What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Haiti Part 3

On the third day of the trip, we started the day with a tour of two of LSM’s projects. These projects and various other ones LSM has planned impressed me. The projects are designed to be training facilities to give Haitians jobs and sources of income. They will be self-sustaining once totally operational. It is an exciting situation.
The first place we visited was a block making enterprise. Haitians do not build buildings the way Americans do. Lumber is scarce and expensive. Rocks and rock by products (aggregate and sand) are readily available. The block plant utilizes these available resources to make cement blocks the Haitians use to construct sturdier buildings. Houses, storefronts, businesses, everything can be constructed using block. There has been no industrialized block making facilities in the Les Cayes area. All high quality block had to be trucked in from Port Au Prince. This facility is greatly needed in Les Cayes. LSM is providing a service to the people, the other industries, and themselves by making block and selling it at reasonable rates. They’ve already begun selling stone aggregate to various businesses. We were able to see one such contractor come in for a large truckload of aggregate. Currently LSM is the biggest customer for the block being produced as they expand their network of Homes of Hope (family-oriented orphan groups I will talk about in next week’s blog) and other projects.
The next place we visited was an agricultural center being implemented near Les Cayes. This center currently is a working farm with cattle, chickens, and pigs. However, it is being developed into a training center with dormitories and classrooms to train people in all kinds of areas dealing with producing, making and marketing food, and technology. Currently, the chickens are providing enough eggs to sell to several retail outlets, including some as far away as Port Au Prince. As the farm grows more of the chickens will also be sold to retail outlets. The hotel we were staying at served us omelets several mornings – made from the farm’s eggs.
We were also told about and driven by a new grocery store in Les Cayes that was supposed to open last week. Staff was being trained and merchandise was being delivered. There are also plans to build a retail center similar to our strip malls. This will be located not far from the block-making facility and house several businesses. One will be a retail outlet for their block, with a motorcycle store/rental place also being planned. All to be operated by Haitians for the Haitian people. All while making the message of Christ’s love known throughout the region.
I’m impressed with LSM’s devotion to giving the people of Haiti a “hand-up” versus a “hand-out.” They are in the business of training people to be independent and self-sustaining, to be able to house, clothe, and feed themselves by their own efforts. I found the Haitian people to be resourceful, resilient and hard-working people. LSM is trying to capitalize on those qualities to better Haiti and share the message of Christ. This is a ministry worth supporting.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Haiti Part 2

One of the key things impressed upon me on the second day was how God is at work in our lives. When I first became a Christian, God surrounded me with people who were interested in reaching the world for Christ. I knew many individuals, couples, and families who left their comfort zones to live overseas to be a part of serving Christ by living and sharing their faith among people who may not have otherwise heard Christ’s salvation message. Some of the places these friends went to were China, the Philippines, France, England (to the Muslims there), Ireland, Indonesia and Hungary.
During my early Christian life, sharing the gospel message wherever and whenever possible was also impressed upon me. However, I felt God calling me to be involved in world missions. Shortly after graduating from college, my husband and I went to help the missionary in Hungary for a short-term mission trip. This was before communism’s grip was diminished in Eastern Europe, yet the people wanted to learn English. We went to be native English speakers at a camp for some of these people. However, we were also there to show them the love and message of Christ as much as possible. I rejoiced in the opportunity to serve God in that way. I began thinking and praying about other short-term (and maybe even long-term) mission trips even more. I had a vision that God could and would use me that way.
Then life hit! I developed several chronic illnesses, was busy pursuing a graduate degree, had children, and other illnesses became acute. My vision seemed to be dead. Life had just gotten in the way. We still supported missionaries and prayed regularly for them. We prayed God would send out laborers into the harvest (Luke 10:2). We hosted visiting missionaries in our home. We got involved in mission conferences/weekends with our church. Our hearts ached for the harvest around the world (and in our own neighborhood and country) to be appropriately dealt with. I still longed to be a part of God’s harvest around the world, but my illnesses and responsibilities seemed to put to death the vision I’d had in college. I gave up hope of ever “going” again. It seemed as if I’d gotten the wrong message early on; God wasn’t calling me to the mission field as I had thought.
Fast-forward thirty years. All the obstacles were still present in one way or another, and in varying degrees of severity. Yet, the youthful vision again blossomed in my heart. When our church started going to Honduras on regular short-term mission trips, I had a longing to go, but just couldn’t. When our church started partnering with Loving Shepherd’s Ministry in Haiti, I began praying for them, resigning myself to believing that was the role God now had for me regarding world missions.
However, this year in the fall, I couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted me to go. I argued with Him. I pointed out all my illnesses (which were in great control, but seemed insurmountable to me). I thought my husband would say, “No.” I thought my therapist would say, “Not a good idea.” I thought my diabetes specialist would say, “It’s too dangerous.” I thought my psychiatrist would say, “You might cause depression or mania to return if you try this.” All of them thought it was a great idea! They were excited for me to do it. They encouraged me to apply. I began to get excited, but I thought it was probably too late and all the spots would be taken or I’d never raise enough support.
None of that was true. God answered in big ways and confirmed that He wanted me in Haiti. The vision from my youth had been restored. God works when all hope seems gone. He’s in the business of making miracles. I had learned this lesson earlier in my Christian life, but I was not convinced of it. I had a vision, a death of a vision, and now the miraculous fulfillment of the vision. I’m excited to see what God has for me next.