Friday, September 30, 2011

The Back, Back, Back Room

110930: The Back, Back, Back Room.
I rode my scooter into Cayes behind Patchouko, so we could get it greased and oiled.  On the way there we stopped at the Vietnamese mobile internet company, Natcom.
Do you remember the back room I talked about bum-rushing a week or so ago with Adrien?
I get there with Patchouko, he says just a few words to the beautiful, professional Haitian woman behind the desk, and suddenly it’s like we have VIP privileges.  
Before I know it, we’re being ‘shown’ through the back door.  
“Wow.”  I said.  “The back door.”   People were being helped by technicians, left and right. 
“I knew it!” I said.  
But oh know, we weren't finished.  
“Right this way, gentlemen.”  We were shown through another door which led down a hallway, to the final, final back room.
The door was opened for us slowly, and what came next was classic.  A small, cigarette smoke-filled room, packed tight with privileged people... and about 6 Vietnamese techs.  They all looked up as we entered, and then they gave us a nod.   
We were in. 
How in the world!?  
I still don’t know how he did it. 
When I asked Patchouko, he just laughed. 
“I am VIP, you know.  I’m like the mayor.” 
There was a room filled with jump drives and people who knew how to make them work, yet we were cast in this 1940’s Private Eye movie.  Everyone was sweating, everyone was smoking, and there was a little metal fan in the corner. I snapped a couple of stealth images from my phone, because I knew nobody would believe me.  Forgive the quality.  Stealth, cell phone, c'mon, what more do you want?

Security was right there also.   Big guys, bouncers, guys that could put the hurt on.  My plan to bum-rush the door with Adrien would have ended very badly for me I think. 
They still couldn’t fix my phone.  The battery died just as it was handed to The Man, the Tech, the GUY who knew how to make any phone work...  So I struck out.

But Patchouko walked out smiling, now a Haitian man in Ti Riviere, Haiti, with Internet.  He is only the 2nd Haitian to have the Internet in his village. 
He was very, very happy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scooting Along

I couldn’t justify a nice motorcycle.  I got all the way to the shop, found the one I liked, even sat on it and had that, 
“Get yer motor runnin’......head out on the highway” sensation, but a few seconds after that I just had the feeling I’d enjoy it a little too much.  It would be hard enough to show up in my village with a scooter, when most everyone else takes a taxi.  As soon as I began thinking in terms of bibles, those hundreds of dollars began to weigh out in my mind, and I couldn’t go through with it.  
But after my last tap-tap ride I decided it was time to do something.   I couldn’t picture trying to get one of my kids to the hospital in Cayes on the back of a tap-tap, making 20 stops. I went with Patchouko and bought the cheapest little scooter I could find.  
It will go from point A to point B. It will not go up the mountain.  It will not go faster than 40 mph, and it will break down.  Soon as I hit the gravel road on the way back to the village, I realized that I’m basically riding on an engine that feels like the equivalent of my push mower back home.  It felt like nuts and bolts were already working loose.  
We will use it to get water and to go the market. 
We will use it to get a case of bibles.  
It will ride one child in an emergency, two if it’s necessary.  
The whole family won’t fit, but it will do in a pinch.   
I’m still praying for transportation for all 4 of us, but for now we have the means to get to food and water, and I’m scratching transportation semi-off my list.  Praise God.

Learning to Cook Like a Haitian


Like I said before, the market was more than I bargained for, but after a 3 hour ordeal to get there an back, there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me from going through with my cooking bargain.
I stopped off at Judeline’s to tell her we were ready, and she disappeared in a flash.  
I didn’t know where she’d ran off to, but I soon found out she’d gone to take a shower.   She wanted to be fully scrubbed up before she started.  I thought that was very courteous. 
When she did come over, Tililene and Tikilene were both there, and so the house was full.  Judeline was carrying a rolling pin and a cutting board, which she said belonged to her mother.   She told me that it was her mother that taught her how to make Patte, and that she was a very good cook.  I told her that was why I asked her to teach me, because her cooking was exceptional, and she should thank her momma.
So here’s the nuts and bolts:
Get two bowls.  Shred salami, cabbage, onion and carrots, but only have the salami in one of the bowls with the ingredients.  This will be the dope, or the meat of the Patte.  The other will be a side dish of sorts, that you eat along with the Patte, like a cole-slaw.

Now combine Maggi, which is like a chicken bouillon, hot sauce, water and salt, and mix to taste.  This you pour over both bowls.   Squirt some fresh citron (or lime) over the both bowls.  This preserves the vegetables and gives flavor.
now grab the flaurine (flour) and mix it with butter.  Add in some cheese, which is a kind of fondu, and then a couple capfuls of oil.  Then add enough water and knead the mix until you have a good dough.  Put some oil on the cutting board.

Roll or push the dough out flat, then fold it all up and throw a towel over it to let it set up and rise a bit. 
During this time, start you charcoal.  Use some kerosene or oil, even a little dried coconut husk to get the charcoal going good.  It’s not like American charcoal.  It doesn’t burn easily.   Let the charcoal work through and go back to the Patte.  Roll up the dough into a long cylinder, then start cutting it like you would for biscuits.    

Pat out the dough in a circle, scoop in the mix, and form into a half circle.  Press together the ends and use a fork to interlock them for the oil.   

Go put the oil on the coals once they are good and hot.   
The temperature will be enough to slow cook the Patte.  You don’t want it to flash cook, because the outside will get too dark and the inside will still be soft and gooey. 

You want flakiness.  Fully cooked, fully golden brown, and just under crispy.  Knowing when to flip it and when to pull it out is a crucial step.  

Patchouko and Robenson very conveniently just happened to stop by as Judeline was pulling off the Patte.   I told Patchouko he had good timing, and he just gave me a sly smile.  He knew exactly when to show up. :)
We made enough to feed Judeline, Tililene, Tikilene, Patchouko, Robenson, myself, and even have leftover for her to take home to her family.   

More Than I Bargained For

110929: More Than I Bargained For
I made a deal with Judeline that if I went to the market and bought all of the proper ingredients, she’d teach me how to make patte.  
Fair enough. 
So, I asked Adrien’s cook Ya-Yan if she’d mind if I tagged along with her to the market, to make sure I was buying food at the right price.  
I waited outside my house at just a little after 8 in the morning, and sure enough, along came a tap-tap.  It was, so far, the most jam packed taxi I’ve ever seen, and smack in the middle of all of the people was Ya-Yan, motioning to me to hop on board.   That was much easier said than done. Almost the entire truck full of people needed to somehow shift for me to fit, and in the end, there was only room to squeeze on foot in between a few bags of corn, and wedge the other foot up against a farmer’s 5 gallon bucket.  There was no place to sit, so I just made up my mind that I’d be road-surfing.  
“I can do this.” I thought.  8 of us were standing in the middle of the truck, and after one solid bounce over the river we almost all went into the drink.  Someone came up with the great idea of linking arms around eachother, and sure enough, the sexual innuendo was present, as man and woman alike were clinging to one another just to stay in the truck and not wind up on the road. 
“Ok, Daniel.  How often are you going to be doing this?  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when you are going to  wind up seriously hurt.”   It was then I made up my mind that I’d be buying the cheapest scooter I could find. 
As we reached the market, Ya-Yan jumped off and it was time to pay the taxi.  I gave him 50 goude, and he smiled and started to walk away.  Ya-Yan got all up in his business, giving him a scolding, and he turned to give me back 5 goude.  She gave him another scolding, and he gave me back 5 more goude.  
‘Blanc!’ the man side with a surprised look, which in translation meant, “Woman are you nuts, he’s a white!  Who’s side are you on??”  She gave him this kind of motherly “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” look.
I just smiled.  It was nice to have a Haitian backing me.  
You have to shout when you are in a sea of people in an open air market. 
By the way, the air is anything but open. They should call it a fishy-anything-but-air market.  All those people, hot sweaty, and crammed like sardines, mixed with trucks and motorcycles spewing black exhaust, mixed with the smell of fresh hacked chicken, goat, and fish, and then burning garbage. 
Mmmmm-mmmmmm.  Now add to it, the mud and water and waste you’re walking through.  I’m surely going to take a picture, but it’s not a place I’m comfortable to bring a big camera yet.  There’s simply too man opportunists eyeing you, and even in that sea of people, you stand out. 
Ya-Yan didn’t speak a lick of Creole, and every time I tried to talk, she’d shout at me, “Pale Creole!”  (Speak Creole!) 
“M’Pale Creole!” I’d shout back. (I am speaking Creole!) But apparently my Creole doesn’t sound Haitian enough yet.  I think my language needs a name all it’s own, so I’m choosing either to call it Crenglish or Crengole.  I haven’t decided which yet.  But I can tell you this. I’m an expert at it, and I think I should set up a school or two now and really rake in the goude teaching this to the kids all over the countryside.  Future missionaries will thank me. :)
Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate math.  So, naturally, when it came time to learn the Creole number system...yep, I skipped it.  Now, here, standing among this unbelievable crowd, the woman selling me the salami thinks I’m insane.   Ya-Yan can’t believe what she signed up for.  
“Konbyen for the lwil? Ou kapab ekri that pou mwen, I have no idea kisa ou di! Montre mwen?  Montre mwen lajan!.  Travay avek mwen isit la. Mwen aprann.”
(How much for the oil?  Can you write that for me, I have no idea what you’re saying.  Show me?  Show me the money! Work with me here. I’m learning.” )
We finally got what was on my list, and I hoped to follow her around and learn more, but soon as I shouted that I was finished, she immediately put me on a motorcycle tap-tap and sent me scooting back to the village.  She was done baby-sitting the white boy.   She smiled and we parted ways still friends.   I knew I was bringing down her market experience, and it was amazing to learn from her.  It was like following around Oliver Twist or Huck Finn.  She was street savvy, tough as they come, not gonna take a lick of sass from anybody, and smart as a whip.  It was a privilege to be with her.   
On the way home, the motorcycle tap-tap blew his tire, and we ended up walking home together. He was very embarrassed, so I tried to make light of it.  It was interesting to me that he wasn’t going to ask me for the fare.  It would have been considered wrong to do so, since his tire blew and his client had to walk.   But I paid the man anyway.  For one, I really respected that kind of ethic, and number two, the man needs a tire now to provide for his family.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Couple of Shots From My Favorite Time of Day

Fishers of Men

110928 fishers of men
I didn’t grow up near the water, in fact I’ve spent my entire life landlocked and happy that way.   
Needless to say, living 5 feet above the ocean gives me a dull, uneasy feeling.  I’m waiting for the day God brings in a rogue wave to wash me out to sea.  I’ve asked the locals about how high the waves get.  I think they answer me lightly just to appease me.  
“It will be no problem!” they smile......mmmm-hmmmm.  No problem for who, the fish?
I’ve watched on several occasions the way the fishermen work, and today I decided to grab my camera.  As in anything that breathes in this world, I can see God’s signature in the way they work. 
For one, they are several men, yet they work as one.  Usually when I rise early in the morning and the color is just turning in the sky, within just a few minutes I can look out across the water and already there will be a boat filled with men, rowing out to favored fishing grounds. 
Each man knows his job, and his place in the chain.  He knows that he can’t be slack in his job, or the fish will find the weak link.  Every heave is towards the bottom line, every exertion is a means to an end, to raise the quota of the catch today.  
They begin to row hard as they can, in an effort to surprise the fish.  The captain throws out the nets as quickly as he can bend down and grab them.  Their isn’t a single snag in the line.  It’s been perfectly coiled for this task.

As they drop the nets, every 50 feet or so a man drops into the water, forming a great ‘U’ shape to the beach.   Once there is a man on each end of the net at the beach, the captain of the boat goes out to the far bend and the process of lifting the top of the net above the water begins.
Almost immediately the fish realize it’s a trap, and they start to jump out of the water, arcing in the air to clear the net.  It’s amazing to me that they are so quickly aware, and they know how to escape.
Slow and sure the men on the shore begin to drag in the nets, one arms-length at a time.   They are careful not to let the net come up from the ocean floor.    

Their work is hard and steady, and constantly the captain is calling the shots from out in the boat.  The men respond to his commands instantly.  There is no quarreling. There is no question of rank.  There is only obedience and a respect to the job at hand.
As the net draws in, local villagers begin to arrive on the scene.  Most are smiling with joyful hearts in anticipation of maybe taking home some fish.   The fishermen aren’t jealous or greedy, you see.  They take what is there’s, but they allow the people to take what they need also.  Everyone pitches in, from the smallest boy to the older men.
They begin to toss out the seaweed, but just enough to heave the nets up onto the beach.  Then they sift through it all, searching for the prize, the treasure inside.  Shiny...Glistening...Silver...Pwason! (Fish!)

The mama’s seem to be allowed to take the bigger shares.    Even the vagabonds wait their turn.  The alcoholic woman is there, standing beside me.  She’s not yelling at me today.  That's a nice change.  I wonder if her liquor is tasting like piss and vinegar yet.... since that's been my prayer for her over the last few days....well, that and that she'd have a Come-To-Jesus.....She’s quiet, but she still asks me for a bible.  
I tell her that today I’m praying for her.   She’s quiet again.
After the catch is made, the fishermen begin once again to work as if they were one man.  They clean the seaweed out of the nets and begin to neatly fold it up into the boat.  From our beach they’ll row out to the nearby island and drop them again, and the way they fold them now makes all the difference in how fast they will be able to again throw the line.  

They work hard.  They work as one.  They work tirelessly. They are prepared.  They are not selfish.  They are not greedy.  They have morals and values and ethics.  They desire to share. There is purpose in their labor, and they provide food.
Is it any wonder that the Son of God came to this Earth, and of all the traits, He chose fishermen to be among His disciples? 
Simple fishermen, handpicked, to carry out the greatest mission the world has even known.  
Today this land-lover understands his Bible just a little more than yesterday.  

Holy Ground

110928: Standing On Holy Ground
“Do you ever talk with Evil?”
“What?” I say.
“Do you have conversation with Evil?”
“Not so much conversation, but I talk at Evil.” I answer.
“How do you mean?”
“I rebuke him. A couple of nights ago.  Evil tried to hold me down at night, like the times I’ve told you about before.  I got up, and I spoke directly to him, and told him, nan nom Jezi, ALE!”  (“In the name of Jesus, GO!”)  I know my words might shock, but they are honest.  I see no point in hiding the truth.
My friend thinks about what I’ve said, and some time passes.
“Because Evil has tried to talk with me.” He says.
“What did you say to him?”
“He told me he wants me to switch over, to be with him. He told me I can’t serve Jesus, I’m not good enough.”  His voice is tender.
I smile, “Well, he is the father of lies.  What do you expect to hear from him?  He doesn’t have the truth.  It’s funny though.  As he is lying to you, there is actually a truth in there that you can take to heart.   By him asking you to switch over, he unintentionally reveals to you that you are on the side of Christ!   Ha!”   
We both laugh.   Then it’s tender again and our talk turns to our struggles, our weaknesses, and where the enemy tries to set his traps.   The talk is good, but I can tell my friend is concerned about whether he can stand for Jesus.
Then this morning I’m reading in my devotion, and I come across a passage that strikes me.  
I grab my Creole bible, my keys, my machete, and my hat (in case it rains), and I’m out the door.  It’s only 7 in the morning.
I come to my friend’s house and ask him to come outside.  
I hand him the bible and ask him to read, 2 Corinthians 13:5:
‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you —unless, of course, you fail the test?’
When he finishes, I unsheathe my machete quickly.  It makes a classic Schhwwwang sound as the metal rings.  My friends eyes are wide.  He is very focused on me, also very still as I’m holding the machete in the air.  I then bring it to the ground, and walk around him, drawing a circle in the dirt around his feet.   He doesn’t move.  
“Do you see where you stand?”  I ask him.
“Yes.” He is nervous.  Maybe embarrassed.  He’s never had a white man draw a circle around him with a machete, let alone a crazy white man.  :)
“If Christ is in you, my friend, then you are standing on Holy Ground.  Evil might come to talk to you, might even call your name, but he can’t come in.  You stand on Holy Ground, with Jesus.”
It’s going to be awkward until I leave, and I understand that, so I tell him to have a good day.
“It’s good that God can give you a word to give to me, because I need to hear it.” He says.  He is smiling.
Amen, brother.  Amen.  
That is discipleship.  Brothers sharpening brothers.  Examining ourselves, and even examining one another’s armour, to see if there is a weak spot, a place where the enemy might drive his sword in deep.  How much more quickly might we vanquish our adversary if we just take the time to inspect one another.  
Did you oil your shield today?
Did you work out the nicks and the dings from the blade of your sword caused by yesterday’s battle?  Did you put a good edge back on it, 25 or 30 degrees, or is it dull and worthless?
And where is your helmet and your belt?  Did you leave them on the nightstand next to the bed, or did you put them on today?  
Did you walk out the door and forget your shoes, brother?
I’d rather someone ask me these questions.  Because the alternative, eventually, is to find myself naked in the field of battle. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making a Joyful Noise

110927: Making a Joyful Noise
If you read my last post, I was ready for a lonely night... But then....what was that?
I heard singing last night after dark.  Alot of singing.  Then I heard someone shouting, “Hallelujah!” to which a crowd of people were responding, “Hallelujah!!”  
I hopped up and out the door in a flash.  Wherever that is, I want to be there.
I walked down the road in the dark, which surprised alot of Haitians here. I guess they expect all whites to have super bright flashlights and headlamps, and always moving as a herd at night. 
I followed the singing until I found the church.  Adrien’s church.   It was filled with Christians, hopping, clapping, arm-waving, praising, dancing for Jesus.   I stood outside the church in the dark and praised God with them.  Several people passed by on their way in, and asked me to join them, but I had the feeling if I went in, the mood might change or I might distract them.  It was perfect just as it was, with God receiving full praise, so I was content to just stand outside and listen.   
I don’t know their songs yet, so usually I just make up my own.  We’re worshiping the same Jesus, and I’m sure if it’s authentic, that’s all He cares about. It was so good to know that there is a presence of Christians here who desire to lift their voices to Jezi.  They are so genuinely in love with Him that they will get together on a Tuesday in the night, crank up the generator and just shout His praise.
Laying in bed I was dripping. 
“Lord, I really need you to cool me down.” 
The power came on, and the little fan began to blow!
“Whoooooooo-eeeeeee!”  I couldn’t help but giggle like a little kid.   He brought quite the smile to my face.  Needless to say I asked for a whole laundry list of things, since He was in the ‘answering-prayer’ mood and all :)


110927: Compromise
I’ve been considering what the pastors said at our meeting.  I think God desires our availability.  I don’t think He wants me hanging up or squabbling about how I go about handing out the bibles, so long as the bibles are getting into the hands of His people.
I went up the mountain to Toussaint and Jabouin today, to spread the word for the pastors there to start polling their congregations to see who needs bibles.  After they put together a list of names, Adrien came up with the idea of having them come down the mountain to me.   He said if they really care about having a bible, they’ll come, and he offered the use of his hospital clinic as the distribution point.  I thought it sounded like a great idea.  
On the discipleship front, the work is so much more intangible.  What progress I see is subtle, in conversations, fellowship, and in questions and answers.   
These take place in a variety of circumstances.
Some stop over and sit on the front porch, asking quiet questions.  Some come by the back gate, and we sit and watch the ocean, while casual fellowship takes place in a soft, open, truthful way.
Some talks happen on the back of a motorcycle doing 45, shouting to hear one another, weaving in and out of tap-taps and markets on the way to Cayes, as we talk about life while trying to stay focused enough on the road not to cut our lives short.  Other talks happen on the way up the mountain, on a trail where there is nothing but time to share.  Each opportunity has its own brand and flavor, especially given the different stages of life of the men and women I’m talking to.
What’s more, these are conversations that I don’t feel privy to share quite so openly in a public forum such as a blog.   There is a level of confidence that I think is necessary to growing real relationships.  
Painting with a broad brush, I can tell you this.  There are struggles here, just like home. 
Some are wrestling with addiction.
Some aren’t to the point of admitting addiction yet.
Some are wearing masks. Some know it and some don’t. 
Some realize that the enemy wants to destroy them. Some are having conversations with Evil, and Evil has has told them that they want them to switch over.
Some don’t want me to know they have any problems at all.
Some are knee-deep in sin.  Some are up to their eye-balls.  Some are righteous.   
We’re in the beginning stages, opening up to the idea of actual fellowship, intimacy in a brotherly way.   A few people have told me that the idea of discipleship is confusing, and others have told me it makes sense.   
It’s nothing but what the early Christians did, laid out in the book of Colossians.   Meeting together regularly, confessing sins to one another, praying for others, and reading God’s word.  Once the group grows to 4, it’s time to split and multiply.  It’s really not complicated, it just requires one start.  
I’m so ready to start.  Alone in the quiet as the sun sets at 6pm, I know it will be a long night.  Discipleship is nothing I want to force.  It has to be natural, and it has to be something longed for.  There must be a true desire to know more of Christ, otherwise it’s just one more mask.  Until then I wait in solitude.  I light the kerosene lantern.  I don’t think there will be power tonight.   A neighbor has tied his goats all around just outside the walls.   All I hear is Baaa-aaaa-aaa.  Baaa-aaa-aaaaa.   Soon the frogs will begin their singing in the trees, and somewhere in the middle of the night, Mr. Rooster will fall into my yard and begin his cock-a-doodle-dooing.
I’ve read my bible, I’ve reflected on life, I’ve prayed.  The 100th mosquito has paid a visit to my ear.  The sound of my children running around, the fellowship with my wife, hearing them do life with me, will be a welcome day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A League of their Own

110925: League of Pastors
I was invited to a meeting of the League of Pastors, which is an organization for all of the pastors in this region.  I had mixed feelings about going.   First, because I’m not a pastor, and second, I know I’m not in their league.  Most of them were shepherding flocks when I just a boy my own son’s age. 
When we sat down, I had two things crossing my mind.  I knew I wanted to be respectful and open to their advice and wisdom, and I also had my Bible and a Creole Bible marked on Philippians 3:7-11, Paul’s famous skubala passage.  
Alot, and I do mean alot of the meeting was lost in translation.  I had a good idea of how the meeting was transpiring through body language, but there was a great deal that I felt wasn’t being communicated.   Adrien was there with me, but he was also trying to listen and be a part of the meeting.  I’m sure it’s difficult having to pull away from the conversation to put the words into English.  Honestly I don’t know that I could do it.  I’d be too distracted and then irritated. 
The pastors went around the room, talking about their experience, training, background, and credentials.  When it came my turn, Adrien introduced me as a missionary who’d come to bring bibles.  Simple enough I thought.  To the point. I liked it. 
It’s an odd thing, to see men hold passionate conversation about your calling in a foreign language.   
They asked me who the Bibles were for? Just anyone?
I said “No. I want to give the Bibles to people who will treasure them and appreciate them.”  I know there are some who despise this book.  As I’ve already wrote about in this post, I’m also aware some will simply sell it.
They asked how I was giving them away.  
I answered, “So far, on the street, in the clinic, and at the pastor’s church at Saven.”
There was much more discussion of which I was not able to understand clearly.   
They said I shouldn’t give the Bibles to just anyone I meet, that it isn’t the proper way.  Everyone will tell you they need a bible.  But, when a person is saved in a church, then it’s the pastor’s responsibility to tell that person to go and buy a Bible.   Many times they can’t afford one, and that is the place where the Bibles should be given.  I got the feeling through their gestures that they think the way I’m distributing bibles is a waste of time.  I heard something about respecting the pastors, but couldn’t be sure.
I told Adrien, “I agree, a church is a good place to be given a Bible, but I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work as we give them in the hospital clinic, and I’ve seen Him work through the conversations I have on the street.  I see the people I’ve given Bibles to, reading them at their homes and on the corner.   It’s not up to me to decide what circumstance is or isn’t orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.”  I also don’t believe we should put God in a box.  I think one of the reasons Christ always healed in different ways was because the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth likes to be creative.  He likes imagination.  He likes to surprise and wow us!  Just look at a tornado, or a hurricane.  Look at lightning, or listen to a clap of thunder when it’s just overhead.  For that matter, look at a woman when she’s incensed.  When her ears get red and her breathing is heavy.  When she’s so angry her skin changes color and her nostril flair.  Little beads of sweat form on her brow and upper lip and she begins to fidget. You can imagine her blood is about to boil as her voice shakes and her eyes go from soft and tender to piercing and brutal.  You have to admit, that’s just plain beautiful, surprising, and most of all, creative!  
I don’t think He does much of anything the same way twice.  So why should Bibles only be presented at the church and only after a man or woman comes to Jesus.   Really, isn’t it just the poor measure of my faith to assume that God can’t arrange a supernatural meeting between two of His sheep on the side of a mountain or on the main road in a village, or in a clinic where the sick are gathered for that matter?
The pastors moved on to the next order of business, a summit of sorts being planned for November, in which 25 pastors from all over the area will come together for pastoral ethics training.  They asked me if I could make the badges for the credentials showing each pastor had completed the training.  I said I couldn’t.  Not only do I not have the material here to make badges, I don’t think I’m the guy for that job, to pass out certificates, credentials, or badges.  Skubala.
In a flash, after my answer, the meeting was over.  
and I was told that the next meeting is in October.  I don’t know yet that I’m invited, but if so, I want to bring Chelo.  That way he can translate and I won’t feel like I’m taking Adrien away from the business of the meeting.
This was my scripture for this morning, which again spoke in volumes to the circumstances I’m in.  Whoever thinks this book is not Living is a crackpot of a fool who needs to get his head screwed on straight...
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant —not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  2 Cor 3:1-6


A few days ago, it was a hot day, so I had the back door and the front door wide open, to create a sort of wind tunnel in the house and get some air movement.   Madame Tililene had brought over lunch and I was having a quiet meal, my thoughts drifting here and there, bouncing all over from subject to subject as one does when alone at a table.   The only conversation is the one in your head, so you make the most of your imagination.  
Suddenly I got that feeling like something was watching me, and I looked up. 

There sitting in my doorway, exactly on the threshold of where the door would close, was a huge, hungry, mangy mutt with his ears back.  He was just staring at me, still as a statue.
If you’ve ever seen the native dog in Haiti, they aren’t exactly in the cute and cuddly category.  More like the tough, sinewy, wolf-dog, bite-your-hand-off class.   And they are used to humans being extremely harsh towards them here.  It’s not at all uncommon to see a dog kicked, and kicked hard, right in the ribs.  It’s even less uncommon to see someone pick up a large rock and chuck it as hard as they can at a dog.  They are simply not appreciated here at all, and certainly not considered man’s best friend.  I’m sure in much the same way, the feeling is mutual after generations of man and beast not getting along.
So there we sat staring at each other.   His ears were laying back, but he wasn’t growling.  He wasn’t coming in, yet, but he had no intention of leaving either.   For a good 10 seconds we just measured one another.   He had fleas.  He had some kind of mange, and he’d seen his share of rocks, with a recent open wound on his snout.  
Finally I decided to be bold.  I grabbed the chicken bone on my plate, scooted out of my chair loudly and walked straight at him, surprised that he didn’t even flinch.   I whistled at him like any dog in America, and said, 
“C’mon boy, follow me.”  Then I walked straight past him.   If he was going to bite me it would have been right then.  I walked out of the house and around to the back yard, and when I looked back he was right there at my heels.  I opened the gate and gently laid the chicken bone outside on the back porch, and he walked through.   As he picked it up, he looked at me.  I smiled and told him we were gonna be alright.  I saw his tail wag just ever so slightly, and off he went with his prize, though not too far because the other dogs might see and fight him for it.  
Today after church I walked the road home, and just as I was coming up to my gate, out of nowhere arrived the mangy mutt.   He walked straight towards me, fully confident.  
I said to him,
“Hey pup, whatchya doing?”  Just like that he turned and wagged his tail and cuddled up to my leg.  I gave him a quick pat, and we silently agreed to have him meet me out at the back gate after lunch. :)     I think I’m gonna give him my own nickname.  Something wild because he looks every bit like a junkyard dog.   Maybe I’ll call him Mange, or Scruff, or maybe.....yeah... I think I’ll call him Bruiser. 

By the way, any of you dog-lovers out there want to send some flea collars, these poor saps would really appreciate it.  They are crawling with fleas and constantly scratching themselves.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Judeline makes an outstanding Monday morning Patte.  A little pork salami and legume.  Then fried to flaky perfection.  Cost: 5 goude each.  Taste: Priceless


Walking down the road in the rain, I looked over and saw Benson taking refuge at the local school.
Had to snap this shot of him.

Expeditionary Mission Semi-Accomplished

I came down to Haiti ahead of my family to accomplish and secure very specific tasks to the best of my ability.
  1. Find a home.  Check.  Pierre Jabouin’s. God had that one all planned out before I got here, 
  2. Food. Check. Madame Tililene, and I know where to shop for food in both Cayes and Port Salut, as well as the open market in Valer.  I know when they open and when they close, where to buy bread, and when to go looking for Judeline and her awesome patte; Monday mornings, 9-10 am.
  3. Water.  Check.  I have the gravity water filter in proper working order, as well as an artesian well about 6 miles from here that I can access via Adrien for good drinking water.  Just have to know when he’s heading that direction, and plan for when he will be away from Ti at his other missions.
  4. Transportation. Semi-Check.  While for my family of 4 a car is ideal, I can’t get anyone here to work with me besides Maxon. I liked his Sidekick, but the mileage was just too high on the engine (193,000) and it was an automatic transmission.  Every other deal has been a setup for disaster.  Muscle men that look like Mike Tyson arriving at my door, in gold chains, speaking broken English and doubling the price of the car.  First 8000, then 7, then 10, then 12, then a ‘special price’ for me, 6....  All followed with a specific method of negotiation.  Confusion, Misunderstanding, Sorrow and Hard Times, then occasionally, Intimidation.  After 4 different tries to buy a car, literally losing almost a full day each time, I gave up on that option.  I just don’t think it’s possible for me to achieve this task being a solo missionary.  You really need an organization, or another Haitian, dealing for you.  As of today, I thought I’d own a motorcycle.  Not some souped up Harley, not even a Honda.  Not anything that’s gonna do over 45, and not anything that’s gonna climb the mountains I want to climb, but something that would get us to and from the markets, to and from water, and in emergency, to and from the hospital in Cayes. When it came down to buying to though, I just couldn’t justify it.  So, in a sense, transportation for my entire family is still up in the air.  I can see us having an issue when Adrien is traveling, which he often does.  Somehow we’ll have to figure out how to transport water, which won’t be easy on a motorcycle. I guess we’ll just have to tell the kids no more water.  You can drink from the ocean  ;)
  5. Last of all, Security.   I know this isn’t something I can truly provide.  This comes from Christ, really, but I can do what is in my ability.  Living here alone has shown me the vulnerabilities of our home, and I’ve talked with the owner about fortifying a couple of areas in the wall and the house.  By the time my wife and kids are here, security to the best of my capability, will be a chec
Be prepared for about 1.5-2 months of serious rain, in which I’m told nobody goes anywhere thanks to the river and the wet.....otherwise....
Do your best to come to me quickly! 

Regarding the List

110924: Regarding the List
I prayed about the list last night, and what is best.
In this village, if you get power during the night, it usually means you’ll have electricity until 5 am.  Not always, but usually. 
So, this morning I hopped out of bed at 4:45.  I got out my french press (for which I give thanks to Heather every morning for leaving me), brewed a quick cup of coffee, and ran through my list.  Bible....Check.  Tablet...Check.  Journal....Check.  Pen.....Check.  Devotion....Check. Kerosene Lamp...Check....Kerosene Lamp Lit? Check.  
Just as I sat down and settled myself to pray, pop went the power and I was sitting there by the light of the lamp.  
Ha, hahahahaahahahah,  I thought.   I might not have much figured out in Haiti, I might be a wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper, rookie of a white-boy missionary, but doggonnit, I was gonna relish the fact that for once, I was prepared.   Whatever else comes today and knocks me over, so be it.  This morning is mine. :)
So after praying about the pastor and his list of 58 names, this is the scripture I read this morning.  Tell me what you think?   I’m pretty sure I have my answer.
‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! ‘  2 Cor 9:6-15

The List

110923: The List
Tonight I met the pastor of the church by the Mountain School.  A few days ago we’d met, and I asked him for the list from his congregation with names of the persons who needed Bibles.   He told me,
“Just bring about 50.”  
I didn’t like the idea of bringing a couple of cases and just dropping them, so I told him I wouldn’t do that.
This morning I was going to make the trip to his church, but it rained good and steady, enough to know I’d never make it down or up the steep gulches to his church, so I cancelled my plans.
Then late in the afternoon there came a knock on my door, and it was the pastor.  He’d come down from the mountain to me, and tucked in his Bible was the list.  
58 names in all.
Members of his church who say they need Bibles.
Now I’ve said before I’m inclined to pray for more provision before I stop handing out Bibles, but it would just about wipe me out all over again.  It took me almost 3 weeks to hand deliver 50.  In 1 day, I could hand out the same amount and more.  
So I guess this is where I ask for your prayer and intercession, fellow Christians, to help me discern what options are best.   Walk up the mountain delivering them face to face and one by one, meet desperate souls in the hospital clinic who come from all over, or hold church-wide distributions where cases upon cases will go at a time?  I’ve never been a numbers guy, and I don’t think the Lord is really into quantity over quality either, so your prayerful counsel would be appreciated.
Will all 58 of these people treasure their Bible, read it and cherish the Word in their hearts?  Maybe in a perfect world, but this is Haiti.  Might there be a shady deal or two, a Bible sold for money?  Sure, anything could happen.   People are hungry.  Children are malnourished and the homeless bounce from house to house.  There’s not hardly a job to be found, and times are hard.  Desperation for many is a part of living here, even though it’s discreet.  
Most people don’t broadcast their troubles in this rural area.  They are proud, and most don’t want to hold out their palms to you unless they have to.  
Some see the Bible in my hand as the life-giving Word that it is.  Others see it as $64 Haitian Dollars, or roughly $320 Goude.   To put that in perspective, you can buy two loaves of bread, each about the size of a man’s hand, for $10 Goude.  So in effect, that Bible can feed their soul from here until the day they die, or it can feed their stomach every day for more than a month.  
Now let’s say you’re a mom with kids at home, and your husband is long since out of the picture...
See, it’s easy in America, where we can make a trip any time we please to the grocery store.  We are a corn-fed, grade-A, pasteurized, FDA stamped, 90% lean beef kind of people.  
We can look down because they might choose to tell me whatever sounds good to get that Bible and sell it, but what would you do?  How much faith would it take for you to choose to go hungry while you feast on the Word of God?  How long would we last without our silver spoons?
I tell people when I give them a Bible that this is a great treasure for them from God.  What more can I say?  It is what it is.  What they choose to do with their treasure is not up to me.  That’s between them and God.  I am to be obedient to His call for me to give them out and to disciple with anyone who wants to be desperate for the Lord along with me.  Anything more is beyond my scope for the time being, and that’s just the way I think He planned it. 

Mr. Rooster

There is an ornery rooster
who comes into my yard.
Getting in must be so simple.
Getting out must be so hard.
Each and every morning,
It become our rendezvous
for me to open up the gate
so he can then pass through.
Up until the point he leaves
with his feathers all askew
he puffs his chest and arcs his neck
for every cockadoodle-doo.
“I’m here because I want to be!
My circumstance by choice!”
But even in his prideful boast
I hear the stutter in his voice.
Inside he’s begging mercy.
Underneath he cries for grace.
He knows that I’ll decide
if he ever leaves this place.
I open the gate slowly 
and sit down on the stair.
He pretends he doesn’t see.
He pretends he doesn’t care.

A few more pecks, another crow
a staredown or two or three,
and then he steps up through the gate
and once again...he’s free.
I smile at your arrogant ways
and the silly things you do,
And I wonder, Mr. Rooster,
if to my Lord, I’m just like you.
In the sin that I fall into,
do I return in foolish spite?
Do I wander over walls
I do not see until the light?
And when His gaze upon me
causes me to look around,
do I act so boldly foolish
that I peck the empty ground?
in my arrogance do I crow,
do I proudly boast my ways,
when in my heart I really know
that He’s marked out my days?
And when the gate does open
and we’re set free from our sin,
do you feel embarrassed as I
that we’re in this place again?
Mr. Rooster, go on now.
Yes, Yes my friend, I heard you.
Someday you’ll make good stew.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Bibles

On the first donation of $700 we bought something like 87 Bibles.
I’ve been here for less than 3 weeks, and I was down to 27.   The church up on the mountain at Saven’s place asked for 50. 
So this morning I got up, and was trying to figure out logistics.
I needed to return Maxon’s vehicle since I’m not going to buy it, and try to make my way to Lumiere to check on their price for Bibles.   But that won’t matter, I’m thinking, because the best I can manage is a motorcycle tap-tap back from Cayes, which means I could maybe carry 1 case of Bibles gingerly....
Just then Adrien called me.
“Hey Dan, I’m on my way to Cayes (in the suv) and wanted to see if you need a ride, then I thought we’d drive to Lumiere and see about bibles.”
Isn’t God awesome the way He pulls the tiniest threads together.  “Oh, you need transportation to get My Word out to the people...Let Me help you with that, child.”
At Lumiere I told them I’d take everything they had, at $8.50/Bible.   All the sales clerk had was 60. 
We loaded them up and brought them back to Ti.  
When I got them all together I thought I’d take an account of the number.  There are now, once again, 87 Bibles, 86 after another young man stopped in tonight.  The wallet is $510 lighter, but given the choice if I should slow down on distribution or pray for more provision, I’m inclined to pray for more provision.  If my mission is to bring Bibles, I’m bringing them until God says stop. 

See that Mountain Over There.....Yep. One of These Days I'm Gonna Climb That Mountain!

Click on the Image for a larger view.  Can't upload the really big one, because I'm in Haiti and that would take about......mmmm.... 1 week.

Heather and Germaine

One of the very first Bibles for Haiti was given by my very good friend, Heather Babb.  She gets to do everything before me it seems, but I've decided to just realize that God has intended it this way, probably somehow for my own good.
She gave a bible to a woman named Germaine who lives up on the hill above Mission Haiti, after she led her to Christ in presenting the Gospel.
While Heather was here on her surprise visit, we actually surprise visited Germaine on two separate occasions.   Heather never, ever lets me take her picture, but in this moment, she could have cared less what I was doing.  She was too focused on Germaine, listening to her stories, about how she used to go the Disco, and the boys would have to write to her and ask if they could dance with her before they actually came courting.    Germaine was also a cook for one of the Presidents of Haiti, and she used that money to come back to this area of Haiti to start an orphanage.   All those kids are grown now, and she tells us how sweet it is to hear so many people calling her mom or grandma.
It was great to see Heather, and to see her labor for Christ.  I'd walk the mountain of Haiti with her any day of the week.  I'm hoping we can bring their whole family here soon, to partner together in ministry.

Wedding Pictures in Haiti

On Sunday Renard and Luben asked if I'd take their wedding pictures for them, even though they were already married a little while back.
Hey, it's what I do, right? Besides they all lost a very good friend just a few weeks ago, and I think this helps to bring smiles.   Loading alot of pictures here is extremely painful because the net is so slow, so I've only posted a few.
Without further adieu...