Updates from the 2012 Haiti Missions Trip

The Best Last Day Ever!

Thursday August 16th

Today we woke with a lot of anticipation and a lot of sadness. It is
our last real day in Cap-Haitien and we aren’t ready to leave. We
aren’t ready to leave the friends we’ve made. We aren’t ready to leave
the kids. We aren’t ready for this adventure to be over. Fortunately
we had today to cram full of amazing last day experiences.

It is easy to see that there are some fears building. People aren’t
ready to go home and, as it typical for a trip like this, there are
fears about what will happen when we do get home. Will the openness and
closeness I feel with God continue? Will the changes that have happened
in my heart go on, or will I fall back into my old patterns? These are
typical responses to a trip like this but they can still feel scary. I
am glad that they didn’t derail our day.

As we gathered for our morning team time and prayer for the day, we were
talking about what we wanted the day to look like and what we wanted
people in Haiti to remember about our team. I suggested that we aim big
and go for “the best last day of a trip ever.” As we circled up and
yelled our cheer of “best last day ever” no one realized that we might
just make it to that lofty goal.

Our day started out great with VBS and just got better. There was a
renewed energy, passion and organization during VBS. The team clicked.
The kids had a blast. The adults were engaging and laughing too (the
house parents of the kids from Kids Alive, not our adults…we laughed
all the time!). As we ended our normal VBS program, we knew that each
family had prepared a little something special for us and that we would
be having an end of the week celebration. For the next hour we listened
to kids sing, watched them dance and experienced them pour out their
love for us in all sorts of ways. The most poignant moment was when the
Philips family (our neighbors and the only family living on the kids
alive compound at this point) read a letter they had written to us. One
of the many kind things that they said is that whenever other teams come
down to serve in Haiti, they will think of our team. At the time I
didn’t realize what they were saying or why we had had such a big impact
but I would find out later.

After all of the “programmed” stuff, the fun really started. They
cranked the music and blasted some praise music IN ENGLISH and we all
danced and sang and shared bottles of coke-a-cola! It was so much fun
to just cut loose with the kids. Even the adults were up front dancing
and having a ball. Haitians have rhythm and can sing. They can dance
too. It was so much fun. It certainly was a perfect end to our time
with the kids. It was with a lot of sadness, but also the sense that
there will always be a special bond between the kids and our team that
we said goodbye to the kids and moved on to lunch. Who would think that
PB&J and tuna fish sandwiches could compare with what we had just
experienced, but they did.

As we ate, we shared our lunch with John, one of the adults who works
with Kids Alive and we had a chance to talk to him. We had heard that
he has a pretty amazing testimony, but we had no idea what it
was…until lunch. He shared with us how we was living in the states
and totally buying into what the world offered. He was selling drugs,
“living the life,” and nowhere close to God. His family were all
believers and went to church but he wanted nothing to do with it and
struck out on his own. It didn’t take long for his lifestyle to catch
up with him and eventually he was shot, stabbed, arrested and deported.
Once back in Haiti his life didn’t improve. Although he had extended
family still in Haiti, they refused to have anything to do with him do
to his life. One day another deportee he had met told him that he could
go up to Cap-Haitien (from Port-au-Prince) and catch a flight to the
Bahamas where he could sell drugs and continue his lifestyle. He made
it to Cap-Haitien but never further. He was there with nothing and no
one and in short order God got ahold of his heart, initially through a
girl but then with radical heart change. He was baptized, began a
friendship with a man named Tom (former director of Kids Alive) and his
life began to change. Over time he has gotten his GED, gone to
seminary, and dedicated his life to the Lord. If you were to meet John
today, the only evidence you would find from his previous life of sin
and corruption would be the lack of a few teeth (which you notice very
readily because he is ALWAYS smiling!). His joy is contagious and he
lights up when he gets to talk about the kids or the Lord. He gave a
very impassioned plea to our students about how great it is when a kids
“gets it” and it clicks and his face lights up and his eyes gleam as he
talks about it. It truly is inspiring to hear his story and to see his
love for the Lord. His honesty and change definitely impacted our team.

As we headed out to the worksite it was as if John’s story had given us
the new life that he had shared about. We knew we only had a short time
to work as our evening was full with other next experiences but we took
full advantage of our time on the jobsite. We finished all the projects
that we could, cleaned up the site, and even started some long term
projects for them (moving some gravel to areas where water had begun to
erode around the edges of the school. In addition to that, we were able
to send some of the team back to the house to start the final cleanup
and organization of the house. It certainly was a busy and impactful
afternoon. For sure it was an effort motivated by the love of the Lord
and how we had seen it demonstrated in the life of John through his
story.

After work was done, we quickly cleaned ourselves up and headed off for
yet another treat. We got to drive into town and visit two of the homes
where the kids lived. Both homes were in the same building one was a
downstairs apartment and the other upstairs. They are the only families
living in the building (there are well over 20 of them total in the two
houses!). As we walked into the first house, we were greeted with
kisses and hugs and smiles. The parents thanked us for all we had done
and the kids were smiling and happy to see us. We had a great time as
we asked about their living situation, got to see the kids bedrooms
(dorm style!) and had a tour of the humble but immaculately cleaned
home. It was easy to tell that the kids were loved and that they were
in a great place. After a time with them we went upstairs to the other
home. It was a wonderful place and we gathered in a rather large living
area and were thanked by a song. We sang, they sang, everyone smiled
and laughed and it was a wonderful time. We took pictures afterwards
and received many words of thanks from the parents. They kept going on
and on about how much they saw the love of Christ in us because of the
work we had put into their school and the way we had loved the kids all
week long. It was hard to say goodbye (we knew this would be the last
we would see of these kids and many of our favorites from the week were
there). As we loaded up to leave the kids were hanging out the upstairs
and downstairs windows waving and saying bye and thank you. It was
wonderful. God’s love was demonstrated through us and to us.

As we drove away we headed into Cap-Haitian for a final team dinner with
our group, Manno, Brent and Letitia, and Teri. It was sure to be a
great way to end our trip and just reflect on God’s goodness. We had no
idea that before His goodness, we would get to reflect on His power! As
we drove up to the restaurant (which is across the street from the
ocean) rain was threatening and it wasn’t long after we got into the
open air restaurant and got seated under a covered area that the skies
opened up. The rain came down and the water came up. The single drain
in the middle of our courtyard like restaurant couldn’t keep up with the
wind driven rain and quickly the area started to flood. At one point
the waiters and waitresses were standing ankle deep in water at the
kitchen window and were running the food and drinks to tables under
umbrellas! It didn’t take long for the power to go out and our team
wondered if we would be getting dinner at all. Fortunately the power
came back on quickly, the rain stopped and the drain caught up. At one
point I looked around and was just struck by the amazing situation we
were in. Here we were, sitting in a restaurant in Haiti, laughing about
the way that the wind had driven the water under the roof and half our
team was sitting in wet clothes while some of us were sitting in inches
of water, talking about God and what He had done over the past two
weeks. When will we get to experience something like that again in our
life?! It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and was certainly a
great way to end the trip (that and the cheeseburgers and fries we
quickly devoured once they were finally served)!

We thought the night couldn’t get any more impressive. We were wrong.
As we drove home through the dark streets there was a sense of
completion. The last time we’d driven that route was the day we
arrived. As we drove through the city that day, in the light, we were
shocked at the trash, the dirt, the poverty, the oppression that we saw.
Tonight, as we drove through the dark and saw the candle light tables of
people still trying to sell things for the day, things were different.
This was no longer a strange place. This was no longer a scary place.
We were comfortable. We were at ease. God was with us. I don’t think
we’d ever get used to the trash, or the open sewage, or the completely
different lifestyle in Haiti, but as we drove back to the compound
tonight it felt as if we were home. It felt comfortable. It felt
right. Haiti doesn’t intimidate us anymore…we’ve seen that our God is
much more powerful than anything we might face there. Haiti doesn’t
seem dead anymore…we’ve seen the life that our God is breathing into
the people here. Haiti isn’t foreign to us anymore…God has knit our
hearts into the fabric of this place. It has been an amazing two weeks
and I can certainly say that no one on this trip will return home the
same. We’ve all been changed and impacted, some too deeply to
articulate or to really pinpoint, but we all know that something is
different.

Prayer Requests:

* Pray for Haiti. Pray that God’s heart would continue to be
revealed to this people and that His love would continue to reign down
on them.

* Pray for our goodbyes. Tomorrow will be hard as we say bye to
Brandon and Lori, Manno, Toto, Brent and the Philips family.

* Pray for our travels as we have two flights, a couple of train
stops and who knows what else between us and home.

* Pray for our hearts. Pray that the work that God began in our
hearts in Haiti would continue as we return home.

 

 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Tuesday August 16th

Today was a day of opposites. Everyone is tired and this is going to be short. The morning was great, the afternoon and evening, not so much. But as always, God is good and there is always a silver lining. Let me explain (briefly).

VBS was much better today. We had improved organization, improved teamwork and communication and overall things just went much better. They weren’t bad the first day but they were just better today. In fact, they went so well that the kids asked if we would go longer for the rest of the week. We’ve talked about it as a team and we will see what happens.

The afternoon, however, was not so hot. By the end of the day the fall off was starting earlier than yesterday. Again, only the adults were sweeping and working by the end of the day (and Quay). I fear that we are running out of energy. We need a jolt or an infusion of energy. Our team time was up and down. We had some good sharing in groups about Romans 8 but at the same time we had people disengaging and ready to be done early. Also, there is a sense that there are students who are on the edge but are holding back and not opening up completely. I pray that that will change over the next couple of nights.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray that we will have MORE ENERGY tomorrow.

· Pray for team unity and focus.

· Pray for how God would use us over the last couple of days.

Moving On!
Monday August 13th

Today was a LONG day. For the first time we had to focus on VBS AND on construction. To add to that we had a fun time in the evening but that pushed team time back and it was much later than normal before we are heading to bed. Despite the length, it was a great day.

Our first taste of VBS Haitian style was a blast. We started by gathering together in the chapel, explaining the day ad trying to divide the kids into groups by using different colored bandanas. That sort of worked! Some groups ended up being huge (the white with black polka dots group) and others were very small. We learned a lot and had a good time. We rotated between playing soccer, volleyball and bandana tag (everyone put their bandanas in their pockets and you tried to grab as many bandanas as possible before someone grabbed your bandana. It was fun. We certainly learned a few lessons and hopefully we’ll be able to do a better job tomorrow. We ended the day with a lesson time (Josiah did a great job) and then a group game. They absolutely fell in love with sharks and minnows. It was so much fun with almost 90 kids (plus our team) running around like crazy! Despite all the snafus and learning experiences we had, we definitely did an awesome job of loving on the kids. Every team member had kids hanging off them, holding their hands, hugging them, and having a blast. We can’t wait until tomorrow when we get to do it again!

Our positive day continued as we moved to the worksite: lots of positive chatter, lots of completed projects and lots of fun. The only negative was that it was a day with lots of minor injuries. Scrapped knuckles, small cuts, nicks and bruises were common today. I’m a little worried that the carelessness on the jobsite will translate into lower quality work or that it is a sign that we are hitting the wall. I pray I’m wrong and that it was just a day with lots of little snafus but I have a feeling it is the former. One reason I lean this way is the end of our workday experience today. We were waiting for some supplies (a common occurrence this week!) and people just kinda started to wander off the worksite. Most of the projects were at places that we couldn’t proceed any further without new materials but there were still TONS of things that could have been done (cleanup around the site, cleaning in the house, moving/organizing of materials that we DID have, etc). Unfortunately most of the students did not seem to notice those things. (I’m sure most parents are reading sarcastically saying “no, not MY teen!” J hehe). By the end of the day it was only the 5 adults sweeping and cleaning on the jobsite.

After we gathered everyone back together and talked a little bit about finishing strong, we had a special treat for our evening. We made dinner and served it in the chapel where we shared a movie (and the dinner) with the missionaries working with Kids Alive and with the Philips family kids (our neighbors). The movie was called Father of Lights and is a documentary about healing and crazy things that are happening around the world for God. It was captivating and enjoyable and was certainly a nice way to spend the evening. Right at the end of the film the rain came and it came HARD. It was raining crazy hard as we all scrambled back across the compound to our houses for the rest of the night. Because of the rain, we had to have our team time inside instead of on the front porch. I don’t know if it was because team time was inside or because we were tired, but it was a rather listless team time. There were some doubts about what we had seen from the movie, some difficulties during sharing time and some people checked out and wanted to go to bed. It certainly was one of our lower points as a group. However, at the end of the night there was a glimmer of hope and I pray that tomorrow will be better. Lori was moved by God’s spirit and what we’ve been talking about all week and really gave an impassioned plea for our team to sacrifice. I pray that it was heard.

The truth is that we really haven’t given up that much this week. Our accommodations aren’t that bad, we have running water, electricity most of the time and fans to move the air most of the time. We get to take showers, eat good food and have plenty of clean water to drink and cook with. We have been able to wash clothes (by hand) for the couple of people who have needed it. Our house is clean (except for the mess we make it) free from rodents and most bugs (there obviously are some, but not many). We are working with modern tools and get new supplies almost whenever we need them. The kids are open and receptive and we haven’t received any negative interactions since arriving. As far as trips go, this has been smooth and easy and we haven’t really sacrificed much. I hope that Lori’s plea gets this team to realize that our true sacrifice is in how we love each other and the attitude with which we approach the rest of the trip. It could be amazing or it could be a disaster. I’m praying for the former.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray that our team would catch a second wind tomorrow

· Pray that God would challenge the students to truly sacrifice in their hearts.

· Pray that we would be more energetic and focused on the worksite.

· Pray that we would learn from the first day of VBS and that tomorrow would be better.

Today is the Day You Have Made, I Will Rejoice and Be Glad in It!
Sunday August 12th

Today we had a chance to go to a new church. It was a GREAT experience. We also saw God show up in a couple of neat ways.

The first thing to mention about this church is that it had air conditioning! It was the first time we’ve been in an air-conditioned space since we left the Fort Lauderdale airport. The temperate and coolness were not the biggest change…it was the lack of humidity in the air. It was SO nice to be able to sit for a couple of hours without dripping because of the humidity and temperature. The music was great and it was a very lively and charismatic service. People clapped, raised their hands, swayed, and really engaged with the service. At one point I noticed a white family sitting across the room from us. After the service Brent and Letitia went over and talked to them. I had a chance to meet them and was blown away by how God works.

Greg and Susan are serving in Haiti and have been here for almost 2 years. He works at a school and they both help with a well drilling organization. Their goal is to get things to the point where the Haitians can run things here and they only need to monitor and check on things from the states. They are here with their 3 kids. As we chatted and encouraged each other, it was fun to speak to other Americans. We were able to talk about the things we’ve seen, understand some other things better and to encourage them in their work. The neat part about the conversation was when we started to talk about “home” and discovered that Greg is originally from Harrisburg! His sister still lives in Mechanicsburg and her kids went to CV! Talk about a small world experience! We probably could have spent hours chatting and encouraging each other (after all, it was English, we were in air conditioning, and the service let out early!) but their kids and ours were ready to get home for lunch. So we said good-bye and headed home for the rest of the afternoon.

After lunch we took another walk through the community around the compound. Unlike the last time, today it was sunny and HOT. We met some more kids and had a great time. The most interesting aspect of the walk was this older guy (about my age he said) who joined us. Brent knew him a little and he joined us and started to talk to me. He kept sharing about how poor his family was. After a few minutes he leaned over and whispered to me. I couldn’t understand him at first (he was speaking broken English) but then got his drift. He wanted me to take his phone number so that when I got to Miami I could call him and he could bring his family over to Miami with me. It was heartbreaking to have to tell him no and that I couldn’t help him when he repeated asked for help and told me how poor his family was. However, we are not allowed to give anything out to the people here. It creates a beggar’s mentality and discourages people from actually trying to work. It also doesn’t really help them much. After trying for most of our walk to convince me to give him money or to bring him with me to the states, he moved on to Brendan. By the end of our walk he was content because he had given Brendan his phone number. Although Brendan assured him that he wasn’t going to call and that there was nothing he could do to help him, it seemed as though simply giving us his phone number was enough to satisfy him.

Our afternoon was a difficult but productive one. The students had planning time for our VBS program tomorrow and weren’t too thrilled when their initial plans were not comprehensive enough for the adults. We challenged them to think through some things and to plan more and at one point they were pretty frustrated. I’m so proud of them though, because they regrouped, worked together and came up with a great plan for the week. I’m excited to see how our time with the kids goes tomorrow and for the rest of our time here.

While the students were revamping their plans, the adults decided it would be a good idea to put up the volleyball net we had brought with us. The net process went pretty well (after all there were 5 highly competent adults working together!). However, we were quickly humbled by the lines. After about a half hour of trying to work it out we finally gave in, marked the corners of the court with some flags and went in. (In our defense, however, the string provided with the set to mark out lines on the court was not long enough to for a proper court—it would have taken 160ft to do so and it was WELL short of that length!).

Team time tonight was a little different again and that was fun. During the day we had completed a spiritual gifts assessment. No one was allowed to share their results with anyone. Then during team time we went around one at a time and shared our top three results. Then the rest of the team had to guess which spiritual gift (from the 3 we had listed) was our top result. Then we read about that spiritual gift and someone encouraged each member with times that they had seen that gift manifest throughout the trip. It was a great time and a lot of fun. There was also a prize for the person who guessed the most people correctly. It ended up being a three-way tie with the winners guessing everyone (including Brandon and Lori) correctly except 2. (10 out of 12 is pretty good!). The ironic and to me encouraging thing about it was the winners…Joe, Jenn and Ben! That’s right, the adults know our students pretty well J

Another thing that marked our team time tonight was the breeze. It felt like it was going to storm all evening but never did. At one point I was praying and I mentioned God’s spirit and the wind gusted particularly hard. As I finished the prayer, Nathan mentioned how neat it was that I prayed for God’s Spirit and then the wind blew, as if God was answering us. Perhaps it was a sign of what is to come over the next week as we dive back into work, lead the VBS, continue to seek God’s will in our lives, and rely on Him in this great adventure.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray for the VBS time tomorrow with the kids.

· Pray that we would be able to jump back into work tomorrow afternoon with the same vigor and passion that we had at the end of last week.

· Pray that we would finish strong this week and glorify God as we do.

· Pray for safety and health as we are reaching uncharted territory on this trip 🙂

· Pray for homesickness too (I actually heard a teenage boy mention how much he missed his mom today!!! Tara, don’t fall over, it was Nathan!)

The Perfect End to a LONG Week
Saturday August 11th

Today was a very different day. We woke up, had breakfast and our devotional time and then loaded up the truck for a trip across Cap Haitien to the beach! What a glorious day it was!

Our team, along with Manno (who was driving) and Toto loaded up the open-air Daihatsu truck to head to the beach. Picture a troop transport from the military…open back covered by flaps, benches down each side, closed front cab. So we loaded up and headed to the beach. After pickup up Brent and Letitia on the way, Manno and Toto needed to stop to get bottles of water for the day so we pulled into a gas station/quick mart. The students were all laughing because there was a man with a shotgun pacing around inside the store. They were joking that we had walked into a robbery in progress. The truth was that that was security because there was also a western union attached to the store so there was more money at that location than most anywhere else in town. While we were waiting for Manno and Toto to get their water and come back, some young boys started to talk to us and joke around. They wouldn’t move when Manno started to back up the truck and tried to jump on the back and hold on while we were starting to drive away. It was a little scary because there really wasn’t anything we could do to stop them but Toto and Brent assured us that they would leave us alone as soon as we started to pull away from the gas station. They were right. Off to the beach.

The drive to the beach was eye-opening. We had to drive through Cap-Haitien to get to the road that would take us over the mountain to the beach. However, we didn’t stay on the main roads like we had before. Instead we took more side streets. We had a chance to see the “real Cap-Haitien.” It was exactly like the glimpses we had seen from the main roads. A couple of times we drove past grown men who were urinating against the side of a building. We saw trash and decay everywhere. The roads were awful. There were businesses here and there but it seemed like much of the city was crumbling and abandoned. People were massed together in areas where there were things to attract them and then it was almost desolate a block later. As we worked our way out of town, the road started to go up, and up, and up! We wound our way up the mountain and had some spectacular views of the city below us. Occasionally we would come across a small community that consisted of a couple of shacks and a “store” or hut to sell things from. Just like in the city, motorcycles were crazy and passing us all the time. Once we hit the peak, we caught our first glimpse of the ocean and it was amazing. We wound our way down the other side of the mountain and had several switchbacks and crazy turns. Sometimes the road was paved (especially around the tight corners) and sometimes it was just dirt. Oh, this was a “major highway” too! As we got down to sea-level, I was amazed at how close the road came to the water. At one point the edge of the road trailed off right into the ocean (after a 5 foot drop, of course!). At one point we rounded the corner and saw our destination and were blown away.

For $5 we were able to use the beach and facilities at this “hotel.” Resort is a better word! Palm trees, fragrant flowers, beach, and sun. The restaurant and bar was your typical Caribbean feel…open air, ocean breezes. We had beach chairs and the attendants moved our chairs up a few feet so we could be under the shade of the trees. Guys came around and some of the students ordered juices or Cokes. It was like being at a fancy resort anywhere else in the world. What a stark contrast to what we’ve experienced all week. It was exactly what the team needed. We relaxed on the beach, played volleyball, cooled off in the clear water and had a great time…well, most of the day.

One thing that we found out the hard way was that you shouldn’t go out too far into the ocean because there are sea urchins out there. Many team members went too far out and made some new friends J Ok, many of the STUDENTS did. They also laid out on the beach and turned a nice shade of pink. It was a day of leisure, fun, relaxation and good conversation. It was a way to get to know each other better and to recharge. We also ate dinner at the restaurant. One thing that was interesting was that we had to order our food at noon in order to get it by 4. (We had to eat early because the options were 4 or 6 and we didn’t want to get caught having to go back over the mountain in the dark!). Most of the team ordered cheeseburgers and fries. Lori and I were the adventurous ones. I had creole beef and Lori had chicken with lime. All the food was amazing and it was by far the best meal we’ve had since we’ve been here. IT truly was a day of indulging for us. It was nice but at the same time it felt a little weird “living it up” for the day. Granted it cost us less total per person than going to a movie back in the states, but it still was such a stark contrast to what we’ve been doing thus far for the week.

On the way home we had a neat opportunity. There was a group of women who rode back with us. Some of them were working on research with infants and others were working with a mother, baby, birthing center. It was awesome to see the students engaging with these women, asking them about the work they are doing and sharing about why we are here. It was a small way for us to serve other people who are serving the Lord here in Haiti, but it was a neat way to end the day. (they too had taken a beach day to decompress and recharge and apparently it isn’t that uncommon for people to do what we had done!).

The day brought our team together and really put a perfect bow on the first half of the trip. The night ended with a change in our team time routine. We broke up into smaller groups and shared in groups of 2 or 3. It was supposed to take 10 minutes…it took over an hour. I think if we had done the same thing at the beginning of the week, 10 minutes would have been stretching it too…but on the other side. I don’t think we could have had deep conversations for a whole 10 minutes because we weren’t comfortable enough as a team. It definitely showed me how much our team has grown and changed over the week. It is hard to imagine that our time here is over halfway done. It feels like we have so much that needs to be done. It feels like we have so much time left on the trip. I have a feeling the rest of the trip is going to be over before we know what happened!

Prayer Requests:

· Please pray that those pink students don’t turn into sore, red, sunburned students overnight.

· Pray for our time tomorrow as we worship in a new church.

· Pray for continued openness and sharing…neat questions are being asked and students hearts are being impacted (so are the adults’ for that matter!).

· Pray for deeper relationships with the Haitians we have contact with on a regular basis.

· Pray that God would be doing in and through us what HE wants to do, not what WE want to do.

It’s All About You, Jesus
Friday August 10th

Today our schedule shifted slightly. We had to stop work early in order to attend a special chapel service in the afternoon. However, this didn’t prevent us from making more progress on the school.

Our projects today included more work on exterior walls and more roofing work. People are settling into jobs and rolls and doing a great job of working together. It is so much fun to hear the chatter around the worksite and the encouragement. The exterior walls we are building are a challenge. At the outside corner of the building, the roof is about 7 ½ feet off the concrete slab that is the foundation. Our walls run from 6’ tall at the corner up to 8 feet high at a slope that mimics the roofline. So we have a section of the wall that is at an angle (unknown and not consistent from wall to wall!) and then at some point along the wall, the angle crosses the 8’ mark and the wall continues the rest of the way at 8’. Add to it the fact that the plywood we are using has to align flush with the column in the middle of the building but go outside of the post at the corner of the building and you get some fun building! Oh yeah, and either the column and or the floor are not exactly level or plumb. Needless to say it took teams of 3-4 people almost all day to frame and start to put plywood on the 3 remaining sections today. We still didn’t completely finish! However, the walls that are done, look great and we can really see the school starting to come together.

The roofing crew found a similar situation to yesterday where they got done as much work as they could but couldn’t quite finish due to lack of supplies. This time it was lack of cross supports that the Haitians needed to use so that they could lay the tin roofing on and nail it in place. Every day seems to be an adventure!

So although we didn’t finish the projects that we had hoped to finish (part of the roof still to go and 1 sheet of plywood short on the final exterior wall) we had plenty of work to do and worked right up until quitting time. Quitting time was a little early today due to chapel and it was well worth leaving jobs unfinished to attend.

We quickly left the jobsite, changed and headed back across the compound to the open-air chapel for a service. Almost all of the kids and their house parents were there as well as some of the other people we had met (Robinson, Jon—another guy who helps with Kids Alive, Brent, Letitia and others). It was great as we prayed, sang, and worshipped together. There were several special music selections as well. The highlight of the time (from what they prepared) was when the family who lives next door got up and sang Heart of Worship (in English). They did a fantastic job! They also gave us a chance to speak and it was very encouraging to hear Hoa, Jenn, Jon, and Quay share about what God is teaching them on this trip. Jon (who works with Kids Alive) translated for us so everyone could understand. He is so joyful and full of life and it is easy to see why people are drawn to him. He is always cracking jokes and smiling and laughing. They were very grateful for our presence and our participation in the chapel. It was a great way to end a really busy work week but it wasn’t the last of our special experiences for the day.

As we gathered for worship time after dinner, we put our chairs outside instead of on the porch like we normally due. This was because we were to have guests join us for singing time. Our neighbors joined us and we all sat around and sang several songs of praise to the Lord. The only negative aspect was the fact that we were running later than normal so it was dark outside and hard to see everyone, but it was such a joyous time as we sang together by flashlight. At one point the Haitians ran back home and grabbed a “lamp.” I use the term loosely because it was more like a naked blub with a plug. It didn’t really give enough light for the whole team but the gesture was what mattered and it meant a lot. I hope we get a chance to spend some more time worshipping with them throughout the trip. It was the perfect end to a very long and challenging (but great!) week.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray for rest and recovery as we spend a team day tomorrow to recharge and refocus.

· Pray for safety and freedom from sunburn.

· Pray for continued growth and positive momentum.

· Pray that we wouldn’t lose focus over the weekend.

Best Day Ever!
Thursday August 9th

After the high of last night, everyone woke with a little extra pep in their step. As we met in the morning for an overview of the workday, Lori dubbed the day “the best day ever!” Turns out she was right!

Work today took on a new sense of urgency and importance. It is clear that our team focus has shifted. We broke off into multiple teams today and lots of work was done. In fact, by the end of the day the roofing crew had progressed as far as they could have and were waiting on the Haitians to complete the next section so they could continue. The windows all were installed and the wall crew made significant progress on a rather difficult outer wall project. We saw problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and vision casting in action. Students learned new skills, taught other students and really began to take ownership of the projects. There was uplifting and encouraging chatter on the site throughout the day.

It is also clear to tell that we’ve had an impact on the Haitian workers who are working alongside us on the job site. On the roof the guys are working with “So-so” and “Job.” Although they can’t communicate with language, they’ve developed a system of pointing and “words” that communicate what they need. They are joking and laughing and having a good time while they work up there. You can tell that there is a genuine bond between them. In addition to those guys, we also work closely with Toto and Manno. Manno is the construction project manager who lives onsite at the compound with us. He speaks English and is an amazing guy!

Manno is a self-described entrepreneur. He is smart, charismatic, and fun. He has a light about him that attracts people to him. He bought a dump truck and had it shipped over to the states and he uses it to make money. His current ambition is to move to a double axel truck. He was talking with me the other day and had the whole plan laid out: “If I can find one for $X in the US and it would cost me $Y to ship it, then I would need to sell my current truck for $Z and in one year I will have paid it off. Then I could use the money I make to build myself a house…probably over there…” His plan involved creating a place where he could make money, support mission workers and their families coming down to work with Kids Alive, and live himself. He has big dreams. However, from what I know about him and have seen this week, I have no doubt that he will realize those dreams, in time. His desire is to go to the states to get further education (not particularly uncommon for people here to dream this way). However, what sets him apart is the “next step.” He desires to return to Haiti and use his education and influence to effect change in the culture and in his people. He wants to redeem them and be part of the movement to build up the Haitian people. He wants to help them create an infrastructure and a way of life that would lead them to success. It is often said that when a people group is in extreme poverty that many of those people become ashamed of their heritage and, if given the opportunity, would “get out” and never look back. True champions, true heroes are those who do not reject their less than ideal heritage, they are the ones who embrace that heritage and desire to create positive change. Manno is that type of hero. I have a feeling that the Lord will use him to do some pretty amazing things!

Toto is the same way. He is smart, funny, and kindhearted. He works closely with us and takes a great amount of pride in the project. At first he would show us gaps of 1/16” and ask “are you going to leave it like that?” or “not good enough, we can do better.” Sometimes he would just run his finger along the edge/seam and shake his head while looking at me. He also started off the week very skeptical about this whole LeaderTreks process. You could sense that he was a little leery of the job we would do after the first couple of cuts didn’t go as quickly or as straight as he would have liked. However, he has been working closely with us every day and today I noticed a change. He has seen the growth in the students and he has bought into the concept. When the students come to him asking questions he is beginning to turn it around on them. I heard him several times today saying things like “Well, what do you think?” or “I know you can figure this out, let’s work on it together.” At the beginning of the week we had a saying: Toto approved. Toto approved means the work would be good enough to pass Toto’s high standards. Now Toto has developed “Joe approved.” This is his way of passing ownership and standards back to me (and the team)…exactly the model that LeaderTreks is purporting. You can tell that working alongside us has encouraged and impacted him. I can’t wait to see how the Lord continues to develop this relationship over the rest of our trip.

Another change today had to do with our interactions with the family who lives next door. They are around and watch us a lot but until tonight we haven’t had a ton of interaction. Tonight we spent some more time getting to know them. They sing a lot and a few members of our team went over while they were singing and joined them. It started out because we have been hearing Celine Dion all week long. Tonight we had finally had it and decided to go over and sing with them! It quickly evolved into a time of praise and worship where they taught our team some lines of Jesus Loves Me in Creole while we worked on the English with them. It was a lot of fun and a good time of fellowship. Hopefully more of our team can spend some additional time with them as well.

For team time tonight, we also noticed a positive change. While sharing and talking, our discussions moved from the general to the specific. They moved from students talking about “we” and “they” and “Christians” to “I” and “My.” This may seem like a silly linguistic shift, but it actually is a major turning point. It takes a little while for students on a trip like this to feel comfortable and open to sharing on a personal level. Tonight marked our first foray into that realm. Nathan Hartman in particular shared how some things were impacting him and it really helped the team to go deeper and feel closer. It is neat to see the changes in the students and I’m proud of the way they are working, growing, and opening up.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray that the Gospel would continue to impact student’s hearts

· Pray for good sleep

· Pray for a continued upward trend in our trip

· Pray for safety and direction and diligence as we work

· Pray for deeper relationships between our team and the family next door.

Reign Down
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where do I start in telling you about today? Today was a rough day. It was long and hard and not what we had hoped for at all. However, like usual, in the midst of the depths, God intervened and redeemed our time. Let’s start at the beginning…

Breakfast was great. Our meal crews are doing an excellent job with food. In fact, during our team time at the end of the day, we identified things we did well for the day and one of the biggest successes we had all day was food J.

The morning work went well…we overcame several big obstacles. It was great to see teams working together to problem solve and to learn. We have students who are learning about construction, tools, leadership and teamwork. However, our day was rudely cut short by a passing rain shower. By rain shower I mean torrential downpour! There were rivers of water running through our site. Han even made a bridge across with a couple of 2X4s so we could get back without too much mud on our feet. The rain halted the progress we had been making all day and just brought everything to a head for our team. We wasted a lot of work time standing around doing nothing when we could have done things. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to stand around for an hour, but when you have 13 people, that is 13 hrs. of labor lost and we need every bit of it we can muster. Frustrations mounted. Disappointment was high. The rain really put a damper on our work but it ignited the fire inside us…and not in a good way. By the time team time rolled around it was clear that we had reached our limit. The leaders of the day were defensive and felt bad because our team evaluation was so negative. (They did a good job for the day, but the culture and ethos of our team wasn’t where it needed to be and so evaluation time was rough because there were not a lot of positives to find). This is a good time to talk about our devotional…

Each morning we have a 45 minute time set aside to spend time with the Lord. We are studying through the book of Romans. We have a trip book that has a bible study, prayer guide and growth journal that we work through each morning and then discuss each evening as a team. The study on Romans thus far has been focused on the “charges against the accused.” It paints the book of Romans as a courtroom drama and thus far we have heard the charges, seen the evidence against the accused. We are only through the first two and a half chapters at this point. One thing that has been clear so far has been how much we are reflected in the passages. God is really showing our team things that we can relate to. One thought that I’ve been struck by is the fact that we are no better off than the people here. It is easy (and many on our team have expressed the sentiment) to think that we are somehow “better off” than the Haitians. We are somehow superior or less in need of God’s mercy and grace than they are. We are here to lift them up to our level. However, this study is making it clear to our team that we are not any better off. We are not superior. We are not God’s gift to Haiti. This has begun to bring a brokenness and humility to our group. However, getting to that place is not easy (and we are by no means there yet). Team time tonight was our first major step in that direction.

After the above mentioned evaluation it was clear to see that things were heading downhill and fast. So the leaders threw us a curveball and changed up the flow for the night. Up until this point, we have had a pretty standard flow to our team time meetings: evaluation, worship, devotional, growth journal, target three (setting our goals for the next day). Tonight, however, the lines were blurred as discussions and questions crossed the lines and instead of a nice neat team time, things got a little messy. We spend some extra time in prayer. We did a few things that we hadn’t done yet. We changed some of the normal routine. By the end of the night there was a different feeling about our team. Our discussions about team culture and our ultimate goals seem to have begun to shift things for us. After the team meeting instead of people heading directly to bed there was more being silly and laughing…which brings me to Han.

Han is hilarious! Last night he chose to serenade me with One Direction’s song What Makes You Beautiful…while sitting on his bed, wearing his sleeping blindfold. IT seems like just about the time that we have hit our wits end, Han does something to make everyone laugh and changes the mood. What a joy it is to have him around and contributing to our team. Sometimes he does the unexpected (like jumping off the roof instead of climbing down the ladder) or the bizarre (like complaining about being wet from the rain and then taking a shower to ‘get myself dry.’) but he always does it with a smile. His energy and smile are infectious and I am very glad I’m getting to know him better.

As we head to bed tonight, things feel different. Maybe it is the cooler nights we’ve had the last couple of nights (some people have actually resorted to using sheets to cover up!), maybe it is the fact that we are adjusting more and more to “life” in Haiti and maybe it is God. Likely it is all of the above. Whatever the reason, it feels like things are changing. I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be a better day and the start to an upward trend for our team. God is working in hearts and I think we are starting to see the manifestation of that!

Prayer Requests:

· Pray that God would continue to be at work in our hearts.

· Pray that God would continue to keep us humble and reliant on Him.

· Pray that God would keep the weather perfect for working (not too hot, not too rainy!).

· Pray for the unity and development and culture of our team.

· Pray for safety on the jobsite.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it’s off to work we go
Monday August 6, 2012

This morning found us running behind again in the morning, but that is to be expected during the first morning of work. People forgot gloves or to put on sunscreen or things like that. Once we finally had everyone together and circled up, we learned that our main project for our trip was the construction of a new (but temporary) school building. We were excited to get to work and happy that we had something to focus on. While some members gathered the necessary tools and supplies from around the grounds, Hoa was given the task of being the site leader for the day. She learned all about framing a wall and making supports as she was briefed on the goals for the day. There was a lot of standing around and a lot of talking this morning, trying to figure out how they wanted everything accomplished. Once we had a plan we were able to work and work hard, but it took a while to get going.

With instructions in hand, Hoa set out to get the team to work. Most of our group worked on putting up the wall while a few climbed up on the roof and started working on placing tin roofing sheets in place. It was great to see the teamwork and team care throughout the day. People pitched in where needed. Teams formed and evolved and everyone worked well together.

At lunch time we had a special treat. We were able to meet Robinson, who is in charge of Kids Alive here in Cap-Haitien. He is a very quiet and humble man and you can sense his love for the Lord immediately. He shared about the ministry with us and his vision for what God might do here. It was an amazing and inspiring vision. The current desire is to finish the school building we are working on so that they can begin school in the fall. This will allow them to move all of the school supplies out of our house and will make that house available for another “family” to move in. We went back to work in the afternoon very encouraged and with a sense of purpose. We HAVE to get this building done so that they can move forward with their ministry. Our team has the potential to move them forward in a major way if we can finish this school for them!

Encouragement

A little side story. I had a chance to talk with another of the missionaries down there this afternoon. Her name is Teri. What a joy it was to chat with her and to be encouraged and to be an encouragement. She went on a mission adventure through several countries several years ago and one of the places she went was Haiti. At the time she had ZERO desire to visit or spend any time here. After just a couple of days she knew that God was calling her to serve Him here in Haiti. She fell in love with the people. (It is easy to do!). Her story was so neat. She has been in several different situations here in Haiti and is still looking for where God would have her long term. Her vision is an important one. She wants to work with the families here in Haiti. What she has learned (and we’ve heard it too) is that many of the “orphans” in the system here in Haiti actually have parents. In fact, those parents simply can’t take care of them and so they send them off to orphanages. Her passion is to work with those parents and equip them to survive and take care of their families so that these kids won’t be in orphanages but will be with their parents. The country is so depressed and hopeless that this is a major need and a monumental undertaking. Think of the old adage “give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a men to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” It was a wonderful chat and time of encouragement as we talked about ministry and loving people and just had a chance to talk. I asked Teri (and Robinson and others) what the single biggest thing we could do to encourage and help them while we were here and she (like the rest) said “finish that school.”

Prayer Requests

· Pray that we would continue with our passionate level of work so that we might finish this school before we leave.

· Pray for Robinson, Teri, Brent and Letitia, Manno and all those who are working here. They have such huge visions for how God will work.

· Pray that our team would get some rest and continue to be energized and focused.

Haiti Update Sunday August 5th –

Oh Worship The King…

We woke a little sluggish this morning and we are told that this is because of the heat. It isn’t actually that hot here, but it is consistently hot—it never cools down. The heat and the humidity are still high, but it isn’t as scorching as we had anticipated. In fact, it was pleasantly cool as we headed off for church this morning. What a show of God’s mercy that He held down the temperature while we had to be dressed in our long pants and church clothes!

The church service was a neat experience. We drove into town and walked into the cement building expecting that we would join those in the room we saw as soon as we entered. However, we discovered that this was the “basement” and that worship was above us. So up the stairs we went. We were shocked when we walked into a huge auditorium style room with a giant choir and LOTS of people. It was a Baptist service and it was neat to see how we were able to connect and participate in the service despite not knowing the language. There were open windows that looked out upon the mountains. It was a neat setting for a worship service. After a 2+ hr long service (in which several team members fell asleep!) we headed back to the compound for lunch. Our afternoon consisted of some free time (filled with soccer), and a walk around the local community.

The local community was shocking. As we went through the “village” it was as if we were walking through the bush. Fences were made with cactus plants. Houses were built with stones and mud. Brooms were pieces of brush tied to a stick. It was truly a shocking site. As we walked several kids (associated with Kids Alive) joined our procession. We stopped for a bit and played with them. They grabbed our hands and walked holding our hands as we made our way through this barely inhabited area. We crossed a main road and continued up towards the base of the mountains. Our journey finally stopped in front of a giant metal gate on the side of the road. We were told that this was the piece of property that Kids Alive used to own and had recently lost in a court settlement. They had obtained the property 8 years ago but were given a bad deed. A drug dealer took them to court and was awarded the land. Kids Alive was given 8 days to move off the land. This just happened 3 months ago. So they are still in the process of recovering.

One important thing to note about these kids who walked with us…some didn’t own shoes. They walked on gravel and dirt and trash in bare feet. We walked a long way too. And they never complained, they never stopped, they never even flinched. What a sad story that these little kids had grown up never knowing shoes and never expecting anything different.

Our evening consisted of free time, more soccer, and FINDING THE LOST VOLLEYBALL SET! Praise God for AGAIN answering our prayers and providing for us! It was still on the bus (which according to Ben he had checked twice!) and Jon found it when they went running to the bus to put up the open windows…because of the intense RAIN storm that came through. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was pretty heavy rain. It didn’t really cool things off and didn’t really impact the humidity either.

After some group building activities, dinner and team time, it is off to bed again. It isn’t even 10pm and yet we are exhausted and all heading to sleep, gladly. Tomorrow we begin work.

Prayer Requests:

· Pray for rest and recovery

· Pray for our hearts, that they would continue to be opened by what we are seeing.

· Pray for our safety as we embark on our construction project.

· Pray that leadership would be demonstrated and that students would be growing.

· Pray for open doors to share the love of Christ with those who are working beside on the job.

Haiti Blog Saturday morning 6:15am.

Stripped Already?

We haven’t even made it to Haiti yet and already it has begun. Our trip to BWI was smooth as could be. Check-in was a breeze and we even got to see Ben’s parents for a couple of minutes (they live not too far from the airport and stopped by to see us off!). We got into the long security line way ahead of schedule and settled in for a long wait. Then the security officials informed us that there were two other EMPTY security screening points and directed us to them.

As we were waiting in line to go through security, I was approached by a gentleman who was asking about our team t-shirts. I had a chance to share about our trip with him. He asked questions and was very interested in the trip and the purpose and what we were doing. By the time I had to move through the line and up to the checkpoint, he was smiling and wishing us well. He even told me that he would pray for us while we were over there! What a neat beginning to the trip. It also began a theme that I have a feeling is going to continue throughout the week—unexpected things happening in ways that we simply can’t imagine. That brings me to the next stage of our journey…Fort Lauderdale.

We landed on time and easily made our way to collect our luggage. Although it was almost 11pm it didn’t feel like it. I was shocked and a little disoriented when we walked into the completely empty concourse and looked out the windows at the dark sky. (I should have anticipated this as I took several great photos of the sunset from the plane!). Once we had collected our luggage (well, most of it) we caught the shuttle to the commuter terminal so we would be ready for our next flight in the morning. Since it was late, all the food options were closed so we decided it would be a good idea to order pizza. This was the first of several “adventures” we have had while here in the FLL airport.

After calling several pizza places and being told that they would not deliver to the airport, we discovered that most pizza places won’t deliver to the airport because they have been pranked so many times by people ordering and leaving or deciding to get a hotel and skipping out on the pizza. We finally found a papa john’s who was willing to deliver, but as Jon hung up the phone the guy on the other end stealthily quipped “I can’t get out of the car, make sure you answer your phone.” A short while later Jon’s phone buzzed and sure enough up pulled the papa john’s dude. The exchange had the feel of a back alley deal as we quickly whisked the pizzas and sodas into the terminal and the delivery driver sped off. (I found out later from a security guard that there is nothing wrong with ordering pizza to the airport, the pizza places just don’t like doing it because they get stiffed so many times, but don’t tell the team! They like thinking that they somehow got away with subterfuge. 😉 haha.) The pizza was piping hot and excellent and we demolished it in short order; never-mind that it was after midnight by this point! The next few hours were uneventful as we chatted, joked, and hung out in the airport until…

I suddenly realized that I was missing my large personal suitcase! To my horror I realized that I had picked up an extra team suitcase off the belt but had forgotten to get my personal suitcase. We prayed as Brendan, Siah, Quay and I walked back across the airport to the other terminal in hopes of recovering my lost bag…no dice. We checked the baggage belt, no luck. We tried to peer into the locked AirTran luggage office, no luck. We tried calling their service numbers, no luck. We tried to get someone to let us into the office, no luck. Obviously God has already begun the stripping process and we haven’t even left the states yet!

Frustration and exhaustion started to set in as I got back to the team and so I decided to talk a walk around the terminal myself. As I walked and prayed I was struck by an overwhelming sense of peace. It was as if God was saying to me “Don’t worry, I’ve got this” so I decided that I would not worry about my lost baggage and instead would embrace the adventure. (as I write this now—Sunday morning from Haiti—it has been so clear just how in control of this trip that God is!).

The rest of our night passed without significant incident with lots of laughter (Han can fall asleep while walking), push-ups (Siah does them the best), and sleep (well, short stints of closed eyes that didn’t feel restful at all because there was too much going on around us to actually fall asleep!). As the time neared for our departure we decided it would be a good idea to focus our hearts through prayer so we broke into two groups and prayed in the airport terminal. Each group read a little bit from Romans and prayed. Ryan was in my group and read a passage from Romans 8 about the future glory and how our current sufferings pale in comparison to that future glory. As he read I was again overwhelmed with this sense of God telling me “don’t worry, I’ve got this!” By now I’m starting to get the sense that this is going to be a recurring theme.

Time to Load up and Take off

The lady from the ticket counter leaned over and told us it was time to load the plane (slightly late, especially since we hadn’t cleared security yet and we anticipated a long delay). However, we discovered that small planes leaving for Haiti from gate J1 in the commuter terminal of the Fort Lauderdale airport are treated a little differently. We lined up at a locked door and the same ticket lady came by and checked our boarding passes. Then, all 29 of us were escorted right out the door directly onto the tarmac! As we walked the short couple hundred feet to the plane, we realized that there was not going to be any security. It felt a little odd, but semper gumby—always be flexible!

The airplane was a typical commuter prop plane, but if you listened to our team, you would have thought we were getting into a lego plane. “Oh my gosh this plane is tiny!” It was funny as I climbed into the plane having to duck and hunch to make sure I didn’t bang my shoulders on the bulkheads or my head on the ceiling. The flight was short and uneventful, especially because we all slept most of the way! Before we knew it we were on the ground in Haiti…our adventure has really begun!

Friday August 3rd, 2012
Whew! I can’t believe this is finally here! It has been a LONG road to this point. In just a few minutes team members will start arriving at the church and we will load up and begin our journey to Cap-Haitien, Haiti to serve the Lord at an orphanage. But this trip is about so much more than helping some kids in an underdeveloped nation. Let me back up…

Almost 2 years ago I received a brochure in the mail at the church from an organization called LeaderTreks. Usually stuff like that gets a glance and then a quick pitch into the trash. However, this publication grabbed my attention. It claimed to be offer a different type of mission experience. As I skimmed through the brochure I began to smile. Every time I looked at a new page I saw something that I liked. By the end of the 4 page brochure, I was convinced that someone was playing a joke on me…they had taken all the things I typically say about youth ministry and had combined them into a brochure. I don’t usually get excited about opportunities without having some firsthand knowledge or experience with them, but there was just something about this brochure that got me excited, so I decided to call. As I listened and talked I was so encouraged to hear other people talking about ministry the way I have always talked about ministry—challenging teens to step up and lead NOW, not in the future; giving them responsibility and empowering them, rather than discounting them. I left the conversation excited and encouraged.

Now, nearly two years, a wilderness adventure trip, and lots of prayer later we are heading with LeaderTreks to Haiti to serve there for two weeks. This trip has me VERY excited. I am excited because it is with LeaderTreks. I know that they will challenge and stretch me and the youth to grow in leadership. I am excited because it is two weeks. I’ve never been on a two week trip and I’m excited to see the changes that can happen in hearts over that time. I’m excited because this trip scares me. That means I’m going to have to rely on God and I can’t do this trip myself…that is good. I’m excited about this team. God has brought together a really unique group and I can’t wait to see the growth and change in all their hearts. There is no doubt that God has exactly who He wants on this trip. I’m excited because God has been blessing this trip already. He has provided all our needs, especially financially and it has been neat to watch. Almost all of our plans and efforts have not paid off in terms of fund-raising and yet God has provided through other means and that is such an encouragement. I’m excited because things have gotten CRAZY over the last week. Satan is scared and is trying to take our focus off of Him and that means God is moving and Satan recognizes that.

What will we be doing while we are in Haiti? We will be leading a sports camp based VBS ministry and doing some construction. That is officially what we are doing. However, I think a better way to answer that question is to say that we will be growing. We will be serving. We will be learning to rely on God for everything. We will be loving on kids. We will be living outside of our comfort zone. In short…we will be right where God wants us!

This trip is the culmination of a long journey and a lot of prayer. God has been preparing this team for this trip for a lot longer than we realize (our trip leader Lori has even been praying for this team and this trip for 4+ years without knowing who we are!). Thank you for your prayers, your support and your encouragement. Thank you for loving us and challenging us and disciplining us. Thank you for giving us the chance to be used by God. Our prayer is that we will come back from Haiti having been changed and that that change will impact people back here in the states in a major way.

As we embark upon this unknown adventure, I invite you to join with us. There are several ways you can do this. First and foremost, please pray for us constantly. Pray for our safety. Pray for our hearts. Pray for our development as disciples. Pray for those who we get to minister to and for those who minister to us. Pray for the children in Haiti. Pray that Satan would be bound and that God’s Spirit would reign in our hearts. The second way that you can join with us is by reading through the book of Romans. We will be studying the book of Romans while we are down there. We invite you to read along with us (a chapter or two a day) and pray through the book with us. What a neat way to get an insight into God’s heart for our team by following along with what we are studying. Finally, you can join in our journey by serving. We are on this trip because God has laid it on our hearts to serve. Honor our commitment to God by making one yourself. Find ways over the next two weeks to esteem others as greater than yourself. Find ways to put their wants and needs above your own. Find ways to model the love of Christ to them.

We hope to be able to blog while we are in Haiti, so please check back often for updates, prayer requests and if you are really lucky a picture or two.

The team is arriving, it is time to finish up the last few things, load up and hit the road. I will leave you for now with Paul’s words near the end of Romans—our prayer as we embark: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

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