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Archive for October, 2008

Shela’s Path

This is a poem that I wrote while flying home from Haiti.  It is a poem about Shela, the 14 yr old girl who we ministered to in Camp Coq.  Shela is a representation of the countless children living in Haiti in complete poverty and hopelessness.  I am thankful to have met her and privileged to call her my friend

 

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“Shela’s Path”

She rises early in the morning just like she does any other day

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

As she finishes with her routines of the morning, she puts on her dirty worn out sandals and begins her trek down the steep mountain path just like she does every day

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

Her feet hop quickly from one firm rock to the other amidst the slippery slopes.  She knows this path well.  She has traveled it too many times.

As she reaches the bottom, she notices something peculiar.

Behind the big iron gates where there is normally silence, she hears voices…unfamiliar voices in her world…yet somehow familiar to her heart

She approaches the door with both apprehension and excitement fighting for position within her weary soul.  “Today is the same”, she tells herself, but yet she knows that something is different.  She opens the door.

Instantly, she is transformed.  Her thoughts come to life.  Her dreams are awakened from a long and painful slumber.  She feels beautiful.  She feels strong.  “There is hope”, she tells herself, and nothing within her denies it.

The house behind the iron gates is plain, simple, and lovely.  But to her, it is much more than lovely.  It is a castle…and she is the princess.

She is embraced without reservation by these strange, yet familiar people.  She exchanges her ragged dress for the robes of royalty.  She feeds at the banqueting table and is filled.  She is given a new name.  Shela.  She is touched by the very hand of God

As she leaves to answer calls coming from her world, she closes the iron door behind her and heads back up her path to her home on the mountain

The path is not steep tonight.  She dances up the mountain with ease.  Every step is secure as she quickly reaches the top and walks to her home.

She opens the broken plank of wood that serves as a door, ducks behind the dirty torn sheet that serves as a wall, and lays down on her mattress which she shares with her brother.

Even though she lies in the dark underneath the tin roof that covers the tiny mud home, her thoughts are elsewhere as she drifts off to sleep with a smile on her face.

Shela rises early the next morning with the same smile that she wore the night before.  She adorns herself with the robes that she was given the day before, and she begins her steps down the path with hurried excitement and anticipation of what the day will bring behind the iron gates.

But today will be different, though now, she knows it not

She reaches the bottom of the mountain with ease.  She doesn’t even remember how she got down.  But then she sees something.

Her radiant smile suddenly pauses on her face as she looks upon the heavy iron gates that are clad with lock and chain.  She puts her ear to the door that leads to her castle, but all is silent.

She hears nothing, except for the sound of a little child crying in the house behind her.  A sound that she wants to forget coming from a world she wants to leave behind.

She stands for a long moment which seems to freeze her world around her forever.  But forever passes.

Her smile fades as she turns away to make the climb back up the path to her home.

The path feels awfully steep.

Her tired legs lose a foothold and she falls down momentarily.

She gets back up and continues to climb, but notices that her dress is now dirty from the fall.  She presses on…

She reaches the top and sees her house that awaits her.

Before going back inside, she pauses to look out over the mountains.  They are beautiful, yet ugly…a paradox that Shela understands all too well.

She looks out at the beauty of her country on each distant mountain top

She looks back at the path that once led her to another world…a trace of hope glimmers in her eyes.

She turns again to look at her own mountain top…the glimmer fades

Everything looks the same

She cannot hear the sounds of the iron gates that seem a million miles away.  They whisper, “Shela, one day, things will be different, though now, you know it not.”

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  • Seeing a huge dead 2 inch long cockroach in the bathroom of the guest house in Port Au Prince on the day I arrived.
  • Not having any hot water to take a shower the entire 8 days that I was in Haiti
  • The unbearable heat in Gonaives where my clothes were constantly dripping with sweat
  • The stench, mud, and devastation in Gonaives
  • The 9 hr. drive from Port Au Prince to Gonaives (the roads are not paved, so we were basically driving on rock ad dirt, which makes a very slow and bumpy ride.  And add to that fact of being jammed in an SUV with many people, luggage on top of you, and an A/C that barely works)  Fun, fun, fun!
  • the cold showers in Camp Coq in the morning (the temp was cool in the morning, so jumping in the shower that is spitting a stream of very cold water was not that much fun.)
  • Having to wear dirty smelly clothes practically the entire time – it was so stinkin’ hot that I wore the same and only pair of very lightweight athletic shorts that I brought.  And all my shirts got dirty and smelly within the first few days because I had to change my shirt several times a day because of how sweaty I would get.
  • The 3 consequetive trips to the concrete hole in the ground due to very bad stomach sickness
  • The 3 consequetive days of no trips to the bathroom after nurse Nicole gave me a mixure of Immodium A.D, lemon juice, and something else mixed in that stopped up my system big time.  To go…or not to go…I don’t know which is worse?
  • Leaving without being able to officially say good-bye to Shela – that made me very sad.
  • Leaving Haiti.  Really.  If it wasn’t from being apart from my wife and children, I really didn’t want to leave

*****Then, the number one not-so-special highlight of my trip to Haiti was….(drumroll)….getting violently stomach sick for a week as soon as I returned from Haiti.  The doctor said that I picked up an ecoli bacteria from Haiti, and was so close to admitting me into the hospital.  I am telling you, I have never been more violently ill in my life.  I couldn’t even stand up, I was so weak that I had to crawl back and forth from the bed to the bathroom…every 15 minutes…for days.  Oh man…the horror of it all.

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  • Eating Greole Completa from the vendors on the road (fried pork, fried plantains, and a spicy shredded cabbage)  mmmmnn….yummy
  • Sharing the gospel with Joseph Enoch, a 17 yr old boy in Gonaives, and praying with him to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. (my friend Fritznel, who lives in Haiti, told me that he has called Joseph since I met him and continues to talk to Joseph about new life in Jesus.  I am so excited to hear that.)
  • Preaching the Word of God in the church in Gonaives on Sunday morning.(I just love preaching God’s Word in another country – it just shows how universal the truth of God’s Word is)
  • Listening to the children at the orphanage sing praise songs to Jesus by candlelight
  • Islan’s (one of the orphaned girls) sweet kiss on the cheek and big hug when she first saw me
  • Jeff’s laugh (the littlest orphan boy) when I tickled him
  • Shela’s beautiful smile when she saw the clothes that Maria (my wife) got for her
  • Playing soccer (futbol) with the orphan boys using an unripened orange just picked off the tree in the yard of the mission (now, that’s what I call tribal missions!!!)
  • Talking to my wife on the phone and then surprising her by having Shela talk to her. (it made her cry because she was so happy)
  • Hearing my 4 yr old daughter tell Shela over the phone “God bless you” in Creole language. (perhaps she is a missionary in the making)
  • Praying and singing praise songs with Fritznel each night before going to sleep
  • Seeing all of the orphaned kids sitting at the huge table at the mission with smiles on their faces as they ate lots of food and drank soda.

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–  After lunch in Gonaieve, we drove several hours to Camp Coq which is where the orphanage is.  The drive was long and steep.  Camp Coq is a tiny village in the mountains so the drive is steep and winding.  It was still a time for me to surrender to God my desire to go home…I was still wrestling, but determined to persevere in the name of Jesus for the purpose of making His name known.  And so I was rather quiet for the drive as I prayed and committed myself to the Lord.

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(our drive towards Camp Coq)

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(driving through the clouds)

–  Arriving at the Mission in Camp Coq felt weird since I was just there a month ago, but this time I was without Maria.

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(the Mission in Camp Coq)

–  As soon as we arrived at the Mission, I told Nicole that I wanted to visit the orphanage, even though it was about 7PM and they would all be inside for the night.  I really wanted to see them and see the surprised look on their faces when they saw me.  They did not know that I was coming.  Sure enough, when they opened the door and saw me, they had these huge surprised and smiling faces when they saw me.  I was so overjoyed to see them.  They all gave me hugs and kisses.  Again, Islan, one of the orphan girls, gave me the sweetest and most gentle kiss on the cheek, and then gave me a big hug.  I was hugging several of them at once and it was beautiful.  I was so happy to see these children again.

–  Then we went inside the orphanage and I asked them what they were all doing.  They said that they were learning a new song about Jesus.  I asked them to sing it for me, and they did.  It was so beautiful to see these children singing by candlelight songs about Jesus.  I had them sing a few more before it was time to go.  I then gave them each a pack of candy and said goodnight.

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(singing worship songs by candlelight)

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–  Before leaving, I asked them all their names again so that I could learn all 10 of their names.  Their names are : Mirland, Whistli, Delin, Islan, Gaelle, Jeff, Rodlin, Robenson, Herod, and Moles.

–  Yes, I miss my wife and kids, but seeing the faces of those children when they saw Nicole and I at the door has just made me realize how it is all worth every sacrifice, knowing that the Lord is using me to make an impact on other people’s lives.  I am very excited to be here.  My heart is filled with so much love for those children.  They are the sweetest group of kids.  To sit by candlelight and listen to them sing praise songs to Jesus is something that I will always remember.

–  My sleep was sweet that night.  Fritznel and I shared a room and we both prayed and sang songs to God before going to sleep.

Monday 10/13

–  Probably one of the best days that I have ever had.  I spent the entire day with the orphaned children and other kids in the community. 

–  After breakfast, I went outside to read my bible and pray.  As I was reading, I saw a few kids on the hill looking down at me over the wall of the mission.  I waved to them and continued to read.  That spot on the hill was where Maria and I would see Shela waiting for us when we first met her last month.  Then I stopped to pray.  I prayed that the Lord would allow me to see Shela so that I could give her the bag of clothes that Maria bought for her for me to bring to her.  Maria also gave me some pictures and a card to give to her.  So, I had no idea where Shela lived and had no way of finding her.  No lie, as soon as I finished praying, I looked up at the hill again and there was Shela with her big beautiful smile.  I ran to say hello to her and I called her to come inside the gate of the mission.  I then ran inside to get the bag that Maria sent me with.  I gave her the bag and had somebody translate as I told her, “This is from my wife.  She was thinking about you and she loves you very much.”  Then I showed her each outfit that Maria bought for her and the pictures and card as well.  She was so happy and could not stop smiling and saying “merci” which of course means “thank you”. Then she went back up her hill with a huge smile on her face…and I went back to reading my bible with a huge smile as well.

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(is this a beautiful girl or what?  She has stolen our hearts)

–  Within a few minutes, the gates of the mission opened up and all the orphaned children walked in.  We invited them over so that we could give them some clothes and new shoes.  I was so happy to see them again and once again was greeted with hugs and kisses. (fyi … a kiss on the cheek is a standard greeting)  the hug is not standard.  Anyway, we spent the next hour or so giving them clothes and new shoes.  This was a real bonding time for me and the children as we hung out together, took pictures of them, taught them how to arm wrestle and thumb wrestle.  We were laughing together like crazy.  I saw these children really begin to open up to me and bond with me.  They were touching me, putting their arms on me, trying to talk with me, etc…

–  Here are some pics of the kids

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(Robenson on the left, Rodlin on the right)

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(Herod – He is 18 yrs old.  He is such a great kid.  He really is applying himself to try to learn english.  Nicole thinks that he will become a pastor one day)

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(Whistli on the left is 19 yrs old.  Islan is on the right.  She is so sweet.)

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(Jeff is the newest orphan.  He has been there for about a few months.  I did not stop tickling this little boy…and he was loving it.)

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(Jeff is happy with his 1st new pair of shoes)

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(Gaelle on the left and Moles on the right)

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(me and Islan)

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(just me and the boys…so cool)

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(Gaelle, Delin, Whistli, and Islan…all such beautiful girls)

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(Mirland in the middle.  She is 18 yrs old.  She was the 1st orphan at the orphanage 2 yrs ago.)

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( the boys have fun testing their manly strength in an arm wrestling match)

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(Rodlin loses, but doesn’t look sad about it)

–  After the arm wrestling tournament, I told the boys that I would like to play futbol (soccer) with them.  They all got so excited that they started to imitate all these dramatic soccer moves as if they were superstars.  But then when we went outside to play, nobody had the ball.  I learned that it somehow went flat, so instead we all hung out and seemed to attract some more people in the village.

–  A man came over with his wife and children.  The children were so dirty.  The little girl was just walking around in a filthy dirty pair of underpants.  They all communicated to me that they were hungry.  I then ran back to the mission and got them all a bunch of clothes.  I couldn’t find anything for the husband, so I decided to give him some of my own clothes.  I went back with those things and they were so happy.  Here are some pics.

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–  Here is a pic of the inside of this man’s home

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–  After this, I went with Fritznel around the village and we walked Herod to school.

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–  After hanging out in the village for a while, I returned to the Mission and saw the boys playing soccer using an unripened orange as a soccer ball.  They asked me to play with them, and I gladly joined in.  Between blocking shots on goal, I would run after little Jeff and tickle him until he fell to the ground in uncontrollable laughter.

–  Being the fact that it was like 100 degrees and I was running around chasing an unripened orange with a bunch of kids, I was in desperate need of a shower.  Right after I got out of the shower and walked outside, there was Shela and her Mom.  We hung out for a while talking and sharing.  She said that she loved Maria and I so much that she wants to come live with us.  She was attached to me the entire time.  She didn’t want to let go.

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– Then I was blessed to be able to call Maria who I hadn’t talked to since I left.  It was so good to hear her voice.  She asked me if I had the chance to see Shela and so I told her that there was somebody who wanted to talk to her, and I gave the phone to Shela.  Maria and Shela were so happy to be talking to each other.  Shela had such a huge smile on her face.  Maria was crying because she was so happy.  When I told Shela that, she also got emotional.  It was so beautiful.  I also had my 4 yr old daughter say hello to her and say “God Bless You” in Creole.  It was so good to hear my 4 yr old girl speak Creole.

– I then told Shela that we are planning a special dinner tomorrow night at the mission for all the children of the orphanage and that I wanted her to be there as well.  She was so happy.  Then she had to go.

–  We spent the rest of the night preparing bags of food to give away to the people in the community.  It was good to see the orphaned children so eager to help.

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Tuesday 10/14

I woke up to see Shela outside my window, standing on the porch with her new outfit on.  I went out to take a few pictures of her so that I could show Maria.

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(such a beautiful young girl…Shela)

–  After breakfast, I asked Shela to show me where she lived.  So, Herod, myself and her went to her home…and I was in shock to see where this beautiful young girl lives.  First, we had to walk up a mountain to get to her home.  Then, when we reached the top of the steep path, my heart sank as I saw her home.  Her house is made of mud and bamboo with a tin roof.  It measures about 6 feet wide and 12 feet long.  She lives there with her Mom, Dad, Brother, and Sister.  I cannot believe how poor she lives.

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(the path to Shela’s home)

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(climbing higher still…)

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(Shela’s home)

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–  After returning from her home, the team and I gave out bags of food to the people in the community.  We gave out about 85 bags.  again, there were so many who didn’t get anything because we ran out of food. 

–  After giving out food, I was hanging out on the porch and trying to learn Creole with Shela and a few other children.  Then I started teaching them some math.  I realized that Shela does not know how to read or write and she does not know any math.  She is almost completely uneducated.  My heart just breaks for this girl.  And how many other Shela’s are out there?  Too many to count.

–  After that, we had the big dinner for all the orphaned children and some of the kids in the community, including Shela.  The kids all had a terrific time and it was a real treat for all of them.  We all ate so much.  We had goat, rice, beans, plantains, and some other stuff.  Each kid had their own bottle of soda, which was a real special treat.  I don’t mean to keep on talking about Shela, but I have to say that I have NEVER seen a girl eat so much food.  She had 3 huge plates full of food.  She did not look up from her plate the entire time.  This girl ate as if she hadn’t eaten in days…and she probably hasn’t.  All the kids had a great time talking and laughing, but Shela was all business.  Her joy came from having a full belly.

–  After dinner, everybody left rather quickly because it was late.  I told Shela good-bye since I knew that I was leaving the next morning.  She told me that she will come down in the morning to say good-bye.

Wednesday 10/15

–  I was sad today because I was woken up at 6AM saying that we were leaving.  I did not know that we were leaving that early, so I knew that I would not get to say good-bye to Shela.  I was very sad about that because I knew that in a few hours she would be coming down the mountain and we will not be there.

–  I did go over to the orphanage to say good-bye to all of the children.  I hugged each one and told them that I loved them very much and that I will see them next year…but even saying that did not feel right.  Next year seemed too long.

–  As we were driving away, I looked up to the mountains and I had to hide my tears with my sunglasses as I thought of this beautiful 14 yr old girl who would be coming down the mountain to an empty mission house.  I wish I could have said a better good-bye to her, to tell her that Maria and I love her and will really miss her.

My tears also came as I thought about where she lives now as I am en route to going back to my comfortable America where my 4 yr old’s room is bigger than her whole house…and we don’t have, by far, what would be considered a big house.  I thought about all my comforts available to me whenever I want, when I throw half my food away simply because I’m not hungry anymore.  This just didn’t seem right -to have so much when the Shela’s of Haiti have so little.  So, I wept for the many Shela’s that were out there.  And I wept for the orphaned children.   And I committed my life to God and asked Him to use me however He chooses.

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I was so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to travel to Haiti again for the purpose of feeding people who are hungry and ministering the love of God to the orphans and children in the community.  I give great thanks to God for providing the means of me going there through the financial support of my church, Ogletown Baptist Church.

This trip was truly life changing for me.  It was an amazing experience and the Lord just did so much.  I warn you now that this entry is very long.  It gives the detailed account of my trip.  I did this for my wife since she was not able to go with me and I wanted her to know everything that happened so that she can feel as if she was right there with me.  I pray that this entry blesses and encourages many who read it.  My trip was from Thursday 10/09/08 to Thursday 10/16/08. The 2 places that we ministered in was Gonaieve (where there was massive hurricane damage and flooding) and Camp Coq (where the orphanage is)  Enjoy

Thursday 10/09

–  I was probably 1 of 3 white people on the entire flight

–  I left JFK airport in NY in cold 50ish weather and stepped out of the plane in Port Au Prince to sweltering hot weather, probably around mid 90’s with much humidity.

–  I was traveling alone and was told that somebody from our team would pick me up from the airport.  After waiting for a while for my luggage, I walked outside the airport and amidst a large noisy crowd, I heard someone call my name.  It was my friend Fritznel.  He lives in Port Au Prince.  He is about 25 years old and he is a great young man who really loves the Lord.

–  Driving from the airport, it feels like I never left here the 1st time last month.  All around me are sights of extreme poverty, people begging me for money on the streets.

–  We drove to the Guest House in Port AU Prince which is owned by the Florida Baptist Convention.  It is a decent place to stay because it has flush toilets and air conditioned rooms.  But it is pretty basic.

–  Upon arrival, I met a missionary team from Georgia who had just gotten back from Gonaieve.  They said that the devastation in Gonaieve is unbelievable and to be prepared for some harsh conditions.  The team had spent several weeks there.  One of the girl’s legs was completely covered with mosquito bites, same with another guy’s arms.  They told me that the bugs there are so bad because of the flood waters.  They said that they weren’t worried though because they got malaria shots before they came to Haiti…I didn’t.  Looks like I might be wearing jeans everyday in this 95 degree heat.  I’d rather sweat like crazy wearing jeans than sweat to death because of contracting malaria.

–  I was greeted by Frank and Nicole.  They are the Pastor and wife who are the leaders of the mission.  They are the ones who started the orphanage and schools and everything.  I was so surprised to see Nicole.  I didn’t think that she was going to be there.  She is really cool.

–  I had a very long and exciting conversation with Frank – the leader of this work.  He shared with me how this work got started from the very beginning as well as sharing his vision for the future as to what He believes God is calling him to.  He really believes that God has a lot more in store for this ministry.  He asked me if Maria and I would consider starting up an official mission organization with him and Nicole so that this work might expand.  I told him that that sounds really good, but I would want to pray about that first with Maria and not move ahead of or outside of God’s will.  I told him that Maria and I will be praying about what level of involvement God is calling us to with regards to this work in Haiti.  I am excited by what Frank tells me about how this ministry is all a giant walk of faith.  Every month, they trust God to provide the money that is needed to support the orphanage, schools, and churches.  And every month, the Lord provides.  He told me about Pastor San Luis (one of the Haitien pastors) who oversees several of the churches and does not receive any kind of payment whatsoever, but simply lives by faith in the Lord’s provision.  Frank is always praying about this ministry.  He told me that he prays every Tuesday morning from 8AM to Noon specifically for this work.  He told me that shortly after he began doing this is when the Lord brought our paths to cross.  He is very excited about us getting more involved.  I am very encouraged and challenged by Frank.  So much of his own money has gone into this ministry, which shows me that he is extremely committed to doing what God has called him to do.  The mission house in Camp Coq was built and paid for completely by Frank and Nicole.  The same with the orphanage.

–  I pray that the Lord blesses my efforts of being down here to serve for His glory.  I anticipate a week of hard work in harsh conditions.  Lord, use me for your glory.

–  I spoke to Fritznel about the reality of the “restaviks” (child slaves) in Haiti.  He said that it is very common and very real.  He also told me that AIDS is not the number one cause of death, although it contributes a lot.  But the real main cause of death is poverty and disease.  My heart goes out for this place.

–  First thing I see in the bathroom of the guest house is this…

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…a huge dead cockroach…This ought to be a fun week….

–  We had a meeting at night with the team to discuss what we will be doing every day.  Frank and Nicole were able to raise about $8,000 so that we can provide food and support to these people who have been so devastated by the hurricanes.  I was able to help raise about $1,000.  May the Lord use these resources for His glory.

–  After our meeting, I spoke at length with a missionary couple from Georgia who just recently moved down here as of March.  They lie in Gonaieve where they started a food program that feeds 250 people a day.  Their home was severely damaged by the floods.  They lost everything, including their truck which was carried away by the flood about a mile away and then crushed.  But still they are here and continue to persevere.  God bless such faith as that.  We exchanged contact info and he said that he would love to work together in the future.

–  Slept like a baby since the room had AC.  Better not get used to that.

Friday 10/10

–  Drive from Port Au Prince to Gonaieve – normally about a 4 hour drive, but now an 8 hour drive because of all the detours and broken roads due to the floods.  Probably one of the bumpiest and uncomfortable rides ever in my life.  There are really no paved roads in Haiti, so you’re usually driving on dirt and rock.  I had to get myself into a zone where I just accepted the “uncomfortableness” of the ride and would not allow myself to feel uncomfortable.  The AC barely worked in the truck, there are 3 of us in the back seat with bags on top of us and it is like hotter than ever.  Quite an experience.

–  Total poverty all around me.  Poverty in the city, poverty in the towns, poverty in the mountains.  Just poverty everywhere.  I gave some candy to different childr en along the way and told them ”  Jesus loves you” in Creole, which is “Jesu reme’w (Jay-swee ray-may-ou)

–  Ate some Griolle at a little road stand (fried pork, fried plantain, and spicy cabbage) Oh, it was sooo good

–  Here are some pictures of things along the way from Port Au Prince to Gonaieve…

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…candy always brings a smile…

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…the candy works again

–  When we arrived in Gonaieve we saw so many areas that were still flooded with water.  Entire small communities were now sitting in the midst of a lake of dirty water.  People’s homes were destroyed, water everywhere.

–  People bathing in the flood waters, people fishing in the flood waters…

–  Haiti is complete poverty in complete chaos

–  Stayed at a “decent” hotel in Gonaieve.  Had dinner cooked by Pastor San Luis’ sister in-law

– Prayer and singing just before going to sleep.

Saturday 10/11/08

–  Morning breakfast of fresh bread and fresh avocado

-Drove through Gonaieve to purchase rice, beans, and oil that we would distribute to the people

–  I have NEVER seen so much widespread destruction in my life.  This city was decimated by flood waters.  I can’t even fathom how people live here.  But to them, life must go on.  They still have to fight for survival every day to make a living.  So rather than take time to clean the mud out of the area, they set up their business of buying and selling right on the mud.  They were desperate before the flood just to make enough money money to feed their family, so they certainly cannot afford to lose time by investing in cleaning their community.  They will starve if they do.

–  Mere words and pictures really do not do justice in trying to describe the conditions here.  All I can say is that it is total devastation and total poverty all in one.

–  But life must go on for the people here in Gonaieve.  So they walk through the muddy waters, they wash their clothes in the muddy waters,and they bathe in the muddy waters.

–  Here are some pictures of some of the devastation that I have seen here.

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–  After taking several hours to purchase the food (Nothing ever happens “smoothly” in Haiti), we drove to the church in Gonaieve to spend the next several hours putting together family size bags of food to give to the people in the community.  We put together about 150 family size bags that would provide each family about a weeks worth of food.

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–  Then the chaos began as the iron gates of the church opened up and people tried to pus their way up front to get food.  People are so desperate.  They are all hungry.  We were able to provide food for over 150 families, yet there were several more people who we had to turn away because we didn’t have any more food.  People were trying to reach over the walls in hopes of being handed anything.

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…children rubbing their belly after I gave them some yummy candy.

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–  I believe that the Lord brought me all the way to Gonaieve for this one thing that happened just before giving out food.  I met this 17yr old boy who was helping us pack up the bags.  He said his name was Joseph Enoch.  I began speaking to him in my limited Creole just to try and make conversation.  So, I asked him “Ki leglis ou mache?”  Which means “what church do you go to?”  He told me that he goes to a Christian church in Gonaieve and then I asked him if he was a Christian.  He said that he “accepted” Jesus about a year ago in church.  The rest of the team was surprised when I continued to ask him about whether or not he knew Jesus.  I asked him what does it mean to him to “accept” Jesus.  He didn’t really know.  I asked him the 2 diagnostic questions that I often use from EE (Evangelism Explosion)  By his responses, it was apparent that he had no idea who Jesus was and what it means to accept Him as Lord and Savior.  I asked him if he wanted me to tell him what the message of salvation is really all about.  He said that he would like that, so he and I along with my friend Fritznel (who translated) went to find a quiet place where I was able to share the gospel message of salvation with Joseph.  I asked him if what I was saying made sense to him.  His reply was that it made complete sense and that he had never heard anyone explain it so clear to him in such a way that he really understood what it means to “accept” Jesus.  He said that he now understood that his sin has separated himself from a holy God and that Jesus loved him so much that He went to the cross so that the judgment of his (Joseph’s) sin was taken care of.  That nothing else could forgive or erase Joseph’s sin except the blood of Jesus.  He told me that he recognized his need for forgiveness and that he wanted to truly repent before God and ask Him to become his Savior and Lord.  And so, in that back alley way, in the devastated city of Gonaieve, this white guy from America was used by the living God to pray a new Haitien believer into the kingdom of the lord Jesus Christ.  Praise God for His wonder and glory.  Praise God for my Haitien brother in Jesus named Joseph Enoch.

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My new Christian brother Joseph between my good friend Fritznel and myself.

–  Immediately after praying with Joseph to receive Christ, I was overcome by massive stomach sickness, and next thing you know, I’m in one of these poverty stricken homes squatting over a concrete hole in the ground 3 different times in a half hour…and I’ll end that story right there…and I won’t tell you that as I was squatting, the outhouse door swung wide open and I’m looking at the next door neighbor looking down at me…that’s too embarrassing of a story to tell…:)

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–  Despite all my pain and embarrassment, I had a smile on my face thinking of the angels in heaven rejoicing over a 17yr old Haitien whose name was just written in the Lamb’s book of life.

– Here are some more pictures of Gonaieve as we were driving back to the hotel.

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–  As we were pulling up to our hotel, I saw 3 “blonds” (white people) so I stopped to talk to them for a while.  They are a missionary family serving with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and living here in Gonaieve.  They have been here for about a year.  It is a single Mom and her 3 children – Wow!  That is amazing.  They know and work with the other missionary couple that I met in Port Au Prince.  (small world…or small country…or small network of missionaries here in Haiti)  I told her of our involvement with Haiti.  She offered to host a team at her home if we would ever have need of that.  I think it is cool that i have met 2 missionary families who have so graciously offered to work with us in the future.  Perhaps we might just do that…only the Lord knows.  It was so great to talk to this Mom’s teenage daughters and hear them share about their passion to be serving God in Haiti.

–  Tomorrow we will attend church service in the Gonaieve Baptist Church, then we will give out clothes to the people.  After that we will drive to Camp Coq where we will minister to the children at the orphanage and in the community, as well as buy food to give out to families in that community.

Sunday 10/12

–  After breakfast, we all headed out to church.  Driving through all that devastation and dirty flood waters was really starting to get to me, not to mention the stench all throughout.

–  Church service was good, but long and very hot.  I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to share a brief message from His Word.  God had been showing me Psalm 46 and Acts 17 in the past few days and I had a burning desire to share this word with the people of Gonaieve, but did not think that I would get the chance.  So, when Frank called me up to share a few words, I grabbed my bible and ran up to the pulpit and shared the message that He had put on my heart.  I pray that the word that I shared brought encouragement to the people.  It is always a challenge to preach a theological truth with the need for it to be translated into another language.

Here is the church in Gonaieve…

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–  After service, we handed out clothes to the people in the church.  We gave out about 4 suitcases full of clothes.  I think everybody got a few things.  But at that point, things were just starting to get to me.  The unbearable heat, the devastation all around, and the desperation of the people as they were yelling and pushing thorough to get anything that would help them out.  I was ready to go.  Actually I was ready to go home…seriously.  I was tired.  I was so dirty.  I was so hot that my clothes were just sticking to my body.  I missed my wife and kids.  I missed my comfortable home.  I missed my AC.  I missed comfort period.

But I knew at that point that it was the moment where I had to surrender all those things to God and trust in Him alone to be my joy and comfort.  It was in that moment that He was calling me to persevere for a cause greater than my comfort, and that cause was so that the name of Jesus would be lifted up and magnified in Haiti.  And so I pressed in to God…and pressed on in the mission.  I will say however that I was happy to be leaving Gonaieve and heading to Camp Coq.  I really believe that my purpose in coming to Gonaieve was to bring the gospel message to that 17 yr old boy and see him pray to receive Christ.

–  And so we left Gonaieve and headed up the mountains towards Camp Coq.

–  Here are a few pics of handing out clothes in the church.

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Frank’s wife Nicole handing out clothes.  She is from Homestead, FL.  She is originally from Haiti.

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Can you see the cry of desperation?

–  Next stop…our little mountain village of Camp Coq where the orphanage is.

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If you happen to be in the city of Wilmington on Wednesday’s at noon, and you just happen to drive under the train bridge in the “darker” parts of the city, and you happen to spot two white guys who look like they have taken the wrong turn on their way from the office, don’t be alarmed, it’s just me and my buddy Terry doing what we have come to really enjoy…hanging out with the homeless and taking them out to lunch.  We have met some really interesting people, shared some good times, and hopefully have showed them the love of Jesus in a consistent and genuine manner.

It is so cool to see how God brought this whole thing about.  Terry and his other friend were the ones that started doing this “take a homeless guy out to lunch” thing about a year ago.  Well, about 6 months ago, while still living in Dover (about an hour from Wilmington), I woke up one morning with a compelling desire to just go into the city of Wilmington and start reaching out to people in the name of Jesus.  I had no idea what God was specifically calling me to do.  All that I did know was that He was urging me to go immediately and share Christ with people in the city.  As I began going into the city and telling people about Jesus, I started encountering a lot of homeless people around the downtown green.  It was fun to talk to them because they were never in a hurry and wouldn’t mind talking at length about the things of God.  So, after several times of going into the city and encountering the homeless people, I began taking some of my lunch and looking for a homeless person to share it with.  Then, one Sunday, I was visiting one of the churches in the association that I work for as a missionary and I was introduced to Terry and was told about what he and his friend had been doing with the homeless in the last year.  I thought that was such a cool idea and told him that I would love to go out and do that with him.  That’s how Terry and I have hooked up to do ministry with the homeless.

It often goes beyond just having lunch with them.  For instance, we now give out shower kits (towel, soap, toothbrush, deodorant, etc) to many of them along with bibles.  As I hand out the shower kits and bibles, I tell them “the shower kit will help get you clean on the outside, but the bible will get you clean on the inside.”  After handing out the shower kits and bibles, we usually just strike up conversation with one or two, talk for a while, and then invite them to be our guest for lunch.  This has led to many opportunities to talk to them about Jesus and pray for them.  A few months ago, after handing out shower kits and bibles, one guy came up to me and asked me to pray for him, and then another immediately came up and asked for prayer also, and then several others.  So, right there on the corner of a busy street with cars passing by, there we were, about 10 of us all holding hands and giving thanks and praise to Jesus!  It was awesome!

I think that one of the greatest things about this “ministry” is that it really is not some structured, planned, strategic type thing that we have formulated to reach the homeless, but rather it is just 2 guys who have a heart to hang out with the homeless and be a reflection of Christ’s love.  To us, the homeless are not a project that needs fixing…they are just people who need to know the love and grace of Jesus every day…just like you and me.

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Here is a picture of me and 2 friends of mine, Joe (on the left) and Herman (on the right)  Terry and I have had lunch with these guys on many occasions.  Herman is rather famous as Terry did this “experimental” project on his blog where he asked people to donate just $1 so that they could help raise money so that Herman could get an apartment.  They ended up raising over $1,000 from that.  People from all over the country were sending in their one dollar along with cards and notes of encouragement to Herman. Terry now works very close with Herman.  He has brought him to various appointments, has advocated on his behalf,  and has truly been an example of loving him with the love of Jesus.

So, remember, if you see us in those “seedy” places in the city, we’re not lost…we just happen to be at one of our favorite lunch spots in the city…under the bridge.  Wanna join us sometime?

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