Haiti. Day 8. Chaos. Mayhem, perhaps?

Well. Today sure had a different feel! The kids in the town we hyped up today! There was lots of yelling, and even more than the usual pushing and shoving. It’s hard to describe the feeling of there constantly being hands all over you, pushing you, pulling you, yelling at you, asking you for a dollar or for you to “botum” – pick them up. 🙂 There was a desperate tension in the air. We learned that as it was the last day, they were anticipating presents! Fortunately we brought lots of extra beanie babies, balls, candies, matchbox cars, chalk, and bubbles. The Amazing Amanda (Amanda Claus?) had us package them up in little brown bags and then she distributed them as the kids from the town left the building after eating.

We also gave away 2 basketballs and 1 soccer ball, which in Haiti seemed similar to giving away $1 million dollars. :-). This caused quite a stir!

We then had to say our goodbyes to all the kids that had wiggled their way into our hearts for the last 5 days. Needless to say, that was tough. Some even wrote us letters!

We are thankful that we have given them solid Biblical truth this week. I challenged them this morning from John 6 picking up where John V left off on Monday. In the narrative, many couldn’t bring themselves to trust or believe that Jesus was who he said he was, and that he was truly God in flesh, The Messiah. The one who will satisfy all of our needs, believe it or not more important than food, drink, shelter, money. Is this different than today? I remember God calling me back to him years ago, and I remember not wanting to trust him with everything in my life.

In the passage, many turned away from Jesus at this teaching. He asked the disciples if they would turn away as well. I love Peter’s response –

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69 ESV)

I think of the many martyrs who gave their lives for their faith like the disciples themselves, some later is missions work and in translating the Bible. How else could they willingly endure all of it? They believed that what God offers in the Gospel is far more satisfying.

Our prayer for Haiti is that they find Jesus for who he is – all satisfying life. We were blessed by the people here, next week I’ll begin compiling all the pictures and videos we took – be on the lookout for the summary slide show!

Thank you all for your prayers. We leave tomorrow AM for the Dominican the we fly back to JFK. Please keep praying!

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Haiti Day 7

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day here!

Today was Day 4 of our 5 Day VBS/ESL and we are really starting to develop relationships with these kids. The craft today was personal little chalk boards that some of the kids then wrote “I Love You” and our names on them!

We also saw one of the most touching moments of the week today. As we were feeding those in the community, I noticed a little boy not eating his food. He looked very sad and had tears in his eyes, so I went over to him. At first I though he may have been sad that his food was too hot to eat. That wasn’t the case, so I called over our translator, Thomas who asked him why he was so sad. The boy told Thomas that his sister didn’t get in yet, and he was worried that she wouldn’t get any food today. After drying our eyes, we quickly went outside to find his sister and bring her in to eat next to her brother. This is something we have seen many times in Haiti, brothers and sisters caring for each other.

Thank you for your prayers for our health, I think we are all past the intestinal bugs. Looking forward to our last day tomorrow and getting back to home!

Happy 4th!

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Haiti Day 6

Day 6. Yeah.

It’s safe to say that while we definitely aren’t losing enthusiasm for these precious kids, we are feeling the drain a bit! Several of us are battling I intestinal “things.” Please pray for us to get on the mend quickly.

Today’s VBS went very well. After singing (wait til you see the video!), I had the opportunity to speak to those gathered in the square about Luke 17:11-19 where Jesus heals the 10 lepers, and only one returns to thank him and worship him – its clear that this man knows who Jesus is – God in the flesh, The Messiah. For his faith in Jesus, the man is “made well”- forgiven of his sins. Literally in the Greek he is “saved.”

And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19 ESV)

I brought out two points: (1) that we have greater needs than our physical needs – our greatest need is to be forgiven of our sins. (2) We don’t need to clean ourselves up before coming to God. Like the lepers, we are sinful and unclean before a holy perfect God. He cleans us and gives us new clean pure clothes of righteousness.

Tomorrow there is talk of hitting a beach. That would be sweet, but it would be even sweeter if there was a cheeseburger place next door. (Goat stew is getting old). Every day after getting back to the hotel after VBS/ESL, Mel and I gladly pay $3 for a glorious Coca Cola on ice. I never appreciated it so much!

Thank you for your prayers! We are starting to miss home.

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Haiti Day 5

Day 5 in Haiti, Day 2 of VBS. Today we started in the courtyard with singing and a great message from the Word from the one, the only John Voigt. John challenged those who were listening that God is aware of their physical needs, but there is a need that is greater – our spiritual need to be reconciled with our Creator.

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:27-29 ESV)

It is not a matter of our works or by attempting to obey Gods rules perfectly. Sure, obedience is important- but that isn’t what saves us. Jesus was sent by God the Father (v29) and he did the perfect work by taking all the sin on himself. Our part is to believe, and by believing we are made new. We then live out our new identity in faith and by the grace of God.

We pray that those who heard this word today believe in whom God has sent.

We also managed to get another pot of rice and beans today so we were able to feed more people!

Definitely a highlight of the trip is the ESL classes. It is a great experience to sit with 3 kids or so and teach them English words. Today we did “opposites.” (Up/down, weak/strong…). So much fun – and they want to learn!

Another highlight is when we gather together nightly after dinner to sing and hear from the word, and hear some reflections from the day. I’m looking forward to that later! (But sure am craving some serious American food!)

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Haiti Day 4

Today was our first day of vacation Bible School, and like all first days, it was a little chaotic and a little crazy, but we found some important schedule tweaks that we can make for tomorrow to make things run a bit smoother. Overall it was awesome!

The children are just so unbelievably precious. They run up to you without hesitation and just attach themselves to you just hug you and hang on you. I continue to be a source of huge fascination to the little kids. At one time I think it had five of them just hanging on me touching my arm hair and my leg hair, taking off my hat staring at my bald head and white skin (“blanc”), and the tattoos (“tatooooo”) continue to amaze. They stare and then call their friends so they can stare some more. They live to look at pictures on my iPhone. I think they looked at my whole photo stream twice. They especially likes some pictures I had from last winter of “snow.” Which was surprisingly hard for me to define for them! (Think about it – how would YOU explain what snow is?!)

VBS ran from 9-12, then we fed them lunch (which was a pile of rice and beans). We then fed some others from the town that had gathered in hopes of being fed.

After that we taught English for about an hour, another first experience for me that I really enjoyed.

The hotel has a pool, which has been such a blessing to come back from being in the heat all day and relax and debrief the days events with the team. (And as an added bonus I just witnessed Candy and Rachel V push John V in the pool…twice)

Thank you all for your prayers, they are being answered in amazing (and downright comical) ways. Please continue to pray – four more days of VBS to go!

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Haiti Day 3

Today being Sunday, we visited a local church that is in progress of being built, and attended their service. It was kind of a strange experience for me because I did not understand a single word that was being said or sung, yet still some of the songs were familiar. We walked into a hearty version of “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” and then later on we heard “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” It was really cool to hear soulful, joyful Haitian voices singing very familiar melodies in their language.
The sermon of course we couldn’t understand a single word – Please pray that the Elders and Pastors of the Haitian church are rooted and grounded life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ and teach the pure Word.

After spending some time loving and the kids that were there, and perhaps sneaking them some hard candies when their parents weren’t looking, we went to a historic site called The Citadel. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citadelle_Laferri%C3%A8re)

What am amazing structure and view! Not to mention the approximate 1 mile hike up a very steep incline was an amazing workout. Highly recommended if you ever have a chance to see this.

My heart thought of Psalm 9 – as Intimidating as this fortress was God is our true fortress.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalms 9:9, 10 ESV)

Tomorrow we start our VBS which will run from Monday through Friday of next week. We’re looking forward to spending some quality time with some kids that will be back day after day and establishing relationships with them. Please Pray for us as we begin our VBS. We will also be teaching ESL in the afternoons. There are many logistics to work out and of course that our hearts reflect Jesus with these precious little ones.

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Haiti Day 2

Today just to show you how crazy this place is, we walked up the hill directly behind our hotel to a mountaintop village where close to 5000 Haitians call home.

We sang a few songs drew a big crowd and then I had the really cool experience of proclaiming the gospel through an interpreter.

When I was done we asked the crowd if there were any questions. One young man came forward and said “Why are you really here?” Again through the interpreter I said two reasons: To proclaim the message of God that I have just told you, and number two – we love you – we love you because God loved us first and we want to be your friend today. He then asked how are we going to help them with their specific needs – like for example they need water. I told him that we would talk together as a team to try and find a way to help them and promised them that we would come back. So for the last hour or so we’ve done just that, as a team talked about it and prayed about them and dreamed about how we can help them.

We’re going to work through our local contact here and also a local Baptist Church in order to try and build up the church trying to get them the water and food that they need. Also working on a plan to disciple those that professed faith in Jesus today. Needless to say our hearts are very heavy. There were many children that literally followed us all the way back down the hill to the hotel so we had to tell them that we had to leave.

It’s astounding here how are seeing many of the same things that we see in the United States. People are convinced that what they do will earn them salvation. If they do more good deeds than bad deeds then most likely God will let them into eternal life. One of our translators named Thomas spent well over an hour carefully clarifying the gospel through many illustrations to several young men. They looked at him and said “What must we do to be saved?” How awesome that God still saves thru Jesus! We pray that these men grow strong in The Lord and that His church in Haiti and the US is rooted in faith, not works.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:37-39 ESV)

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