Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Sweet Canadian Home!

Hey everyone!

So yes, I am back in North America again! I`ve actually been home for a couple of weeks now, but it was kinda sorta a secret when I came home because it was my dad`s 50th birthday party, and since we couldn`t hide the party from him, we had to surprise him with something! So that was the plan, executed beautifully, minus the part where me and Tori drove by him in the car the morning of the party...why you may ask....Timmy`s.

The past couple of weeks have been so restful for me, which is exactly what I was needing! I`ve been able to sleep in (past 7am...which is amazing!), enjoy the sunshine long into the evening (usually the sun sets around 6 or 6:30pm in Haiti, all year long), catch up with friends and family (haven`t had enough time with all of you yet!), enjoy running on flat, paved ground (hallelujah!), and also had some time to reflect on my year in Haiti a little bit.

The transition back home for this summer has been a little difficult for me. It`s to be expected I guess with reverse culture shock and all of that, but it`s been really hard for me actually to have nothing really to do. In Haiti I was constantly on the go, up at 6am, in meetings by 6:45am, out all day, at meals with the teams, sometimes on the go until 9 or 10 at night...and now here I`m taking a break. I feel a bit lost honestly. I know I need the break and time to take a breather and think through and pray about vision for my life in this next chapter...but I`m just not busy like I was...so it`s been a bit of a change. Lovely, but so weird!

Here`s one thing I`ve been thinking about for the past week or so...some food for thought:) It all started in a conversation at Brad & Melissa`s house (my brother and sister-in-law, for those of you that don`t know them...). I forget how we got onto it, but we talked about how asleep we are (spiritually speaking). Matthew 25 talks about the 10 virgins, 5 with oil in their lamps and 5 without. Now the thing that struck me this time when we were talking about it was how they were all asleep before the call went out that the bridegroom was coming...the wise and the unwise...both. Weird. But it`s not about whether or not they were asleep, what mattered was what they did before they fell asleep...the wise got oil (oil - representing intimacy with Jesus). This is what counts here and now. I don`t want to get lulled to sleep in this present day culture with all of it`s stuff, at least not without first knowing fully in my heart that I am completely in love with Jesus.

This past week I was listening to some good ol Jon Thurlow (Sometimes I can`t believe how good the stuff is that comes out of this guy!), and it was a song I had never heard before, and the words hit me...

The love that You have for Jesus, put it inside of me.
Burn it on my heart like a seal, like a seal.
That in the famines of Your presence, or in the floods of persecution,
or in the comfort of the culture, it`s still real, it`s still real.
I just want a heart that is falling love.

It`s so simple, but I constantly seem to need to go back to this simple truth, and remind myself, that`s it all about Jesus. It`s all about loving Him and being loved by Him...not what I do, not where I am, not how good I am...it`s about love. Pure and simple.

Being home this time around what I`ve noticed a lot is how much culture affects us all. Music, food, social interactions, politics, time management, fashion, media, entertainment...we`ve got it all here! It`s different in every country, but it shapes us, affects us and makes us respond in certain ways, it plays a part in making us who we are. After spending more than a year in Haiti though, there`s parts of my own culture that I`m finding hard to swallow now.

I remember my uncle Clarke sharing this with me once after he had served in Croatia for 3 yrs with his family...how when you come back and go through the whole re-entry thing that you notice more or different things about the culture you integrated into for a time and your own culture. There`s a phase (if I remember correctly) where you are uncomfortable with the new culture (Haiti for me), then you get more comfortable with it, and may even start to like it. Coming home and doing the re-entry thing some people can go through a stage where they may really dislike, even hate, their own culture (North America for me). With time however, people can start to take bits and pieces from each culture, parts they like, parts that fit, parts that are a challenge, parts that are healthy, and make it their own.

Now I wouldn`t go so far as to say that I hate the North American culture, but I`m definitely noticing it more, and noticing it`s effects on me. I`m noticing my tendencies to want things that are easier (why not just throw my clothes in the dryer...it`s faster, why not stop at Timmy`s and pay for a coffee instead of making my own), in style (short shorts just did not happen in Haiti like they seem to here, at least they weren`t supposed to, and I have to admit, I have a weakness for pretty shoes...I never thought the day would come...), and up-to-date with everything in music and media (Confession here - I will never be up-to-date... ever). All these things aren`t bad things...I`ve just had my eyes opened to how these things seem to just rock me to sleep (again, in the spiritual sense). It`s so easy to just fall into life here, to let myself be comfortable...I think that`s why the song I quoted earlier hit me like it did. We often wonder if we would be able to stand in times of persecution, if someone was going to kill me, would I hold true to Jesus. But just as threatening as that is, right beside it stands the comforts of our culture. I remember hearing lots of stories of how people in other countries that we as north americans think of as struggling or being persecuted, they often pray for us, because we`re so comfortable and just think that we don`t need God! We can get through life on our own with our college education, our secure jobs, our retirement savings plans...but are we just getting put to sleep before we get oil (Matt. 25 again).

So ya, those have been some of my thoughts this past week. I`m sure I`ll keep chewing on them some more, but out of it all the one thing that matters is that I have a heart that is in love with Jesus. That this love `that many waters cannot quench` (Song of Songs 8:7) would be in me, and would keep me through the famines of His presence, the floods of persecution, and the comforts of my culture.

I would also like to ask for your continued prayers in this upcoming season. I`m home for the summer, but what lies next is pretty unclear at this point. I have some decisions to make about what is next, whether that is returning to Haiti for another year`s term, or continuing here in Canada with nursing, or if it`s something competely different and unrelated! I`m praying and asking for wisdom and vision for the next part of my journey...

I so love and appreciate each one of you for your support, encouragement and love over these past months of my life! The journey has been full of adventure and I have learned and grown more than I can know I`m sure! Only God knows what lies next, and I just want to be growing more in love with Him, however that looks and turns out. Thanks again everybody!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end'

Greenday lyrics...not the greatest song in the world I'm sure, but this line is suitable for me in this moment. Here's why...

For the past 15 months I have been living here in Haiti. While visiting the Mission of Hope last February and helping out after the earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area, I felt God leading me to move here for a longer period of time, not really knowing at that point how long that would be. So, here I am 15 months later, and still not really sure about what the future looks like! One thing I do know for sure, is that a break is definitely necessary! With that, I'm a comin' home in June! My plans at this point are to take a much needed break, to unwind and reflect on my time here in Haiti, and also to pray and ask for direction for the fall and what the next year or so looks like.

At this point I honestly have no idea what the future looks like for me...the past year has looked nothing like what I would have planned out if I had actually had a "5 year plan", but I wouldn't have traded it for the world! My time here has taught me so much about myself, about what the church is and should be, about Jesus and so much more, and I have grown in ways I never thought I would. I signed up for a year in Haiti, working with teams, playing with kids, loving life, a simple year really, and I got way more out of it than I ever imagined. I have built friendships with both Haitians and North Americans here that I will have for life (I hope they feel the same way!), and I'm sad to be leaving this great place, but I know it's all for a reason, and that the next season is only waiting with more lessons to be learned and truths to be unfolded! The next season might even be back here again, but all I know at this point is that I really want to embrace whatever is in front of me...wherever that may be, doing whatever that may be. I just want to have my hands open, empty and ready in front of me so that I can pick up whatever it is that God is calling me to in this next season.

So, when you think of me...pray for me! Jesus knows my end from my beginning, and knows my heart better than I ever will, so I'm just looking to Him, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Have a Light

So, I've had this song running through my head for the last few days, and it's called I Have a Light, and there's reason for me using it! So here it goes...

This past weekend, me and two of my roommates, Bailey and Courtney, decided to take off for a night. Working with short-term mission groups that come is busy here, leaving us with no days off generally, but this weekend was different! We had a 24 hour window where we could run away, so we did. And it was freaking fantastic! I probably couldn't have imagined up a better time away with these girls, it was so good. On Saturday we left at 9am singing Liberte all the way down the hill (a creole song written by Claudel that means "I am free"). It was great.

First on our list was Boutillier. We can see this place from where we eat our meals everyday, and it is the highest outlook point over the city of Port-au-Prince. It's pretty breathtaking. It was also really cool to pick out different places from above, like the big cemetery, the presidential palace, the hotel we were going to stay at that night, and the airport (that one was pretty obvious!).


Next stop....Baptist Haiti Mission. I have been dreaming of this place my entire time here. Rumour had it that they had soft serve ice cream...in Haiti! We were a little nervous that it would be closed since it was Easter weekend, but nope! I got ice cream! While at the mission too, there was a museum there that shared some history of the island, how the country started and how the Baptist mission started as well. All very interesting. One thing that I was intrigued by was what I learned about Rara's. Now, 1 year ago I got stuck in one of these with a couple of my friends, and we had no idea what it was or what was going on, typical blan. But now I know. So, around Easter you see these groups of people all over the place that have musical instruments with them and a bunch of them wear straw hats and have whistles and stuff. They all dance to the music they play and do different stuff, like whip the group to make a loud crack sound, and sometimes ask for money. But just found out this year that these groups, if voodoo, are celebrating the crowds that demanded Christ to be crucified. That hit me like a ton of bricks. What? Every time we saw a Rara after that, it made me a little tense.

After the Baptist Mission we weren't really sure what to do...but our driver Phillippe had an idea! Fort-Jacques! It didn't even cross our minds before, but we went and checked out an old fort from the slave rebellion in the early 1800's. Our tour guide made me think of the part in Slumdog Millionaire where the kids are tour guides (unofficial) and make a bunch of money off of tourists...that was us! This kid talked really fast in creole, and I'm not that good yet, so I got the basics...the room with all the guns, the prison, etc. We didn't spend too much time there, just enjoyed another breath-taking view of Port-au-Prince and the bay. The fort was set up in a spot where they could see all the ships coming in at the bay (Port-au-Prince) so that they could prepare to fight the French...that's about all I know at this point!


After our full day we spent the night at Karibe Hotel in Port-au-Prince, which was pretty fancy. We felt a little out of place in our pj's at dinner (ya, we're pretty fancy people). But it was so nice to have a quiet night, swim a little, eat dinner till 8, and in bed by 9 pm. Sad, I know!

The next day was a little bit different, and here's my real story. Sorry it took so long to get to this point...I just really wanted to share all the rest! So, it was Easter Sunday morning. At home I feel like it's just kind of a normal Christian holiday, a bunch more people go to church because it's Easter, and it's a good thing to do. It's always such a good day of reflection, and to remember how much Jesus gave and just what He did out of love for us, but this day it hit me a little different. We weren't in church...instead we went to a place called Croix des Bouquets. It's a metal workshop, and we went to be tourists again, but it was odd. There were Rara's all over the village that morning, all of which we avoided by standing in the shops while they passed by. We left there pretty early because I think we were all a little uncomfortable, and just wanted to get home. We stopped at a restaurant on our way home for lunch, and that's when we met Marie. We ordered lunch, and then encountered Marie when we tried to sit down at a table, and she started yelling at us. We chose another table and thought nothing of it. When I took a quick bathroom break, Marie was there at the door with bulging blood-shot eyes and asked me a question over and over in english that I just couldn't understand. I got a little bit nervous so I slipped out into the main room while she kept trying to ask me questions, getting angrier when I didn't understand. We continued to wait for our food and soon Marie settled herself in at a table right next to us, and kept talking to herself, someone she was seeing beside her that wasn't actually there, and/or yelling at us in a language that none of us could understand (it wasn't english or creole). All I really know is that we were all pretty uncomfortable and wanted to get out of there as soon as we could. We could have blamed her focus on us on the fact that we were white, but this felt totally different. Not really knowing what to do, we ate one pizza and decided to have the ladies at the counter give Marie the other pizza, mostly deciding that just because we wanted to get out of there. Once we were back home on campus (it's amazing how relieved I felt to be back home) we relaxed a little bit. We had a new team come shortly after, and then loaded them up to go visit Gwo Papa Poul (Big Daddy Chicken, the local restaurant) for dinner. As soon as we stepped out of the vehicle, there was a man there, looking much like Marie, disheveled and talking to himself/someone invisible beside him. All of this on Easter Sunday...hmm...

Anyways, we debriefed a little bit later that night, and had Vanessa (our director's wife) come down and talk through it with us. The whole reason I wanted to share this story is because of what we talked about with her. All the craziness that went on all day in Haiti, all the voodoo stuff that exists, all the family curses that are put on people when they are children, it all stirs up around Easter. Makes enough sense, to me at least. But what Vanessa basically left us with was that whatever was going on in this lady, she saw something in us...something good, holy, peaceful and she wanted it. She saw Jesus in us. You know how you hear something in church as a kid, but don't really fully understand it? That was me with the whole reality of Christ in me...the Spirit of God in me.

2 Corinthians 2:14 & 15 "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."

Colossians 1:27 "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

I've been thinking about these verses for the last couple of days, and it's been so cool to me just to feel that click inside, where I just understand a little bit more of the reality that Christ is really in me. Lately here in Haiti I've felt so busy and distant from God, and have been kicking myself about not spending enough time in the Word and stuff. Normal life stuff right? But now here, I see that despite all of this, He still is in me. It's not based on my works, it's just simply Him in me. Kinda cool, right? So here's that song that has been in my head since then...

I have a light
and it always shines.
It shines in the day
and it shines in the night.
When the dark days come
and the sun isn't bright,
I will be shining
Cuz I have a light.

Then one other thing that we talked about that night was how seeing stuff like that in Haiti, the side that you don't see everyday, or even after you've been here for a year, can either make you get freaked out, or it can do the opposite, and make you fall more in love with the place. And since Sunday as a house, we've been just talking about how we have fallen more in love with Haiti since Easter. It was weird and kinda freaky, ya, but I feel like we've seen a whole different side of Haiti, a side that maybe isn't so beautiful or inviting, but it has made me love this place more. It has reminded me of the separation that does exist between God and man until we accept Jesus, and has reminded me that I have Jesus in me. I have something to share with these people that they need. Ya these people need food, homes, clean water, education, someone to love them, but more than all of that they need Jesus.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March Madness

Hey guys! So, officially the worst blogger ever (sorry Sara...and grandpa!). But here I am now! Just catching up after a busy month here at MoH.

So, many of you know and follow March Madness back at home. While you were all enjoying some lovely, slightly intense b-ball games, we had our own version of March Madness going on here in Haiti. Since last December we've been calling this past month March Madness, and rightfully so! With college spring breaks happening in the States, we had 140+ people here for a week on campus. It's funny how you work so hard towards something, and then when it's over and done, you miss it. Weird actually. It was seriously such a good month though. Stressful at times yes, but so rewarding and just fun to see it all work out so well. With all of the teams here in the last month, and even before that, we've been working away at a couple of projects here in our community, and have also continued to build relationships and work with the local church here. So much is happening, it's hard to keep track of it all! I'll just update you all on a couple of things going on at MoH right now...here we go.

Leveque - this is a community about a 20-25 min. drive from our campus here. We were given land by the Haitian government to build homes for families displaced after the earthquake last year. Our goal right now is to build 500 homes, and we are well on our way. Currently I believe we have about 35 finished homes and another 30 on their way. Once we have 100 homes ready to live in, we're going to be having a huge celebration to give the homes to the families that will be living in them. Seriously, so exciting! In this place I've made a couple of close friends, including a family of 7 kids (I believe) and their mother that are currently living in a tent. Mia is the one little girl there that I think has stolen my heart, and probably everyone else's too! With her fried hair from malnutrition, to her little buck teeth, I can't resist her! It's the most joyous sound to hear her shrill screeches of excitement when she sees me or Courtney pulling in on a bus with the teams. Gosh, it makes my day every time!

Bercy - this is actually our second campus for MoH - we're working on building the school buildings right now, and hopefully kids in these communities will be able to start next fall...including my friends Fedline and Evalyn (spelling...not so sure!)

MoH - our hospital roof is on, and we're just starting to paint the exterior, moving on to the interior soon hopefully! Also, our new guesthouse, with room for 150 guests (woy!) is on it's way up! The second floor should be finished and the roof poured (I say poured because it's cement) by mid-April hopefully (I don't really know, that's just my guess by looking at it every morning at breakfast. I should probably keep a better handle on these things!).

So ya, that's all the physical changes going on right now. It's so much fun to live day-to-day life here though. Sometimes, and it bit more frequently lately, I lose sight of the whole reason why I am here. I am very much a task focused person, and it bites me in the butt at times. I'm learning to recognize it a bit though, and trying to work on taking the down time, embracing rest and doing it well. The people are a big reason why I'm here in a Haiti, and I'm just so refreshed when I get to see my friends, talk some creole, make someone smile. You know, the good things in life. We just have to take the time to see them and enjoy them.

Equally as exciting for me, we as the North American staff here at MoH, have started reading a book When Helping Hurts, and seriously, it makes me think every time I pick it up! I highly recommend it for anyone anywhere. But anyway, the reason I'm mentioning it is because I've been so challenged lately by it. So often in "missions" - wait no, me, I so often here in Haiti feel like I need to "do" something. I remember my uncle Clarke explaining it as, we think we're human doings, not human beings. It's so true though! I feel this need to always be working, always be thinking ahead, planning, talking to people, emailing, doing whatever task I get my hands on, and I forget to just BE. Psalm 46:10 - we've all heard it, but "be still and know that I am God" - simple really. And this book now is talking about how what we're doing in "missions" needs to be about "people and processes, not projects and products." Ya. Seriously, we're made to live and be in community with each other, to walk alongside each other, in our weaknesses, in our human frailty, and just simply live life. Of course always working to be better, to right things that are wrong, to bring darkness to light, but together. Not one trying to fix another one's weaknesses, but walking together in brokenness to make it all right. That's the reminder I'm coming out of this past month with. Yes, here at MoH a lot is happening. Buildings are going up, change is happening, tons of people are coming in and out of this place, but we're working so hard to not lose sight of what this is all about and what it is all for. It's not just humanitarian, it's about a Man. It's about making Jesus known in this nation, about glorifying Him, and bringing people into right relationship with Him...that's why it's all good! So ya, people and processes people - that's what we as the church need to be about!

Just in wrapping up, if you guys could keep Haiti in your prayers again, it would be much appreciated! As you all know, politics has taken its toll on Haiti, and tomorrow may or may not be another one of those times. The preliminary results for the last election (between Martelly and Mdm Manigat) are to be announced tomorrow, and prayers for peace, safety and justice would be great! There's always issues of corruption in the election process, and with Aristide back in town, who knows what they could be planning! So, please when you think of it, pray for Haiti. Pray for light and truth to win here. Thanks guys!

Oh, also, I'll have to start carrying my camera around with me again! I seem to leave it behind all the time, so I have no pictures to share all the daily happenings...eek!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eat the Frog

I found a new hero this week. Her name is Dory, and she is freaking fantastic. Seriously, I wish you all could meet her. She's even from my home town - straight up Fort Erie! Yeah! Anyway...I'm getting a little carried away, but let me just share a little more about her, and then you'll understand, if only in part.

Dory is 85. Everyone in her community of friends was asking her why she was coming to Haiti, and asked her what she would even do here...because really, what is an 85 year old woman going to do to help someone in Haiti? Well, for starters, she has made more Haitian children smile than I think I have in all of my time here. They LOVE her! She plays tag with them, she sings "He's got the whole world in His hands" and inserts each of their names in the song, even if she can't pronounce their names (that's where I or the translators come in!), she sits on a chair and entertains them for hours, she holds children that can't even hold their heads up for a 3 hour long Haitian church service, and she does it all with joy inexpressible. I seriously want to be like her when I'm 85. Heck, I want to be like her now! We've had many people asking her what her "secret" is, and I don't know that she has one, but we did get this out of her...

"Eat the frog." What?! "Eat the frog. Just eat it. Whatever that is for you...going to visit someone that is sick, or writing in your journal. Whatever it is, eat it. Just suck it up, get it done first thing, and then the rest of your day will be good." Words from the wise, seriously. I'm a procrastinator...through and through. I can claim that God made me that way, but that shouldn't be an excuse. But, those are words of wisdom from Dory today, for me and maybe for all of you. Eat the frog. Whatever it is in your day, in your life, eat it. Just get it done, do it well and to the best of your ability, and then the rest of the day will be that much better. I'm going to try...

Well, I wish I had a picture of this lady to post here, even amongst the masses of children, but we'll have to try to get one soon. I know we have a dance party scheduled for tonight, and she plans to come and is even bringing her moves...I cannot wait! So, maybe I'll have some pictures to post by tomorrow...but until then, eat the frog, and love life to the fullest! We're here to live life, and to live it abundantly, to rejoice in the Lord always, and to glorify Him with all we are. I got a taste of what that could look like through Dory, and heck, I want it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Year Later...

Wow...an entire year already gone...it's all a blur. A part of me can't believe it, and another part of me thinks that it's been 3 years.

Right now here we have a large Canadian team, the same team that I used to come with every January to be part of the medical team. It was really cool because I actually had the chance to share my story of how God has brought me to where I am, and since then I've been reflecting a lot about just how crazy it is that I am here, now. I think it's been a dream in my heart for like 8 years to be here, and it wasn't through my own means in any way that I ended up here. A couple of us girls here were talking in our house the other night, and one of the girls pointed out how God knew the desire of each of our hearts to be here in this country, and how He was faithful and brought us here. I've been mulling over this for the past couple days now, and its so true, that it is completely by His goodness and faithfulness that I am where I am today. It doesn't look a thing like how I thought it would, or even how I thought it should look, but it's beautiful...and more perfect than I could have imagined it. I guess its just refreshing to remember and think on His faithfulness, and just the intimacy He has with us in that He knows our hearts, and is so tender towards us in that He sees each of our individual hearts, and loves us and just piles up good things on us...its beyond me. But it draws my heart closer to Him, and I think that's why He does it. In the end of it all, its about my heart loving Him and leaning on Him...and this is just part of that journey. Beautiful. How does He do it?

So, now for an update on the past month! I got back to Haiti from Christmas vacation on January 3rd, and hit the ground running! We've had teams non-stop, some glitches along the way (when does that ever not happen?), and just changes everywhere and anywhere. I think that's been the hardest part for me, just all of the changes...people, buildings, plans...everything really. It was a lot to think about and imagine before coming back, but as we walk day by day, it's really not so bad. I am loving the girls I'm living with, and to see the growth that is happening here at the mission never ceases to amaze me. I thought it was all over after last March-June season...but no...there's more to come! It's just crazy good.

January 12th was the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, and I really didn't know what to expect. I know that some expected a day of mourning and repentance, but the entire day took us by surprise. They had a church service here at the mission from 6 am - 12 pm (which is quite normal here), but the entire place was alive! The people were worshiping and praising the whole time, and just giving thanks for the past year. These people never cease to amaze me...resilient is the word that I've heard used over and over again here, and its so true.

With the dry season back and the one year anniversary passing, I've been having flash backs from stuff over the last year...walking down the hill remembering walking down for a shift at the "hospital" at the high school building, remembering patients faces, stories and missing them, remembering when we lived in the Village of Hope, and all the teams that have come and gone. Its definitely blurry! But again, I'm so thankful to have been able to live and serve here in the last year, and look forward to what the coming year holds.

The most exciting thing that I have seen this past week has to be Angelie walking! Praise the Lamb! Seriously, this girl gives me so much joy...I can't really express it. She is the same girl that came to us last May in the clinic, that had been abandoned. She has had a number of physical difficulties to work through...but she's well on her way! Here's a quick clip for you all!


video

So I guess that's my summary for the last month. Thanks for reading again, and for being interested in my life here...I love to hear from you all and couldn't be doing this without you! Also, as you think of it, please continue to pray for grace and wisdom as I live and work here, and also just for time management so I get the sweet Jesus time that I need each day. Thanks again!

Lindsay Joy