Monday, September 29, 2014

He has the Whole World in His Hands

7:23 p.m., September 23
Bolts of lightning flash across the sky, illuminating the dark night. On my perch at the edge of Justin’s bed I begin to count; one, two… Thunder explodes overhead, the sound waves rolling over the dips and valleys of the mountainous island we call home.
Justin whimpers and dives under his pillow, covering his ears. I sit motionless as I feel the sound waves vibrating through the tile floor. Fighting my own fear at the powerful sights and sounds, I turn my thoughts over to God.
As a child I always thought that thunder was God speaking and recently I looked it up. I found quite a few Bible verses on thunder, some of my favorites being:
Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?Job 40:9
The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. 2 Sam 22:14
God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5
Seeing God’ s power in the storm fills me with awe and a deep reverence for Him. It serves as a good reminder that we serve a powerful God.
My thoughts turn to the previous week, where I had put myself, so to speak, in God’s place. What a failure that turned out to be.
Anoud and Denise and their four children, who live with us, had been heavy on my heart. Phillipians 2:4 says “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”  In other words don’t only look out for your own interests and affairs but also look out for the interest and affairs of others.
As I prayed and asked God how I could help them He reminded me of the words in Ezekiel 16 where it talks about strengthening the hands of the poor. How can I do this I wondered?
In my kitchen, later that morning, I came up with the idea that maybe I could teach Denise how to cook American style food. I talked to her and she was very excited.  A few days later I saw a note online from someone in Port au Prince who was looking for a part time cook. It would just be a week or two each month and on those days only several hours in the afternoon, which would work perfectly for Denise.
I contacted the lady who wrote the note and then set up an interview. At the interview we quickly ran in to some difficulties, as the lady did not speak Creole. I acted as translator however, and the lady said she would be interested in having Denise come for a practice run for a week. I came up with a meal plan, a grocery list, spent hours going over simple recipes with Denise and then translated them into Creole. Then I busied myself trying to control every possible variable.
When I received a message at the end of the week saying it was not going to work out, I was devastated! Here I thought I was doing what God wanted me too! And it had seemed to be going so well too; Denise was catching on very quickly, was learning English words and had even conquered her fear of dogs!  Confused and upset I went to bed and sobbed into my pillow. As I lay crying I was suddenly reminded of the words God had led me to earlier that week.
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2
“But God,” I argued in my mind, “I thought I was supposed to strengthen the hands of the poor, to look out for the interests of others?
The song we had recently sung in church began to play through my mind. “The battle belongs to the Lord…”
Sighing, I realized my mistake. I had done what He said, but I took it too far. I thought the outcome was up to me as well.
More verses flooded my mind. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9.
I laid there, silent; now only an occasional tear trickled down.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 
Comforted, I slowly drifted off to sleep.
The following morning I dreaded telling Denise what the lady had said but she took it in a stride. “Can I still keep learning to cook and practice English she asked?” I nodded. “These skills won’t be wasted,” she continued, “There’s plenty of other people out there who at the right time will need a cook.” I nodded again, dumbly.
Now sitting here quietly in the darkened bedroom watching God’s lightning and hearing His thunder I’m comforted by the fact that He’s in charge, not me. That His thoughts and ways are higher. That the battle belongs to Him.  I need to obey and then leave the outcome in His capable hands.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Day in the Life

Note: Every day is different and unique, but after posting many team journals I thought it would be fun to share what a day in my life looks like. The day I chose to journal was Tuesday, September 16. 

1:34 a.m. 
I stumble out of bed at the sound of Alexander’s cries. Pushing open the glass patio door, I step into his little bedroom adjacent to ours. My little boy is hungry. Lifting up the mosquito net I reach down into his crib and gently take him out. Getting comfortable in an arm chair I nurse him to the sounds of rain drops falling from waving palm branches, roosters crowing, dogs barking and the spicy scent of a wet tropical tree wafting through the screened in window openings. The thermometer in his room reads 23 degrees Celsius. The moisture in the air makes it feel cooler. I shiver. When I lay him down again I give him an extra blanket. 

3:24 a.m. 
“Waa. Waa.” My boy is hungry again. I feed him while cuddling him close and then crawl into bed once again. 

6:00 a.m. 
Ring, ring. The sound of Jason’s cellphone wakes us both up. A friend is wondering if he is awake yet as they have plans for today. As Jason gets up, I savor the few moments of quiet before being bombarded with 3 little boys who are hungry, thirsty and need help getting changed, using the bathroom, etc. 

6:20 a.m. 
I walk into the kitchen to find our houseguest already eating a quick breakfast of cereal. Jason Abrams has been staying with us for the last two weeks to see what life is like as an MAF pilot/family. His flight leaves later this morning so my Jason will be taking him down to the airport.

6:45 a.m. 
The boys say goodbye to their daddy and with a quick kiss for me he’s out the door. Since he’s worked Saturday, today is technically his day off, but with a friend visiting from Florida, he plans to fly up north for some fishing. 

7:00 a.m. 
Jayden eats his favourite breakfast of egg on toast while Justin munches on some cereal. When Jayden is finished he helps his brother, something Justin enjoys immensely! He insists on wearing his hoody as he says he feels cold.

7:00-7:30 a.m 
Jayden gets ready for school and then we spend time together as I am helping him learn to read the Bible.

After prayer time, we hear the honk of the Toyota Patrol that will take him to school.

After a quick hug goodbye I watch as the vehicle disappears down the street.

7:35 a.m. 
Anoud and Denise’s three oldest children are dressed for school. They need to be leaving soon as their school gate closes exactly at 7:45. To combat the cultural problem of people not paying attention to time and arriving whenever, their school has made a rule that if you are not inside the gate by 7:45 you will have to return home. 

7:40 a.m. 
I spend time in prayer. Not beginning the day with my heavenly Father, is setting myself up for failure. I praise Him, confess my sins, thank Him for his blessings, give my worries and concerns over to Him and pray for others. 

8:00 a.m. 
Alexander is awake again and needing some attention.

I get to work feeding him, changing him and then make him comfortable on the playroom floor. Grandma’s handmade blanket comes in handy for this!

Justin, who loves his baby brother, brings him cars and toys. When tummy time is over Alexander spends some time in his exersaucer.

At 3 months he is a little young for it, but being so sturdy and strong I feel he’s ready. An hour later he starts to get sleepy so I lay him back in his crib for a nap. 

9:00 a.m. 
Now that it’s just Justin and I, it’s time to bake some cookies. Jason and Jayden need snacks for school and work, there’s a Bible study at our house Thursday mornings, and Anoud and Denise’s kids love cookies in their lunches too.

9:30 a.m. 
Outside the air is filled with the humming of a generator, banging hammers, and the sounds of workers, sometimes singing, sometimes shouting instructions trying to be heard over the noise. New neighbours are building a home on the lot next door where the previous house had collapsed after the earthquake.

10:00 a.m. 
The cookies are finished, and at the sounds of a marching band outside, I lift Justin into my arms and head out onto the rocky street. Sure enough trumpets sound, drums beat and people chant. From the way they are dressed it seems like some kind of Catholic celebration.

10:03 a.m. 
There’s a knock at the gate. The plumber is here with his apprentice. Yesterday our pump had stopped working due to issues with our empty water reservoir. The landlady had called the plumber, but Jason had in the meantime been able to fix the problem on his own. I call the landlady and explain the situation before sending the plumber and his apprentice back home. I feel bad that there is no work for them as the plumber looks thin and in need of a haircut. The landlady promises to pay him for coming out and is thankful the pump does not require any costly repairs. 

10:07 a.m.
Using my kitchen timer as a guide I do my 6 minute exercise routine. Even though I’m a busy mom, I have learned to incorporate this routine into my day to stay healthy and strong. 

10:15 a.m. 
Denise is back from the market with our weekly supply of fruits and vegetables.

I put Justin down for his nap and then work together with her to cut, scrub and soak them in purified water and a drop of bleach. I juice some of the fruit and vegetables to incorporate a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals into our daily diet.  

10:45 a.m. 
Sweat drips down my back as I tighten the screws that keep our screens against our windows. It’s very important that we can limit the amount of mosquitoes that come inside, especially because of the tropical diseases they carry. 

11:00 a.m. 
Time for cooking class. I am teaching Denise North American style dishes as I recently helped her find an afternoon job cooking for a guesthouse. Today on the menu is lasagna. We make it together and then I write down simple directions. Although she is basically illiterate she is able to sound out the simple Creole words so she knows the sequence of steps she must follow. We practice English together as we work, since the lady managing the guesthouse does not speak Creole.

I feel prompted to look up the verse “Children are a heritage of the Lord.” I find it in Psalm 127: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Throughout the rest of the day I ponder the various concepts found in those verses and how they apply to my life. 

12:00 p.m. 
The lasagna is finished. I plastic wrap the baking dish before putting it in the fridge. With Jason not being back till tomorrow, I decide to make something simple for the kids and I tonight and save the lasagna for tomorrow. 

12:15 p.m. 
Justin is awake. After a simple lunch of Haitian spaghetti, I flip several switches in the kitchen so the water pump will run on the inverter.

City power is rarely on during the day, but if I wait till noon when the sun is the brightest I can run the pump off of the solar panels via the inverter.

In the laundry room, which is attached to Anoud and Denise’s house Justin helps me load the machine.

12:25 p.m. 
I put away the freshly washed fruits and veggies and then together with Justin wash the lunch dishes.

12:30 p.m. 
I hear the honk of the water truck.

I head outside, greet the driver and then ask to check if the truck is full.

I climb up the ladder and sure enough find it full to the brim. Several long fire hoses are rolled out, which then snake around the house to the back where our underground water reservoir is located. A second helper holds the hose down as the trucks's pump gets turned on and water sprays into our reservoir.

I run inside for my bottle of bleach which I then add to the water to kill any bad bacteria. I then pay the driver $2250 Gourdes ($50 USD) for 3000 gallons of water. Depending on how many visitors we have this can last us anywhere between two weeks and one month. 

1:00 p.m. 
Alexander is awake again and I spend time feeding him, playing with him and Justin, and folding laundry.

3:30 p.m. 
Jayden is home from school and excited to tell me all about his day. He then plays a little while on the ipad before transitioning to legos and pirate play-acting with his little brother.

5:30 p.m. 
The sun begins to set as I make a simple supper of Kraft dinner and salad.

The boys love it and Jayden once again helps the slower Justin finish off.

6:00-6:30 p.m. 
One by one the boys all take their bath. I use only a small layer of water, which they all share.

6:30 p.m. 
It’s bedtime for Alexander and Justin.

Once they are settled, I spend the next half an hour doing homework with Jayden.

7:30 p.m. 
It’s Jayden’s bedtime too. After putting him to bed, I decide to splurge by filling the bath with some warm water and washing my hair. 

8:45 p.m. 
Since Jason won’t be back till tomorrow sometime, I decide to go to bed early. I check on the boys. Everyone is fast asleep.

After ending the day talking to my heavenly Father, I fall asleep to the sound of dancing rain on the tin roof and a cool Caribbean breeze blowing in through the screens. Frogs and crickets chirp enjoying the damp coolness of the night.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Thank You Letter from Lemuel Ministries

Dear Jason 

I would like to personally thank you and the group from B.C. for the donated project funds and the work done in the school building to prepare for the start of school. Honestly, as the beginning of this school year was approaching, I did not know or see any way I was going to get the school ready for the children to enter for the year. Your project was a direct answer to prayer. 

Here are the things that your project accomplished: 
• The floors and walls of the school offices are finished. 
• The school offices have doors and windows, as well as chairs. 
• The classrooms have floors, as does the porch outside the classrooms. 
• Each classroom has a freshly painted blackboard attached to the wall. 
• The temporary kindergarten room got a coat of cement on the walls. 
• Tables and chairs for the kindergarten were repaired and painted in beautiful, bright colors. 
• In a moment of immediate need, the school was able to temporarily borrow money from the project to purchase the material for the children’s uniforms. This money was reimbursed through the parents’ purchase of uniforms from the school. 
• Men from the community found temporary employment, which gives them the means they need to put their children in school. 

This week, as we finalized preparations for the new school year, the school children’s parents gathered to clean up the job sites and the school yard. We are so grateful to God for his provision, and we are grateful to you and the team for being a part of what he is doing here on the Plateau. 

May God bless you, 
Manis Dilus

Final Team Journal

Team Journal 10 
By Jacob D. 

August 21 
The final morning in Haiti passed by much too quickly. At around 7:00 a.m. several members of our team headed out with Will to pick up fresh fruit. They came back loaded with mangoes, bananas and watermelon. We quickly cut the fruit up and shortly after were heading to a nearby orphanage with our faithful taxi driver. 

Upon arrival we were surrounded by a swarm of excited children. Within seconds every one of us had a child on our shoulders with more looking up at us with pleading eyes. After seating the children we prepared plates of fruit and began handing them out. The happy look on the children’s faces as they savoured each piece of the fruit made all the effort worth it.  As soon as they were done eating, the children hopped off their seats and ran over to us for more playtime. 

Shorty afterwards it was time to move on to the special needs building just a few steps away from the main orphanage. Inside we could not but feel an overwhelming helplessness and pity for the children confined to their wheelchairs. Here again we prepared plates of fruit for the 27 children. It was heartwarming to see the children respond to us while we were there. 

At 11 o’clock it was time to head to the airport. After waving our final goodbyes to the children, we headed out. It was soon after this that we encountered a very steep hill that our taxi driver had been initially hesitant to descend. After two unsuccessful runs at this hill, we all hopped out and pushed while our driver made a third try to scale the hill. This time we successfully spun over the crest much to our drivers relief. 

On the way to the airport, we met up with Jason to say our final goodbyes to him. The trip back went smoothly, and we arrived home in Chilliwack at 3 a.m. the following morning. 

As a team we can’t thank Jason and Will enough for hosting us in Haiti and making all the arrangements for our stay. We really appreciated the time both of them took to show us around Port-Au-Prince, and all the interesting and informative discussions we had. Everything went so smoothly, and the experience was one that none of us will ever forget. 

I have often heard people argue that helping out in third world countries is pointless, as the people are simply lazy and don’t try to work. I urge anyone with that opinion to see for themselves. The people of Haiti are in no way lazy, but instead are some of the hardiest and happiest people I have ever met. They are stuck in a difficult situation where the living standards are low, and 1% of the population owns 90% of the wealth. 

Most Haitians work full days, from sunup to sundown selling food and wares on the streets, caring for their livestock, or transporting water. They are thankful with the smallest gifts. I don’t think any of us will quickly forget the joy of the people we distributed food to in Anse Rouge. To hear a 74 year old blind Haitian thank us in song while her family surrounded us with warm appreciation was unforgettable. 

Thanks again, Jason and Will, for the opportunity to allow us to see how fortunate we are in North America and for opening our eyes to the needs of others. We will never forget it. 

 Some Pictures at the Orphanage.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Day in the Capital

Team Journal 9 
By Jacob D. 

August 20 
The chatter of team members drifts through the screen as I sit typing on the laptop just inside the door. They are playing Cranium, a game that requires good recall and sharp attention, not something that you would expect from a tired team after a long day in the hot sun! 

The weather today was very typical of any day in the rainy season; a burning sun during the day followed by an hour of heavy rain in the late afternoon. It was our first day experiencing rain here in Haiti and it felt very refreshing after nine days of hot, dry weather. 

Our morning began with a delicious breakfast of fresh pancakes. Shortly after, our faithful taxi driver arrived and drove us 50 minutes through the crowded capital to the outskirts of the city. At the base of bare mountains we found ourselves right in the middle of a refugee camp. This sprawling settlement of tents and temporary shelters covered a large area. Many people had taken up residence in this area after the devastating earthquake in 2010. 

We were here to assist with building a home for a 74 year old Haitian lady. If we finished as planned she could move out of her tent shelter and into her new home by tonight! Since Jason had to fly and Will was busy with her boys, our leaders for today were a Haitian pastor, who spoke English, and a Haitian foreman who had experience in building the prefabricated homes. It didn't take long for our presence to attract other locals who offered to help as well. Under the direction of the foreman, and the help of those in the community we soon had the walls up; the trusses followed, and then it was lunchtime. 

At that point we had been without water for two hours and felt absolutely parched! Thankfully refreshing cool water soon arrived followed by a great meal of rice, beans, chicken and fried plantain.  

After that we “burned” for a while (the Haitian equivalent of “hanging out or chilling out) as we waited for the paint to arrive. 

When the paint did finally arrive we were able to apply the first coat of green paint before our taxi driver came to take us back to Jason and Will's. Before we left we took pictures with the happy owner of the new house who sincerely expressed her thanks. For her, owning her own home was something she could only dream of. She fully expected to live her life out in her tent shelter. It definitely felt satisfying to be able to make such a difference in the life of this lady, and it only took one day!  

By the time we were leaving rain was threatening to muddy the roads. Thankfully we arrived home safely before the rain hit. 

After settling back into the Krul's home we ate a wonderful dinner of lasagna. After dinner, when the rain had cleared, we piled into the back of the truck for a ride to the supermarket. Driving in Haiti is truly an awesome experience! We maneuvered through a maze of motorbikes, broken down vehicles, and people that were constantly crossing the street around us. Vehicles cut in and out of traffic and swerved around vehicles parked on the side of the road. Thankfully, rarely do any of these crazy driving tactics cause any road rage!

At the supermarket we were amazed to see several heavily armed security guards patrolling the parking lot. Inside we were surprised to see goat heads, chicken feet, and goat feet for sale! 

Coming to Haiti has been such an interesting and thought provoking experience. It is definitely something I will never forget! 

 The Day in Pictures 

Driving through the capital.

The refugee camp.

Pastor Dieuson and the woman who received the home.

Working together.

Taking a break in the church.

Group picture.

A tasty delicacy at the local supermarket.