Sunday, July 15, 2012

Inescapable Joy

Joy -

As I have settled home and spent time processing our time in Haiti, beyond the lessons in thankfulness and humility... ...  I have found myself with a radically different perspective on joy.  The joy they share is a deep deep joy that springs out now matter the season, no matter the weather, no matter the moment.

My friend Adam said it well to the children in Lira (Africa) as he prepared to leave,
"You children have a joy that so many people in America wish they could have, yet they fail to see the way to experience the real joy that you experience. We always say that we are coming here to do all these things and give you children something that you need. We forget to say that when we come here, you give us something that we need. We are in debt to you, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as you. You are co-heirs with Jesus Christ, and your joy that comes from Him overflows into our cups."
Everywhere I go on the web, people are sharing the same thing... Ann Voskamp shared the same lesson during her very recent trip to Haiti,
Hope, it is exquisitely fragile and it is an exceptional force and it is essential to faith and you can’t afford to lose it. Lose your fears but never your hope. The whole church fills with this trumpeting worship and we raise our hands and sway and hope can create a quake that cracks all despair. Our smiles can be real epicenters. Christ-centered joy that brings down all the walls. There is hope here — a hope refrain that won’t end. Hope, it lives in us, in Christ Who is in us. And how can the horns not herald it, even here: Never despair of a situation more than you trust in your Savior. It isn’t the likelihood of your hope that sustains you, but the object of your hope that sustains you.
Joy - something so desperately necessary all the time... but especially in this time, in this place. As a backyard people in a fast paced world, we crash every night longing for something we can't always find, and hunger for a food that lasts... but in lands distant, where poverty and hunger and war and disease are battled EVERY DAY, there is joy, there is hope, there is peace.

I pray that we would be awakened from our slumber -
Bonde Bene Ou!

Monday, July 9, 2012


The girl and I have been home from Haiti for one week...

One week?

I woke this morning drawn to the passage I shared one evening in Haiti, as thoughts of heading home were beginning to solidify for our team... We were off to the beach in the morning, the work we were doing to be continued by others... heading home in just 36 hours, yet I think to most of us it felt like we had surely just arrived...
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will REJOICE in the Lord; I will take JOY in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my STRENGTH; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."
Habakkuk 3:17-19
I'm still impressed by, and quite possibly overwhelmed by, the gift that God has given us to live thankfully. God doesn't want us to have mountaintop experiences that fade away as we wander a valley on our way to heaven, but longs for us to be drawn to him, to live at a higher level of faith in THIS life - placing our feet on the stones he has laid before us on the walls of a cliff... facing each sunrise confidently with the wind hard in our face... tucked into a cave trusting the maker of the storms... That's what Habakkuk says, and that is what our friends in Haiti would say - in the midst of life, rejoice as they acknowledge that things are fleeting but GOD is not. So here we are, thousands of miles from this lesson, and I'm still drawn to it. The sun is rising in the trees and I have an office to spend my day in... What would Habakkuk say to me?
"Though the fig tree blossom plentifully, and fruit is heavy on the vines... the produce of the olive is bountiful and the fields are full of food... the sheepfold grows by the day and the stalls are packed with herds... I will REJOICE in the Lord; I will take JOY in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my STRENGTH; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."
God is still the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Defining Prosperity

Marjorie proclaims "You are my Haitian daughter" and proceeds to fix my hair. Humbled, I sit patiently as she combs out dandruff I pay thirty dollars a bottle to keep under control. I can almost feel her thoughts - don't those Americans comb their hair? I have a lot to learn from the world around me...
My hair is short and soon it was styled beautifully, perfect for the American daughter who was pierced clean through by genuine thankfulness.

Thankfulness.. a term that we use rather flippantly at times, and humbly at others... but in Haiti, thankfulness was a lifestyle. Thankful for each other, for water, for sunlight, for rain, for tap-taps... for a toothbrush, tylenol, backpacks... jump-ropes and barrettes, hugs and kisses and tears... joy and sorrow, all mixed into a jumble of perpetual thankfulness.

We were able to install solar lighting during our trip; a gift of a little something from believers a continent away to six families in Jacmel. One family said that the lighting meant prosperity to them. Four lights equals prosperity? Merriam-Webster has this to say of prosperity- Prosperity is the condition of being successful or thriving; especially : economic well-being

I have a lot to learn about being prosperous...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Let's Talk About Haiti

Haiti was, by far, the most eye opening experience I have had... and I have experienced many things. The people were the most humble and thankful that I have met anywhere... having nothing and less than nothing yet praising God in the midst of it all for the life that they do have. Thankful for the chance to get a solar light set for their house... for a pair of shoes... for water.
Live simply so that others may simply live. This is the common line from Pastor Lefleur and Restoration Ministries. This is a message that we have been sharing for years here in the states. This is a message that pierced my heart while in Haiti. Anna, a beautiful woman very similar to Annete in India, lived this message before us as a visitor from the states. I pray that I can see those areas in my life that are overflowing with excess and let go to live more simply.
The Caribbean Sea is so amazing ... Isn't God creative? Isn't God loving? wow.
Living missional. Here is where I will say that the challenge lies. Do we have to travel three thousand miles, spend two thousand dollars, and work in 99* heat to learn what it is to live this life that God has called us to? Probably not. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have had to travel on short term missions, but on the flip side, I long to live that life right here.

Returning from Haiti, I feel very conflicted. On the one hand I know we worked and played hard. I know that we shared in the love and grace and freedom of Christ. I know that we brought new money to the neighborhood pot, and there are a little more needs being met today due to the blessings we were able to shower.

On the other hand, I know that when we worked there were people who were not able to. When teams aren't there local laborers are hired. I know that we received extra attention from the kitchen, from the children, and from the community at large. This isn't a bad thing, but we added a burden to the community while being there. I read it like this on another blog; could you imagine pulling up in a poverty stricken neighborhood in America, walking about taking pictures and saying hello to the poor people present? This would, in America, sow seeds of bitterness. I pray that we would always seek God as we go out - pursuing his leading and calling. That we would be willing to do whatever He calls us to do, wherever he calls us to do it.

I am so thankful for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, for teaching me so much and allowing me to encourage and share life with them. I long to return already - to worship with them, teach them English, wash dishes with them, and play games with the children...