#Haiti2017 Wrapping Up

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Today is our last day.  We leave for Miami late this afternoon and due to the complexities of travel to Haiti, (meaning: cost, flight times, etc.) we are spending the night in Miami and then heading back to the airport at 5am for our 7am flight back to NJ on Sunday.  Prayers are always appreciated for international travel, I get nervous going thru customs for no reason at all…not to mention shepherding 23 others thru it.  I am, however, very excited (geek) to try out the new “Mobile Passport” app – hopefully that will speed things up.  I’m thankful for modern conveniences.

I’ve also developed a rather ripping head cold…yes…in Haiti in July…that is making things a little more challenging.  Aren’t head colds something you get in February when it’s 17 degrees outside and you’ve all be cooped up in the house for 3 months?!  I’m thankful for Nurse Lisa and her well-stocked medical kit.  Mucinex and Advil are helping to keep it at bay.

I’m thankful for everyone on this team.  Each one gifted by God in such unique ways.  There are a lot of youth on this trip here, thankful for those who lead the way by example and those who are growing in discipleship by seeing God at work.

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I’m thankful for being able to reconnect with some children – some we’ve seen for the last 3 trips!  Special bonds were strengthened and created.  We also made new connections.  We had the need for an additional translator and by God’s providence Lisa met a Haitian woman who spoke English and needed a job.  She hadn’t been able to buy food recently for her children, and she worked out perfectly.  We had several very good spiritual conversations with her, she was very transparent in saying that she believes God exists, but can’t trust him because why would he let her suffer so much?  Seeing God’s hand clearly as she had literally cried out to God to provide for her and then we show up from America and give her a job.  We are praying this strengthens her faith to trust him completely.

Yet, with all that thankfulness there is still the cloud of sin.  Yesterday was a hard day in some senses.  Some of the Haitian children knew yesterday was the last day we’d be with them, so they really ramped up their demands for “one dollar” or a “ballo.” [ball]  Like other times, this was very hard for me, and I had trouble holding back sinful responses when I was sinned against.  I felt like some of the relationships I had developed over the week came down to merely what I could give them.  And when they found out I wasn’t giving them what they wanted, some literally cursed at me and stormed off.

Naturally, all of these things cause deep thoughts to swirl in my brain.  I realized once again there is not much difference in what hinders Haitians and Americans from perceiving their real actual need for the gospel – materialism.  Just different sides of materialism.  Haitians seem to not be able to realize their true need of reconciliation with God thru Jesus because they can’t see past their everyday needs and poverty.  Americans seem to not be able to realize their true need of reconciliation with God thru Jesus because we can’t see past our overwhelming comfort and opportunity.  Same limitation – just two opposite ends of the spectrum.  One thinks God isn’t helping them, the other doesn’t see the need for God’s help at all.

Put all that together with that fact that I’ve been drawn to Romans 8 several times this week.  Ariana shared from it the other night during our meeting, I’ve been thinking of Romans 8:31 from time to time, and just today in a book I am reading Romans 8:22 and a “theology of groaning” was discussed.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:22–25 ESV)

God’s perfect creation is broken by sin, a sin that we chose to bring into this world when we rejected God’s authority over us, and continue to.  Now we struggle, strive…groan. Not only creation itself with all the evil and sin, but inwardly.  We struggle to see our true need for God.  We groan under the weight of sin and the effect it has on our souls.

We need to be not groaning in hopelessness, but rather in hope.  The permanent redemption we will experience one day when Jesus restores the world from it’s brokenness and we will spend eternity with him, without any struggling, striving, or groaning.  Without any limitations in seeing him clearly.

Until then, when Haitians or Americans, let us hope for what we do not yet see, and look past the materialism – whether in want or abundance – to clearly see our daily need for God, and his gracious provision of Himself in Jesus.

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Haiti VBS 3.0

Welp…this trip has been unique in the sense that we did some sightseeing, tourism, and team building early…buuuuutttt that ended today.   Today…we WORKED! 

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We started off the day with songs…as usual, I exhausted my knowledge of Creole songs in about 8 minutes, but the kids didn’t seem to mind much.  I had another chance to preach this morning, along with our theme of the day today which was creation.  This week, we are going thru the main storyline of the Bible – creation, fall, redemption, and restoration – and always pointing back to the gospel.  This morning I talked about Genesis 1:1 how God created all thing perfect, including all humans made in his image so that EVERYONE has value and worth. Then we talked about John 1:1-5 how Jesus is the one who creates light and life through faith – and darkness can never overcome the light…no matter how dark. As I’m sure you can well imagine, things in Haiti can be pretty dark.

We then did our regular Vacation Bible School with the kids – a time of crafts, games, and more teaching.  One of the highlights was a soccer game turned varsity keep away with about 5 of us and 40 Haitian kids.  We schooled them…but of course we may have had the height advantage.  As Marc put it “That was chaos, but the coolest chaos ever!”  This also included the ever popular Haitian kid game of “Steal the bald white guy’s hat and sunglasses, pose, and make him take 30 pictures of us…” 

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We then fed as many kids as we could with 3 giant pots of rice and beans.  We took some of the last plates deep into the neighborhood behind the school, over raw sewage and past the neighborhood bathroom [which is actually just a pile of sand] to people who had houses deep into nooks and crannies.  Still there were met with smiles and a warm “merci” as we handed out food to people who probably weren’t sure where their food would be coming from.  

We then spent some time teaching English to the neighborhood kids, always a fulfilling…and fun time.  

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There were also many good conversations with some of the adults who were milling about the square.  Many young men came looking for “Mister John” and were happy to reconnect with him.  He picked right up where he left, holding a Bible study with anyone who was interested. 

It’s always a blessing to see Haiti thru they eyes of the folks here for the first time.  To see such poverty and yet see the joy in the kids eyes is a unique and powerful juxtaposition.  [Another Marc Bray word] 

We are looking forward to the rest of the week with the children.  Please pray for stamina for the team as it is absolutely exhausting in the heat, and most of all for hearts to receive the light of the gospel of Christ. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  (John 1:1–5 ESV)

Haiti 2017 Days 1-2

Hello there, Haiti…it’s been two years, but it’s nice to see you again!  Team Haiti 2107 arrived on Haitian soil approximately 5pm Thursday night and went thru the usual chaos and uncertainty of customs and baggage.  Overall though, travel was smooth and uneventful…but long!  We are very thankful for God’s grace in our journey.

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We settled into the mission house at Deep River Mission, our home for the next 10 days, had some dinner, and decompressed a little.  The drive from the airport to the mission house was an eye opener, and particularly if you haven’t been here before, it is very sobering to see the poverty all around.  Still, this being my third time in Haiti, I found myself sufficiently sobered as well.

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One store had painted above it Malachi 3:11 which reads – “I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:11 ESV)  It was like a giant fist rising out of the ashes and boldly proclaiming “God is still here. Yes, this place is broken and people are desperate, but God will redeem. God will fight for us”  Indeed he has.  God has ultimately redeemed us in Jesus, in him we stand through faith in him – we will not be destroyed, we will be fruitful and productive – no matter what the life circumstance because the eternal matters of the soul transcends the temporal.

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Haiti attracts people to help.  I was surprised again to see the plane half full of Americans, coming to volunteer in some capacity or another.  I had the great pleasure of sitting next to a very successful surgeon, coming to Haiti for the first time to volunteer.  We spoke of the big questions of life and I was able to share my own passion in the gospel – as it alone provides the answers and the satisfaction our soul cries out for.  I pray for him to know Christ.

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We will spend the next 2 days preparing for next week’s VBS and doing work at the community center just outside the mission house.  Sunday will be the ever-popular trip to Children of the Promise orphanage, followed by the intense high-impact cardio workout hike up to the Citadel.  Monday starts the VBS whirlwind.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  If you would continue to pray for one of our own, our dear friend Stacey, who slipped last night and may have broken her wrist, it would be greatly appreciated.  She is in a lot of pain and I’m sure very anxious about spending the time here in Haiti with this injury.  We love her dearly and I’m sure she is hoping to soak in all that this trip can have to offer.  Pray that she still can!

Onward!

 

 

Haiti 2015: T-Minus 3 Days

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I’m still trying to wrap my bald head around the events of this week, on a few levels. Today, my son graduates High School…which just can’t be as he was just 2 years old yesterday, watching Toy Story 1 and 2 (back to back on DVD), sitting in his Elmo chair, with his blanket and pacifier. (AKA, the “Mookie”)

Then…early Saturday morning, or very late Friday night if you will (3:30am is still night to me) we start our journey to Haiti.

23 of us from GPBC, and a few extra friends, will be traveling to Cap Haiten, Haiti.  We will be going with Deep River Mission to work at a school there putting on a Vacation Bible School program, teaching some ESL, and also cooking humongous pots of rice and beans to feed to people in the town.  For most, it will be their only meal of the day, and many will share one plate with their whole family.

This is not my family’s first time there, we went in 2013, so I know exactly what we are in for.  (Above is a picture of the soon to be HS Graduate from the 2013 trip entertaining the locals with a marathon game of “Slaps.”) When I look at pictures of our trip last time and was instantly transported back there – the sights, sounds, smells…last time it was all new to me, I was sort of in shock.  This time, there is a very real sense that I know full well what I’m in for.

We would love for you to pray for us:

  • Travel.  Let’s face it.  For a guy who thinks caravanning is a result of the Fall, traveling with 23 people to another country is a challenge.  Please pray for smooth and safe travel, and for us to grow in unity through all the ups and downs of the journey.
  • Finances. We still are a tad short of our goal.  Please pray that the funds come in.  If you are so inclined, you can give online.  (Select “2015 Haiti Missions Trip” in the drop down.)
  • Team.  I am super excited about this team.  Last night at our final prep meeting (yes, there were spreadsheets involved) there was a sense of love for each other and joyful anticipation.  Flat out – this is a great group of people going and I can’t wait to be there with them.
  • Ministry.  Pray for us to minister well to the people we come in contact with.  Pray for compassionate love for the people, for opportunities to share the gospel, and most of all for God to open the hearts of those who hear to know the freedom he brings in Jesus.  Last night, we were reminded of God’s word fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 4) of the nature of the rescue mission of the Messiah —

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

I will try my best to keep up on blogging when there…you can add “wifi” to the prayer list.  🙂