Monday, October 2, 2017

Day 6 Water Truck Part Two

This will not be my finest effort. It's 1:30 am and its blog time ;)

How can it be Saturday night already?

Seems like just yesterday we were boarding a plane in MSP.  Such is life on a short term missions trip.

Today was our last day serving the people of Haiti. It's hard to even type that.  This team has been absolutely amazing in every way imaginable. I am so blessed they allowed me to lead them.

We started off the day by meeting up with the water truck Citi Soleil. 

Delivery water to Citi Soleil is not something you can describe in a blog, honestly it's not something that can be describe. It can only be experienced. The poverty in this community is something you feel, taste and it overwhelms you.  The people are just as overwhelming with their love, smiles and hugs. The kids start chanting "Hey You" "Hey You" and as Jason put it you almost feel like a rock star getting off the Tap Tap.

But this team isn't coming to put on a show. They got right to work filling buckets and loving on kids. Ben, Ryan and Mark typically were caring 2 kids and 2 buckets.  Jason and Jeff handled the bucket filling and crowd control. Josh played soccer and it seem like it was him verses the entire neighborhood.  I started with my magic show (as always) and then moved to the bucket line to give support.

After the first stop we heading to visit Hope Church.  It always takes my breath away to stand in that church and remember back to the first time I stood on that trash heap and some one said we are going to build a church here. I thought to myself "Good One that's never gonna happen." This is why God is God and I am not.

The 2nd stop was by far the most chaotic.  The people were extremely desperate for water and you could feel the tension as we started to fill the buckets.  The Haitian people were never rude or angry they were just in desperate need of water. I kept reminding my team "Have patience they are just desperate for water."

3rd stop was a complete 180 from stop 2.  They were working together to make sure each family got the water that was needed.  We emptied the truck and there wasn't any buckets left empty.

For me the highlight of the whole day happened as I headed back to the Tap Tap to head out.  A boy probably 10 years old came and pulled my shoulder.  He put his hand to shake mine looked me right in the eye and said "Thank you so much for bring the water".  It took my breath away.  In my 8 trips to Haiti I have never had a person say Thank you like that to me in English.  As I sit here typing it brings tears to my eye. It might be the most genuine Thank You I have ever received.

Sorry for the lame blog but I am tired and ready for bed.  Tomorrows blog you will not want to miss ;)

Words of the Day:

Josh: Servant
Ryan: Smile
Ben: Safilia
LT: My People
Mark: Want
Jeff: Bike
Jason: Buenos
Jeremy: Thank You



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Day 5

My sophomore year of college was the first time I thought about missions. A few months later, God lead me into the mission field. During my 6 months in Panama, I gained an incredible amount of perspective on God’s love for people. Coming to Haiti, I expected to see more of Panama. This expectation was crushed before the plane even landed. As we approached Port au Prince, a feeling of brokenness stirred within me.

The more I learned about this country the more brokenness stirred. Within me is an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for business. It was crushing to hear about a 70% unemployment rate in Haiti. It was even more crushing to hear Haitian after Haitian dream of owning their own business someday, but little to no hope of that dream being realized. So many Haitians have ambition and passion. However, the overwhelming thought of no industry, no jobs, no financing, and many having little to no income is paralyzing. It left me in a place of frustration, my strengths of responsibility and achiever wanted to JUST fix the problem immediately! Maybe someday I will have the privilege to be a part of the solution.

Today was different. Today was a day of hope. I could see how consistency with structure has brought change in miraculous ways. The team went to grace village to see the work Healing Haiti is accomplishing here. What we discovered was amazing. The team started with a tour of the clinic, school, and orphanage. We ate dinner at Fleri which is a bakery and pizzeria started by healing Haiti. The pizza was phenomenal! It was exciting to see Haitians running the restaurant as well as dining. At dinner, we met the first graduate of Grace school. He is now moving onto medical school, incredible! I am finding there is indeed hope for the people of Haiti. This hope comes from God moving, stirring one single human heart at a time. It comes from each of us obeying the calling He has on our life and stepping out BOLDLY. Each of us on the first men’s team are discerning our calling, God is certainly stirring. It is now our responsibility to take that stirring, to take our calling, and pick up the pieces of brokenness to do something extraordinary. Not solely for Haiti but for this world God has called us to reach. Because it will be through the body of Christ in which this world is transformed! It will not happen by government alone, education alone, money alone, strategy alone. Transformation will happen through the Son who has the ability to change a human heart alone.

Mark: Honor

Jeremy: Unexpected

Ben: Confirmation

Ryan: Hump-day

Jason: Connection

LT: Structure

Jeff: Energy

Josh: Alone

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Water Truck & Haitian Church Service Day

Can you bench press 200 lbs?  Can you squat 400 lbs?  Can you run a 6 minute mile?  As a male, these are some of the questions that we ask each other to show our strength.  But is physical strength the only type of strength that we should be pursuing?  What if true strength came from inside us, from our soul and the connection that we have with God?

Today was the day that I really felt God giving me a clear sign of at least part of the why I am on this trip.  In the previous couple of days, I have struggled to understand what I was supposed to be getting out of this trip.  Don't get me wrong, the last couple of days were absolutely amazing and in many ways very difficult days to experience but today was completely different from start to finish.

The day started with my normal bible devotion but I really did not feel that I was completely connecting with God.  So instead of trying to force it, I grabbed another devotion out of my bible.  This devotion came out of Mark 6:30-56.  This is the story of when Jesus feed 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (a story that I have taught many times) and later when the disciples were out in the boat and Jesus walked on water out to them.  What I had previously missed was the in between time and why Jesus was not with his disciples.  Jesus was spending his time up on a mountainside connecting with God to build up his soul.  Something that Jesus did a number of times in the bible, where he would serve others and then he sought solitude to connect with God.

"Strength", it was clear that this was to be my theme for today.

A couple of group members and I attended a Haitian church service this morning.  Even though I was not able to understand many of the words, I was moved just by watching about 200 people (varying ages 3-65) praise God.  I was in awe that this was a Thursday morning service and that so many people were attending.  I can only imagine the connections that these people were making with God.

Today was water truck day and I had heard so many good things from people that have experienced this in the past that I was excited to get this opportunity to serve the people.  We started off at the water filling station and got to see as our water truck was being filled.  Then it was off to our 3 stops.  What stuck out to me at every single stop was the kids that were so excited to see us and they seemed to come out of nowhere when we arrived at each location.  Being one of my strengths, I felt right at home playing with the kids and holding them all day long.  Helping carry water for people in buckets, jugs and barrels also really gave me a purposeful feeling.

Stop 17 was first.  Towards the end of the cobblestone street was a ditch just filled with a mixture of water and garbage.  It just broke my heart to see first hand where these people called home.  A little boy with a Super Mario shirt was my side kick the entire time here.  But it was great to see a couple of members of my group playing soccer with many of the kids here.

Stop 21 was next.  This too was a cobblestone street with shacks built as far as the eye could see.  While holding onto the little girl that ran up to me right away, I carried water for as many people as I could.  Once, I was able to go a little further back into these homes to bring the bucket of water to this girl's front door.  It was a very moving experience to walk through that narrow walkway.  This was also the stop that someone was playing music at so we all got to dance to "Wrecking Ball".

Before we headed to our last stop, we got taken out for a beach walk to the seashell beach.  This was extremely difficult, because this was the farthest we went into these homes and really were able to see life here.  Once we got out to the beach, the view was incredible in the distance.  But the beach was made entirely out of seashells which were beautiful but also covered in garbage.

Stop 26 was last.  Before the water truck arrived, there was a near-bye pier that we got to walk out on to watch the fisherman pull in their nets while the people on the pier were cleaning the fish.  The last stop was a long street with homes built up on both sides.  A little boy latched on to me instantly so I ended up putting him up on my shoulders for most of the time here.  This allowed me to really help others carry buckets of water and many times found myself carrying 2 buckets with the little boy still on my shoulders.  I saw much of the same from my other teams members here and can honestly say that I was wore out towards the end of the time here but knew that we would only be there a short while and pushed on.  Many of the team members voiced a very similar feeling  at that time here.  At the end of the day, I think we all agreed though with group members saying "today was the most fulfilling day yet" and "today was the best day so far".

This was a day that pushed my physical strength to the limit.  My body right now is telling me that I have seriously neglected it physically with all of the uncomfortable signals of soreness and pain, but even after spending the entire day serving others and doing good work, it was time for me to strengthen my soul and connect with God.  Remembering that even Jesus took time of solitude to connect with God and let God fill his life. 

All 3 groups here joined together for an evening worship service lead by Grace.  This was an absolutely incredible experience as we all sang songs together and praised God in our own way.

My soul gives me signs during times that I am neglecting it as well.  Times like when I give in to obsessions, addictions, imitations or even my broken relationships.

Today, God gave me a gift.  And that gift is that I see now what "True Strength" really is and that it comes from inside my soul and with my connection with God.


Words of the Day:
Ben - Faces
Jason - Authentic
Jeff - Eyes
Jeremy - Water
Josh - Peace
LT - Tre
Mark - Strength
Ryan - Hug

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Day 3 - Children of Haiti

The story God has been telling me since I've been here is not the story I expected to hear. Amongst the rubble, the pain, the hungry, the heat, and the suffering, I saw something beautiful. I saw God. In the smiles of the children, in the service of the volunteers, in the beauty of the mountain side, in the laughter of the babies, and in the resilience of the people - God is here. Working to bring something beautiful out of rubble and dust. Working to bring life out of death. I came here expecting to see the devil at work, but if you look close, you can see God's hands. Here - as in life - you can choose to see only the negative, or you can choose to see God. I saw God today, and it was so fulfilling to be an ever so small part of the beautiful work he is doing here in Haiti.

It was a very hard day for much of the team. I think at one point or another we all did our best to hold back tears. And I think that's saying a lot considering we are a group of 8 guys who are not supposed to cry (especially around other guys). Today we spent a lot of time with kids - some who were disabled, some who were sick, and some who were forgotten. This morning we visited a home for sick and disabled children. We pushed wheelchairs, sang songs, and did our best to show them God's love. From there, we drove down the road to a school where we got another chance to play with more kids and sing more songs. I'll never forget their beautiful smiles. After a quick stop back at the guesthouse, we got an opportunity to tour Papillon which stands for "butterfly". Papillon is a local business that more-or-less turns garbage into jewelry and provides jobs for 267 Haitians. Our last stop was at another home for sick children. There we had a chance to cloth, feed, and play with more beautiful children.

It was certainly hard to see some of the children in the state they were in, but it was so beautiful to hear their laughs and see their smiles. I thought I came here to minister to the Haitians, but I can't help but think God had something else in mind.

"Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14


Word of the day:

Jeremy - Darkness
Jason - Numbers
Jeff - Heartbeat
Josh - Faith
LT - What
Mark - Glory
Ben - Love
Ryan - Beauty

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Day 2 - Men's Home, Orphanage & Haitian Traffic

So not a steller day for the leader 1st forgot hand sanitizer, 2nd totally stunk at Bags, 3rd forgot to do the blog entry. Everyone is in bed and the computer is locked so a really long Facebook post will have to do. (I'm doing this on my phone so please forgive the grammar errors.)

Today started off with an amazing breakfast. Over my many trips to Haiti I have fallen in love with the kitchen staff. They are selfless and take such good care of us.

Then it was off to a for sick and dying elderly. As you can imagine for most men the thought of rubbing lotion all over another man doesn't rank that high on the want to do list. But when we got there every team member jumped right in. Many of these Haitian men lay on a bed with out any physical touch or conversation for days at a time. The smiles and thank yous told us all how much it means to have some one show they still matter to God.

The next stop was an orphanage were we spent time playing with about 20 kids all below the age of 5. The parachute games were a huge hit but the number one thing these kids wanted was to be held. As I watched my team I was so proud how they did everything they could to make sure every child felt loved. Sometimes this would mean holding two kids while a 3rd held your leg and the 4th was waiting for you to blow more bubbles.

The drive home was not ideal. The drive should have taken 45 mins but Haitian traffic is no joke so 2 hours later we arrived back home.

Finally we took a quick trip to the Delimart to grab some snacks. Devotions was a great time of conversation. We ended the night with a Bags tournament. See first paragraph for how the leader did.

Words of the Day
Josh: Contrast
Jeff: Smile
Jason: Abnormal
Ben: Cuddle
Ryan: Relief.
Jeremy: Laughter
Lt: Trust.
Mark: genuine

Monday, September 25, 2017

Travel Day

I have been waiting for this day since November of 2013.  On my first trip to Haiti there were two teams that came down.  Between the two teams there were a total of 3 men.  The lack of men going to Haiti really stuck out to me . 8 months later I went on my second team; out of the 16 people there were 3 men.  God started to work on my heart; pushing me way out of my comfort zone.  Finally, last April, I decided I was going to follow His lead.  It was time to lead the 1st All Men team through Healing Haiti.  So without having a clue who would join, I applied to lead a team. I sent out a few texts to friends, I posted on facebook.  The response was less than ideal.  I started to wonder if this would even be possible.  Then out of the blue I got my first response, then another and by July it was clear we would have a team. 

The day finally came and we woke up this morning at 2 am to head to the airport. (Huge thank you to our two UBER drivers Andrew and Pete Carlson...Even though some question AC's driving methods... we all arrived safely ;)  It was an amazing site to see 8 men walk through the doors on a mission from God with 16 50lb bags of donations in hand.  In my 8 trips, I have never experienced a smoother travel day to Haiti.  We grabbed a little bite to eat in Atlanta then boarded the plane to Haiti. 

When we arrived at the guest house, I gave a quick tour. It didn't take long, this group was ready to get to work. We started to separate the donations and got them stored away in their proper place. Grace (one of the fulltime missionaries) made the comment, "how the heck did you guys get so much stuff!"

During devotions we talked about how God knew this team would be here long before any of us. We were all chosen by God for this specific team.  We discussed how we would all need to have "Open Palms" as we went through the week. Allow God to give us all he had planned.

Tomorrow will be one of the most difficult days of our week long trip. We will be visiting a home for elderly people who are sick and in some cases very close to death.  Please pray that we are able to be hope filled lights of our great King. 

Words Of the Day:

Jeremy: Return
Ben: Anticipation
Mark: Anxious
Jason: Boat
Josh: Familiar
Lt: Love
Ryan: Unreal
Jeff: Trust

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mens Team Blogging

This will be our team blog.  Follow our team as we spend a week serving God and the people of Haiti.  Each day we will try to put in to words what we experienced that day. 

During the next week if you would take time each day to pray for our team it would be much appreciated.  Here are a few prayer requests for tomorrow: 

Safe and Easy Travel
All team members to stay healthy 

We are so excited to see what God is going to do with this team. Stay tuned to the blog for updates.