Friday, February 28, 2014

With Authority from Heaven and Conviction in Her Soul...

2 weeks ago, we were out visiting a remote village church in a place called Les Rois.  I have a special place in my heart reserved for Les Rois.  Here is why.... (I Met Christ Incarnate, blog post from September 2009)  (If you are a map person, you can go here and find "Picot - Les Rois")  But anyway, back to the story.  As we approached the church, the ladies in the church were singing like angels.  It was as if we were approaching heaven.  I had no idea what was about to happen. Once inside, we sang a few more songs, and then the Pastor invited an older woman in the church to come forward and sing a song.  She chose #17.  You can listen to a random youtube video I found of the song here.  Here are the lyrics with translation for the first verse and chorus...

Verse 1
Mwen byen kontan ke Papa mwen nan syèl,
I am happy because my father who is in heaven,
Pale nan liv li pou di m Li renmen m
tells in the Bible that he loves me.
Nan pawòl Li, m jwenn anpil bèl bagay
In His word, I find many good things
Sa ki pi bèl sèke Jezi renmen m.
The most important thing is that Jesus loves me.

A la m kontan m wè, Jezi renmen m,
I am happy to see how Jesus loves me.
Jezi renmen m, Jezi renmen m,
Jesus Loves me, Jesus loves me.
A la m kontan ,m wè Jezi renmen m
I am happy to see how Jesus loves me.
Jezi renmen m tout tan.
Jesus loves me always.

As she sang the Holy Spirit filled the room. As she sang, she kept thumping her chest to emphasize how strongly she believed the words she sang.  Every thump was a drum beat on my soul. She kept staring at the team and I, with authority from heaven and conviction in her soul, to teach us a lesson we were desperate to learn.  We didn't know it, but we weren't there to serve that day.  Instead, in our ignorant "poverty", we were there to learn from this "rich" woman.  I was thinking to myself...  This woman ONLY has Jesus.  She has nothing in terms of this world.  All of the stuff that we think we need, that we think satisfies, she does not have. ALL of it.  Yet, she is happy.  It is deeper than happiness, it is joy.  Deep seated joy that only comes from gut level trust in Jesus.  Once she was done, the pastor got up and shared that this woman had lost a son in the earthquake, and then again recently lost another son.  This news just put it over the top for me.

Psalm 63:1 reminds us, this world has nothing that will satisfy.  Yet, the Lord God satisfies "as with the richest of foods".   I can't not think of Job.  We don't really understand.  I have a lot to learn.  

I can't wait to get back to Les Rois for my next lesson.

Here I am sharing at Les Rois Church

Here is the woman singing "Mwen Byen Kontan Ke"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grateful and Blessed...

We say it all the time for one reason.  IT IS TRUE.  We are grateful.  We are humbled.  We are appreciative.  We are loved.  We are supported.  We are blessed. The fact that there is an army of people standing with us, behind us and before us, encourages us deeply in our soul.  Every day, it keeps us fighting.

We know that we actually would have to move back to the US and be normal if it weren't for people sacrificially and generously giving on a monthly/annual basis.

We hear it all the time that people are praying.  Seriously, a lot of people are praying for us.  A LOT.  How many people can say that they have an army of people praying for them on a regular basis.  How cool is that?

To those who stand with us, THANK YOU.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Want to be Normal...

Well, I guess that depends on how we define "normal".  Maybe I do, and maybe I don't.  Here's my point...

Ready for some honesty?

Because the GPS coordinates of our home are different then almost everyone we know, because what we do for "work" looks so very different than the vast majority of people we know, because we seem to be 24/7 fundraising (sadly everything passes through that filter), because we live in a TOTALLY different culture, because we are tan in the winter (we go to the beach in January and we don't own winter clothes), because we are learning to speak a different language (and often forget our English words), because almost everyone we know lives on the information superhighway and we live on the information dirt road, because we drive around motorcycles and four-wheelers instead of mini-vans and sedans, because we eat monkey brains and cockroaches (not really, but we do eat different foods), because our children are growing up dressing and thinking and acting different, because 4 wheelin' through mud bogs and mountain top passes is normal for us, because... I think you see the point.

Yes, the fact is that our life probably looks different then your's.  But here is the rub for me....

When I walk into a room, I don't always want to be the center of attention.  Sure, it's nice to be honored, and I know people are simply curious, but we are ALWAYS the center of attention.  The only time we can escape it is when we are alone.  We are constantly treated like heroes doing extraordinary things.  I understand that maybe we are doing extraordinary things, but we aren't any different than almost everyone we know.  We have the same struggles.  Our kids go through the same behavioral stages.  Sometimes it seems we are more sinful than almost everyone we know and yet we are treated like we are "holier than thou".  Our marriage isn't perfect.  Our kids aren't perfect.  We aren't perfect.  I don't want to be the guy single hand-idly reversing the course of extreme poverty (obviously not true).  I don't want to exclusively talk about me. I don't want to be the guy who is living the life of adventure that everyone craves but isn't able to realize.  I don't want to always be the center of attention when I walk into a room.

Sometimes, I just want to be normal... like everyone else.  Maybe even anonymous.  I want to fit in and relax in the company of my peers.  I want to hear how everyone else is doing.  I want to hear about your life.  I want to hear about your job, and your kids, and your activities, and your relationships, and your marriages, and your extraordinary life.

I guess I want to live an extraordinary life, with extraordinary purpose, accomplishing extraordinary things, but treated as ordinary.  Is this possible?


Friday, February 21, 2014

Please Take My Baby...

Tessa and I were out on a daddy/daughter date, and we decided to be a little adventurous. We were on my motorcycle, and we decided to venture off the road, onto some trails to explore a place we had never been. Once we ran out of path along a hidden ridge, not all that far from my home, we stopped to turn around. When we stopped to turn around I noticed some young boys and a woman holding her infant child. I turned off the motorcycle so I could say hello. After my initial greeting, the mother started walked toward me, and she clearly asked me to take her baby.  She asked, "How many children do you have?"  I responded with "3", and she responded, "now you can have 4."  We went back and forth for a few minutes with this exchange. This isn't the first time this has happened, but it surely got my attention. Was she really asking me to take her baby? Yes, she was.

Why would she ask me to do that? What were those boys standing there thinking when they heard this Mom ask that? What was Tessa thinking? Is the Dad around or long gone? In a split second, my mind and heart were flooded with questions.  All, impossible to answer.  I have learned that most of my assumptions are usually wrong.  I just don't know enough to make assumptions.  Eventually, I started asking myself how could she give up her baby like that? To be honest, from my blessed position, I was a little bit disgusted by such a flippant question. She is obviously in a desperate situation. It is all too common. She can't care for the baby, and she made an instant judgment, that I was more able. I am sure her observations were... I am white. I am rich in many ways, not just financially. I have kids of my own. I could care for one more better than she would ever be able to. To be honest, she might be right.  She might be wrong too.  Financially, I am much more able. I know that spiritually, I would certainly provide a home filled with the Gospel. I could love, maybe more than she loved if that child is unwanted? But she is mom and that child belongs with mom. Right?!

What could I say? I said no, because of all the obvious reasons. But, I can't shake the memory out of my mind of that little baby, that little baby's future, that mother's desperate plea for help.

Pray for us as we constantly face desperate need head on...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

12 Teams in 12 Weeks... So Busy, but Why?

It's all about Changed values. Changed perspectives. Changed hearts. Changed realities. Changed eternal destinations.

Wow, this is really fun and really hard all at the same time. We have been in a season of extreme activity. We are growing as a staff, learning how to manage ourselves, our people, our resources, our finances, our relationships, and many other things, all in order to do more better. Quantity and Quality is what we talk about. 

By February 7, we have already had our 5th team of the year arrive in Haiti. This is team #5 in a string of 12 teams in 12 weeks. In a few short weeks, we will have 2 teams on the ground at the same time, totaling about 31 people at the same time.  

To be honest, we aren't planning to slow down, although, don't tell anyone, we will be grateful when/if a natural break occurs. We have long said, that if we believe in what we do, then let's do more of it. It's not about the activity. It is about changed lives. It's why we do what we do. As I wrote... Changed values. Changed perspectives. Changed hearts. Changed realities. Changed eternal destinations.

The Orchard EFC's Director of Missions Brad Mullet,
and Team Leader Jim Messer, work on a water chlorination
system in Astruc, Haiti, in early January 2014.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Too Much Travel...

I guess if I didn't want to travel, I shouldn't have moved overseas. Right? During the month of December and January, I traveled to the US 3 times. That's too much, but it just worked out that way. 

First trip was just me for 5 days for planning meetings at the RMI FL Office.  This meetings are of extreme importance to keep the field and the FL office all moving together in the same direction.  

Second trip was with my family to go see out extended family in NJ for Christmas.  It was awesome.  We TOTALLY surprised everyone, even ourselves.  We made a last minute decision to make it happen.  I had not seen my parents and siblings for 18 months.

Third trip was with Benjamin for 3 different events over a period of 10 days.  We attended the FMSC Partners Conference, the McGregor Baptist Global Impact Celebration, as well as gave a report in the semi-annual RMI Board Meeting.  It was a GREAT trip, but Benjamin and I both desperately missed our wives and 3 kiddos back home.

 All 3 trips were great, but I have to say, I sure am glad to be back.

Benjamin and I standing at the RMI display booth
at McGregor Baptist Global Impact Celebration.

Wherever, Whenever, Whatever...

This past Sunday, in church, a men's group sang a simple song that really resonated with my soul. The song simply said, “Mwen ale kote li vle”, or in words you can understand, “I go where God wants”.

It's true, we've made a decision to do whatever, wherever and whenever he wants. Now, please understand, I still fight that decision on a regular basis. I ask God, really? Now? Am I hearing you correct? Are you sure? Can you repeat that? As in, today? Consistently, he answers, “Yup”.  But God, who am I?  He constantly says, take your eyes off yourself and focus on me, the great I AM.

Go with us. Go now. Go tomorrow. Go together. Go Local. Go International. Just Go.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Black and Whites...

There is something about Black and White images that capture my imagination. In fact, it really isn't about imagination, for me they effectively strip away the clutter and distraction, and allow me to focus on the actual person, the true emotion, and genuine spirit of the occasion. 

It isn't to be overdone for sure. Too many of us throw out the color too often with too many images too quickly. It's true, I could turn every image into black and white. But, there seems to be a very limited selection of images that begs for it. So, over the last few years, I have been collecting a small set of images. You may have seen these, or most of these, but for the first time I have put them together in a collection or series.

See the whole album here.

Here is one of the latest. There is a whole story behind this image. It was gut wrenching for me. Some day I will share it with you.