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 22, 2018

Haiti Part 4

More about the third day. Last week I described what we did in the morning of January 22. The afternoon was spent doing the key thing on our agenda (and what we would spend the next couple of days primarily doing).
We assisted LSM’s Haitian team build roofs on several houses. Specifically, on the third day, we completed one roof in the Cavaillon area of Les Cayes. The roofs had already been roughed in with pole rafters. Our job was to help “flesh out” those rafters giving nailing surfaces for the tin that was to be attached as the final roof. Three of us were moving around the roofs with the efficient and skilled Haitians, doing this work. One was involved with on-the-ground preparation work and handing materials to the men on the roof. My role was to be a “go-for” going for various items the roofers needed, such as water bottles, more nails, and various tools.
When not getting things for the roofers, I tried to stay out of the way and mingle with Haitians who had come to watch the construction. I was not very good at it due to the language barrier, but most of the children loved having their photos taken and then looking at the digital displays on our phones. Often I found myself sitting in the shade praying for the projects, the men, the attitudes, and that we would truly be helpful in building the various roofs.
A little about the roofs. Some of the homes we put roofs on had lost their roofs (and most of their walls) during the hurricane from a year and a half ago (Matthew). The houses had been only marginally useful to the owners and the new and improved roofs of tin were greatly appreciated. Some of the families had been living with other families since the hurricane. With the roofs they were one step closer to moving back into their own homes. Others had been using thatch for their roofs. Thatch (made from straw, reeds, palm leaves, etc.) was available but leaked. It was also dislodged by storms and wind. Tin roofs are wonderful replacements and would keep the families dry for many years to go. The Haitian “crew leader” said that in normal conditions, a tin roof could last for up to ten years. That’s a marked improvement from the thatch!
Just as we returned to our lodgings at the end of the day, it started to rain. Our prayer was that the family had been able to get their belongings moved back into their newly roofed home before the rain, and was able to enjoy a dry shelter.

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.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Haiti Part 1

I don’t know if you expected this or not, but I’m planning to write a series of sorts about my experiences and God’s work in my life based on my recent mission trip to Haiti. I learned so many things, and God laid so much on my heart, that deciding what to write about will depend heavily on the journal I kept while there (and continuing now as God still gives me insights based on events from the trip). I am also grateful to Loving Shepherd Ministries (LSM) for the opportunity to serve along side them. (https://loving-shepherd.org/about-lsm/)
On Day #1 we traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida via Dallas/Fort Worth. Going through security checkpoints was a little scary. I was afraid that one or the other of my carry-on luggage wouldn’t pass muster for what is allowed. I was mostly afraid they would be too big or that some of the contents would not be allowed. I, of course, had an abundant supply of my various meds and supplies for my insulin pump and glucose meter (some of which have sharp things associated with them). I had done thorough research on the TSA website as to what is allowed and what is not, but there was a nagging feeling that I would be without something I needed in Haiti.
However, God is faithful. I had figured out from the way my support for this trip came in that God wanted me in Haiti. I should have taken some of that confidence with me to the airports. I had no more problems that anyone else did. (They did “inspect” our various snacks we took along. I’m not sure what they were looking for but something sent alarms off as they passed through the scanning equipment. Also, in Fort Lauderdale, before boarding the plane to Port Au Prince, Haiti, they hand inspected my diabetes supplies, but let them go through without a word.) God still wanted me in Haiti. God is faithful.
Not having flown much in airplanes, I was afraid I would not do well and get motion sickness or something else. My ear pressure was uncomfortable on take off and descent, but not unbearable. I did not get sick in any way, and actually enjoyed most of the flights. I wish I had taken some ear buds or some earphones since to watch the movies I needed them. Just a suggestion for others who might take long flights: Take some.
That pretty much covers the first day. It was a day of travel and a day in which I had much time to pray and praise. I asked God to prepare my heart for the adventure ahead. He partially did that through my time in the Word that day, 2 Peter 1:1-9. This passage talked about how God is keeping “His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature” (vs. 4). As God keeps His promises to us, we are to reflect His nature by also keeping our promises. I knew not to promise to the people of Haiti what I could not deliver upon. We should be demonstrating God’s character by keeping our promises. This concept was important to me as the Haitians had so little and I wanted to provide for them the world, but I just can’t. My service would have to suffice (and it would be much appreciated by those we served).
More next week. We will see what God lays on my heart to share with you then.