Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Haiti Part 4

I don’t wear a watch on an everyday basis. I usually have my phone with me and just prefer to pull it out and look at the time. I have a watch that I wear when I run that helps me know how fast (actually how slow!!) I am running. When I traveled to Haiti, I knew I wouldn’t have my phone with me all the time so I wore my watch just to make sure I was where I needed to be. Once you’ve been to Haiti you understand that you just need to be familiar with “ish” time. That is where stuff that is supposed to happen at 9:00 happens at “9ish.” All the same, I wore my watch.

I didn’t think my watch would be a big deal. Until one morning I was in the Miriam Center and a little boy named Jean noticed my watch. I was holding another little boy, sadly no one around knew his name, when Jean came over and wanted to play. Having my hands occupied the only thing I could do was make the light on my watch illuminate which thrilled Jean. I would push the button and his eyes would get wide. He would cover his face and laugh and laugh. Then he would push the button and we would repeat the process. After about fifteen minutes I needed to leave because it was “time-ish” for us to go to the construction site.

Later that afternoon, Jean and I hung out in the common area playing with play-dough, taking pictures (the boy is quite the photog!) and making my watch light up. Jean has a magical smile that makes you feel like the light that is burning inside him is about to explode all over you at any moment. We became really good buds over the few days I was there and I hope to see him again when I get to return.

As I have thought about Jean and the light on my watch I am reminded that light is so fundamental. It is a necessity to accomplish what we want to accomplish. It protects us, guides us, and helps us feel secure. I know many people afraid of the dark, but I don’t know anyone afraid of light.

As a follower of Jesus we are light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” When our life is filled with him, we illuminate the darkened places that exist in our world. Whether it is a boy in Haiti who thinks a small watch light is special, a family in South Florida fighting to keep their heads above water financially, or a distressed teenager who needs someone to tell them they are valuable, we have the answer. We can illuminate the way.

As I ran yesterday, I glanced at my watch and thought of Jean. It was a bright, beautiful, summer day in Florida. But I couldn’t help but reach down and push the button to turn on the light. And then, I smiled.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Haiti Part 3

“I went to college so that I wouldn’t have to work construction!” That was the thought that ran through my head as we broke ground on the site of the church and the new Miriam Center. I hate construction stuff. First, I have no idea where to begin when it comes to doing this stuff. Second, I never have the tools I need. Third, I have ZERO skill. But, this was simply digging, so how hard can that be?

Very, I found out!! We hit the ground running the first day in Haiti and had about 20 shovels and three pick axes flying. Some people knew what they were doing. There are always some people in the group who know construction and have all the skills and know exactly what to do and can work you under a table. I hate those people!! We threw dirt around and clawed at the ground and did the best we could. This group had spirit and no amount of heat, humidity, bugs, dirt or sun would stop us.

After the first day I walked off the site thinking, “There’s no hope.” We barely made a dent. We worked our butts off and we haven’t even made a scratch in this hill. How much difference can we make in two weeks? I was only going to be there one, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see much progress before I left.

But God does amazing things. The next day we were a little more organized. And we had Haitian help. And the day after that, Haitians were already on the site working when we got there. And then we found out that Shaun King had arranged for us to employ them. Later I found out that these guys would be able to be employed for six months. And by the time I left, the site looked as if you could see the outline of a building.

As I was reflecting on all of this two thoughts struck me: first, I doubt God way too often. I usually look and think that I have to have all the answers and that if I can’t figure it out it must not be going to happen. God must laugh at my plans and my ideas quite often. Second, what seems impossible for man is not for God. When we see a hill, he sees a church. When we see a field, he sees an orphanage. When we see a limitation, he sees an opportunity.

By the time the group left the second week, the site was dug and level. A group of people worked long and hard on that hill. Some planted (by digging up dirt) some watered (by hauling dirt away) but God caused the increase (by touching people’s hearts).

“Humanly speaking it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27

If you would like to know how to partner with this project, please visit www.ahomeinhaiti.org.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Haiti Part 2

I took up residence on the rooftop of the mission with my Bible in one hand and my journal in the other. I wanted to make sure that I captured my thoughts while I was in Haiti so I could relay more clearly what I was experiencing and what God was teaching me. It was a beautiful afternoon after a long day of digging at the work site.

As I looked down from the mission I could see children in the street, young men and women who were moving about during their day and some folks who were selling trinkets to anyone willing to buy. I could see dirt, and poverty and desperation. I could see that the struggle for survival is real and powerful in this place. The mission is an incredible oasis of hope in this place, but there is only so much they can do.

Some guys were setting up tents on the roof when someone noticed a cruise ship just off the coast. It seemed like a long distance away, but within ten minutes it was passing directly in front of the mission. Such a strange dichotomy: the finest of luxury and the despair of poverty.

I remember being on cruise ships that sailed these waters. They are headed to Labadie on the island of Haiti. It is really the only resort area on the island. In fact, I remember visiting there when my wife and I took a cruise and being told how armed guards were on the other side of the bushes making sure Haitians stay away from the tourist area.

Now I was on the other side of the bush. I was not at the resort, but in the midst of the despair. And I found this twinge in my heart that so much of my life has been about being able to enjoy the luxury and not end the poverty. I know I can’t do it all, but I have to be able to do more.

I am not against cruises, trips, or vacations. In fact, I love enjoying those things with my family. But I have come to realize the importance of the heart desire to serve the least of my brothers. In the moments as I watched the ship sail out of sight, my mind was overwhelmed with the image of how often we sail by others in need in order to enjoy our luxury.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Monday, August 2, 2010

Haiti Part 1

This is the first installment of a series of blogs regarding my recent trip to Haiti and what God has been teaching me through the process.
A journey of 700 miles can take you to whole new worlds. Unlike Columbus or Magellan, who had to literally sail the seas to discover new worlds, we have the liberty and luxury to jump on a plane, eat some snacks (assuming you packed your own!!) and emerge in uncharted territory.
Last Sunday I made just such a journey. I found myself first in Port Au Prince and then Port de Paix Haiti on my way to Saint Louis du Noord. Traveling with sixty strangers with Shaun King and Courageous Church out of Atlanta, I was there to help minister at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. They run orphanages, schools, feeding programs, health clinics and The Miriam Center, for special needs children. We were there to break ground on a new home for the Miriam Center a few miles away from the existing campus which has become too small and too crowded.
As I sat on Sunday night reflecting on my days travel, all that came to my mind was that thousands, no millions of Haitians were fighting for survival today. As I snacked on gummy bears and ate granola bars, how many would die of malnutrition? I had indeed entered a new world.
Riding in the back of a Tap Tap (be grateful for your seat cushions in America) I was made quickly aware of the desperation in Haiti. Even before the January earthquake, Haiti was a place of survival. Few thrive in Haiti. They exist, they survive and they hang on; but almost no one thrives. As you ride the seven miles from the airport to the mission, which takes about an hour, you realize that you are a novelty. Haitians look and stare. Small children wave and yell out, “Blanc, Blanc, Blanc!!!” They are not saying it because we are white, because we arrived as a very diverse group. But, if you are not Haitian you are Blanc.
Perhaps the Blanc feeling I had will never go away. Maybe I will always be an outsider. Maybe, no matter how much my heart breaks or my mind wrestles with the grim reality of life a few hundred miles from my home I realize that I am not fighting for survival. I am thriving. My family has not only enough food for today, but we have enough for weeks. We get to pick and choose what we want.
I have been home about 48 hours now. Part of the team is still in Haiti working on the mission. I will go back; hopefully soon and hopefully with some of you as my teammates. Until then, I will wrestle with the issues of surviving and thriving. I can’t solve all the problems in Haiti, but I do have an answer as to how we can help survive and thrive and how we can thrive more than we thought.
“I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” John 14:6
For information on how you can be a part of this mission, visit www.ahomeinhaiti.org.