The Adventure Continues – Day 3 in Haiti

2012 Haiti Trip 003 We are in our third day in Haiti now and God continues to teach us new things about this wonderful country and the people who call Haiti home.
Last night we had a delicious Haitian meal of goat stew. The stew was absolutely delicious and the meat was incredibly tender. After dinner we had a team conversation where we debriefed our day. We spent a lot of time talking about global poverty and why aid hasn’t been the solution for most third world countries. We watched a fantastic video from PovertyCure about the failure of aid programs over the decades. If you’d like to watch it, I’ve included the video here:

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the start of a migraine. Anyone who suffers with migraines knows the importance of getting ahead of your migraine. I didn’t. I had no migraine medication with me and on our way to Luly, the city where we were to meet with schools and local leaders, I had to have the van pull over. My migraine got the best of me. I lost last night’s dinner and today’s breakfast on the side of the road. There was an old Haitian woman who happened to be walking by and she felt compelled to stand next to me during this little ordeal. It was so sweet. She couldn’t speak my language, but her eyes were full of compassion. One of the pastors would describe it as the most poignant moment of the trip for him so far. After this little adventure it was back to the van for our ride to Luly, and a little fishing village where Food for the Hungry is trying to work with local fisherman to help them improve their efficiency. You can see some of the yellow Food for the Hungry boats towards the back of this picture. This village located on the edge of the ocean was full of conch shells. World Wide Village has been asked to consider taking this program over from Food for the Hungry.

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From the fishing village we went to a local clinic that WWV helps run. We met a wonderful nurse whose grandmother ran the clinic for a couple decades many years ago. Her husband serves as the doctor. It was here that we heard about a way that international aid can hinder good in a community. This clinic has trouble drawing patients (they charge $5 per patient, plus medication) because American medical teams come once a month and offer free clinics. These clinics often misdiagnose the problems, or don’t have the medication to treat the problem so folks leave with Tylenol and vitamins. In the meantime U.S. trained Haitian doctors, nurses and pharmacists could be helping Haitians. It’s an interesting problem. I was impressed with the work that is being done here. I was also grateful to be able to receive some much needed Excedrin from the clinic.

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We then went to a school that is operated by WWV in Luly. This school has ample space, great teachers, a beautiful facility. When WWV built the school about $140,000 was poured into the project. I am amazed at what $140,000 can build in Haiti. God is using this Christian school to educate over 200 students. There is room for the school to grow to over 400 students. The children loved seeing our team and it was a beautiful day.Unfortunately, my migraine prevented me from getting to interact with anyone at the school. While our team toured the facility I took a nap in the van. By the time they came back the migraine was gone. Team prayer and some great medicine helped bring relief.

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After the school it was off to lunch. Randy Mortensen, the head of World Wide Village likes people from the U.S.A. to see the beauty of Haiti. So, he took us to the Wahoo Bay Resort in Luly. This beautiful resort was mostly empty today, but it is growing in popularity. A hotel room cost just $35 a few years ago. Now it costs about $140 a night to stay in one of the 24 or so rooms. We had a good lunch and it was here that we heard the earthquake stories of our three interpreters, who we have grown to love.

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I listened as they shared with tears in their eyes about what it was like to live through that devastating quake that took the lives of over 300,000 Haitians. They shared about family members who were lost and told me the story of jumping into the rubble to pull body after body out. One of the most interesting things they said was that in the month after the quake, 90% of Haitians turned to God. There was a national period of prayer and fasting that was called for. Churches were full. God was at work. And then, with tears in his eyes, Patrick told me that the people just forgot about God. He said that within a month spiritual lives went back to normal with apathy and some anger towards God. It reminded me of the days after the 9/11 tragedy in our own country. Churches were full in the days that followed. Our nation was unified. And then . . .Our country unified in the loss of 5,000 or so Americans. I can’t picture what it is like to lost 300,000 and see so many homes, business and lives destroyed.

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After lunch we began our drive back to Port au Prince. We had one more stop to make. It was to the original home that World Wide Village built after the 2010 quake. We met a wonderful family who have maintained and improved upon the WWV house. This house was built for $8400. I love the way that WWV builds a home. Haitians do the work, creating jobs for Haitian people. The homeowner pays for part of the home, taking out a mortgage. In the case of this home the homeowner pays $24 a month. This helps improve self-esteem and gives pride in ownership. There is much more that can be said about this. U.S. teams can work alongside of Haitians in constructing the homes, but it is under the direction and authority of the Haitians.

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From here it was back to home base. This meant another ride through the busy streets of Port au Prince, which is unlike driving I have seen anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of people located in a small space with no real traffic lights is an surreal experience. On our drive today we saw a motorcycle run into a a group of students (no one was injured), a motorcycle trying to get through a flooded street see it’s front wheel get caught in a storm drain that was missing a cover (and almost flipping the bike over and passenger almost thrown off), we saw dog run over, and countless close calls. Every day riding these streets is an experience!

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I’ll leave you with an odd picture. We think that this is dried sea cucumber, something that the people of Luly are exporting to China. The people of Haiti are trying to find any way that they can to break the cycle of poverty. I am excited about what the future holds for these wonderful folks.Tomorrow we will be heading to an orphanage where Darrin Geier and I will meet Stanley and Davinsly, two young boys who are being adopted by families at Woodbury Community Church. We will be bringing them some photographs and gifts from their families. Can’t wait to see them.I will post the rest of today’s pictures on my Facebook page before the night is over. Thank you for your prayers!

Great Day Meeting With Pastors

2012 Haiti Trip 008 It has been a good first day for us in Haiti. After what felt like a very short sleep, we awoke at 6:00 to the sound of dogs barking. After a quick and cold shower I took a walk around the property of the home that we are staying in. The home is leased by World Wide Village and serves as their base of operations here in Haiti. There are banana and mango trees on the property and from the rooftop there is a beautiful view of the mountains.

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We had a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast and then set off for our first day of ministry in the town of Williamson. Williamson is a community of about 60,000 Haitians where World Wide Village has a substantial presence. It is in this community where World Wide Village operates a wonderful school that is currently educating over 260 Haitian children ranging from Kindergarten-Ninth Grade. The school has grown by over 100 children this year.

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Such rapid growth has created a need for more supporters to come alongside the work of World Wide Village in this community. More students required hiring more teachers which translates to more that is needed to make ends meet each month. The students at this school are provided with two meals a day. I heard that some of these students come from backgrounds where the rice that they are fed at home is mixed with rocks to make it more substantial. There just wasn’t enough food for some of these children to receive a healthy meal at home. The feeding program provides kids with healthy meals.

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The students at this school have fantastic instructors. One of the things that I appreciated was that World Wide Village has partnered with a local pastor and church to make the school possible. All of the students receive a Christ-based education. WWV also works to ensure that teachers receive ongoing training.

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The pastor of this particular congregation has a big vision for his community. He wants to see the school continue to grow. He would like to open a high school within the next year. The picture on the left is the group of seven pastors from the States with this dear Haitian brother. He is a godly, capable, and faithful servant of the Lord.

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While touring his school, we also took a look at some of the homes next to the school that WWV has helped build. WWV is also working to help create income for the school through a chicken project which would allow the school to raise and sell chickens. This would also provide food for some of the students.On our tour, we met the dear woman on the left. She is 89 years old and lives with a grandson. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, she was living in Port au Prince with her daughter. She was on some concrete steps in her home, walking downstairs. Her daughter was under the steps. The steps collapsed, killing her daughter. This woman has such a sweet demeanor about her, despite all that she had been through.

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After our trip to the school, we visited the House of Hope Orphanage. There are over 400 students at this school, with about 45 true orphans. The rest come to the school for an education. These are not orphans that will be adopted from Haiti. The church associated with this orphanage has an emerging relationship with WWV. This school and orphanage is located about two miles away from the school run by WWV.

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We were immediately greeted by eager children who wanted to spend as much time with us as they could. Their smiles and joy were infectious. A couple little boys grabbed Darrin Geier and my hands and didn’t want to let go.

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While at the orphanage we took a bit of time to listen to our Haitian friends share about their hope for their nation. Randy Mortensen, who runs World Wide Village asked them to share their dreams for the nation in ten years.Themes that emerged were the desire for better education, health care, a government that could be trusted, and infrastructure needs.

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From the orphanage we went to meet with another pastor in town. This young leader receives no support from any outside organization. He runs a concrete company to help makes ends meet for himself and the church he runs. He works with two smaller churches in the mountains as well.The church he pastors sustained damage in the earthquake and meets in Unicef and Samaritan’s Purse tents that have been put together. 250 worshipers gather each Sunday.

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We listened as this pastor shared his dreams for his city. In the next ten years the city is expected to explode in population. He dreams of a church of 5,000 worshipers. God has provided the land for him to build a large church. A foundation has been poured, and they will build as God provides.What became so clear as he spoke was that the greatest need for Haitian pastors is training. He would like to bring together 50 or so Haitian pastors for training once every couple of months for two years. Right now there is only one training that he knows of for his region and that comes only one time per year.

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There are lots of ideas that pop into my mind when we talk about what could be done here. In our church alone, God has provided many who could help with this type of training. A couple of other pastors on the trip have also resonated with the idea of training these pastors.The building on the left is the old church building which was damaged in the hurricane.

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It is impossible to drive through this country and not be struck with the awesome need that is here. Even though Haiti is the country that has more missionaries than any other, it seems like the needs are just so great. World Wide Village has chosen to focus their efforts on a couple of communities. In order to get to those communities we drive past so many more. Each community has need. We passed by the largest tent city in Haiti today. We saw some of the tragic results of promises that were made but not kept by Christian organizations. We saw people who had lost hope. But, we also saw the wonderful work being done by a select few that is making a big difference in the lives of the next generation of Haitians. God is at work in this nation. I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow.I took over 150 pictures today, that I’ll post on my Facebook account later today.

We Made It To Haiti!

012Early this morning, Darrin Geier, Dan Schauer, and I left to travel to the country of Haiti. (Thank you Jim Nygren for driving Darrin and I to the airport at 4 AM!) We joined four other pastors from North Carolina, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota to explore a possible partnership between Woodbury Community Church, World Wide Village, and the people of Haiti.
Those of you from Woodbury Community Church know that God has been doing some unique things in our church as it relates to this tiny island nation. It all began when God placed a burning desire on Sara Lein’s heart to do something to make an impact in the nation of Haiti. The island nation, which was already one of the world’s poorest countries, was ravaged by the devastating earthquake in which an estimated 316,000 people lost their lives, countless children became orphans, over 1,000,000 people became homeless, and over 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed.For the past couple of years Sara and her daughter Breelynn have traveled to Haiti, to work with A New Arrival Orphanage and partner with the school that works with these orphans. They have also worked alongside a number of organizations that exist help bring hope and healing to the people of Haiti. Many of you have seen the beautiful jewelry produced by the women at the Apparent Project, or participated in the Kozefò  5K, which helped benefit some of the educational initiatives that Sara is working with through her school in Haiti.  One of the beautiful things that has come out of Sara’s work is the decision by two families at Woodbury Community Church to adopt sons from A New Arrival Orphanage! You will hear their story in our services on October 28th.You can read about Sara’s work in Haiti here. You can read about the journeys of our two families’ that are adopting from Haiti here and here.This Thursday we will have a chance to meet Stanley and Davensly, the boys that will be a part of our church family sometime in the next year or so! We can’t wait. We will be taking some video of the guys to share with their future families.

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We arrived in Haiti at about 4:30 this afternoon. We were greeted at the airport by our wonderful hosts and taken to the home that we are staying in for the next four nights. After a delicious meal we spent about two hours talking about Haiti, getting to know the other pastors on our team, and sharing why we are here.Tomorrow we will be travelling about an hour north of Port au Prince to visit with a number of pastors. We are going to learn from them. They will share with us about their country, the needs in their nation, the ways in which the Haitian church is trying to address these needs, and practical ways that we can partner with them. One of the things that came through loud and clear tonight was the need for Haitian pastors to be trained. As many as 60% of Haitian pastors only have a 3rd grade education. So, training is a challenge. I’m looking forward to learning from these men tomorrow.I’m hoping to capture some pictures of Haiti’s beauty tomorrow. This is a lush country and beauty abounds everywhere. The people are who immediately capture your heart. They are friendly, smart, have a great sense of humor and I can’t wait to spend more time with them.We are all operating on about 3 hours sleep, so I’m going to sign off for now. I’ll post more tomorrow.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

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A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (10-Pack)
A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God – Kindle Edition

 There is an old axiom that states, Good things come in small packages. I haven’t always believed it. I certainly haven’t believed it when it comes to booklets. When I received a package that contained ten review copies of David Platt’s booklet A Radical Idea I was initially disappointed. I’m not sure that I have ever read a tiny booklet and been overly impressed. So, to say that I was surprised to find myself delighted, challenged and convicted in just 52 short pages is a bit of an understatement.
As he has done in his books Radical and Radical Together, Platt challenges readers to move beyond the complacency and consumerism of the American church and into true discipleship. In his opening pages Platt writes, “God-exalting men and women do not have the time to waste their lives pursuing a Christian spin on the American dream.” He then begins to unpack his vision of what the church could look like if together we pursued radical obedience to Christ’s mission to make disciples; which he repeatedly calls “impacting the world with the Spirit of God for the glory of God.”Platt, who pastors a mega-church in a multi-million dollar facility, challenges American Christians to rethink church. Increasingly uncomfortable with the massive amounts of dollars that western churches throw into buildings and ministry, Platt challenges us to think about how we are unleashing people for ministry that happens apart from the building. Platt has asked his church leaders to ask themselves how they would do church if they didn’t have the luxury of a building. It is clear that much of Platt’s thinking on church has been developed by his trips to parts of the world where being a follower of Jesus is illegal.He writes on page eleven that, “the goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ. The goal is always for all God’s people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ.” He then discusses how Jesus used eleven men, who would have been considered the “wrong people” by many in the modern church, to transform the world for Christ.I like to keep a journal when I read books. One of the phrases that I wrote down while reading this book is, “Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people” (page 12).Modern churches in other parts of the world and certainly the early church have not been built around great communicators, fantastic programs, state of the art facilities and worship. These churches have grown because of a desire for the people of God to gather together no matter the cost, for the glory of God. Platt asks his readers to consider, “What if the church itself – the people of God gathered in one place – is intended to be the attraction, regardless of who is teaching or singing that day? This is enough for our brothers and sisters around the world. But is it enough for us?” (page 18).Platt spends the remainder of the book detailing the need for churches to “make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, and together multiply the Gospel to all peoples” (see page 47).In the church that I pastor we’ve encouraged each of our members to follow the example of Jesus when it comes to discipleship. Jesus had a core group of three men that He discipled in a greater way than anyone else. He spend three years building into the twelve disciples. He had a group of 70 that he poured into at a lesser level. And, He had the multitudes who he poured into at an even lesser level. Platt’s book challenges us to do a similar thing. He encourages each member of the church to be involved in a discipleship journey with those whom God has brought into their life.

I will be giving A Radical Idea to all of the small group leaders, church staff and elders at our church. It’s nice to have a booklet that can easily be read in 30 minutes or less to give to the core leaders of our congregation. A Radical Idea is a great companion to a discipleship program that seeks to “unleash the people of God for the purpose of God.” (Platt’s terminology, not mine — but I sure like it!) I highly recommend this resource.

To read an excerpt of A Radical Idea, follow this link and click the excerpt tab.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Are You a Trader?

BluefishTV.com has some fantastic videos that they are allowing people to download for free right now. I wanted to share three of them with you today.

The first is called “Definition of a Trader.”  Check it out – I think you’ll be inspired:

The second video is called “History of Traders.”

There is a third video that I can’t embed on this page called “Church and the Racetrack.” You can watch it by clicking here.

So, how do you feel after watching these videos? Do you sense God telling you something?