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Reflections from Haiti (Day 5)

May 23rd, 2010 Comments off

The fifth day we finished the house that we were working on since Day 3.  It was a bit more hot but not as bad as Monday.  The work day wasn’t too eventful as we buckled down and worked to finish the site.  That didn’t stop us from ministering to the people though!  If I recall correctly, the fifth day we had a lot more visitors coming by because helicopters were flying into the area and dropping off supplies, so a lot of the villagers were walking along the road.  More of our team mates went out this day than any other day I think, and we sang songs with them and played games, and shared Bible stories.

On one occasion I went out to take some pictures and talk to the kids as they were racing against each other and some of our team mates.  Once I got out there, I was asked to race, and so in spirit of cooperation I ran the race.  Little did I know that the boots I was wear pretty much makes it impossible to run in, and while all the kids were going to the finish line, I lost my balance and tumbled over and fell…  Pretty embarrassing, but I was surprised that even though the kids were laughing at me, they were helping me to get all the dust off of me.  It was a laughable moment, and took some pictures with the winner (who is incredibly fast).  His name is Pierre.

After we finished the house, we took a group picture with the home owner and all the Haitian’s that were working with us and a prayer.  I think that while God blessed us with great team unity, it also included the Haitian’s who were paid to work alongside with us.  Our team never excluded them during breaks, took care of them to make sure they drank water too.  They even bought us fresh coconuts the first working day.  So as we prayed we stood in a circle and held hands and prayed.  After we prayed, we all hugged and thanked each other for their hard work and dedication.

Not much happened when we got back to the house, but later that night, one of the team members heard some kind of  worship service going on next door to our compound and wasn’t sure if it was a voodoo related.  So some of us went to check it out, and confirmed that it was a voodoo service.  I don’t think they sacrificed any people or anything like that, but it was disturbing to see the service going on about 100 feet from our house.  We decided to bring out our travel guitar and have our nightly worship outside where we could sing praises to God, and pray over the situation.  Later, one of the cook’s daughters revealed to us that one of her friends was actually murdered earlier that very same day because of some voodoo ritual/followers.  That’s just one of the things people (not necessarily Christians) are up against in Haiti, and like I said before, voodoo teaches and instills fear into lives of its followers, because if they don’t do something, a bad curse will be placed on them.  Christians on the other hand give hope in Jesus Christ and He gives salvation and grace to those who repent and believe in Him.

I think seeing this voodoo worship gathering helped me realize that when doing God’s work, we are bound to see and experience opposition, because  there is ONE person who will do anything to stop the work of the Holy Spirit, and if we aren’t seeing that opposition or persecution in a sense, then maybe something is very wrong.  I can only imagine why Paul would count the sufferings for Christ sake pure joy.  Maybe it’s because he knows that the sufferings are what confirms the work he is doing is being strongly opposed by the one who does NOT want God’s Kingdom to advance…  I hope this speaks to your heart, because as Christians, we will NEVER have it easy, and the moment we get to comfortable in our life, the harder it will be to follow and answer God’s calling and direction.  May we all seek suffering not for the sake of suffering, but knowing what we are doing is really God’s will in our life.

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 5) – ON HOLD

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

Hi everyone…I’m pretty exhuasted from everything that’s been going on, so I’ll post it up as soon as I can.  City to City Praise night tomorrow “All or Nothing” at CGBC!  Come worship with us at 7pm! =)

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 4)

May 20th, 2010 Comments off

God answered all of our team members prayers on the forth day because the weather the day before was making the working conditions extremely difficult.  The forth day weather was a lot cooler and more overcast, so we were able to get a lot more work done and be more efficient.  We still had to take regular breaks to keep from being dehydrated.  It actually rained overnight, so all the water we filled with debris came back.  We rode a tap-tap, which is like a truck converted into a taxi, and we sit on benches in the back.  The road to the house we were working on was almost impassable, because of the rain water basically converted the road into a river.  We decided to just push through and luckily we didn’t get stuck in the water.

The second day I went out with a couple team members to play and hang out with a group of kids, and then we shared with them the Creole tract, and went through the tract with them.  It was so neat to hear all these kids from 5-14ish reading the Bible verses in unison from the tract.  It may have been their first time every hear about the Gospel, and the thing about the Gospel is it holds power in itself, and we only need to be obedient and just tell the Gospel to those we meet.  I think there were 14 or 15 kids there that actually professed their faith and prayed the salvations prayer.  So praise God that we will see those kids in Heaven.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have Bible’s in Creole, but we told them to go to the local church that we were partnering with to clean up and demo the house we were at.  We continued to sing songs with them, and praised God right at the site.

Just before lunch, a little kid came up to me and I swear he looked so much like my sponsor child in Mozambique (his name is Bebito Pepa).  I took a picture with him, and he just sort of stuck around me during lunch and afterwards he picked up a shovel and started helping….it was soooo cute.  His name was Luis Alberto and I couldn’t catch his last name so I say his last name is Bebito =)

During a break in the afternoon, I was talking to a Haitian person, and all of a sudden he was asking me why did I come to Haiti, and I said basically that I wanted to help Haiti because it is in so much need.  And he seemed confused and asked “but why Haiti?”  I was caught off guard by his question, because I didn’t really realize that I could have gone anywhere else in the world to help those in need, so what made Haiti the place to go???  I responded to him that I follow where ever God calls me to go, and  felt called to come here to Haiti.  My answer seemed to satisfy me, but it didn’t dawn on me that he WASN’T a Haitian worker with our team like I thought he was (because his English was mediocre).  I don’t know if this man knows God personally, but I hope my answers and testimony of being there helped give him hope in God.

We quit work at about 2:30, but we got a lot of the debris cleaned up and moved.  there was still some rebars to cut and take down but we didn’t have the proper tools to do any of that, so there wasn’t much we else we could do.  I had ONE yellow disaster relief shirt for the ENTIRE week….so I had to hand wash it every day after we worked.

I can’t remember any encouraging sharing’s during dinner or our team debriefing, I forgot to bring my journal back home with me today.  I do remember that we sung worship songs again in the kitchen with the travel guitar.  It was a great time of worship.

Sorry my post is a little short today, since I didn’t have my journal with me, I didn’t remember anything else for the day.  Enjoy the pictures though, and if there are any important updates for day four I will edit this post!

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 3)

May 19th, 2010 Comments off

So the third day was a the first day our team started the actual work we were sent for.  After breakfast and a group devotion with all the Disaster Relief teams and Haitian workers, we got into our car and drove about 50 minutes away to a rural village to the site we were working at.  It was a somewhat small house that had collapsed and some of the walls and ceiling were still intact.  There was still a lot of debris and bricks all over to be cleaned up by our team.  There was a lot of stagnant water just in front of the house so there were a lot of mosquitoes buzzing around.  I had already been bitten quite a number of times from inside the house we were staying at, and the bites were a nuisance while I was working.  They told us to move all the debris to cover the water to get rid of the mosquitoes, and I wore long sleeve to protect myself from being bitten even more.  We started to get to work and not 15 minutes into working all of us were sweating so much and fatigued.  I think that day was THE hardest (not the worst) day of my life.  I don’t think any of the team members expected how hard the working conditions were.  It was about low 90’s and even though it was overcast, the rays seemed to shoot right through and burn us if we didn’t have adequate sun block.  It was also very humid so the sweat felt really uncomfortable.  On top of that, we were doing some labor intensive work.  I think about 30 minutes into working I had already taken off my long sleeve and every 15 minutes we were all taking water breaks not to dehydrate and overheat ourselves.

From the moment we started working, we drew in a crowd of observers (mostly kids), and we would take the time to talk to them and share with them a tract in Creole that the NAMB had printed out.  We had an interpreter who would help us communicate with curious audience, and sometimes they would even pick up a shovel or rake and start helping.

For lunch, all of us had to bring our own snacks and protein like bars to sustain us until dinner.  We little  water pouches that were provided by DR, which was nice because it was refreshingly cold.  We continued to work and clean up the ruble and made great progress.  We quite early because we were going to visit an orphanage nearby, but because our team leader wasn’t feeling too well we decided not to go.

On the drive back to the house everyone was so wiped out we barely talked or said anything.  When we got back everyone cleaned up and got ready for dinner.  Usually during dinners the IC (like the managers for all the work being done through DR) people would open up the time for all the teams to share some encouraging news about the day.  Monday was the most encouraging news that heard during that week.  Dennis, one of the IC people shared about the history of Haiti and compared it to the US.  US and Haiti are very similar countries in that they were both colonies of a country, and both declared independence around the same time.  In fact, Haiti was exporting MORE resources back to France than the original 13 colonies combined.  So why is it that US is one of the richest countries in the world, and Haiti the poorest in the western hemisphere?  Dennis attributed that US built the country on Biblical principles, and Haiti (even though many deny and it is considered a Catholic country) actually made a 200 year pact with the Devil through this ceremonial ritual that basically pushed Haiti into voodoo- ism, which instills fear into its followers otherwise a curse would be placed on them.  After 200 years passed (2004), the now former Haitian president was going to renew that pact, but for some reason that DIDN’T happen.  Dennis also explained that Pastor LeBlanc, who heads CMBH, has a HUGE vision for Haiti, that 1.5 million people would be saved ( I forgot the time frame that he said, but I think it all started in 2003), and they felt that this earthquake really jump started a revival in Haiti.  These people are so open and willing to change their views of God because everything was literally shaken up in their lives.  Nothing seemed as it was, and Christians are able to give them that solid hope in Jesus Christ.  Not to place any importance in numbers, but about 85 new churches started since the earthquake, and there have been 85,000+ professions of faith since then too.  Whether or not they are true conversions I don’t know, but the fact is something is stirring in Haiti, and I believe it is the Holy Spirit!

Another amazing story that I heard was up on the mountain side, there used to be a part of it that looked like an “X”, but after the earthquake, that “X” shifted into a cross.  I think that’s God’s way of reclaiming Haiti.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a gigantic cross up on the mountain side as a daily reminder that God is HERE, and He dwells within His people who are the church.

Just a side note, when our team was called to Haiti, we were told that we might have to move the Buckets of Hope buckets.  The update on that is, our team never got to see those buckets, which would have been really cool.  Last I heard they have several shipping containers that contained close to 150,000 buckets awaiting to be released by customs.  SBC will move all of those buckets to a secure warehouse in which they will distribute the buckets through the local churches to not cause any riots.  I was really praying to get to see those buckets, because my church put together 60 buckets, and it would have been really cool to be in Haiti seeing those buckets in the hands of Haitian people.  God said ‘no’ and had me do other important work that needed to be done =)

That’s pretty much all for this day….until tomorrow!

Reflections from Haiti (Day 2)

May 18th, 2010 Comments off

During the second day, being a Sunday, all the teams that were at the compound visited different Haitian churches.  So after breakfast, we all got into our van and drove about 40 minutes into downtown Port-au-Prince to the church that we were visiting.  As we were driving there, our interpreter was explaining to us that there are 2.5-3 million people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the death count so far since the earthquake was at around 250,000, not including people who might still be buried underneath ruble still.  Right now there are about 1.5 million people are living out on the streets because they are too traumatized to go back into their homes.  Later on, we heard a report that it is estimated about 1.3 million of those people can safely live in their homes but they will chose not to and sleep in tents right outside their homes on concrete ruble.  The interpreter also gave us insight as to why practically all of Haiti uses concrete to build, and it is because it is the only thing that can stand up to hurricanes (which they get more of every year than major earthquakes), and to use wood would be very expensive because it is a very scarce commodity.

 When we got to the church, I could hear praise songs joyfully being sung with such enthusiasm and emotion from outside the building.  There were probably close to 100 people inside, dancing, clapping, and raising their hands while singing, and never stopped when a bunch of guys with yellow shirts came in.  They led us to sit in the front, where they continued to sing praises until the pastor came and gave us some encouragement and thanked our team for coming to Haiti to help them out.  They asked each one of us to say a few words, and when I went up I wanted to encourage them with a verse from Hebrews 10:24-25, but somehow with the translation I ended up only saying part of the verse. 

After each of the members spoke, one of our team mates requested to share a short message on the spot, and he spoke on Hebrews 12:26-29 which talks about God will shake the Heavens and the earth once again, and only things that are “unshakable” will remain, which poses us with a question what are we holding onto in this life???

Apparently, this was the FIRST time the congregation met in their own church building SINCE the earthquake, because the building collapsed and the ruble and debris kept them from meeting there.  All of it was cleared out and ready to open the church with a blue tarp over as a make-shift temporary roof, and I think another SBC Disaster Relief team JUST finished cleaning the site up the day before.

After the church service, we visited the Presidential Palace.  As soon as we got out of the car, some kids came up to us asking for a dollar.  Again, all I could do was say no and smile.  I was so surprised that this one little kid saw my name tag and was able to read my name, and was saying “Nick”.  I asked him what his name was, but I don’t think I was saying it right because he wasn’t responding.  We took a few pictures of the palace, and headed over to a cathedral that was also damaged from the earthquake.  There again, kids came up to us asking for food and money, and we couldn’t give them anything.  After taking more pictures of the cathedral, we went back to our “base”.  We didn’t have much to do afterwards, I think most of us napped because still jet lagged, and not used to waking up so early.

After dinner, I was invited by one of my team mates to the kitchen where he introduced me to our interpreter for the week, and 2 of the cooks daughters.  It was so crazy because we had a spontaneous worship night right there in the kitchen.  It was really cool to be singing common songs that all of us knew with a little travel guitar.

Every night, we would have a team debriefing where we would talk about the day, what was good, what could we have done better, and any concerns/issues that came up.  Then we would have a devotion led by one of the team mates.  I think another thing that God blessed us with was really great team cohesion.  From the moment we met at LAX/Fort Lauderdale, to when we all departed from the airport we just clicked with each other and worked well with each other.  There weren’t ANY conflicts with our team members, and we always were encouraging each other and building each other up.

So for my thoughts and reflections of the day, I think this was THE day that really hit me and things just started becoming so surreal for me.  The first day, I saw Haiti for all of 20 minutes from the airport to the house, and after that I was locked up in that compound for our own “safety”, so there’s only so much you can see and experience in 20 minutes.  But the second day, we drove MUCH longer periods of time, and actually got out of the car to interact with people and such.  I saw sooooooo many houses completely collapsed and destroyed, tent cities EVERYWHERE, ruble, ruble, and more ruble, more and more trash and you could tell when you were getting close to a trash pile because of the smell, and practically the entire city was out on the streets.  The fact hit me that this truly was a disaster and I have NEVER in my life experienced anything to this magnitude and I don’t know how I would even react in a situation like this.  Again, I keep thinking what if this were to happen in Los Angeles, or even San Jose, both being on a major fault line.  I realized that it would take YEARS for Haiti to recover from this event, and the week that I was there would only contribute to a fraction of the help needed.  I remember as we were driving back to the compound, I became overwhelmed by these thoughts and emotions and began to tear up.  I remember asking God to give me the strength to go through this week and help me to understand His BIG picture of the work He is doing in Haiti.  And boy did I hear some amazing BIG stories that I will share with you in later posts =)

Another thing that was kind of hard for me to get used to was NOT being able to give people any food, water or money, especially people I know are in need.  I realize that the safety of the team is important and causing a riot would be really dangerous, but it just kills me inside NOT being able to help those in need which is the reason why I wanted to go to Haiti in the first place.  Again, this goes with God’s BIG picture.

Anyways, that is day 2 of Haiti….still LOTS more to tell, tomorrow is the start of the actual work we were there for =)

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