What’s in YOUR hand?

open-handExodus 31:1-6

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. 4 He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. 5 He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!

6 “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his

assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make:

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After God miraculously delivers Israel from Egyptian bondage, He delivers the law to Moses. He then proceeds with a monstrous delivery of instructions to construct the tabernacle and its furniture, Moses receives a welcome announcement that He has already chosen the contractor and assistant! It is in this passage, He sums it up by telling Moses who He chose to execute his instructions.

When we consider the matter from the perspective of Moses, it would likely have been an unreal project download from Jehovah Himself, laden with incredible specifics. As you may recall, Moses’ most recent employer was his father-in-law Jethro, who had commissioned him with sheep in Midian and had been content to shepherd those sheep for somewhere near forty years. Before that, history tells us that Moses lived a rather privileged life as a member of the house of Pharaoh. Perhaps you could say he had a silver spoon in his mouth. It would be easy to imagine that Moses had little to do with the rigors of manual labor.

While I am sure that while the subject matter God was delivering was fascinating, I can imagine his disconnect from the work of it. In fact, I could imagine him thinking to himself that while it all sounded grand, how was it to be accomplished? It certainly couldn’t be me! I possess none of these skills required to build any of these items.

Of course, God ALWAYS has a plan.

He is God, after all.

Immediately after the seemingly mundane details of every item, God tells Moses that He has the persons that will do the work; Oholiab and Bezalel. The passage is interesting and rather matter of fact; almost as if was part of the end of the instructions. It is very much like the legend of an instruction manual that tells you the very tools you will need to do the job. In this case, He chose his men every bit as specifically as the materials, dimensions and design.

It is interesting how the scripture says it. “I have specifically chosen Bezalel, I have filled Him with the Spirit of God…” I love this! He goes on to state that he is a master craftsman, but all indications are that Bezalel didn’t even know that yet! The fact that he was a master craftsman was a direct result of the chosen-ness of God and that He placed the abilities, yet undiscovered, in him because of the SPIRIT OF GOD IN HIM! This is an exceptionally rare statement pre-New Testament. The Spirit was said to be IN people only on rare occasions in the Old Testament (Joseph, Joshua and Daniel).

I do not wish to take the literary record to a place it was never intended but I do want to highlight a certain aspect of this passage. That is, the Divine source of the gifts given to these men for a supremely important task by a Sovereign God. I find it remarkable to consider the recent past lives of these men. After all, these men, like all Israelites, were brick makers until the end. In addition, their lives had declined in slavery where God actually used the exodus to spoil the Egyptians of the silver and gold to fund their project of building the tabernacle. So there is little doubt that either Bezalel or Oholiab had ever done any type of work prior to this assignment for which they were born and specifically outfitted by God Himself! What a beautiful picture of grace!

To be clear, I do not believe for a moment that either of them had an ounce of experience with any of the things (special skills of craftsmanship) that were going to be asked of them. Just as surely as God used a young boy to take down a giant, a normal-looking man to take down Philistines and an unassuming son of a carpenter to change the course of human history; he chose these to fabricate the tabernacle.

So how does this apply to us?

There are times when God chooses us to utilize gifts for things we have no personal knowledge or skills to do His glorious work. The “boxes” aren’t checked and it doesn’t make sense. Why? His glory. He is glorified when our weakness in made perfect in His strength. The whole world can see the love of our Father as He accomplishes His will by His Spirit THROUGH US!

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. [2Co 12:9 NLT]

This belief, that God empowers and gifts us all, is fundamental to our approach in HH4H and short term missions. We have seen this gift come alive numerous times and in numerous ways through our volunteers. Some came without a real passion for missions but made themselves available for God and left with a distinct sense of direction for their life.

Let me share one case briefly.

One lady came to Haiti after having her marriage end. She literally told me that she was coming because she felt she had to, not because she really wanted to. However, she did say that she was ready for things to change in her life.sherri

Upon arrival in Haiti, to say that she was petrified is an understatement. She remarked that if possible, she would have gotten right back on a plane to go back home! She was a bit withdrawn and we knew she was going to be a challenge. We instructed our workers to pay special attention to her. Little did we know God would use a little girl at the orphanage to totally wreck her life; albeit in a good way.

Over the course of the next few days, we saw a metamorphosis that was unrivaled among our volunteers. It reminded us a bit of our own transformation after being introduced to Haiti. By the time she left Haiti, her faith was changed, her depth of compassion had changed and her total outlook on life changed. In fact, her daughters related to us that it spilled over into her everyday life with a renewed vigor and an especially positive outlook on life. Both personally and spiritually, she discovered purpose and was given the power to hope again.

She is returning with us again this year and is easily one of our strongest supporters and advocates of our ministry.

We could tell you about God touching young man in a Sunday morning service and his subsequent trip setting him on a path of spiritual freedom. Or about a lady unlocking the heart of a young man through simply involving him in a coloring project, thus initiating a transformation of a young man we had almost wrote off as impossible. Or a single teacher in from Florida spending her hard-earned money every year to come back and make a difference by teaching crafts, English, speaking to young ladies about real life subjects. Or another young lady who is gathering her own teams to bring them to Haiti to love on kids because her heart has been so touched with compassion. These are just a few. I could go on.

What do these and so many others have in common? They found something in their hands, but only when they stepped out in faith. To David it was a sling, to Moses it was a staff, to many of our volunteers it was a hammer while working on a roof in extreme sun and heat!

The beauty of this is when that special something God has given you can only be discovered when you exercise your faith. While it is yet undiscovered coupled with the fact that your hands have never touched it before just adds to the excitement and anticipation. When it happens, maybe you inspire a boy or girl, man or woman that would have otherwise went a lifetime without ever having been inspired.

One of our groups had a pretty awesome tee shirt with the following saying: I can’t do everything; but I can do everything I can!

That is the spirit of missions.

Let God bring out what He has put in YOUR hands. God knows what He has put in you; it is up to you to stretch out your hands in faith to discover it.

Upcoming Trip, New Guesthouse and Prayer Request

Upcoming Trip

Here we are with only a few days before departing to Haiti for our longest ever trip. I am equally nervous and excited. Nervous because we have 33 people to host for the summer and also for the fact that we have exactly ONE WEEK to prepare our new guesthouse for our first group! Excited because, well, we get to go to Haiti!

I mentioned this being our longest trip ever. We have 3 consecutive weeks of groups. God give me strength! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sharing Haiti with our partners and friends and seeing it impact their hearts as it did mine 4 years ago. But there is so much we want to learn, so much we want to experience and do. I would love to feel what it is like to acclimate to life as a regular Joe living in Haiti, learning to adapt to the rigors without the pressure of guiding groups. Our vision is so big and our passion so strong, I feel I am not giving it enough time for ME to adjust culturally so I can see what escapes me in the short term busyness of ministry. But without our volunteers we could not complete the necessary work for the children. And besides, I know God can take a small gift a multiply it greatly when placed into the hands of a merciful Jesus! I want to be that broken bread and lunch!

Helping Haiti Guesthouse

Our journey has taken a significant new direction this year. With the addition of the Helping Haiti Guesthouse, we have added new responsibilities as well as new opportunities.  Who knows where it will take us, but Michelle and I have felt this was in our plan. WE just didn’t know it would be this soon.

I think of people with an entrepreneurial spirit and I have such incredible admiration. I mean, this country was forged by people just like those who have started things with a vision and passion and little else. They spent all of their money and energy, often fell flat on their face, learned from their mistakes and dusted themselves off and got up and did it all again! God help me to live THAT type of fearless life!

No risk, no reward as they say.

Why have a guesthouse?

The Helping Haiti Guesthouse will enable us to do a variety of things. First off, it will give US a place to stay and make good use of the funds we would normally give to someone else for a place to stay. Second, it gives us a much more intimate and private place for our friends, partners and volunteers to stay instead of giving those funds to someone else. Third, it provides much needed employment to a few Haitians that will help keep things going while we are in the states. Fourth, we will have opportunities to make new connections and broaden our networks and relationships with people that will stay at our house. And lastly, it will give us opportunities to pay back some of the generosity of people like our friend Rebecca that helped us when we needed it during our adoption. We hope to assist and host some of the adopting families during their costly adoption process. In short, THIS house is a MINISTRY!

Renewing our Purpose

Much of our time has been spent this year creating more awareness and procuring new streams of revenue and support for our ministry. As our vision and need grows, so does the requirement to broaden our base of support. Because of this, we haven’t spent much time in Haiti this year. Instead, we have driven thousands of miles and spoke in a couple dozen new churches. Thankfully, we have developed responsible and faithful Haitian staff  that are our “eyes, ears and feet” on the ground watching over our operation when we are not there. We feel this is how a successful mission should work. We do not have a messiah complex thinking WE are the hope for Haiti. God using us as willing and available vessels to share His love and help to give hope to people that will change other Haitians lives through that same love and compassion is the mission of our heart.

Prayer Request

We really need prayer for us and our volunteers as we try to avoid the Chikungunya virus that is currently invading the Caribbean area. It is a mosquito borne virus that gives one 3-5 days of a flu-like set of symptoms.  We have a large construction project to do and many other activities planned. Please pray for our protection as we work and bless the children of Haiti.

I believe God’s hand is upon our work. It has been from the beginning. We are so blessed to have received funding  and volunteers to do extraordinary things. We are only a small organization but God has given us favor and we are so thankful. Please continue to pray for us as we continue this labor of love.

Dèyè mòn, se espwa (Behind the mountain, there is hope)

mountain

Dèyè mòn gen mòn” is the most common saying in Haiti. It means behind the mountain there are mountains. Many translate this to mean behind this difficulty there will be more and life is always full of trials. However, I believe there is something that runs much deeper in it. Let the phrase soak in a bit. I see an absence of hope. I see a cry of a country whose back was born against the wall. It speaks of a constant, never-ending cycle of unfortunate despair that one cannot avoid. It speaks to an absence of hope.

In the bible, mountains nearly always represent an immovable obstacle. A huge mound of rock and dirt that usually serves as a deterrent to one’s path. In order to conquer it, you must either dare to go over or around it; either of which is barely better than returning from whence you came. It is a test of one’s fortitude and strength and will to succeed. Jesus said that if a person had faith only the size of a tiny grain of mustard seed, they could say to the mountain to be removed and cast into the sea, it would be done. Mountains are a problem. They are progress thieves. They are thieves of hope.

Hope is defines as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Imagine the person in prison with NO HOPE of parole. Imagine being hopelessly lost in a place you aren’t familiar with. Imagine being diagnosed with a disease for which there is no known cure. Those moments are real and they exist for people around the world on a daily basis. Being robbed of the opportunity to FEEL expectant for something positive to happen for you is tragic. We know the expectation of a child and how we dream and long for the moment of realization. Unfortunately, there are some places THAT feeling is accompanied by one of dread and fear. “Dèyè mòn gen mòn”.

This is the life is Haiti. Something as simple as anticipating a new life being brought into the world in a country already starving living in abject poverty can be devastating. Yes, they love that child but the dread of knowing if that child will survive and if it’s life may cost the entire family their lives because of the burden of supporting it seems to eclipse the anticipation. So is the way of Haiti.

Our organization works with orphans. Unfortunately the scenario I described is one that contributes to an already difficult problem. Many of the orphans in Haiti are not orphans because of the death of their parents. They are victims of a society that has little opportunity and even less HOPE. There is one child in the orphanage we help support that has fifteen siblings yet he is the only one in an orphanage. Parents often see a ray of hope in letting them be cared for by an orphanage that relies on the charity of organizations like ours. Often, it is merely a slower way to the inevitable- a hopeless life.

Renise is a little girl that is a perfect example of the hopelessness of Haiti. She was found by Mama, our director while walking one day. She had been recently born and was left in some bushes by the road. She was only an infant and the only home she has ever known; the only mother and family she has ever known is Mama and Voice of the Children. I feel if we do not offer her hope, she may never have any. We want her to realize a life where she doesn’t have to contemplate a thing such as was done to her when it comes time for her to have a child.

Hope should be available to everyone. I believe God has refined our roles in Haiti to be facilitators of hope. We are to encourage and create opportunities for hope to grow in the lives of these children. We have a plan for this. The ingredients are unconditional love, the good news of Jesus’ finished work, food and shelter and education and opportunities to discover hidden talents and grow and develop them. Most of these things are taken for granted in the United States because they are our normal path for a young person. But in Haiti, they need our Helping Hands.

Will YOU help us restore hope? Our new mantra is Dèyè mòn, se espwa….that is, behind the mountain there is hope. Help us give them hope.

…We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us… Romans 5:3-5 NLT

Year in Review for Helping Hands 4 Haiti

 

I have to admit at this writing that I have been a wee bit discouraged of late. Transparency in ministry is essential for one’s own personal peace as well as the confidence of those who support it; especially in a work as ours. In this type of work, we make no product and thus have no profit margin to work from. We rely completely on the generosity of others. While our organization is still in its infancy, needs do not wait for our growth; they are already there.

Every day, 42 children at Voice of the Children, need rice, flour, beans, water, shelter, education. The need continues, even if the funds do not. They didn’t ask to be born to a family that cannot afford to keep them in their own home. They didn’t ask to be born in the poorest country in the world. I am certain, given the option, almost all of these parents would have these beautiful children playing in front of their own home. “Western” minded people, cannot absorb this idea; this cultural phenomenon. It is entirely foreign to us. We live in a nation with so many opportunities for children to succeed. While there are many problems with our nation, we do set high value and priority on children as our most precious resource. I do not believe for one moment Haitian parents feel any different. It is just that their culture has other methods to dealing with their family issues. Instead of getting food stamps, welfare or other social programs paid for by taxpayers, they try as long as they can to provide for their families, finally making the difficult but inevitable decision to allow an orphanage to help them allow their child to survive. They have faith that charitable organizations like ours, at least the children eat and go to school.

This is life in Haiti.blog pic

Learning to take off my “western” mindsets to adapt to the cultural learning curve has been so difficult. At times, I have been so frustrated I could scream. But then the compassion of Jesus comes over me and I am washed new with the unconditional love of Jesus. I am so glad that His love comes without any conditions. Developing countries have infrastructure problems that make those of us in a developed society scratch our heads. But Jesus still continues to love whether we are “developed” or not. I have had to fight off being hard and jaded. I have had to constantly remind myself that I need to love Haitians as Jesus loves them and attempt to understand them. A great deal of my current frustration is trying to do that spend most of my time in the U.S

It is easy to forget where we came from and how much we accomplished this year. The constant looming need of 42 children, the difficulty of life as Haitians know it, combined with the ever-present desire to make a difference in Haiti, makes for occasional consternation. Thankfully, Michelle and I have an overwhelming passion for this work and are determined to see it through. God’s continued faithfulness is our constant companion. We have been upon a deadline with a seemingly insurmountable need, and somehow, some way, God touches people’s hearts and the need is met.

Our journey to becoming an organization is an interesting tale. Without diverting too far into the details, we had seriously considered becoming missionaries with 2 different organizations, only to feel that neither were the right thing for us. SO, we moved to incorporate in February and by July we had received our 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Story after beautiful, amazing story continued to inspire us to continue moving forward. We currently have partners from more than 6 states that have supported us and many continue to support us.

In reviewing the accomplishments of the past year, we have spent about 9 weeks in Haiti this year over 6 trips. We have had many volunteers help us doing amazing things. We took 4 groups to Haiti this year and I know our kids loved every one of them. I believe every person had a life-changing experience in Haiti. In those trips, we have managed to rebuild about 75% of the orphanage. We have been able to feed these children every single month since February. We have put clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet. We have purchased school uniforms and paid almost half the fees and tuition costs for school. We cleaned the facility, installed a gutter system to catch rain water for cooking and cleaning dishes. We purchased beds and mattresses for every child in the orphanage. We have set up cost containment systems for the food. We established a database for monitoring the children’s health and growth. We paid the arrears of license fees for the government for legal purposes. We poured concrete throughout the entire facility. We added  two new sleeping quarters. We added a new social worker to the staff to represent the children. We have taken medicine for everyday illnesses. We provided a huge Christmas dinner of goat and all the trimmings (sorry Americans, no turkey or ham here) and EVERY SINGLE CHILD received Christmas gifts (which they had NEVER received before)!

In summary, we have laughed together, cried together, planned and dreamed together. We have organized together. We have shared Christ with them. We have painted their toenails (girls only, of course). We have played marbles and a card game called cow (which every Haitian girl cheats at) and dominos! We have spoke to them about the future, settling their past, how to relate in a godly way to the opposite sex. We have asked them to take pride in their facility and to love and consider each other above themselves. We have ate together, sweated together and most of all…we have loved. Even as I write this I feel the warmth of their love. Yes, we feed them and do a lot of things, but we feel their love. The way they embrace us is an indication that they now know we are not only there for a short time. In this they find hope.

Hope is a rare thing in Haiti among the predominantly poor. There is a saying in Haiti, “Behind the mountain, are mountains”. I interpret this to mean that today is likely the best day you will have, because after this difficulty will be another. Together, we have given a bit of  hope to 42 children. I say together because the “we” in this writing could not be possible without YOU!  Our name (Helping Hands 4 Haiti) was chosen because we have no intentions of “taking over” the orphanage. We want to be hands that help. We want to be facilitators of hope. With God’s help and yours, we continue to press on and do exactly that. With the compassion of Christ compelling us, we forge onward.

We must.

So, many thanks to you for allowing us to represent you. The scripture says in layman’s terms, when you give your gift, you are represented when it reaches those in need. You are actually there in spirit presenting that blessing! (2 Corinthians 9:10) We look forward to partnering with you again in 2014. We have a LOT to accomplish this year. We will be sharing more of that in the coming days. God bless each of you and we at Helping Hands 4 Haiti wish you a very Happy New Year!

Bonye bien ou! Mesi anpil!

Jonathan Carver

Out of Your “Box” Redefined…again

Out of Your "Box" Redefined...again

 

 

 

 

Normally, I blog about my musings of Haiti and such. But today I want to go a different route. While the thought process God took me on today has its genesis in Haiti, it really applies to a larger part of life to me and I suppose to others as well.

Michelle and I went to church at an English-speaking church located in Delmas 75 called, Quisqueya Chapel. We had been attending somewhere else for the past couple years while visiting Haiti, but at the recommendation of a dear friend of ours, we found the Q Chapel and we feel very much at home there.

To get directly to the point, each time we go to Q Chapel, the pastor has an uncanny way of making me completely uncomfortable. Now, mind you, I am not speaking ill of him…I know better. But he has a way of making us do things in the course of worship I don’t want to do and feels incredibly awkward, especially for a visitor.

Today, pastor wanted us to group up in groups of ten or so for prayer time in the midst of worship. Michelle and I looked at each other hoping we would be ignored by those around us, but noooo! Everyone began moving their chairs to include us  in the group as well. So we turned around to participate in this awkward but honorable exercise. He had some specific ideas for what was to be done and I get back to that in a second.

The last time we were at Quisqueya Chapel, he did the SAME thing with the group thing, but for a different exercise. I reluctantly participated in it, even mentioning afterwards to Michelle about how awkward it was, especially as a visitor.

Fast forward back to today. Pastor then proceeds to make it even more awkward (I promise there is a moral and point to this story) by asking one person in the group to begin by giving thanks for 2-3 minutes as the scripture admonishes us to enter His presence with thanksgiving. Pastor prefaced this time with a story that set me at ease somewhat because of its incredible nature.

He tells a story of a young man in their church who attends a local seminary in his freshman year. He related to pastor about the sophomore class travelling to Leogane (city of the epicenter of the earthquake and coincidentally the city that has the largest voodoo temple in Haiti.) to preach the gospel. While in their ministry there, 4 voodoo priests were born again and received Christ as the Savior! But one of them did not until the day after. Interestingly enough, the one priest had tried to do his voodoo work against this small band of men while they were praying but could not. Frustrated he returned to them the next day to ask them about this Jesus and find out why his incantations did not work. He met Jesus Christ that day! Praise God for His awesome delivering power!

Everyone in our small group looked around and I suppose everyone seen me as the tallest or something and all eyes were upon me, so here goes. I began to address Father in thanks for the miracle pastor shared with us. It wasn’t long, all awkwardness was gone and I then realized I was among family of like precious faith.

We proceeded on to a prayer for the people of the Phillipines. Someone else was to lead that part as a Haitian man began to intercede for them. All I could think of is how special it is to hear people of such an impoverished nation as Haiti crying out on behalf of people on the other side of the globe.

Finally, we closed with prayer for the nation of Haiti.  A handsome young Haitian man of around 20 I would say, began to pray. As I heard him I was moved by his earnestness. I couldn’t help but touch hearts with him. I could hear others in the group saying words of affirmation, urging him on as they set their prayers in agreement with him. You see, this prayer was especially important because Monday is a special holiday in Haiti. The Haitian equivalent to the 4th of July of the U.S. is tomorrow. It marks their independence from the French and is quite remarkable as Haiti is the only nation to reclaim their independence as a former slave nation. They defeated the great Napoleon in this effort. The news is speaking of possible riots and many protests of the current government under the Presidency of Michel Martelly. The pastor asked us; no challenged us to pray AND believe for a cool down of this and there be peaceful demonstrations and people speaking of the goodness of our God in these crowds.

While all these things were important and I am in agreement with it 100%, I also learned something about myself. I remember when I was a worship leader and a pastor how often I would push people to a place of discomfort in asking them to step outside “their box” or “comfort zone”. Many people really hated it when I challenged them. For some the difficulty is moving outside their box in a very public setting or crowd, for others like myself, it is more for the intimate settings with people with which I am unfamiliar. I think we have made worship a genre. That is, a predictable style that appeals to us. There is an innumerable amount of people that have left churches or even worse, disengaged, because worship styles affected their preference, all while the aim was to reach the unreached instead those already reached. (sorry for the soapbox, I am done now)

Anyway…

So, I began to think of the scripture in Revelation 3 where Jesus is standing at the door knocking. We all know the story and the beautiful picture of the door without the door knob. I began to ask myself what places I am uncomfortable with Him coming in. This scripture is written to the church, not the “world”. I have some areas of my life that I am afraid to relinquish and trust him completely in. He’s knocking, partly because he desires the fellowship without restraint with me….all of me. But another grace of this passage is without a doubt indicating that fulfillment simply cannot be realized unless we swing open every door, no matter how embarrassing and uncomfortable, and allow his free passage. It is liberating. I also believe every time we open those doors, we grow.

Let’s tear down the walls, open the doors and experience full and free fellowship with Him. Then, we will begin to additionally experience the benefit of seeing walls between each other to come down. Suddenly we will realize we are a family of faith.

Thanks to pastor. Thanks to Jesus for making me uncomfortable; for teaching me a life lesson today.

Immediate Assistance Needed

we need help

Note: HH4H Inc is partnered with Voice of the Children Orphanage in Port au Prince Haiti.

The following is a report of our current state of need with regard to our orphanage in Haiti. Please read and consider with an open mind and heart how God may speak to you about helping us help these children. We are trying to do things the right way.

Our current budget for the orphanage takes into consideration 3 basic divisions for funding of necessities: food, education, orphanage expense.

These 3 categories are funded by and large through the planned monthly sponsorships of the children. These sponsorships are $40 per month ($480 annually). We currently have 12 sponsors for 41 children. The total income to date is approximately $6000.

Food costs us about 650-700 per month or $7800-$8400 annually. We began in February and have continued to tweak the amounts of food as well as conduct portion control measures to be as cost effective as possible. We are very pleased with where we are currently from a cost standpoint.

Educationally, we had been given estimates on the cost of school for the children as Haitian school is not government funded and free. Our initial estimates were grossly incorrect. We were anticipating about $3000 in costs for the children but it is actually $9200. Needless to say, those are unanticipated numbers! Fortunately, we were able to go to the schools (4 different ones) and renegotiate the price successfully. We were able to get the annual costs down to $7360. However, the downside of this is we must pay $3985 UP FRONT (985 for uniforms, 3000 tuition and entrance fees). This will leave us with a semi-manageable balance but at least we can get them into school.

In addition to these costs, upon my visit, we had additional items that were not anticipated. IBSR (Fr. Institut du BienEtre Social et de Recherches), more or less social services, oversees things pertaining to children in Haiti. They deal with adoptions as well as orphanages. Unlike the U.S., this organization has little concern for the children of the nation, but unfortunately, we are forced to deal with them to be legal in the country. Upon partnering with the orphanage, we learned their bi-annual license fees had not been paid in 6 years. There was an arrearage of $1000 owed to IBSR/government. We paid these fees up in July. The result was a follow up inspection that surveyed the facilities, their income support structure, staff list, food supply, overall health and condition of the children. There were only a few points of contention. However, two of the points required fairly immediate responses. One, EVERY child MUST have a bed of their own. We currently have beds for 21 kids. We need 20 more NOW. Also, there is an area of about 35×25 that they require us to concrete as it has only packed earth.

We have estimated the cement work will cost us approximately $800. The beds currently are metal bunk bed frames.  I negotiated a price for 7 triple deck bunk beds for $1000(triple deck beds are a must due to area limitations). That will satisfy IBSR. In addition, we will need 20 new mattresses. We can obtain those for approximately $50 each ($1000).

Why comply with IBSR? First and foremost, we must legally. But secondly, only if we are properly licensed and sanctioned by IBSR can we obtain food assistance from the NGO system that currently exists in Haiti. UNICEF, World Food Program are just a couple of the recognized organizations that distribute food for orphanages with the one caveat; proper sanctioning from the Haitian government, namely IBSR.

In summary, we are in dire need of assistance. Below is a breakdown of our immediate needs:

  • $800 for concrete (labor and materials)
  • $1000 for beds
  • $1000 for mattresses
  • $985 for uniforms
  • $3000 for down payment of school for the year

Total immediate need:$6,785.

Please help us. Any amount of donation is appreciated. Every dime will be appropriated to these immediate needs. Help us lend a “Helping Hand”. If you would more info please contact us.

Changes in Altitude and Attitude

 

thCAW4GMH4

The past few months have like a whirlwind. Upon returning from our month-long stay in Haiti we were full of good intentions and things to accomplish. Then the thing we knew would happen-did happen…the post-Haiti crash. While we are there, the rush of adrenalin and busy-ness keeps your mind so occupied that the wear and tear of being what we call “a block from the sun” causes your brain to eventually get the message to your body saying, “You need to rest”! That, coupled with Michelle getting a bug of some sort on the trip home, caused a significant dent in our good intentions.

Coming home for me was even more challenging because as I have started a business that is run from my home, still raising two kids and being legal guardian for my convalescing grandmother gives little rest to the weary. I know you are probably exhausted just from reading this. In fact, I had to take a nap during this blog myself! Just kidding!

So, all the research we did while in Haiti became slightly hyphenated by life. Thus is this way of the state-side missionary.

I still call us missionaries. We are not there in body full-time but our hearts never leave and our thoughts rarely stray. We just have a very long commute. Seriously, we are so thankful for the good people we have on the ground in Haiti to help us keep things moving in the right direction.

As we began to recuperate, we assessed what our immediate needs were, as an organization to move forward. We were waiting on our website to go live and we needed to have some payment processing things in place on the website to be as user-friendly as possible but we ran into mountain after mountain. So much was hanging on a couple things to fall into place. Sometimes it is so easy to become disoriented and confused about what is the next bite to take out of this elephant sandwich.

Needing a payments solution for the website was a priority for us but discovered until we received our letter of determination from the IRS, we were dead in the water. So the scenario was first the 501c3 papers need to come in, website needs to be live, and payment solutions resolved. Well thankfully that has all happened in the past 2 1/2 weeks. Praise God!

During all that, we have struggled getting a handle on costs at the orphanage. We try to provide a balanced diet while keeping costs as low as possible. People don’t realize what it is like feeding 49 kids EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE MONTH, MONTH AFTER GRUELLING MONTH! Not once did our faith falter in what our assignment was even though re-evaluation of our method and application is a constant requirement.

We have accomplished a great deal in fairly short period of time, I remind myself. We have completely rebuilt the existing facility, discovered our property for relocation, established a good record of database for the children, sent 3 groups through the orphanage and managed to feed and clothe them for 6 months now. Not too shabby.

Last Sunday my altitude was pretty well below sea level but as our pastor preached a very inspiring message, God began to breathe new, fresh oxygen into my soul! I began to see and receive fresh ideas and inspiration. It was like moving from the smog of L.A. to the mountains of Colorado. Then He spoke to me and reminded me of what we did when we had ZERO money and how HE provided EVERY penny! In short, he didn’t remind me of financial things, rather he reminded me of HIS FAITHFULNESS! I resigned myself that day to remember He never promised I would have a bank full of money to do what God asked of me. Therefore, I will take joy in my provision knowing He will not let me down.

That, my friends, is the attitude that created altitude!

Love lesson learned

Day 4 of our trip to Haiti for this 3 week tour. Our first team is incredible! Kate a goofy girl from Michigan transplanted to Florida seems like she shoulda been at every family reunion we ever had! And sweet little Dana; what can I say? I have never seen a person that was quiet but not shy. Man, she is fun and a hard worker and the kids adore her (mine too)! We are blessed to have these two share these first precious moments of our journey as an organization with us. I  can’t think of any better.

Today started off like most Sundays in Haiti for us with a drive up Delmas to Port au Prince Fellowship. We were waiting on the service to begin and lo and behold! Our friends from our trip last September, Moe and Elsa. Moe is Haitian and Elsa is from the Netherlands. It is amazing how God works. Moe is a concrete construction foreman and his work is outstanding. I discovered he is working a job in Leogane that will end in August. Coincidentally (or not), our project on the wall at La Colline will begin in September. I am not jumping to conclusions but you have to admit the chance of meeting was pretty rare…and exciting!

Now onto the matter I really wanted to blog about. Blogs are supposed to be personal and revealing right? Well, this one is. I hope it is therapeutic too. As you already know by now, Michelle and I adopted Kerby and Kerlandy from Haiti 18 months ago. What many do not know is that they have a father and brother still in Haiti. Their mother died several years ago and because the father was trying to take care of his family he lost his factory job at a bottling company.

For a long time now I have to admit while I am very happy he chose to allow us to adopt the children, I have secretly abhorred the idea. What I mean is, I could not fathom the idea of him giving the children to an orphanage even though this is normal to Haitians. Neither could I stand the fact that this man would give his kids away. It stung as I thought about how I felt about him even though I could tell every time I met him, he truly loved the kids. I just didn’t get it.

I tried to put it out of my mind. But then Blondy would call and the kids would talk to their dad. I would literally leave the room. I was so jealous I couldn’t bear to listen in on their conversation and the entire time I was secretly hoping that sooner or later he would fade from their minds.

The idea was getting some traction. Both kids were having great difficulty communicating to him because their Creole was getting worse as their English improved. But they continued hammering me on returning to Haiti.

Finally I succumbed to the pressure. I couldn’t keep going back to Haiti without taking them at some point. So we got the passports and booked the flights. The kids were excited to come back to Haiti. I hoped the whole time that they would see how children in our orphanage would live and would be repulsed by it compared to the life they have in the U.S. I know it’s bad. I am just being honest.

I had such incredible dread of this meeting between the children and their dad. It was awkward before, but now I just wanted it to be over.

Pause. A few weeks ago I was listening to a message from a very good pastor friend of mine who was talking about knowing God as Father. He spoke of God’s love and how the work of love and salvation was truly finished at the cross. He spoke of Father’s love placing all the punishment and wrath righteously due us being finished and over in Jesus. While I am hearing this message God reminded me that the kid’s father must have loved them enormously to allow them to be given away to be raised by someone in another country he barely knows. He doesn’t know for sure if he will ever see them again. But he willing gives his kids to give them a chance at a better life. I should be honoring this man instead of fearing my children’s love for him.

Play. I mulled over this thought for a few weeks prior to leaving. After we got to Haiti, I dreaded it all over again. It would be something to endure and I would move on. Except..except God did something to me. I arrived at the place where they live in Bon Repot and I was overjoyed for them. I was genuinely happy for them to see their family. But their father wasn’t there. Well, I was in a good frame of mind. I wish he was here. The kids said he was gone and didn’t know if he would be back for a long time.

Then they got the call. He was close..really close. As they waited you could see the anticipation build and when he walked through the gate…wow. I don’t know how to describe the joy and happiness in that little yard of a hut. It seemed like they hugged a hundred times and kissed a hundred more. San Ruis (their dad) didn’t stop smiling for an hour. He wanted to know EVERYTHING! Luckily, we had the ipad loaded with pictured of our house, the kids things and Kerby’s garden! I told him how great they were doing in school and my, how proud he was. He actually looked at me and thanked ME and congratulated ME! What an idiot I have been! I was jealous of the same kind of love my heavenly Father showed me in Jesus. I was jealous of his memory and his affection thinking it would somehow diminish mine.

What a lesson I have learned through this. It goes to show you one is never to old to learn a love lesson. I am just glad I learned it with some awesome people. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.