Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keeping the Focus

We were approached with a tremendous blessing from an entire SCHOOL that wants to help with this ministry in Haiti.
I really felt like I was supposed to let go of this, that my wife was the right Christian for the job.
This morning I woke up and saw a message she'd written to a teacher and friend in the school. It showed me her genuine interest in caring for this project, that she is God's perfect pick for the job at hand.
Now, especially with the coming Holidays, I was moved by her words and refreshed, reminded of something very important....our call.  With her permission this morning (given I check and double check for grammatical errors and mispelling) she's allowed me to post it here. These are her words, and this is our ministry:

Hello! Sorry for not responding sooner. I really wanted to pray about this and talk to Dan. I didn't know that your whole school was getting involved. That is absolutely amazing to me! I am constantly so in awe of our God and how gracious He is!! So, these are my thoughts as I was seeking God for direction with this. Honestly, my first gut reaction was, "YES! Let's do a Christmas celebration and give care packages to the community. I mean, I know we're not a "stuff" ministry, but it's just once a year, and's Christmas!! There's nothing wrong with giving gifts and simple toiletries, we're called to care for orphans and widows and the poor. This is a perfect way to show Love to the community!" Then, I talked to Dan and he cautioned me to think this through but whatever I thought was best, was fine with him. So, I prayed about this and your school and for Haiti and sought answers in the Word. And as much as my flesh wants to give gifts, I really feel my spirit saying no. I think we can bring more glory to God if we approach this from a Scriptural perspective, even though it may not be as "fun" or "attractive." I think it fits better with what God wants to be His ministry. When you have time, read these Scriptures and I think you'll understand why I think best to keep focused on the Gospel.
Colossians 1:24-29 Pauls ministry to the church - to make the word of God fully known.
Acts 3:1-6 "I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you"
Matthew 10:7-10 Jesus sends out the 12 with NOTHING
2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you....preach the word
James 5:13-15 Is anyone suffering, let him pray...
Philippians 4:10-13 Rejoice in all things, in plenty or in want

I could go on and on with scripture supporting what ministry should look like. Nowhere do I see candy or toothbrushes, or soap, or toys, or anything! I think it is so easy, especially as moms, to want to do these extras because we simply love people. God put that in us. But I think we need to be careful that the extras don't distract from the Lord's work. I think often it does and we don't realize it. I have seen the effects of giving things away and it isn't pretty. The day after Thanksgiving, word got out in the village that we were giving out Bibles and our place was almost overran with people that had a "give me" attitude. We went from a simple one-on-one ministry to a full yard of Haitians demanding Bibles (probably just to sell them.) It was crazy and ministry was definitely hindered. I never want people to see Jesus as any kind of prosperity gospel...especially here. More than likely they won't have any chance of prosperity....ever! We want to minister to people who truly want to know God and not be enticed by care packages. Once we start that, we'll have so many that all of a sudden....want to know God. By keeping our ministry simply preaching the Word and giving Bibles, God is bringing us people who have no other motive....because we have nothing else to offer. I think this is an important lesson for kids (and adults) in America too. We should never have to "entice" anyone with entertainment or gifts to hear about Jesus. The Gospel really is powerful enough to do the enticing. That is what I am learning here. I know I'm rambling so I'm sorry, but God has really shown me something with this.

So, now that I've written you a book, I can maybe answer some of your questions. Donating online is probably best if that works. If parents want to know specific numbers, Creole Bibles cost us about $8.50. There are some children's booklets I'm planning to get, but I don't have a cost on that yet. Our focus is simply to preach the Word, disciple those who want to know God more, teach people how to use and study a bible, distribute God's Word, and love His people. We also know that we're called to help others in need, but this is as God brings people to us.

I know you might face some opposition to helping us in this simple way because we have found that people get MUCH more excited to help with physical needs than for spiritual needs. But I encourage you to use this to teach your students, and even some adults as the opportunity comes, God's heart. He desires that NO ONE should perish and that everyone should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). Knowing this, every bit of our time and resources should be poured into spreading the Good News of the Gospel of Christ so that All the nations will PRAISE HIM!

What you can send us is letters and pictures from the students. Even photographs of what they are doing to help raise funds would be great (which you could email). My kids love getting mail, but you could also send them to people in the community. I can share their notes, prayers or pictures to encourage the people. Also, to let them know that these are not "hand outs." The hands and feet of Christ are working to ensure that Creole bibles are getting into their hands. It's truly a beautiful thing.

Also, I can get pictures and maybe some audio/video clips for you. Let me know your thoughts with any of this.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Take a New Line

When I'm driving with my moto up and down these rocky mountain roads, there are obstacles in the path.   Sometimes it's a giant boulder that will bust your tires and deflate you.
Sometimes there's a mud hole that will bog you down.
Now and then it's a rut that's just getting so deep you might get stuck in it.

Once along a very steep and narrow part of the road, there was just enough obstacle to sway my course, and my tire pushed off the edge.  I was left with nothing else to do but throw all of my weight onto the handlebars and keep the front tire on the road while the back end hung out over the edge.  I was in quite a hopeless situation, just holding on while a Haitian brother ran to my assistance to give me help. "Don't move!" he shouted, as he grabbed hold of me with one arm, and the handlebars with the other.

Even if I'm following Patchouko or Chelo, very experienced men who've logged a lifetime of hours on these roads, even if my eyes are fixed on the line of their back tire and putting my front tire in that same line, there are still times that it becomes insane to follow them.

My point is this.  In this road of life, seldom does the path twist and turn the way we expect, and even when we think we know where we're going, sometimes there is a better, more beautiful plan for us.   Inevitably, it becomes necessary then to take a new line.

Instantly you find you have a new strategy.  The old plan is flushed. The new plan becomes the only plan.
There is a shift in the gears, but the solace is this:  You will still arrive, eventually, at your destination.

Really it's not about which line we take.  It's about finishing well.

Continue today, Christian.  Don't stop.  Don't give in.  Don't worry.
Just trust, be available.  Be ready when that new line comes.  Drive right at it, and don't be timid.
Take it and own it.  It's yours.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Most Humble Man I Know

He walks up and down the mountain every day, in a suit and tie and briefcase.  Even though he's soaked and dripping in sweat, he is happy.  He is in the rural mountains of Haiti.
Yet his office is smaller than a jail cell. Sunlight pours through the cracks in the walls and there are holes in the rusty tin roof above his head.  There's just enough room for him to squeeze in, sideways, behind his desk, and for someone to sit directly opposite of him. They use his office as a storage closet for the school pots and pans that the rice and beans will be cooked in.  There is no water.  No electricity.  No air conditioning.  
His floor is made of dirt, but when you sit with him, he's as professional as any school principal in America.  
He is a pastor.  He leads the people of the village of Jabouin in prayer.
He is a teacher. The children have so much respect for him that when he speaks to them in a gentle whisper, they come to attention.  He sings with them in the morning as the Haitian flag is raised.  He teaches them to be proud of their country and their heritage. 
He is also a school inspector.  He has great ideas and a deep desire to further the education of his people. 
He wants to open a professional school in these hills, to bring jobs and help the local economy.  He's seen brilliant kids grow up and leave, because there just isn't any work for them here.   

Today at his school, pre-k and kindergarten meets outside under a tarp as the teacher sings to them.  Inside, first, second, third and fourth grade all meet in the same room, divided only by the direction of their chairs and the chalkboard of their teachers.

If we wait long enough in this life, there will certainly be enough distractions that we'll begin to forget what God might be calling us to do.  There will always be some other concern.  There will always be something else that will come and rob us of our time, and eventually, of our worth, our purpose. 

Our value isn't in dollar signs and bank accounts.  Our measure is in our ability to put others ahead of ourselves. What is our motivation? Why are we called to go, Christians? 

Nobody knows what this man does every day, how many steps he's taken in his lifetime for these kids, in the name of Jesus.  

This man could be anywhere in the world.  He's intelligent. He's passionate. His work ethic is through the roof.  But he's also full of something else, something that makes all the difference in the world.  He's the most humble man I know, and yet he is the richest man I know.

It is Love of Christ.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy 18 Francia

Miss Francia who lives in the MH orphanage turned 18 today.   It was the biggest party I've seen so far in Haiti.
She's such a sweet girl.  She has an amazing servant's heart.  She's always helping the ladies in the orphanage with cooking and cleaning and taking care of the younger kids.  It was very hard for her to be seated in the place of honor alongside Gertrude, who was celebrating her 36th birthday as well.  When it came time for everyone to dance, she was too shy.  But, her smile is absolutely priceless.

My gift to her:  1 free trip to and from Cayes, whenever she wants to go.  Ice cream included.

How Do You Like Them Apples

Bible #281 went to Peterson.
This boy is a thinker. I first met him in 2010, selling roasted nuts to the mission team.  He made sure to tell me how delicious they were.
He speaks pretty good English also, and when another mission team wanted to introduce sewing for diapers, it was Peterson who was the most efficient on the machine.  His comprehension is off the charts.
At 13, he has saved up enough to buy his own cell phone.  The word that comes to mind when I think of this boy in the middle of rural Haiti is: entrepreneur.
He's translated for me a few times, and he's an excellent soccer player.   To top it off, he's even brought other boys his age to our house for Bibles.  I've asked him to give the Gospel, but he's not quite out of that shell yet.  Soon, I think.

Yesterday we realized that Gertrude and Francia's birthday was fast approaching,  so we decided to make a  trip into Cayes for gifts and supplies.
Peterson got wind of our idea to go, and asked me if he could come.   He'd been saving up his money, and he had only one thing in mind, American Apples.

Rose and Lucy also asked if they could come, so we all piled into the car along with my friend Chelo.  We went bouncing down the road, zigging and zagging in the thick Saturday afternoon traffic of motorcycles, buses and tap-taps.   Peterson started to look a little green.  At his young age he's experienced many things, but car rides are not his thing.   Chelo said,
"I think we need to bring him with us to Cayes from now on, until he gets used to it."

We stopped to get the gifts for the ladies, and then went hunting for the apples.   It took us a long time to make the circle around the market, because traffic was so thick.  The kids all got some precious Haitian ice cream, and even some free chocolate from a store owner who was overjoyed by seeing so many children come into his establishment with smiles.

By this time,  Peterson wasn't talking much.  He looked like at any moment he might explode.   I imagined with apples, ice cream, and chocolate that would not be a very pretty mess to see.

On the way home He laid down in the very back of the car where I couldn't see him.  I tried to drive more carefully, but in the end it didn't help.

"Peterson.......Peterson?"  I called out from the driver's seat.
No answer.
Then the kids all joined in.
"Ye-----yes..." He said.
"Are you doing okay?"
"Do you feel like you need to throw up?"
"............yes......I did."
Thoughts of a chocolate, apple, and ice cream explosion in the back crossed my mind.
"Is it......Is it everywhere?" I asked.
"No.  I threw up in my ice cream cup."    He said, as we hit another bump.
He was back there holding a very full cup of throw up as I was bouncing over speed bumps....
We gingerly came to a stop and he tossed it out.
He took a deep breath as we started back down the road.
"I feel better now."  He said, taking a deep breath.
"How do you like them apples? Was it worth it?"  I asked him.
 "YES!" He said, still looking a little green around the edges.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Was That Really Necessary?

A new pastor came to our last Bible distribution, and so after our discipleship group this morning, Chelo and I decided to go hunting for his church.  
I'd never been past St. Jean, and so it was exciting to go exploring.   
We hopped on our moto's and zoomed down the road.  
After St. Jean it was new territory for us, and so we just started asking the locals.   Suddenly, out of the blue we came upon that very pastor, on his moto and headed for Cayes.  
He was very excited to see us, and he led us right to his church, called the Church at the Rock.  
We planned our next bible distribution and shook on it, then said our goodbyes. 
I asked Chelo if he'd care to just see where the road goes with me, and so we turned our bikes South and started out.  Have I mentioned that with every fiber of my being, I love this part of my job?  

Who knows what might be around the next bend?  Who might God be placing in our path today?! What new wonder might our eyes behold?!

We came to the fishing community of Krabye and stopped for a moment to enjoy the view of the ocean and the mountains.  It was then that Chelo told me,
"So....yeah....I don't think I'm gonna have enough gas to make it..."
"Make it where? To the next village?"
"No, back to Ti Rivier."
"There's a man selling gas on the side of the road."
"I don't have any money."
"That's going to be a problem, because I don't have any money either."

So we took our chances.  Chelo and I walked up to the man and explained our problem.   We told him that we were coming back soon with Bibles and we'd pay him back then.  Then Chelo told them that his mother used to come up and down this road to buy coconuts for the market.  
That was all it took.  Mario, the owner, filled up a beer bottle full of gasoline and handed it to Chelo.
"No problem." He told me. 
"When I come back to pay you, I'll also bring you a Bible."
"OK." He said.

We zoomed on down the road and soon the gravel turned to the old dirt roads of Haiti.    We passed a mile of marshland, and then came a river.  Really, a tributary of sorts.  There was only one way to pass the stagnant water.  Three coconut trees and a couple of planks of wood had been lashed together to make some kind of crude walking bridge with gaps wide enough to step through.   It was so narrow there was barely room to walk, let alone drive a moto.  

"Think you can do it?" Chelo asked me.
"I think I can try!" I said.
A man on another motorcycle came up from the other side and turned off his engine just as Chelo revved his engine and went bouncing over the makeshift bridge.  He bobbed to one side and then gunned it just enough to reach the far bank.  
My turn.  
Ok. No problem.  Just keep it in the middle.  Don't look to the left or the right...
Half way across I hit one of the spaces in the planks of wood.  It was just enough for my hand to slip, just enough to slow the motorcycle down.  I bobbed to the right and pushed off with my pinky toe, and that's when I knew it.....yep.  I'm going into this river.
As I began to lean past the point of no return,  I used every ounce of effort to gun the throttle to try and launch the bike across.  It was just enough.   

The handlebar reached an old piece of railing and I saw the bike lodge into the bridge as I sailed into the air and took the plunge.   I went in over my head into some nasty, stagnant, green and brown water.   Some of that water went right down the pipes, and when I came back up and took a deep breath, there was my Haitian friend Chelo, just staring at me in disbelief.  
It was then I realized that I'd fried my cellphone.  All along the bank were spiders and their webs, to top it off.  Not only did I fall in with no grace whatsoever.  Now I was scurrying long the bank, hoping I wouldn't meet a nest of tarantulas.  Something brushed my leg under the water....what the heck was that....ok, just a log, not a's good.  It's all good.
 The other Haitians standing on either side of the bank looked very upset.   That's when the man on the motorcycle jumped off and ran over to my bike.  
"I did the same thing."  He said,  "Fell into the river right where you did.  This is why we walk the motorcycles across."  
Ahhhhh.  That would've been a good piece of knowledge...beforehand!
"We're going to make a real bridge here soon."   said another. 
Someone threw me a hand and I climbed up out of the water looking like a drowned rat.
All eyes came to me.
"Well....." I said, searching for words, "I have my bath for today."
They erupted in laughter. 

My first visit to this village, and this is my first impression? 
Nothing like driving down main street, dripping from head to toe, leaving a trail of water behind me and waving to all the people with their jaws on the floor.    Even my hat was drooping down over my ears.  No longer Indiana Jones in it's style, I was now sporting this Mary Poppins, Hills are Alive with Music fashion.....
Really, Lord?  Was that really necessary?
I guess if that's what it takes, I'll be your fool.  

Anyway, it's Thanksgiving back home.  I have a cold tonight and a fever of 101.  If I have to look at this and find my silver lining, I'll say this:  Thanks, Lord, that the only thing I hurt today was, once again, my pride.

Spelunkers!... Shine!

Our family nugget yesterday brings me my thankfulness today:
'I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.' from 2pete1:13 --  Did you catch it?   Not the castle of this body, not even the house of this body... the Tent of this body.    Ever go camping?  You unpack the tent, knowing it's not forever, knowing you will soon take it down and move on.  You drive in the stakes, knowing you'll pull them up. As awesome as it is, eventually you get rips and holes and snags, it leaks in the rain and everything just wears out...because it's not made to last forever.

That makes me thankful because I know someday there will be no hunger, no pain, no aches, no broken down old bodies, no separation.... there will be nothing left between me and Jesus.  The tent will come down and there will be no more struggle.  Just His Peace.

For now, our lives are just a mist.  We have only a short time to be effective and productive for Him.  There won't come a day when you finally have all you need to serve the Lord.  You Had all you needed the day He became your King.   There's no time for the stars to align.  You are the stars, when you hold out of Word of Life!  It's not complicated.  You don't have to get your degree.  You need only to shine!

There's always going to be rough weather, something from the outside pounding on the walls of your tent, wanting to make a mess of your Cheerios. That's okay!

Are you missing some of your stakes?  Turkeys!  Can't find your rain fly?  Cranberry Sauce! Is your tent dripping in the rain?
Great!  Good!  Gravy!
It's not supposed to be perfect.  It's not supposed to be easy.  It's not supposed to last.  Soon you'll take it down anyhow.  So get busy all you spelunkers! Strap on your headlamps and crawl down into the caves of darkness!  Shine your light on some lost souls and show them the way to freedom today!  Love them with everything you've got, because there's not time for anything else.

The sun is just beginning to rise here in Haiti. While I'm still here in this tent,  I'm going to go do a little exploring this morning!  There's a new church to find just down the road!  A new village I've never seen, but I've heard there are thirsty souls there, coming from the desert.  The Word of God will soon bring them hope.  Thank you Jesus!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I don't like being in front of the camera. I like being behind it.  But my wife shot these, and it was a good memory.  One thing I'll always cherish in Haiti is having a Daddy-Daughter Swim Date.  We have some outstanding conversation out there in the blue.

Local Faces 9: Monthel & Nephtelie

Monthel lives just around the corner from me.

He helps out with the Ti Rivier soccer team, and I've seen him working on the pipes with Robert.  He's on the water committee as well.  His daughter is Tati, the first friend my little girl made in Haiti.

Oh yes, here's some shots of Nephtelie (Tati) from last March:


6 Haitian boys were down by the ocean tonight...we met as they sat together cracking open almonds on the rocks... we talked about how faith was like those you have to search for them and pick them up, carry them, and then work to really crack them open right and feast on the good stuff....they went home with 6 treasures in their hands.  Brand new bibles with their names written inside the front cover.  They left with hope in their hearts.  Everlasting, choice morsels of scripture to chew on and consider in their dreams tonight.  How they were wonderfully, fearfully crafted for a purpose, for good works that He prepared for them to do before they were even born!

Glorious God in Heaven!  How he cares about us all!  These boys, adrift in a world of souls as big as the ocean, and yet He desires to meet them here on the shore, to call them by name, to reach their hearts in ways they can understand.  A God so big we can never comprehend, and yet He speaks to even the littlest of hearts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Because I Can

There's a tiny island a little over a mile off shore from where we live.  Mission Haiti likes to give the teams a respite to this little oasis in the sea when they come here.  Usually after a week of hard work, you'll catch sight of a few Haitians rowing in with their fishing boats, and something's not right. You wonder what it is, and then, ahhh yes, there's no nets.  They've made room for visitors.

My wife and kids went back in March, and they came back raving about it.  Me, I never really cared to go.  I'm not a son of the Big Blue you know, it's always been mountains for me, and tall ones with ice on the tops.  If God wanted me in the water, why, he'd have given me webbed fingers and toes!  I'm of the Jeremiah Johnson variety....I got no gills, pilgrim!

Still, a couple of weeks ago they had extra room and my kids were invited to go along.  Kari wanted to stay behind, so it fell to me to be the dad and go with the kids.  Later I found out that was her ploy.   She would've gone in a heartbeat, but she wanted me to go with them and experience it.

Our captain and first mate were the top rowers in the bunch, and so our boat reached the beach first, and we poured out to explore.   Right away the kids darted here and there, screaming in pure joy as they discovered giant seashells.  It was like a Caribbean Easter Egg hunt, looking for them in the water, half buried in the sand.   

I borrowed my daughter's bright pink goggles, of which there will be no images to document, and started walking into the blue.   I couldn't believe that I was hundreds of yards off the island, but standing in only a few inches of water.  Benson came with me, and we walked out to the reef where the waves curl over and topple in.   I picked up some very beautiful shells for my kids, and then I put on the goggles and had a look below. 

There beneath, in only a few feet of water, were several varieties of fish. They'd come out, have a look at me, and then dart back into their coral homes.  It had a very Finding Nemo feel.  

I floated there for almost an hour in pure amazement of God's underwater creation.  My hands ran over the different rainbow colors of coral, just long enough to take it in and smile, and then the waves above would carry me away to a brand new scene.  Each breath was a new act, with an entirely new set of characters coming out of their homes to have a look at me.  

"Oh Lord!  I didn't know you had that color in your palette!  Wow, God...good job on that zebra fish!  I never would have guessed it!  Hmmmm, I can't believe you made these so soft...and that starfish, it was so magnificent....just a a little starfish, and You went all out! God, why did you go to all the effort?!" 
To which I feel the answer come,
"Ahhhh, Danny, because I can."
Makes me think if He took so much care and detail in something so small, what kind of plans did He have for me? 

There are so many great books, so many great ideas and stories and experiences, and some books leave you thirsty for more.  But then there's God's story, and I can drink it in deeply, to my fullest.  I'm never left wanting.  There's always so very much more!

All these years I've been so smitten by what He did up in the high country, and now I feel so richly blessed to see even more of His imagination.  It's almost as if I got to peel back just a wee bit more about my Maker. I've been able to turn the page, and discover an entirely new page, with words yet to be appreciated. My Author has an entire novel, and some days I think I'm no deeper into Him than the introduction.  I've only just barely read the title, and I can't breathe.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"The mountains are rugged, aren't they?"

"The mountains are not so rugged when the Father's bidding draws you forward, the Son walks beside you, and the Spirit empowers you to put one foot in front of the other."

"Why do you go?"

"Because I am alive.  When Yesu wants me to take his message no more, He will let me know.  When I die, that will be a sign He wishes me to do something else." He smiled......"I will likely die in these mountains.  But Yesu may yet have other mountains for me to climb...."

"Why not send younger men?"

"...Romans tells us persecution and hardship cannot separate us from Yesu's (Jesus's) love.  But Revelation warns us wealth and comfort can cause us to lose our love for him.  I cannot get the younger men to go with me.  They want to travel on buses and trains.  They think even thirty kilometers is a long walk.  They are soft.  Most have spent no more than a few weeks in jail.  They know nothing of suffering." 

That's an excerpt from Randy Alcorn's book, Safely Home.  It's about the Secret Church in China, where Christians are persecuted to death for their beliefs, and the sacrifice that has been made there to share the Word of God.

Today as I walked up the path to worship freely at a church in Haiti, I saw a young mother coming down the path from the mountain.  She had a little toddler holding her hand.   They were dressed in their Sunday best.

Before they entered the door, she took her hankerchief and carefully blotted away the shiny beads of sweat all over her face.   Any time you see a Haitian sweating like that, it's usually a good indicator they've walked a long distance.  And to give you an example, anytime a Haitian tells me their house is not far, that's usually at least 1 mile.  If they tell me, "Maybe 15 minutes.", I can plan on walking for most of an hour.  In fact, Rose Bertrand, the teacher up on the mountains, walks over 7 miles, every single day.

The mother was winded.  Her little boy's shoes were dirty with mud splatter from the rain the night before, and so she reached down to the bend in her knees and wiped the sweat from her legs onto his shoes, washing them clean.
After that,  she gathered herself together, caught her breath,  and said to the Haitian in the doorway, "Bonjou."

I wonder if I even comprehend sacrifice. Can the suffering over my lifetime even be measured?

Friday, November 11, 2011


I don't know, is it because we're closer to the equator?  Is the moon actually closer to us here?
When there is a full moon in Haiti, everything is lit up like those old black-and-white cowboy westerns, where they'd shoot the night scenes in the middle of the day and then just crank down the stop on the camera so that it 'appeared' to be a moonlit night. I'm not kidding.  I don't even need a flashlight.
Here's a shot looking out at the ocean at night.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


When we wake up in the morning, they are right there ready to say hello.
They have this kind of...... Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast thing going on.   Except that they are totally wild dogs.  It doesn't matter to them.  They've decided they are going to guard the place.
We are absolutely fine with that.
They make me really miss our dogs back home.
I think they just need to make a new Disney movie called Bruiser n'Bee...
My wife says they are just 'super-cute.'

Following the Carpenter's Son

The blueprint to faith in Jesus Christ is in the ability to let go of your self. God is in the numbers. He has the Master Plan. Each piece is labeled, marked, and specifically cut, crafted for a custom fit. When He is given the charge, we are awakened to the reasoning behind our design. The epic question to following the Carpenter's Son is 'can you set your self aside?'

I was raised in Wyoming. A cowboy.

I grew up cutting my teeth on the Bighorn mountains.

I learned tough. I learned rough.

I found Jesus at an early age.

I loved to hike and explore and map. Finding new trails was something I loved dearly.

I learned the meaning of hard work.

I learned work ethic.

I was born blind in one eye. But with the eye He did see fit to give me, He's shown me a world packed with His creative beauty.

I learned how to drive on mountain roads, full of tire-busting boulders.

I learned how to drive like a wild man.

I learned how to follow Him with reckless abandon.

I'm a little steeped on the stubborn side.

I grew to love pictures.

I grew to love words.

I grew to love sounds.

But that was all then....

Today I work in the mountains of Haiti.

I work with people who are tough. I work with some who are rough.

I see Jesus in all the details.

I hike the mountains, because that's where the people are. I explore. I map, because there are no maps. I find new trails. I love it dearly.

I see hard working farmers. Eighty-year old men who are built like they should be on the cover of some Muscle magazine. They know the meaning of hard work.

I see the value of having a healthy work ethic here, in a country that has no jobs, no driving economy.

I'm still blind in one eye, but I see more today than ever before in my life. I see His beauty in every palm, every flower, every ocean wave, every sunrise, every storm, every Haitian. I still think He's creative. I still think He's beautiful.

I drive the craziest roads in Haiti. My car takes baths in rivers of mud. I creep over great boulders. I've had two flat tires.

I drive like a wild man here. It's how everyone else here drives as well. It's the only factor in which I blend in perfectly.
(Note to Mom: I'm curbing my appetite for crazy.  Toning it down, being more worries.)

I follow Him with reckless abandon. I think that's the only way possible to follow a God who revels in the Impossible.

I'm still stubborn. I think you need to be a bit thick-skinned here. I've learned that the price goes up 3 times when they see me coming, and down 2 times when I start to walk away.

I see why He made me the way He did. I see that He made me......specifically for a purpose.

I tell the story of Haiti...

in pictures.

in words.

in sounds.

and I use the same gifts to tell HIS STORY to them.

He provides. He overwhelms. He makes me so glad to call Him my King.

You are His Masterpiece. You were made, perfectly, to do the good works that He's already set aside for you to do.

You are the clay.

He is the potter.

He's formed you. He's fired you up in the kiln of life. You are made for just this moment in time,

if you can set yourself aside and follow Him?

Now then....

Take a deep breath...

Are you ready?

A Ministry Tool: Bessy

It was hard to consider buying a vehicle that I could get for half the price in the States.   Anytime I spend alot of money here, I get that sick-to-my-stomach feeling.

This one was 15 years old with around 240,000 miles, but overall it was the most decent car I've looked at in Haiti.  The owner, Edens, is a good man.  I like him, and he seems to take good care of his vehicles.
When I popped the hood, it was the cleanest and least messed-with engine I'd seen in country.  We had money saved from the sale of our home and studio, and so after some prayer and alot of talk, we decided to act.   The car was bought and the paperwork was finished at the police station in Cayes.

I had another flat tire yesterday but there's always a silver lining...

I was able to teach my son how to change a tire, and Mr. Shane Shaw taught me where in Cayes I can get a flat fixed in under 15 minutes for 20 Haitian.    In my opinion, that's a sweet deal.  I was told to expect a flat about every other week here....which translates to two things I will need to have in haiti at all times:  1. A spare tire.  2. Patience.

I drove through a gigantic mud puddle that was about 3 times the size of our car, and half as deep.  We even had mud inside the car, and the kids were yelling,
"Do it again!" from the back seat.   They changed their minds about the mud today, after they had to wash the car....twice.

I was able to pick up bibles, three cases in 1 run.  I gave the next door neighbor kid a ride to school. I was able to haul an entire back-end full of supplies for Msye Jacques and his store.  I picked up Benson and gave him a ride home from Cayes, and we even had a family outing to Shane Shaw's ranch to help him with his Tilapia project.  It was good to get everyone out of the house.

Finally, i was able to find, purchase, and bring home a stand up, oscillating fan for a little relief when there is no breeze.  We still had power when I got home, so we put it together and plugged it in.  Everyone was extremely blessed by the movement of air.

Vehicle purchase: worth it.

When Rose first told me about her dream of my family distributing bibles in Haiti, she said we all jumped in the "Cow"... you know, the Cow!  Then she held up her hands at 10 and 2, and I realized she was talking about a car, just having trouble with the pronunciation of the R....

So, we've taken a vote as a family, and we decided to name our car..........wait for it........

Friday, November 4, 2011

Local Faces 8: Abigail

Abigail is a new local kid in the village.
She loves swimming and playing with dogs.  She does not mind their fleas. 
She especially loves motorcycle rides with her dad, and loves it when he "takes her to the blacktop", where she begs relentlessly until he opens up the throttle and drives fast enough to really get the wind in her hair.  At that point she giggles in a giddy, uncontrollable way.
She's also an excellent hiker and serves as the official family "gusher", meaning her job is to gush with joy as often as possible, until all of our cups run over.  Among her other jobs, she is a professional flower picker and decorator, and she is an aspiring jump rope artist.

Local Faces 7: Clarence

Clarence The Welder

My dad and my good friend Dave are excellent welders, so I thought they'd appreciate Clarence.
He's the village welder, so when a piece of our gate rusted off, he was the man to talk to.  He came right out and made the fixes on the spot, making sure to arrive when we had kouran (electricity).

Clarence is also the man who will be making the platform for some chorine dispensers that we're going to implement in this area, which will aid in water purification and hopefully keep cholera out of the village.

His welder was an original work, but it did the job.  His sunglasses served as his welding glasses.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Comin' Round the Mountain

Last weekend was our first family hike to the very top of the mountain, and none of us knew what to expect. With 7 miles of rough terrain, we all knew it would be Abby’s first real test to see just how far those 8-year old legs would carry her, and I have to admit I thought it would be her dad’s tired and wobbly legs that would be carrying her home. 

Chelo, my good friend and our Creole teacher here in Haiti, decided he was coming with us, to help translate.  We are simply not as fluent as we think we are.  Finally, to top off our little band of travelers, Bruiser the Tramp decided we would need protection. Our 4-legged friend trotted just at my side, growling at our every step as we began our hike upwards.  I wondered if he planned on doing that the entire trip.  He was certainly not on board with me leaving the village.  He was wary of the goat.  Wary of the bull.  Wary of the trail, Wary of the smells. Just plain wary.  He had no idea how far we were going, but he was determined that he would not leave me.  Such loyalty, from a wild dog!

There we were, a crew of 6, with a mission to reach the home of Miss Rose Bertrand, a teacher living high atop the tallest mountain in these parts.  From near her home, we’d be able to see the Caribbean Sea on 3 sides, all directions except North.  We talked about getting some coconuts up on the top, and I brought my machete along in case we’d need to get our own.  It was great incentive for the kids.  Instead of a ring, we were the Fellowship of the Coconut.  My son even brought his camera.  I've told him I wouldn't be surprised if he works for National Geographic or something when he grows up.  He's quite the documentary photographer.

I have to report, I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with my kids.   Abby didn’t complain a bit, and Logan made certain to encourage her along the way.  
We crossed the Sahara Desert mounds and even Chelo (the Haitian) looked a little winded.  We took a couple of breaks ascending the last ridge to Coconut Junction, and when we got to the top the kids really took in the view.  

We made a quick jaunt over to Oberline’s house to say hello.  
Her father had gone back to Port, so once again she was left with another family.  She was wearing the dress we’d given her last year.  It was tired and worn, but Oberline was all smiles.

I am a very one-track person, so I was ready to move straight up the path the remaining 1/4 mile to Rose’s house.  But Kari stopped me and said, 
“I would like to ask if we can have devotions here.”
“Sure, I suppose, as long as you ask first.”
Right away we were invited in, and we had devotions.  I read to them from James, and Chelo translated.
‘My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. 
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’

I told them about how I’d just had the confrontation with the teenagers in Ti Rivier, how I’d become angry and shown my foolishness.  I told them that my words were ridiculous and in perfect contradiction to my reason for being in Haiti. My anger.  My unrighteousness, and my actions which did nothing to bring glory to God.

And that is what happens when I read the Word, but then don’t put it into practice.  I become this man who forgets what he looks like.  My faith, my purpose, is in vain. 
I told them how glad I was that God’s Word is righteous and everlasting. 
“Long after I leave, God’s Word still stands.”  I pointed to Oberline, “After you are gone, His Word still stands....”
They began to focus on me tightly,
“After this house has gone....Still His Word stands.....yes and even when this mountain has passed away, God’s Word will still stand.”

The rain began to spatter as we sat and poured over the words.  It was sweet and refreshing, and one of the grandmother’s in the house asked me for a Bible.  Her voice was shaken and tender.  Her eyes were soft and her heart was open.  We’d brought just one Creole Bible with us.  It was, as always, just enough.

Soon after, Rose Bertrand arrived, ready to show us to her home.  
When we got there, her brother ran to get us all coconuts, and even Bruiser the Dog got to have some coconut meat.  
I’ve never seen a dog eat that before, but he was more than happy to scarf it down.  We were introduced to Rose's mother, and her new niece.

We sat in her home, and Rose went to her dresser and pulled out a Haitian Songbook.  She’d didn’t know Chelo well, and didn’t know he was a Christian, so she asked him if he’d received the Lord.  
Chelo gave her a stern look and told her that he didn’t know Jesus, to which I began to object. He shot me a look which meant, ‘play along’. I knew he was a Christian, and it took me a few seconds to catch on that he was testing her.  

Rose Bertrand sat there and gave this young man the gospel.  She told him all about Jesus and how much He meant to her.  Finally, Chelo began to smile.  
“Very good.” He said.  “Yes. I have received Jesus.  Thank you.”
Rose opened her songbook and began to sing praises.  Her mother, her cousin, her brother, and then the rest of us joined in and began to sing along.  An hour slipped by just singing songs together.  

Then Rose spoke up and out of the blue asked me to preach.
“Preach?”  I said.  “What? Me?”  
“Yes.  Tell us something about life and death. You are not afraid of death.  Tell us why.” She said.
Wow.  I sat back for a moment.  Where did that come from? Where to even begin....
‘How about letting the Spirit lead’, I thought. Philippians came to mind...

‘Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...(MORE...BETTER...IN ADDITION TO). If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. 
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come - (UP THIS MOUNTAIN) - and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.’

We sang more songs, and every time we’d finish a song, Chelo would ask her to sing another.  It finally became time to leave, and we said our goodbye’s. Rose walked us back out to the main trail, and we saw a strong storm heading straight at us.  It was an eerie feeling that came upon us as the cool wind hit us.  It was as if the mountain suddenly knew we were there.
Time to run for it!

We began double-timing it, fast as we could go to get down off the mountain before the rain hit.  If we were still on top when it came, we knew we’d be sliding down on our backs the whole way.
Abby cut her hand on a cactus, and Chelo had to hold her hand.  I wouldn’t let anyone stop as we began running.  
I’m sure we were a sight to see as we were comin’ round the mountain.
The rain was falling like a wall, just 3 ridges over.
I prayed, 
“God, please hold it back. We need to get down this mountain.  If you don’t hold it back, please make our footing sure.”

The rain came marching up the ridge just across from us....and then it stayed there.  We could feel spatters of stray drops falling from the dark clouds, but the direction of the storm changed by almost a full right turn.  There was a wall of water, falling just on the hill across from us.
We began to sing praises, and the rest of the trip home was a joy.