Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 5 – Try a little Kindness

Ahh… peace and quiet at last. It’s day 5 in Haiti, and for the first time since we’ve arrived, we can hear the waves crashing in to shore. There’s no music blaring outside until three in the morning. Just the gentle hum of a generator, the light buzz of the swarm of mosquitos, and the wooshing of bats above our heads. Ah, Haiti.
It is lovely here, really, and we had an adventurous day. We started off dividing our work force. Matt was welding, Bruce was repairing the plow, and the ladies were gofers – going for this and that as needed. I went with Les to the Haiti version of Home Depot – it even had the right smell. We picked up a load of square tubing and angle iron, loaded the Land Rover with gas, as well as bought plenty of gas for the generators, and brought all the supplies back to the Consolation Center.
When we got back, so much had been done, but a break was sorely needed. It’s impossible to adequately convey just what the climate is like here. It’s hot. It’s sticky. The wind rarely moves. And the Sun burns down directly overhead. It’s easy to overdo it, and when you are welding, using a cutting torch, and working in the sun – you can overheat quickly.
We had one team member succumb to a little heat exhaustion today. The Haitians who were with us responded quickly, bringing us a bunch of coconuts – the electrolytes in the coconut have an exceptional ability to rehydrate and restore you. Still, we sent our sick one back the the beach house to rest for the remainder of the day – he went with our prayers, and we got back to work – more welding, some painting, and even some plowing. The good news is, if this ministry thing doesn’t pan out, I now have marketable skills in welding (wire and stick welding).
We finished the day with a refreshing swim in the ocean, followed by wonderful meal prepared by a lovely woman from the community. The main meal was goat, and it was fantastic. She made way more than we could eat, and the leftovers went to good use – we should all sleep well tonight.
Our devotional study for the day was on Kindness as an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. Kindness is a benevolence of disposition – desiring the welfare of others, even those who are continually taxing our patience. Kindness is wanting the best, thinking the best, and working for the best for all people, often at great personal expense.
We have been supported (financially and prayerfully) through the tremendous kindness of our congregation at Memorial Presbyterian Church. We have been shown great kindness and hospitality by our mission partners, Les ad Catherine DeRoos. But most importantly, we have receive the greatest of kindness, when God showed the “immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Jesus Christ” (Eph 2:7), when, through Christ, God raised us from the dead and to give us life.
God has proven to be kind and generous. When the punishment of sin was death, God showed kindness to Adam and Eve, clothing them to hide their shame, and sending them out of the Garden and away from His wrath. God continued to show kindness by demonstrating patience, and continually working restoration and reconciliation with His people. God’s ultimate kindness is seen in Christ coming to us for our salvation.
And so it is in that kindness that we have come to Haiti; and it is our hope that we may share God’s kindness with those around us. We want the people of Haiti to know God, and to trust in the grace of God through Jesus Christ for their salvation. We share this Good News freely. Yet we are also here to share this Good News through purposeful acts of kindness. We are making beds, painting gates, fixing plows, playing with children, rocking babies to sleep – so that through our kindness, others may see the kindness of God in us and be drawn to Him.
How much better would our message of the Gospel be if our preaching, our teaching, our evangelism, were always accompanied by purposeful acts of kindness? As you preach the Gospel, as you live the Gospel, try a little kindness – so that the world may see your good works, and give glory to our heavenly Father.
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Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 4 – Be Patient with One Another

Day 4 has come and gone – and what a day it’s been. We began the day with worship at the Village of Hope. It was amazing to worship with the Haitian people. We were welcomed gladly, shared greetings from our home church, and witnessed some spectacular singing, prayers, and dynamic preaching. Fortunately, the worship leader came up after the sermon and gave a brief translation of the sermon.
The Sermon was based on Genesis 1:25-28 and the pastor spoke of the creation of man for God’s glory, and how God has, and will, provide all that we need to follow him. He was passionate and excited to share the texts, that much was obvious even though we didn’t understand a word of it.
From there we got a quick tour of the Village of Hope, had lunch, and rested for an hour or so before leaving for the Consolation Center for worship with the girls there. Again, we were blown away by their singing – boistrous, energetic, and lively. Some were songs we know (How Great Thou Art, This is the Day The Lord Has Made, I will Celebrate Sing unto The Lord), others we had no clue, but it was wonderful. I was asked to preach to the girls, and I shared the story of Mephibosheth from 2 Sam 9. Zachary was a huge help translating, and the kids responded well.
What was great was the 3 year old, Michaela, who, right after the service, came up and tugged on my pant leg until I knelt down to her. She just wanted to sit on my lap and cuddle. I was only too happy to oblige. She must of sat there for 20 minutes. I was told that she fell asleep during the sermon and was still waking up – who cares. She wanted held, and her father or mother weren’t there to hold her – my heart broke for her. The world stopped for a while as she curled up in my arms.
I wonder if maybe I preached more in those 20 minutes of quiet time with Michaela than I did in the 10 minutes I spoke. Probably so.
Our devotion today on the Fruit of the Spirit addressed Patience.
There’s something you have to learn quickly here in Haiti – things in Haiti happen when they happen. There’s not a lot of hurry here. Unless your driving that is – then its foot the floor at a breakneck pace.
No, for the most part, there’s not a lot of schedule keeping here. I didn’t even pack my watch. Agenda driven as we are in the states, I think people here are just the opposite. There’s always work to do, but it will still be there tomorrow if it doesn’t get done today. The heat may have something to do with it, but things just move slower here.
And that requires patience. We want to get things done, accomplish something spectacular, come home with a progress report – and sometimes that just does not happen. Sometimes holding a baby who needs to be loved is the most productive thing you can do, and that baby will need to be held and loved tomorrow, and the day after that, and long after you are gone. You will have nothing to show for it, it will force you to lay aside your ambitions – but it is the work of the Lord.
We demand so much of our time, so much of one another – are we ever really patient. We need, desperately, to exercise great patience – with each other, and with ourselves.
None of us have achieved our full stature. We are all growing, learning, changing into the man or woman God is creating us to be. I know my wife, God bless her, is a long-suffering woman. She has been waiting 20 years, and may have to wait 20 more, for me to grow into the man she knows God is making me to be; she is one of the most patient people I know.
Patience is not just a virtue, it is a gift from God. God demonstrated His tremendous patience in that while we ran headstrong from Him, He was faithful, He loved us steadfastly in Christ, and He did not count our sins against us, but laid them upon His Son upon the cross that we might be forgiven and have peace with Him.
In this kind of patience, we must bear with each other’s shortcomings, forgiving as Christ has forgiven us – freely, graciously, preemptively. When we are walking in His Spirit, His patience will teach us to deal patiently with others – especially those who would try our patience.
Finally, the Patience of God’s Spirit would also lead us to trust in the sovereign hand of God and His plan for our lives, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Knowing that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28), knowing that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:39), knowing that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6), and that “he will make everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl 3:11), knowing these things we can live in patient and faithful anticipation, trusting in HIs every promise.
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Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 3 – The Peace of the Lord

Day 3 in Haiti is wrapping up. We’re being serenaded by the Bamboula Party outside: a little reggai, a little calypso – I don’t know what you call it, but its Haitian. It is catchy, but I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my music library anytime soon.
The day started slowly – the entire team had a good night’s sleep, and a good morning’s sleep too. For some reason, we all slept in a bit, but that’s okay. Our mission partners here had a funeral to attend in the morning, so we were left at the beach house to organize the items we brought, and were asked to help clean out the garage. That was all finished pretty quickly, so we took advantage of the beach being quiet for a moment, and spent some time in the water. The waves were great, the water nice and warm – really it was a wonderful morning.
After lunch, we left for the Consolation Center. The women went on to visit the James 1:27 Community – a ministry that houses widows and pairs them with orphaned or abandoned infants – they held the babies and loved on them for a while. They weren’t allowed to take any luggage there – we didn’t want to tempt them with the idea of bringing a little one home.
While the women were there, the three men stayed at the Consolation Center to try to fix the school bus. They have a big yellow bus from Laurens-Marathon schools to transport the kids. Problem was, it wouldn’t go in reverse. Bruce checked the transmission under the bus, I was electrocuting myself on the start switch (which was hotwired). Meanwhile, Matt was tinkering with the electrical box on the side of the bus. He found an unplugged cord marked “Rev:Rel” and wondered if it should be connected to the other unplugged cord; he put them together and viola – the bus goes backwards now.
We then tried our hand at a little welding, repairing the door of the bus. The welding didn’t work though, as we didn’t have the right welding material – but it was a noble effort.
Our study for the day was on Peace – the peace of God which we know in Christ, a peace that comes in the power of His Spirit.
It’s funny: we long for peace in our busy, hectic, frenetic lives. We chase ourselves around and around, thinking that by doing a little more, earning just a couple more dollars, having just a little more stuff, we’ll finally find that peace that we’ve been longing for. But it never comes. We keep running just to stand still (thank you, Bono), we keep chasing the horizon, peace eludes us.
And then we come to Haiti. The motto here seems to be, “Hurry Up and Wait.” We’ve got goals and expectations for the trip, but as we go through the day, we realize, those goals are far less important than just loving the people, showing the kids that they are cared for and treasured. We have to remember that sitting with a widow and holding a baby is more important than building something or checking something off your to do list.
There is peace in holding a child who just needs to be loved, in playing soccer with kids who’ve never known an adult who cared for them. There is peace in the contentment and satisfaction in knowing that you are where God has placed you, and you can only do the work that He places before you – anything more or less would be a step out of His plan (thank you, Amy Grant).
We have peace with God, we have peace in God. We were at one time rebels from the throne of God, violators of His will, trespassers of His law. But now, through the mercy of Christ, God has reconciled the world to Himself. We have peace with God – our sins are forgiven. Our longing, our desires, our hopes and expectations – they are all met in Christ Jesus our Lord. He is our Prince of Peace; when He came into the world, the angels sang “Glory be to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men;” as He prepared for the cross, He gave us His peace, so that our hearts would never be troubled (John 15:27).
We shared tonight about what peace means, when we’ve experienced the peace of God in our hearts. We cried a little, laughed too, but spoke to one another’s hearts. We shared the peace of God, the peace that passes all understanding. It is this peace that allows us to serve here. A peace that tells us that we are not in control, but there is One who is in control. He knows our yesterdays, our todays, our tomorrows, and our tomorrow’s tomorrows: there is nothing He does not see, nothing that is not in His hands. Knowing this gives us peace. We are in His hands. Our cares, our worries, He knows them, and He will provide, and when we delight in Him, our hearts will be satisfied.
He is with us, His peace abides with us. The presence of the Lord is the calm in the storm, the confidence in the face of the accuser, the stronghold in times of trouble, the rock that is higher than the flood, the peace in the midst of the choas. This is the peace that allowed Job, that allows us to say when everything else was gone, I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

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Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 2 – The Joy of The Lord

Day 2 of our Haiti Mission is coming to an end. The party outside at Bamboula Beach is crazy. There’s probably a couple hundred people out there. The music is loud, and its been playing since 3 or 4 this afternoon (I kind of know how Manuel Noriega felt). The A/C in our room, and the generator in the back yard help to drown out the sound, but the beat goes on. Still, it adds to the sense of adventure, and the people are celebrating, and that’s a good thing.
Today we got to visit the orphanages that we have been working to support. We were greeted by familiar faces, welcomed with love, and blessed to see so many improvements since our visit last year. The children have grown. Some have moved on. There has been sorrow and pain, and there have been times of joy, and God’s gracious hand has provided all things in His wisdom and time.
Today was a day of joy. It was difficult, don’t get me wrong. Arriving at the Center for Help, where the memorial funds for Mark Sarchet have helped to radically transform a struggling facility into a place where children can grow and thrive – it was painful. We spent time in prayer, thanking God for His hand that has upheld us in the midst of loss and pain, and taking even that hardship and allowing such good to come through it. We played and laughed with the kids – I cant think of a better way to spend the day.
And as I said before, under the surface of everything we did today was a spirit of Joy. These kids have faced more at 8 and 9 than most of us will ever have to deal with in this life. And yet they are full of joy.
Maybe that’s why I needed to come back, to be reminded of the joy that should dwell in my heart. So often I struggle with an identity crisis: I know what Jesus says about who he is and what he has done for me, but I tend to forget what that really means. Jesus said, “I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
The “These Things” Jesus spoke of was His death for us, and His sending His Spirit to us to comfort us and give us strength. He has done all this – why? – that our joy may be full!
There is something terribly inconsistent in the joyless Christian. Christ came that we might know joy, and that our joy may be completed in Him. He was abundant with joy, deep in His heart there was a joy that drove Him. Hebrews shows us this when we read, “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
When we trust in Christ for our salvation, when His Spirit moves in us and gives us life, we will know this lasting joy. It does not come ourselves, we don’t have to muster up a certain feeling. When we know and remember the truth of the Gospel, joy will prevail in our hearts. Joy is the work of the Holy Spirit within you, satisfying your soul in the presence of God – bringing delight in the inmost being.
Remember your catechism – What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever!
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Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 1 – Love One Another

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and anyone who loves is born of God, and knows God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

We’ve made it to Bamboula Beach, in Torbec, Haiti – our center of operations for the next week on our Mission trip. It’s hot and humid here. We expected that, but I don’t think any of us were really prepared for just what kind of toll this heat and humidity can take on you. We’ll be drinking lots of fluids, and praying for a break in the heat.

Our study on the Fruit of the Spirit began tonight with a study on Love. Love is a word that gets thrown around pretty casually today. In one breath someone will say, “I love my wife,” and with the very next breath say, “I’d love a cup of coffee.” I’m hoping that our definition of love adapts to our usage.

We tend to love that which benefits us. If a bit of technology (like your phone or tablet – ahem!) makes life, work, play, a little easier – then we tend to treat those things with special attention, spend a little more time with them than we ought, and give them a central place in my life. Being here in Haiti, with no cell coverage, and iffy WIFI access, I’ve noticed how often I turn to my iWhatever whenever I don’t know what else to do. (Maybe this week away will help me enact a tech-fast – unintended blessing). Is this love – not really, but it looks and acts a lot like it.

What we learn of love in Scripture is not a love that exists for selfish gain, but rather a love that gives sacrificially. Jesus said in John 15, “Great love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 4:9 teaches, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, that we might live though Him.” This is love, sacrificial, merciful, giving love.

When trust in Christ for our life and our salvation, when we walk in the power of His Spirit, when we come to know the Amazing Love of God, then we will live in and grow in that love. We will love more like He has loved us.

That’s what brings us here to Haiti: Love. God loved us with a love that would bring us life and transform us with hope. Because that love has been borne in us, we serve one another in that love. We sacrifice our time at work and with our families. We do without so that we can afford to be here. We sweat through the night and long for our comfortable beds, cars, etc… But in God’s amazing love, none of it really seems like a sacrifice at all. When we consider all that He has given, whatever we give up here seems so small.

I am so honored to be able to serve a congregation, and this particular mission team, who have known the love of God, and as they grow in that love, are dedicated to loving others. I pray that over this next week, we will not only see the love of God in our own lives, but we will be able to pass that love on to those whom we serve.

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Haiti Mission 2014

It’s late for my midweek post, and tonight’s will be brief. We are returning to Haiti, this year for an 8 day mission working with Les and Catherine DeRoos, Laborers with Christ. While there we hope to do some building, painting, farming, whatever is needed, whatever it takes. I will be posting daily updates on our work, so keep reading and keep praying.
In preparation for our trip, I wrote a short devotional booklet for our team, based on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Each day we will read about the different qualities of Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. With each post here, I will try to incorporate themes from our discussion on Galatians 5, seeing how that ties in with the work we are doing.
As you are reading, I ask one thing: PLEASE PRAY! This is an exciting adventure, but it is also a little terrifying. We’ve been to Haiti before (some of us, anyway), and so there is a little comfort in that familiarity. Still, no one on our team speaks a lick of Haitian Creole – a bit concerning. We are spending a day in Port-au-Prince before we return – a little bit more concerning. There will be the heat, the food, the work, the heart-break, the joy, the triumphs and the set-backs – and without the provision of God’s strength and the shelter of His hand, we will not succeed. Pray for our team – Matt Royster, Bruce and Donna Amundson, Dawn Sickelka, Amy Sarchet, and myself – pray that God’s Spirit will unite us in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Pray that God will prosper the work we have before us, that His goodness and mercy may be seen in all we do, and that all glory and honor will be given unto Him.
More tomorrow -
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I Am Debtor

When I think of all the many ways I have been blessed by God, only then do I begin to see that to Him I owe all praise and thanks.  I am not talking about the worldly provisions that God has given – though by all comparisons, God has been good to me.  What strikes me most, is the richness of His grace and favor shown unto me through His complete and sufficient work to secure my salvation in Jesus Christ.

I was dead – not dying – in sin.  I was unlovable, recalcitrant, petulant, defiant.  And God proved His love in that while I was still a sinner, He sent His Son to die for me.  Christ bore the wrath I had earned, the cross I deserved, and exchanged it all for His righteousness, His peace, that I might be reconciled unto God.

As the hymn sings, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

As I’ve been reading the Memoir’s of R.M. M’Cheyne, I came across this poem of his that says so much better what I want to express.

“I AM DEBTOR”
R.M. M’Cheyne
May 1837

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk you glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then – how much I owe.

When I hear the wicked call
On the rocks and hills to fall,
When I see them start and shrink
On the fiery deluge brink,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then – how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then – how much I owe.

When the praise of heaven I hear
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then – how much I owe.

Even on earth, as through a glass
Darkly, let thy glory pass,
Make forgiveness feel so sweet,
Make thy Spirit’s help so meet,
Even on earth, Lord, make me know
Something of how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Saviour’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath the cloud,
Dark as midnight’s gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at the height,
Jesus comes, and all is light:
Blessed Jesus! bid me show
Doubting saints how much I owe

When in flowery paths I tread,
Oft by sin I’m captive led;
Oft I fall, but still arise;
The Spirit comes – the tempter flies:
Blessed Spirit! bid me show
Weary sinners all I owe.

Oft the nights of sorrow reign -
Weeping, sickness, sighing, pain,
But a night thine anger burns -
Morning comes, and joy returns:
God of comforts! bid me show
To thy poor, how much I owe.

McCheyne, Robert Murray, and Andrew A. Bonar. Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894. Print.

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