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!