in attendance: a record number for Amy and me!

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Our theme was “Learning to Listen: An Invitation to Sacred Stillness.”  Our speakers, Pauline McLemore, MS, EdS and Jama White, PsyD, came from the Chattanooga, TN area.  The theme verse was Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”  Throughout the weekend we were challenged to cease striving and be still before God, were given tools to aid us in listening to God during our quiet times, looked at Jesus’ example of engaging in ministry and relationships and then retreating for rest, and discussed the story of Mary and Martha.  These are just a few examples of the Biblical “meat” we had the opportunity to feast on during the weekend.  Just living life in Haiti is tiring and it’s easy to get caught up in ministry and doing.  A weekend to refresh and bask in God’s Word was just what we all needed. The worship times were very meaningful.  It is very enjoyable and refreshing to be able to worship and be taught from God’s Word in my heart language (English.)

Of course we all look forward to the fellowship!  We had a good amount of down time worked into the weekend.  We were able to spend that time with the Lord, relaxing alone or having fun with each other.  We watched a movie on the big screen, played a massive game of Catch Phrase as well as numerous other group games, enjoyed the beach and the amazing view of the Caribbean, and just had a great time together.  We had a planned craft time and decoupaged candle holders. 

As much as we like Haitian food, this was a weekend free of Haitian food!  Amy worked hard to create a special menu for us.  We enjoyed a more “American” fare and definitely ate well!  Amy also did a great job decorating for the retreat, making it feel like a very special event.

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It’s weekends like this that make me thankful for this amazing community we have here in Haiti.  I so appreciate these relationships and the opportunity to strengthen them.

Overall, it was a great weekend to refresh and rest our souls, to be still with God and have a good time with each other!

~Becky

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Influence is Directly Related to My Humility…

“Cultural humility gives up a role as expert, instead seeing ourselves as students of our host culture. “ I came across this quote in a post by Marilyn Gardner on her blog entry here.

Only God knows how I can have this attitude, and still lead, still influence, still change the world.  Yet, Jesus did it.  He came as God (clearly the expert), but gave up himself and changed the world for all time!  The point is, I believe I have much to give to my Haitian brothers and sisters, but I am constantly reminded, and must always remember, that the truth is that they have even more to give to me.  Oh Lord, give me the humility of Jesus.  He was God, but he changed the world by considering himself less than man by dying on a cross.  He died so I can live.

The FIRST step is to listen.   The first step is to assume that I am ignorant of how to proceed in this culture, which is very different (not weird) than my own.  In order to listen, I must strip myself of my pride, my cultural superiority, my assumption that I am the expert, my assumption that my way is best, the assumption that my ultimate values and goals are right.

Did I come to Haiti to serve, or to be served?  I came to serve.  I came to lift others above myself

I believe our influence is directly related to the depth of our humility.

Rob

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Birthday to Becky!

I am celebrating Becky today.  She is God’s greatest gift on earth to me.  She is truly the mate of my soul.  No one else can comprehend what I have.  There is no person on earth that I have ever met that I enjoy more.  Seriously, I have thought about this often.  I respect her.  I appreciate her.  I want to honor her.  I like her.  I love her.  We have walked hand in hand in many places, on many different soils, through many challenges, over many hill tops, and I can say with absolute certainty, that I would not have wanted to walk through any of our past, our present, and I do not want to walk through any of our future with any other person at my side.

Bon Fet “Cheri”, mwen renmen ou anpil, anpil, anpil…

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Value #1: Tell the Truth / Di Verite

This is Post #1 in a series of 20 Values/Motivasyon that I have taught to my team here in Haiti.  These values are the roots or anchors of the 3rd Culture we are creating together. I will continue to teach these, and I pray model these. This is who I am, and I want my team to know how I think, what I expect of myself/them, who I want us to be, and why/how I/we do what I/we do.

Value #1: Tell the Truth / Di Verite

There are no exceptions.  We will ALWAYS tell the truth and we will hold all those we work with to the same standard.  For me, truth is the bedrock of life.  If we don’t tell the truth, every other aspect of our lives crumbles.  If we don’t tell the truth, there can’t be mutual trust.  If there can’t be mutual trust, we can’t work together.  How can one ever function in a community, as a team, as a partnership, if we can’t trust that one another are telling the truth, 100% of the time.  This isn’t always true in Haiti, or in America.  No matter the consequences, WE WILL TELL THE TRUTH.  Sometimes, it might seem that telling a little white lie is justified in an unjust situation, or because the system we work in is broken and we must lie a little because it will accomplish something greater.  NO.  We won’t lie.  Being committed and following through with telling the truth 100% of the time is worth the price we must pay in a unjust situation.

Maybe it is a little corny, but I have taught hand motions to go with each Value.  I guess it’s part of the culture that we are creating. When we do a hand motion with one another, we each know what we are talking about.  Here is the hand motion that goes with this first value.  Finger to lips…  Tell the Truth / Di Verite.

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Rob

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Values and Culture. Why/How We Do What We Do.

Behind everything that we do are both values and culture.  RMI is an international organization that desires to uncompromisingly embrace the values of Scripture, while honoring the US and Haitian cultures.  This is no easy task!

We have found it necessary to teach Biblical values as well as create our own 3rd culture, that embraces both American and Haitian cultures, that honors both, that carefully encourages the positives of both, and cautiously discourages the negatives of both.  Of course, evaluating the positives and negatives of a culture is no easy task that can be checked off the list as done!  Cultures are different, usually not right or wrong. Listening and asking tons of questions before evaluating is paramount. 

Example: In the context of working to aggressively extend God’s kingdom by bringing the Gospel to bear on every part of life (this is what we do), what’s more important, productivity or relationships?  Good luck coming up with an answer that equally embraces both cultures while aggressively standing upon Biblical principles!  Answer:  It isn’t one or the other, but it often needs to be one or the other.  These values must be held in tension.  Sometimes, we must walk away from the desire to be productive in order to develop relationships.  Sometimes, we must walk away from the desire to be relational in order to be productive.  Americans find it easier to do the first.  Haitians find it easier to do the second.  I am simply confused all the time!

Values themselves are very much a part of culture, and we have found that values always determine our culture.  Some values are Biblical, and these values are meta-cultural.  These values MUST affect all cultures.  Some values, or the hierarchy of a set of values, are not necessarily Biblical mandates, and therefore they are chosen in a specific time for a specific cultural reason, or at least uniquely applied.  Again, it’s a minefield that we choose to navigate.  This is actually the benefit of working in Haiti with an experienced “on the field” “bridge” between both cultures. It’s our job to help both sides work together for the expansion of the kingdom. Figuring out how to appropriately contextualize, while at the same time working directly with people on both sides who tend to be driven uni-culturally is difficult indeed.  But, we are committed to this adventure.

When I got to the field, based on observations I made, and in light of some encouragement that I got from others, I could see that we desperately needed to address both values and culture as a staff.  So, I have spent time teaching both (always remembering that I am NOT the expert).  We must as a team evaluate our motivations, figure out why we do what we do, and hold fast to some trans-cultural values.  I have of course had the American culture ingrained within me.  Therefore, I lean hard into my team to constantly learn Haitian culture.  Bottom line?  We are devoted to creating our own unique “RMI culture”, that is unapologetically committed to Biblical values, and that honors both American and Haitian culture.  

Rob

New Staff in Haiti! I’m Very Excited!

We have spent much time over the last couple of years building up our team here in Haiti.  We have been organizing and training.  We have been empowering, embracing, and releasing them for ministry. These aren’t empty words. We don’t have gophers, or even employees, but fellow team mates. RMI can only accomplish great things for the Lord because of these 29 servants (this number of course does not include our missionary staff, that I am also grateful for).  Our capacity here in Haiti has grown exponentially.  We are now able to handle multiple endeavors every day.  Vehicle maintenance, deliveries, financial oversight, SCP and HFK accountability visits by monitors, project facilitation, bank runs, tons of administration, US church team visits, communications, hospitality logistics, all being done well and happening concurrently every day.  Why can we do this?  Only because of our trusted team. I believe in them. Yet, we want to do more and we want to do it better.  I am always talking about quantity AND quality. I have no desire to do the first without the second. We deeply believe in what we do, so we want to do more of it and we want to do it right.  Of course, if we aren’t careful, we will kill ourselves in the process.  I and my current team are simply blitzed with the work.  We are fatigued and we need help.  We have gotten so much more efficient and effective, but we just can’t handle everything.  Therefore, we are bringing on more team members.  We are so excited for their arrival.  Here they are… Pierre Rony, Manno and Frantz (Left to Right). 

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Rob

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Heart was/is Broken… Again…

I want you to meet 6ish year old Mika (Meeka).  She is on the outside.  I know her name.  It’s easier when you don’t know their name…  When I took the photos below, about 150 school children were inside the church enjoying the presence of one of our visiting Sister Church teams.  At the very moment I took the first photo below, there were roars of laughter and squeals of delight in response to the activity that the visiting team was doing. It was a great encouragement to the children on the inside.  But, in my heart, that which was going on on the inside, was overshadowed by what was happening on the outside.  Mika.  Why?  Why was she standing there with dirty clothes, no pants on, no access to the hope available from an education.  I am certain she is under nourished.  Yet, she looks so hard and strong.  She looks so determined at such a young age.  What lies ahead for her?  What is her life really like?  I am certain I am far from understanding.  I asked a few questions, that I am sure don’t tell me the whole story.  Her family can’t afford to send her to school.  Her brother was also close buy, also watching from the outside, very dirty, with girls jeans on that didn’t nearly fit, and no shirt.  Mika’s future is uncertain.  It. Breaks. My. Heart.  I see children like this all the time.  Every place I visit, there are children on the outside.

Here is Mika, first on her own, then with brother and 2 friends, all on the outside.  Then you will see a picture of the children on the inside.

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Rob

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to “Field Posts”…

It’s time for a change.  For a long time, we used “theSlice” to refer to our periodic email newsletter, and we used “thesliver” to refer to our blog.   Cute, right?  We had a website and we had a blog.  Now all this is changing.

Both our Blog, and our e-Newsletter will be called “Field Posts” and both, among other information, is always available via the new and improved www.robandbecky.com.  As a way to cut administrative corners, we no longer have a separate website with unique content.  We now just have one all-inclusive blog, with multiple pages with all the same website type of general info.

Why the change? 

We are always looking for better ways to communicate more effectively, and to do it more efficiently.  We are ALWAYS pressed for time (as you probably are too), and therefore, we think this will communicate good updates to our family, friends, and supporters much more regularly, with less work on our part.

Some people visit our blog on their own, some visit from a link from facebook/twitter if it happens to catch there interest.  For various reasons, many don’t ever visit and miss many of our updates.  It has been hard to write all new unique content for periodic email newsletters.  Now, everyone will get a monthly email that will include posts/content from the Blog from the previous month.  This all happens via the wonders of automated technology.  You hear from us monthly, and we don’t have to do the work! Well, we have to do the blogging, but we do this anyway.  Americans would call this “killing 2 birds with one stone”. 

Enjoy!