Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Geophagy - Sustaining Life?

I've noticed there was increased traffic yesterday on the news and blogs about Haiti and the infamous mud cakes or cookies. The practice of eating dirt is called geophagy and in some places of the world its culturally accepted. Especially among pregnant women. Unfortunately in Haiti it's done for one main reason and that reason is hunger. You'll see it proliferate the Internet for a week or two at a time as new readers find out and spread the word sharing their own shock and displeasure. Here's an MSNBC article from a while back. The reality is this practice is not new or recent. It's been happening for a long, long time. It happens everyday around the world. Should it? Absolutely not. We as a society need to step out and do more. More long term actions that sustain, teach and empower locals to produce and care for their own people. Caring for the least of these is just one way we can be the hands and feet of Jesus while here on earth and when we do that, it's as if we care for Jesus himself. (Matthew 25:37-40). What a privilege to care for others. Thank God that we're physically well enough and in most cases financially well enough that we can do that. Both here at home and in places like Haiti. Don't wait for someone else to do it. If not you, then who?

I have an exciting day ahead. This afternoon I have an opportunity to share Haiti with the owners of my local Chick Fil A. We're hoping we can come up with some fundraising ideas. I'm sure we can. Please be in prayer.

This evening the team is meeting to plan the fundraising events for the month and finish flight plans as well. This will hopefully be the first get together for the entire group. I'm really looking forward to that as well. It should be a good time of fellowship and making new friends.

Continue to pray about our funding. We're working hard on it, but the timing is tight. Fortunately we serve a God who works on a perfect timeline. Talk to you all soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm Still Here!!

I know, I know. I said I'd probably be writing more with school starting and here I am after a two week absence. I'm terribly sorry. It was exactly the opposite of what I expected. Not that I expected school to be easy - by all means no. But I did expect to be on-line more frequently and although true. I have not been on-line blogging. I've been researching and writing and contributing to discussion boards and so on and so on. All in all it's been a blast and I'm still carrying an "A" in both classes as we enter into week three of five. Thank God!

Haiti is now just 5 weeks away and the excitement is building. The team sits at about 7. We have some folks who have expressed recent interest, so who knows, it could grow a little more. I'm thrilled to be part of this group and their excitement is contagious. We are still in need of plenty of prayer on the finance side. I started fund raising a bit late and now we're in the predicament of having great fund raisers planned but all of them occur after the airline ticket purchase deadline as well as the final payment to New Missions deadline. Anyone interested in a short term loan for a team of six or seven to Haiti? We should be able to pay it off by the end of August and the dividends will be tremendous!! Just send me an email...... : )

On that same subject, today's sermon was part of a series titled "What to do When Life Happens" and although I've enjoyed all the messages, today's was especially personalized. Here's the pre-story: As I mentioned above, we're about two weeks out of our flight booking deadline and payment deadline for New Missions. In total, that's about $6500 dollars for the team. We're all actively collecting and we're all actively praying, but the reality is we're getting close. Today's sermon was about Abraham and the offering of his son Isaac. Pastor told us that as Abraham came up one side of the mountain, God had a ram coming up the other side. God had a plan in that ram. A plan to provide an offering for Abraham in place of Isaac. Abraham did not know that though. Abraham fully intended to follow through with God's command of offering his son. Abraham's faith and trust in God was all that was needed and when he heard "Do not lay a hand on the boy", Abraham looked into the thicket and saw a ram caught by the horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Awesome!

I still don't get it you say........Here's my thought and my encouragement. As we trudge up one side of this mountain worried about funds and paying for the trip, I truly believe God's got a ram (a financial ram) coming up the other side to meet us in our faith and trust. I don't know how, but I believe God wants this team in Haiti come September 6th. Trust and pray with us! If it's in your heart, give a little too! Most importantly, trust and pray. That's what this team is going to do. God Bless and Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good Read

One month and 23 days are what stands between now and our trip to Haiti. We're also continuing to raise funds so to be more clear - one month, 23 days and a fairly large sum of support are what stands between us and the trip. Not to be deterred, we'll push on and I know that whatever God has planned, He will finish.

I'm enthusiastic as our first team get together is this coming Wednesday and it will be a great opportunity to discuss the current fund raising plans as well as any ideas the team may have. I've been sending weekly update emails, but it will be nice to get everyone together in person and share some fellowship and prayer.

The whole family went to the library on Saturday. This is a frequent occurence for my wife and the boys, however I usually don't have the option of going with them because I'm at work. This time I wanted to go because I have two classes starting tomorrow (Monday) and I thought that I might be able to locate some of the textbooks as opposed to purchasing them. I was mistaken and couldn't find a single one. I know the library does not usually carry textbooks, however the books for these classes are more regular literature and not your standard college texts. Nonetheless, I found a couple of other good reads. I've actually finished one and I thought I would share a little bit about it. I had been considering reading it for quite a while so when I came across it in the biography section I figured I'd give it a shot. The other books I picked up are on my bookshelf to the right. Be sure to hit "next" to scroll through the entire shelf if your curious. Back to the book......

The author is Edwidge Danticat. You can click on her name for a link to her info page on Wikipedia. The name of the book is "Brother, I'm Dying" and in short it's the story of her life up through 2004/2005 with a focus on her father and uncle. It's the first book in my life that I've ever finished in two days. I found it to be very eye opening. Ms. Danticat, as you can read on the Wikipedia site, is a highly regarded author and this story, being her own is told with an element of transparancy that I could only wish to reflect in my own writing. It flows and feels very real. Her emotions are apparent and I feel as if I had a glimpse into Haitian history as well as this individual's personal experience. I would highly recommend the book to anyone. It's also a great eye opener for those of us who need a reminder of all that we have in America. Growing up in Haiti or just growing up loving someone in Haiti is not easy.

In closing, I apologize that my posts have been far apart. I'm going to be more active this week as I have many things on the horizon. For example - Monday (2nd Summer Session at school starts) , Tuesday (Missions Team Meeting), Wednesday (Haiti Team Meeting) and much more. I see myself having more to say this week and hopefully some good updates. Keep Haiti and it's beautiful people in your prayers. Merci.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I would guess that Galatians 5:1 was probably a frequently quoted verse in churches across the country this weekend. It says that "It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery." In Galatians, Paul is writing to the churches in Southern Galatia. In this particular passage he is referring to the freedom we receive from Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Through that sacrifice we are free to live unselfishly and free of the bonds of sin. Check it out.

When I reread that verse, the second sentence reminds of something I've read numerous times by many authors. That is that poverty is a form of slavery. Had I not seen it first hand, I may not have understood the comment. When your level of poverty effects your every day survival then you are enslaved to it. It rules you and keeps you from even the basics. The basics such as shelter, food, clean drinking water and sanitation. I know we've all seen it on Feed the Children infomercials and other TV specials, but it's not as real when your sitting on your living room couch with a cold drink and a bag of chips. It is real when you smell it and see it first hand. It's real when walk into a village and the children swarm around you. It's real when you peek into the simple thatched homes to find only a mat and some basic utensils. Most of all it's real when you look into their eyes and see the need. Poverty steals so much from the children of Haiti. It limits their opportunities and in many cases limits their lives.

Poverty has changed the way Haitian people act and react. For example, they are amazingly creative and talented. While there, you'll see normal everyday items ingeniously re-made into helpful tools, utensils or other necessities. They generally don't discard things (at least not in the country) because they are constantly thinking of another way to use and re-use. Not because they are "green" but because they are poor.

When it comes to poverty controlling how they react, I think of a recent blog I've been reading called the Pye's in Haiti. It appears that the worst has happened for this family recently and they've lost a child. It sounds like Jabez was three years old. The reason I mention this blog and family is because of a recent post on their site. They write about mourning the Haitian way. Their point in the writing is that the Haitian people know suffering and through this they mourn differently. The blog says that oftentimes a Haitian woman will have five or more children and rarely sees them all make it to their third birthday. A woman that I had the privilege to meet on our trip last year had 12 children. Can you imagine? That's with no hospitals, vaccines, prenatal or postnatal care for that matter.

The Haitian people are incredibly strong. They are proud and they are very, very hard working. All this and poverty still enslaves them. It's also important to note that Haiti is the first free black nation. Free in 1804 after a slave rebellion that Hollywood is currently trying to recreate on film. Go get em' Danny Glover. If it draws some focus to the modern day needs in Haiti, I'm all for it. We'll have to wait till next year for that one though.

Poverty is out there and it's ugly. It smells bad, it looks bad and saddens me to think of the children who as the least of these face the most suffering as result. I encourage you to think outside of your comfort zone. It may be uncomfortable and it may be bit of a downer, but you know what, starvation is a downer and it's happening as you read. It's happening in Haiti and many other places in our world. If you take away one thing from today's ramble consider giving. Give to the wonderful folks at New Missions. You can sponsor a child for about $30 a month or you can opt to pay for rice which is so desperately needed. Not to mention it's skyrocketed in cost this year.

Only a two months till our trip! Please be in prayer for our finances as we attempt to pay for the different things that are needed (travel, hotel, vaccines and time at the mission). I'm guessing we're going to need about $1200-1500 per person. It's a small team, but we'll join up with others and I know that we can make a difference. We won't change the world, but we'll be able to make a child who may not have smiled or experienced hope that day do exactly that. In some ways they can expereince a short respite from poverty or at least forget about it for a few moments. That's freedom and that's an accomplishment that pays great dividends.

As always, thanks for reading and check back soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Share the Well

Today I have a song on my mind. Thanks again to the Livesay's who are my blogging resource. I've learned more from reading their blog and playing with the cool widgets on their site than anywhere else. Recently, Tara posted a David Crowder song and I thought, you know, there's a couple of songs that mean something to me that I'd like to post.

Today, I thought I'd start with a great tune from Caedmon's Call. If you've not heard them or heard of them, check out their website by clicking here. They have a heart for missions, Mainly in India and this is what the song reflects. I thought, hmmm...with a couple of simple city name changes we can make this a Haiti song for acoustic worship under the mango tree. At the New Missions mission they have morning and evening devotions and worship under this really big mango tree. I'm not so sure what to do with the Je Ra Ji Ra portion though as I'm not 100% sure what it means in Hindi. Anyone out there know? Let me know - I'd sure appreciate it. If it's Jesus, we can work something in with Jezi which is Jesus in Haitian Creole.

Anyway, the lyrics to this song are really great and appeal to ways we can serve or support. It's got a great sound with a cool rhythm. Hope you like it as much I do.

Share the Well - Caedmon's Call

Je Ra Ji Ra, Ji Ra, De Ji Ra, De Ji Ji Ji
Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well my friend
It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well my friend
Je Ra Ji Ra, Ji Ra, De Ji Ra, De Ji Ji Ji
Verse 1
Do you think the water knows
Flowing down the mountain thaw
Finally to find repose
For any soul who cares to draw
Some kindred keepers of this Earth
On their way to join the flow
Are cast aside and left to thirst
Tell me now it is not so
All God's creatures share the water hole
The blessed day the monsoon comes
And in His image we are woven
Every likeness every one
From Kashmir (Jacmel) to Karala (Leogane)
Under every banyan (mango) tree
Mothers for their children cry
With empty jar and bended knee
Je Ra Ji Ra, Ji Ra, De Ji Ra, De Ji Ji Ji
You know I've heard good people say
There's nothing I can do
That's half a world away
Well maybe you've got money
Maybe you've got time
Maybe you've got the Living Well
That ain't ever running dry
Chorus x2
Je Ra Ji Ra, Ji Ra, De Ji Ra, De Ji Ji Ji

from the album Share the Well