No Drama, Just Trauma

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This was a run of the mill wound infection.  This little guy could not walk well as his entire ankle was swollen due to infection.

I have a confession.  There is so much I do not tell you.  My mundane everyday details of life can send people away worried and distressed.  So, I try to keep it light.  I love what we do and at this point my everyday life FEELS a lot like yours does.  I am not blown away by the trash, or the poverty.  I understand our power and water system and cold showers are no big deal.  We have bugs so big my son kills them with his air-soft gun and it is ALL fine.  We catch viruses with scary names and we are honestly used to chronic diarrhea.  Sometimes though, when sharing just everyday things, I hear shock and worry in responses and then I am always surprised, even embarrassed.  I don’t want to shock and scare my friends.  I want you to know and love Haiti, not fear her.  This is what has led to my not sharing ALL that we face.   It is not your fault, or mine I suppose, I am just figuring out how to best communicate with you all.

This is not the best scenario, for 2 reasons.  It is isolating for us and it keeps our battles away from the people most able to encourage, pray and support us though them.  I keep hearing that you want to know more, and that the details have purpose and help with perspective.   So, I am going out on a limb to give you some details, in one small area of the battle.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Tell me what you think.

Last week, our friend Jeff was in a moto (motorcycle taxi) accident. He was thrown off the motto into rebar which sliced into his leg.  He went to the hospital and then came to us because he needed help with bandaging.  I knew he had been to the hospital so I expected this to be straight forward.  I was floored when I removed his gauze to reveal a 9 inch gash through to muscle, closed by only 5 stitches.  5 STICHES!!!  The stitches were under pressure and looked about to pop with one inch holes between the stitches. His muscle was clearly visible.  I stayed calm and swallowed my desire to run away and hide. I told him I would be glad to help with his bandage changes.  I changed his bandages, added antibiotic ointment and told him I needed to see him in 2 days.  The next day I sent a picture of the wound to my nurse friend here in Haiti.  She informed me that she had a team of Dr.’s coming in 2 days and they could see him.  To summarize, they added 9 stitches to close it, somewhat, and I dress it everyday.  It is looking great, and I am feeling quite relieved.  While typing this story, another moto driver arrived who had just fallen off his moto and now has road rash on his shoulder, hip and elbow.  I got him cleaned up and will see him again soon to follow up.

The culture here responds vastly different to death, they have to, as they deal with it almost daily.  They do not process like westerners do and accidents on the road are not covered by clean white sheets to protect the deceased.  I have seen things that, if I let them, could destroy my heart.   Because of this is am extra concerned for moto drivers.  I care that they wear their helmets, which few do.  I have talked to counselors to unpack some of what I have seen as it haunted me for a bit.   I have taken people to hospitals for everything you can think of knowing that the care they will receive may do nothing, or could even harm them.  We do not always have any other options.  I have tried to deal with conditions myself that are intimidating.  I have listened to babies breathing, dressed burns, administered pain meds, dressed infected wounds, treated for parasites, diagnosed and treated fungal infections.  I have also been alerted too late and had a Haitian friend die of an asthma attack.  It is intense, and if I had another option, I would use it.  Sometimes I am the best option available to a person, even if it is just because I might fund their seeing a medical professional.

This is the stuff that is difficult for me, my cold shower at night is a downright delight.  It is hard to process that in an emergency I could be life flighted to the US, but that for Haitians, medical care is terrifyingly inadequate and even dangerous.  I feel guilt for my privilege even while doing all I can to help.  The guilt is always present like a deep sigh and sadness.  There is no back up plan.  What is really scary is that for some of my friends here, we are the plan.  To be ultra transparent, this is financially difficult as well.  We have personally paid for hospital visit after hospital visit.  The most recent case is an older man who was laying in his tiny home, dying, because of prostate problems.  After $300 in hospital visits, he is doing so much better.  He is one of about 20 injured or sick people that we have paid hospital fees for so they could be seen.  When we were traveling around the US with our family, budget in hand, raising the funds so we could work here, we did not factor in a monthly medical budget to give away.  WE SHOULD HAVE!    I battle fear for my family and also for our friends.  I memorize and repeat Bible verses like, “For God has not given me a spirit of fear but of peace, love and self discipline.”  God gives me peace that passes any understanding and in that place of HIS reassurance, we keep moving forward.

So, there it is.  Truth one in what could be a series.  This is just an example of the kind of honest sharing I am alluding of.  I hate the idea of being all dramatic, so sometimes I avoid sharing reality.  It feels dramatic, but it is actually just traumatic and true.

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Djersie after her surgery to remove a tumor on her ovary.  This was the first time we asked for financial help dealing with a medical emergency and you guys paid for her whole treatment!

Now, I cannot leave these thoughts down in a dark pit.  My sunny disposition does not allow for dwelling in pits.  I have to redeem this reading by sharing with you the amazing people on the other side of this heartbreak and care.  Jeff, Moto accident 1, is a part of Family Social and the neighborhood guys call him “deportè”, then laugh hysterically.  When he asks for Kris, “Tolboss”, he breaks into huge smile.  He is a funny guy and his mama adores him.  He is making his way to Chilè soon with hope he will find work.  Michèl, an older gentleman with prostate problems, softly kisses our cheeks when we meet.  He works caring for the livestock of others.  It doesn’t pay much but he is always at work finding places for the animals to graze.  SonSon and his girlfriend, Moto accident 2, remind me of teenagers from our past as youth pastors.  He looks at me suspiciously as I bandaged his wounds.  I think he is deciding if we can be trusted and if he would ever let us in to his life.  I could go on and on and on about the wonderful faces and spirits we encounter everyday.  Djersie, Simone, Jodlyn, Anderson, Lukner, and on and on and on.  What a wonderful light they are to us and how much we love living in relationship with them.  I would never choose money or ease over these faces and lives.

Thanks for listening and let me know if this is something you enjoyed and would want more of.  God bless you dear friends!  If you go to the Dr. this week, whisper a prayer of thanks.  You are so very blessed.

****If caring for the medical needs of our community is something you would like to help us with, please reach out.  We are running low on some bandaging supplies and I can let you know specifically what you could send.  Our greatest need is dollars to pay for medical care in emergencies.  If it is on your heart to help with a one time gift towards this, please let us know.****

Kris

Kris loving on little Naïka

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Who Am I?

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This is Marjorie and this is not about her specifically.  It’s about all of us.  I made up the character of the woman in the poem based on many different stories I have heard and many different woman I have known here.  

Who am I:   a poem by Rachael Coleman

Blessed to be a combination of my parents heart and faith. My mama’s inflection and my daddies’ affection.  My mother’s writing, my father’s conversation.  I am full of their influence, recognized or not.  I have her laugh and her need to be needed.  I have his passion.  Their minds, hearts, conversations shaping my thoughts, attitudes and desires.  

I am also where I have been and what I have seen.  These experiences, conscious and subconscious, frame what I see and how I feel.  My childhood was easy and my belly was full.  My education was guaranteed and support unwavering.  I was respected, cherished and cared for, now I feel secure, strong and sure.

I am a weird mix of who they are and what I have seen and how I see and experience the divine.  On Christ the solid Rock I stand, but my ground is rarely sinking.  God redeemed and worked and molded and divided and I know I am His.  I rest in His grace and I trust in His purpose.

I see things as only I can.  No-one else has my exact experience with my family, life or God to frame their view.  My view is mine alone.  My choices flow steadily from this view.  It shapes how I see me, others and God.  

But what If I were her?

Who is she?

Her Papa’s chin and her Manmi’s eyes.  Blessed to be the combination of their quiet strength, determination and faith.  Her father’s passion, or so she hears.  She has her mama’s joy, expressed in rolls of laughter with her friends.  She understands loyalty and her mother’s strength both intimidates and inspires her.  

She is a combination of her family and her experiences.  She helplessly watched her Daddy die when she was 6.  She cried, but not for long, they had to survive.  Since she was 3 she’s been carrying water everyday starting at dawn, so at 6 she is strong and capable, confident in what her body can do.  School is a dream and she pretends she is sitting in class when she has time to play.   Life deals blow, after blow and her tired mom can’t feed her anymore.  She has been hungry before but now she is scared.  “Another family,” her mom says, “can give you what I can’t.”  She dies a little inside as she leaves her home and in her new place her capable body is put to the test.  Laundry, watch the baby, make the meals, clean the floors, and “here’s some food,” now do some more.  She is on her own now.  She has to be strong.  One step, then the next and suddenly she is 24.  

She has been hungry, abused, under valued and discarded.  But she is strong, capable and determined.  She is a beautiful mix of what she has seen and how she sees and experiences the divine.  When she was little she prayed and God has stayed very near.  On Christ the solid rock she stands and she can truly say she has nothing else to stand on.  God has been companion, comfort, family, and rest.  She has to trust Him, without Him she is lost. God redeemed and worked and molded and divided and she knows she is His.  She rests in His grace and she trusts in His purpose.

She sees things as only she can.  No-one else has her exact experience with family, life or God to frame their view.  Her view is hers alone.  Her choices flow steadily from this view.  It shapes how she sees herself, others and God.

Who are you?

Can you assume to understand our choices and what motivates our souls?  Do you understand our perspective or see where our brokenness lies?  Even our victories and defeats can only be truly understood by God.  But you can try and so can I.  

Let’s approach each other, humbly.  We have so much to learn about what shapes the soul and causes a fire to burn.  Help us to be kind, God, even when we can’t comprehend.  Every person we connect to, has a history too complicated to understand.

Thanks for taking a minute to wax philosophical with me.  I wrote this as I was pondering my desire to approach my Haitian brothers and sisters (and all people really), with grace and love.  I realize this applies to ALL of us but sometimes crossing the divide between her experience and mine is extra tough.  I want to approach her humbly and assume nothing about why she struggles where she does, anymore than she could really understand why I struggle where I do.  Who am I to say, “Well, If I were in his/her shoes, I would never!”, or even assume to be able to understand enough to judge?   If I will ever be able to connect and serve my Haitian friends well, then I have to let go of having all the answers.  I need to be honest and humble.  God understands my brokenness and the brokenness of others too, it is not my job to figure that out.  I can just love and that is what I aim to do.

We always have so many of our life experiences in common.  as they are human experiences.   So grateful for the common ground of love and grace given freely by Jesus to anchor our relationships and remind us we are not so different after all.  I’m just gonna love.

Broken people, needing God and each other.  Life is better when we #konbittogether.

Just something I have been mulling over.  Hope it challenges you as much as it is challenging me.

Deep anchored truth, foundations, 3000 emails and 2 hurricanes

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Last nights sky

How do you test a foundation?  I am not a builder.  I have no idea what actually goes into foundation building, specs, amount of concrete, depth needed.  I know you dig down, further than seems necessary, and you place concrete, a thick slab that shores up and protects the house from destruction.  I wonder though if they can be tested?  How do you know if you went deep enough, if the right mixture of concrete was used?  Did we come to what we know about foundations through trial and error?  In some way I am sure we did.  When houses we thought were safe, fell away, engineers put their minds to make making it safer, going deeper, doing math (bleh) and figuring out what is needed.    The only real test, in my simple mind, is an attack on that foundation.  Then you know.  Well, it held or it didn’t.

The last 9 months have been a testing of my foundation as a person.  Read what Matthew said about our foundation, Matthew 7:24-27  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

In this passage it is clear that CHRIST himself is the solid rock foundation our lives are to be built on.  What a relief because if I had to dig deep enough or make sure I put enough rebar in the right places spiritually, I would fail for sure.   I love reading the word and I desperately seek to obey Him but I fail at times to remember whose I am and I fail to lean into Him the way I should, in prayer.  I am not God and the solid rock of my faith is not based on my performance.  ***Sometimes my ability to carry on feels based on coffee consumption, but I digress.***  CHRIST is the solid rock and that foundation does not fail.  He is an anchor that holds when the winds are trying to carry us away.  Hebrews 6:19  “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” 

Praise!

If I could paint a picture for you of what my life has felt like the last 9 months it would be of a house stripped to its foundation over and over again.  Wall up, wall down, structure in place, structure destroyed, like a tornado swirling over my life, roof pieces and security flying away from reach.  In my mind’s eye though, I see a foundation that stands.  Steady, un-moving, while my life continues in chaos that feels beyond my control, my foundation is steady.  My anchor holds.

I had a chance this week to finish going through emails that have been piling up.  Over 3,000 to be precise.  It was an annoying task that caused my computer and phone to glitch and freeze.  Some emails were deleted, some kept so I can apologize and respond, but every 100 emails or so, something would glitch (probably Haiti internet) and 30 of the emails and sometimes more would return.  In this aggravating process I was wondering when this spiraled out of control.  It was easy to find the culprit.  I stayed pretty on top of email correspondence until October 4, 2016.  When hurricane Matthew hit.  While our belongings were safe my life was launched into a season of spinning that has just ceased.  We went from Hurricane recovery, to KONBIT launch, to an unexpected house move, and through 8 teams.  Here we sit staring down hurricane Irma with a pit in out stomach, as we prepare our house and try to prepare for a response after.  It appears Irma will be off the northern coast but can we agree we DO NOT want this lady hitting anyone???  It is difficult to know what we can do to get ready as we have no idea how much damage will be done, if any.  We try anyway.

Can I tell you that I worry the house is lifting up again in my life like a tornado has hurled it into chaos.  I am standing, in the center of my home, arms lifted, on a rock that does not move.   I am anchored in His truth that the most wonderful place to be is in God’s will.  Here we are positioned to love and serve on the other side of whatever this storm brings.  God is not moved by what throws my life into chaos and HE is my anchor.  I am not moved…because HE IS NOT MOVED.

So as we prepare.  I feel his presence reminding me that while everything around me moves and shifts, feels unsure, my foundation is deep, has been tested, and it holds every time.

Take a listen to the song below and remember that you are not held steady by your worth, accomplishment, skills, or  anything else.  When all is striped away, we stand, on the Christ the solid rock.

The Extra Mile

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View on my run 1 morning

Matthew 5:41  “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”

When the Bible was written the people of Israel were living under Roman rule.  During that time it was not only law, but required that if a soldier was walking on a road and needed/wanted help he could require you to carry his pack and walk with him one mile.  In this passage Jesus is referencing this law when he says, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” Jesus was such renegade and taught so many upside down principles.  The last will be first and such.  The heart of Jesus in this passage puts a fire in my belly.  I want to be an extra mile walker.  With my family, my friends, my calling.  Evidently many of you do as well!

I got the sweetest email this week.  It was from a precious couple who have supported us since day 1.  They have given faithfully every month.  They have prayed, read our updates, and been quietly, prayerfully, faithfully in our corner.  In their email this week they hated to inform us that because of their recent retirement they could no longer financially support our ministry.  They mentioned in the note that they understand this must be difficult for us to hear but that they will always support us in prayer and will take any opportunity near them to participate in fundraisers on our behalf.  Their email meant so much to me.  I completely understand that circumstances change for people and I expect that people will leave our giving team and God will bring others.  It was in their loving note that my heart was ministered.  They took the time to love us as people.  They knew we would notice and they wanted more than anything to be sure that our hearts were not discouraged.  What beautiful people. They didn’t have to be so considerate, but they were.  They really didn’t have to, but they did.  It was an extra mile after they have walked many for and with us.

This past month the 5 of us set out to spend some time in the states.  Family, like always, went overboard making our trip a success for us and the kids.  This was important trip home for all of us.  Kris and I were truly exhausted and needed rest.  Real deep soul rest.  The kids needed it too.  We set up this trip to meet the needs of our champion kids who were in need of different things as well.  I prayed specifically for each of my children that God would direct the trip this summer to minister to them.   In the midst of this praying God planted in me this idea of a trip for our family that was really just about our children.  Anna would head to Phoenix to be with friends.  The kind of friends that fill your soul and simultaneously make your snarf soda out of your nose.  Levi wanted nothing more than to camp with his Dad and grandpa.  He wanted to be one of the guys and really settle into that place with some family.  Lydia and I were going to stay put here in Haiti to save money, but when my mama heard this she offered to pay our way home.  So Lydia left Haiti for the 1st time in 18 months and we went East to see my sister and parents.  My family truly never stops going the extra mile to serve us while we serve here.  My mom drove 51.5 hours over the three weeks to shuttle Lydia and I around and get us back to our flight.  51.5 hours!!!  She didn’t have to but she did.  My sister spent most days creating moments for Lydia to enjoy her cousins.  She and Wes, My brother in law, took her to the pool and many other things so I could rest.  My dad and Sue paid for counseling to help me address some anxiety and my processing of life in general here.  Side note: Please pray for your missionaries mental health.  I had no idea what an issue this is for virtually all missionaries until we moved here.  They paid for me to see a counselor and then arranged my days so that nearly everyday with them I could run 3 miles and spend time in prayer and writing.  They didn’t have to but they did.

Kris’ parents arranged their summer to minster to Levi and Kris. They set up fishing, camping, shooting, 4 wheeling, laser tag and other things to love on Levi.  Kris was able to sleep in most days and give his body a MUCH NEEDED break.  They didn’t have to but they did.  The extra miles folks, seriously.

Finally, Here is our ode to the non-blood related family who carried our packs a LONG WAY.

When this whole trip was just a glimmer of an idea in my spirit I sent a message to dear friends in AZ to see if this was even feasible.  Anna would need a ton of extra mile walking for this to happen so I started with a question.  “If by some chance I could get Anna out to AZ for church camp could you and your family host her for a few days before camp and a week after?”  The response still brings me to tears.  My friends said, “Yes, only if you let us pay for camp!”  I am not joking when I say the tears are coming so hard now I can hardly see to type.  They welcomed my tired baby with open arms and hands full of Starbucks.  They did the airport runs, took her to Starbucks, bought her donuts, brought her to stores so she could walk around unsupervised with friends like a normal teen, took her for mani/pedis, and on her last night with them they ran her to Subway late at night because they realized she hadn’t eaten her favorite food yet.  Anna came home so light and saying, how she hadn’t realized how much she needed that.  I cannot even articulate the extra miles they walked and what it meant to this mama.  I am currently ugly crying and blubbering because writing it all overwhelms my heart.  They really didn’t have to but they did!  This family walked so many extra miles that I worried it would weigh them down, but they never let on if it did.

When it came to Lydia, I really wanted her to be with her closest cousin, Emme.  They have been tight since they were babies and they have given up so much time together.

My sister and family has recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to GA and were living with my sister’s in-laws while they bought a home near Atlanta.  So, to be clear they were staying with my brother-in-law’s parents.  So, let me see, that makes them my…nothing.  We are just not related.  That made no difference to them, nor has it ever, as they welcomed Lydia, I and my mama into their home so that we could be together with my sis for a week.  They bought food, cooked, cleaned and lived in a general state of overwhelm as my sisters family of 5 grew to 8.  They opened up their lives and home as if it was the most natural thing in the world.   Can we all agree it was not the natural choice?  They walked the extra mile, over and over again.  They arranged for me to speaks at a friends church one evening and I was a bit of a nervous wreck.  Kris does most of the speaking and here I was exhausted, depleted and given an hour service.  I was so grateful to be able to share but I was nervous at the same.  I spent days preparing and after it was done I truly had no idea if I had strung even one coherent thought together.  We got back to the house and my sister’s Father-in law squeezed me around the shoulders, kissed my head, and told me what a great job I had done.  The tender kindness of that moment…and the tears are back.  He didn’t have to, but he did.   They didn’t have to, but they did.

I cannot contain the overwhelming gratitude I feel.   So many extra miles walked and by so many people.  Many of you have been walking these miles with us since this journey began and I just want you to know that it has never gone unnoticed.  From a friends and family discount at Columbia clothing store, to the school supplies being sent in for our kids.  From 84 shares of my curriculum need post on Facebook, to the English major teaching my child to write.  From the limes squeezed nightly for limeade, to the supplies from our Amazon wish list.   We can feel the lighter load and we can sense your companionship.  You extra mile walkers are the reason we keep moving forward.  God never intended any of us to walk alone and you have never let us walk alone.

I have never cried so much writing a blog.  Good grief.

We are back in Haiti and back to work.  We are back to gate opening, hand holding, feeding, praying with and loving the beautiful people God has called us to.  We are full of God’s love because you poured it into us.  God gently restored our tired souls as we walked.  The Body of Christ spoke life into us and we are energized to continue in this work.  We say it all the time, but you have to know that your presence in our ministry is critical.  Thanks for going the extra mile friends.  Thank you monthly givers for quietly, faithfully standing in our corner. Every goat path we walk, every tiny body we hold and every hope restored is done while you hold us.

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It is like this.

May God’s richest blessing overflow in your hearts and restore your soul as you have been used by God to restore ours.

Ephesians 1:23   “And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”

The Gate

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Lydia, the worlds strongest 7-year-old.

The Gate, our gate.  It is a rather obnoxious red and it causes a hernia every time it is opened because it weighs a ton.  We open and close it a trillion times everyday.  It begins every morning around 7, sometimes earlier and ends at sundown or a bit before.  The familiar sound of a rock tapping to let us know someone outside needs to see us.  Sometimes it is Sherlande, Lydia’s playmate.  Her mom works all day 6 days a week so Sherlande, at 7 years old, entertains herself until she just can’t stand it one more minute and she taps.  Now listen folks, tapping DOES NOT STOP until the gate is answered so we run, and sometimes I desperately yell on the way there, “I’m coming!!!”.  Always perfectly civilly, I promise (fingers crossed).  Sometimes Lydia can play and sometimes she cannot but everyday, a few times a day…she taps.  It’s Etienne many times a week, coming because she is hungry.  It is my neighbor who wonders if I could keep all my glass jars so she can have them to sell homemade peanut butter in.  We are up to 10 so she will be tapping soon to pick them up.  It is Apredye coming to pick up or drop off Jessie’s Moto that he has borrowed and sometimes it is Jessie.   It is Soucitha because her daughter is sick and it is Apredye because his niece died and he is humbly asking for help paying to move her body and prep her for burial.  Many times people don’t tap and they just yell, “tolbos!”  to which Kris responds, “yea, yea!”  It is Ludens or Sadak who so bad want to work with KONBIT that they stop by many times a week to remind us of their desire and willing hearts.  The taps keep coming.  Some days many every hour.  We are a small organization without the very common gate guard so the opening of the gate is done by us.  I minister by that gate many times every day.  Prayer happens at the gate.  Conversations about the future of 2 bright young men happen by our gate.  I receive requests for medicines, prayer, jobs, food, candy.  A precious gaggle of children have been known to stop after school to see if they can say hi to our youngest.  We give from what we have at that gate.  As I was praying about sharing this gate blessing/curse today, I was reminded of a gate in the Bible.  The gate beautiful.  Check this out.

Acts 3:1-6  “Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.  Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

After this Peter reached out to help him up and the man was healed.  As he was praising God and celebrating, the town went crazy because everyone knew this guy and knew he was crippled.

I have always loved this passage not because I feel motivated to pray for healing everywhere but because Peter and John were obedient with what they had.  The man asked for money and they said look at us.  Rachael’s commentary says it was because a simple inspection would reveal that these were not wealthy men.  I can so relate.  The gate in the Bible is believed to have been a truly magnificent gate.  Mine not so much.  When people come to our gate we give from what we have, because that is what God asks us to do.  We do not always have money.  Our amazing donors give faithfully and then we turn around and do the same.  I have an illustration in my mind of water running through the fingers of a hand.

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You give generously and it pours in, we give generously and it pours out.  We are, more times that I would like, simply unable to help financially.  Often times it keeps pouring out of our hands and we just do not keep enough back for our personal expenses and we find ourselves stuck having to find money where it just isn’t.  Sometimes at the gate we can only give what we have.  We reach the end of ourselves and we look at the people at our gate and say, look at us, we are out of physical resource but God is not out in any department.  Let’s ask God together to meet your need.  At those moments, and there are many, with tears we trust our God to meet needs only He can.  We ask him to heal bodies and hearts.  We give him the reigns again and are reminded that what HE has and who HE is, is the greatest gift we can give.

Like Peter and John gave from what they had, what is God asking you to give?  Are you like us sometimes and you are being asked to pour finances into needs around you?  Are you like us other times and God is asking you to surrender to Him the needs of others in prayer.  Maybe you have access to another resource that you could never imagine would be a blessing to someone in need.  I have an example.   A sweet friend, who was in our youth group around 400 years ago, is in Veterinary school.  She is someone I have connected to every so often with questions regarding our goats and such.  I touched base with her a few months ago because I was in desperate need of medication for our fur babies here.  I had run out and could not seem to get my hands on what I needed/wanted for our dog.  I was a worried because we moved our older dog here and he is really important to us, especially Levi.  Anyway, I reached out to her looking for specific meds and she responded right away saying, “I happen to be standing at the table, in a veterinary pharmaceutical show, staring at one of the medications you are needing”. I thought,  “huh…well that’s nifty.”  I asked her if she thought she could help and she went to work.  A few months later, I have all my fur baby needs plus more.  Way to be Julie!  I wonder if she imagined that a missionary in Haiti might really need her help.  I needed what she had to offer as a vet student who I am sure is broke, busy and exhausted.  She served us in a way that helps us to serve here in Haiti.  I wonder how often I miss the opportunity to serve because I am insecure about what I have to offer.   So we find ourselves at the gate, hopefully for your sanity not 42 times a day.  It may be ugly like mine or beautiful like the one in Bible but we are being given an opportunity to serve.  Let’s give from what we have, that is all God is asking.  I will give from the gifts I have and the resources I have.  That is all any of us can do.

Last parting thought.  You cannot give to other people using other people’s gifts.  Meaning don’t have skill and gift envy…like I do.  Being transparent here.  Really wish I was a Doctor some days.  Really wish I was a CEO type other days.  Instead, I am a MOM…like a boss.  So when I go to minister, that is what I do,  I mom…yes it is a verb!  Quiet down.  Here is the lesson I am screaming at myself, Don’t be paralyzed by what you cannot do, be motivated to do what you CAN do.  Excuse me, I have to run, there is someone at the gate and they may need me to mom.

Still. Absolutely still.

 

 

I am working through the MAGIC TREE HOUSE series with my 3rd little.  There is a moment in every story, after Jack and Annie have adventured in another time in history, that they make their return to the frog creek woods, a walking distance from home. Every story is anchored in this moment.  They climb into the tree house and wish aloud to return to the Frog Creek woods and then, as Mary Pope Osborn wrote:

“The tree house started to spin.  

It spun faster and faster.  

Then everything was still.

Absolutely still.”

MAGIC TREE HOUSE, by Mary Pope Osborne

The fact that this is a children series has never dampened my enjoyment of her books and especially this moment.  I have always thought it poetic and serene.  I was recently reading with Lydia and the plot of the book we were on was exceptionally weighty and physically uncomfortable for the main characters.  Lives were hanging in the balance and everything hung on the characters ability to come through.  As we neared the end of the book I was feeling the pressure on these kids.  They were saving lives, they were under immense pressure and they were cold-uncomfortable.  When the moment came, and they returned to the Tree House after the violent spinning and it was “still. Absolutely still.”, I could physically feel the release.  They were home.  This time that moment caught in my throat. I sure related to the characters and I realized I need to feel that sense of stillness here, living in Haiti.  We have, the last year, had that sense of stillness that comes from being home.  Brief Haiti home history: In 2015, we moved to Haiti and into 400 square feet of a home we shared with 6 other adults who resided in the rest of the house.  8 months later, we transitioned to another portion of the same home and occupied a little more space but still shared the rest of the home with 6 other individuals.  We moved to a different house in March 2016 (our family only) and it has become a respite, where the spinning stops and I can get lost in my back yard, caring for my goats.  I know that God provided this house and we have enjoyed every moment of God’s sweetness in it.  We got an amazing deal on this house, it cost less to rent than houses 1/2 its size.  After all the transition of moving us and the kids to Haiti, this home, where the kids could have their own spaces, and our dog could run.  This house with trees and space for our goats, with a rooftop view of the ocean and mountains of Haiti, was a sanctuary.  A place for God to heal us and restore us a bit from a stressful transition.  In this home we have grown to really love Haiti, and Haiti has become home.  From this home I began to see us growing old here and began to see how the insanity of moving my children here was really going to work and we were going to flourish here.  We launched KONBIT here and I fell in love with my neighbors.  I LOVE THIS HOUSE.  I was certain we would be in it a long time, that was what I wanted…needed, so I was sure God would make it so.

Now this is the part in the story where I tell you that because God loves me, and I am His princess, He gives me what I want.  This is the part of the story where God waves a magic wand and does what I want.  I have moved to HAITI, for goodness sake.   LORD, DO WHAT I WANT!!!!   Sorry, I keep getting a little self involved (or a lot) and emotional.  It turns out He did NOT do what I want. We found out just 2 months ago that the rent on this house was being raised…considerably.  Then we found out that the home that we had been in previously (the home we shared with 6 people when we first moved here), was available for a little less than we could rent this for.  Sounds like a no brainer, but there was/is a battle happening in my spirit.   The original house is better suited for us to host teams, which enables us to save the ministry literally 1000’s of dollars a year in guest house rentals.  but…There is no yard for KONBIT goats, dogs, my children, it’s noisy and on a busy street.  It is a fine house but it is not the house I want.  It is the house that I need to submit my heart to because it is best for us to accomplish all God has called us here for.  I am literally in denial about this move.  Not healthy, I know.  I am working on it.    This house sits directly in the community we minister in, Lafferonney.  This house is God’s will but it doesn’t feel good.

To help me process, I knew I needed to chat with some of my Haitian Mamas.  I have a few but there is one in particular that I felt led to chat with.  We went to see Simone who is spiritual giant trapped in a tiny old ailing body.  Last week I went to speak with her and break the news that I was moving a few miles away.  There were tears in my eyes as I shared that we had to move but I did not want to.  I told her we would stay connected and that she was a part of my life for good.  She became very adamant and animated as she began teaching me about the sovereignty of GOD.  This is a woman who has food, sometimes.  Who lives in a block house with her 2 year old grandson, who she cares for.  She lives in chronic pain as she faces hunger, arthritis, and stomach pain with few meds.  This woman for whom nothing has come easy and who looked at me with love and kind determination began to preach.  Buckle your seatbelt.  This woman does not speak of the nearness and sovereignty of God from a place of study, but of experience.

simone

Simone, My Haitian Mama.

To set up this conversation you need to know we had brought her food and she was very excited because the food had given her strength.  Before we told her I was moving, she was praising God, arms lifted for the food.  She was repeating, “God is faithful, He knows all things, He is the only God.”  She was worshiping and declaring the goodness of God.  She was reminding us that God is who sent us and that God sees her and is always faithful.  She was telling us that God gives her strength.  It was while she was sharing this that the news announcing I was moving was communicated to her.   It turns out that she already knew through the grapevine but she looked disappointed and my tears started to flow.

I said,  “Simone, I do not want to move.  I love this place and I love this community and I want to be near you all.”  Simone responds, arms motioning toward me and eyes boring into my soul, “God brought you to us, because God had a job for you here.  He sent you here and now he is sending you there.  God is good and faithful and he sees you.  He saw you here and he will see you there.  You had work here and you will have work there.”  The tears would NOT stop.  This Haitians mama’s giant spirit wrapped my broken spirit up in hers and reminded me whose I am.  She also reminded me that God’s will is much larger than an issue of my comfort.

If she sees the goodness of God with and without food, with and without pain, with and without good shelter, certainly I can recognize His goodness and kindness in my life.  Changing homes into a smaller and much less “family friendly” home does not mean God is not good and He is not with me.  I needed her that day and God used her to begin the process of righting my heart.  I needed a Haitian Mama because Haitians realize that God does not ALWAYS move us up.  Sometime He moves us decidedly down.  In western civilization we see God’s will as the next better paying Job, promotion, bigger house, the movement up.  But that is not scripturally sound and it just isn’t true in 99% of the rest of the world.  God can also be in changes that move us “down”. It is about His kingdom, and what he does in and through us is to further that kingdom, maybe not us necessarily.  If the kingdom is furthered more when I take a step back, then it is worth it.  The disciples moved decidedly down as they served God.  They went from having jobs to needing to live on the kindness of others.  They went from homes to traveling constantly.  They went from honor to disdain.  They moved from relative safety to torture and death.  Those are very downward moves physically but those moves were decidedly moving the kingdom of God forward.  I am not being asked by God to endure torture and death but you would think so by my attitude and internal struggle.  I am giving up the stillness, the trees, the birds, the goats and a lot of solace.  But what I am reminding myself is that I am gaining obedience, I am being used to further the work God is doing, and I know God sees me and moves me.

My Haitian Mama, Simone and the Apostle Paul could commiserate on this topic.  I could only sit like a sullen teenager and mope.   Jesus be near, I have so much to learn.  Philippians 4:11-13, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength.”:

So, I am moving.  God is moving me down in comfort but up in my ability to minister.  The new home is not far and I will maintain relationships with my current neighbors.  My heart is submitted but not joyful, not yet.  My Haitian mamas have their work cut out for them with me.  Pray for them as they disciple me.  Pray for us as we embark on our 6th move and house re-organizing since we sold our home in AZ in 2013.  We adore the work God has called us to here but all this relocating is a distraction and burden on our family.  We are hoping to stay put for a few years after this move.  Thank you for giving and praying so constantly.  The Kay Konbit ministry center is a reality because of God’s faithfulness and your giving.  Here’s to a home where after the long stressful days, that I can pray and the spinning would stop and we can be still, absolutely still.  God let it be and God tune my selfish will to your ways and help me to value your plan much more than my own.

BLOG Update:  This was written 3 weeks ago as I prepared for a move that has now happened.  Since writing this we have relocated, set up a team house upstairs, and hosted 2 amazing teams.  Our ability to minister has been greatly increased.  The knocks on our gate are constant and I am choosing to see them as the result of great need.  It is an honor to be used and available.  God has us where he wants us.  It is ok that I am not in love with this house or this move.  I am in love with Jesus and He is sovereign and He is good.  My belief in his goodness does not require my comfort.  We are getting settled and many precious people have stepped up when I thought I may lose my mind.  They may never know how critical their help was.

To stay connected to all that is happening ministry wise, please follow our KONBIT Facebook page and our website at www.konbittogether.org  

***IMPORTANT NOTES***

There seems to be some confusion about our connection to Happy Kids INTL.  We moved to Haiti with Happy Kids but are not affiliated with them in anyway now.  We will have no access to any fundraising they are doing nor will be responsible for how those funds are used.  Those funds will not come to us or through us in anyway.  We love Happy Kids and know they will continue to do great things but it is not responsible for us to allow people to believe that when they give to them, that we will be in charge of those funds.  

We also have had 2 donors give to another organization with “KONBIT” in its title.  Be sure you are using the links we have sent you to set up and maintain giving.  There are 2 other organizations in Haiti that use KONBIT in their name.

We are so incredibly grateful for you all and love you all so much.  You are the “how” behind much we are able to do.  God gave us a vision and literally sustains us everyday and you support the work and move it forward.  God bless you all for giving sacrificially and praying for us.  You mean the world.

Stop waiting for the Miracle

I happen to believe in miracles. I have seen God DO the miraculous in lives, circumstances, bodies and spirits. I pray for miracles and I trust God when only a miracle can save. I have to admit that at times praying for a miracle and waiting for it is just my way out of work. How much easier would it be if everything that can be done to further the kingdom, God miraculously did for us. We could just keeping “praying” about it. We could pray, believe and wait. Like the disciples, sitting in the upper room, waiting and waiting. After the Holy Spirit comes they just stay there right? Maybe they leave to eat and sleep, but then they just stay in that room waiting for God to show up again, right? You know as well as I do, they didn’t stay in that room long after the Holy Spirit came. There was work to do. God absolutely showed up miraculously and then the disciples GOT TO WORK. We will get back to this.

We spent Thanksgiving in a swirl of the miraculous and hard work. I was telling someone about all that had transpired and something they said got me thinking. Let me recount our day for you. We were up early, prepared to make a journey 1.5 hours west of us. It doesn’t sound like much but all journeys in Haiti are an adventure. We had planned and prepared for days to get to Fond Doux so we could visit Osner, put latches on his windows and deliver food. Osner is our blind friend for whom Woodlake UMC built a home because his tarp home blew over in the hurricane. The day before I had bagged up all our rice and beans (about 30 lbs) to bring and then walked a trail and delivered some to an elderly neighbor. On the way back from delivering food, I encountered another neighbor who needed medicine and I said I would see if we had what she needed so she could buy the antibiotic. I made a mental note to get back to her ASAP. We completed our trip preparations by purchasing needed supplies, spending days getting cash out of ATM’s and collecting the needed tools. We talked to the kids about appropriate foot wear and made sure we had enough water. All that to say, it was a decent amount of work. We knew this was how we wanted to spend Thanksgiving and we felt God’s call to serve. As we were headed to pick up Elimage, a woman literally faints into a puddle in front of our car. We stopped, helped others put her limp body into a chair and see that she is ATLEAST 7 months pregnant. We immediately got water and tried to wake her. Our friend Antoine ran up at that moment and we sent him to buy her a protein shake while we stayed with her. We found out she was not from the area and that she was hungry and thirsty. It is no wonder she fainted. We bought her enough protein rich foods and gave her water and money for transport so she did not have to walk anymore. It was obvious we were where we were supposed to be at that moment. After she was cared for we left with Elimage for Fond Doux. We got to Osners house and got to work. After 1.5 hours of work on his house, we gave rice/beans to Osner and started to leave. Before leaving a young woman entered Osner’s house to bring him prepared food. She tenderly give him warm rice in a tiny bowl and a spoon. I followed her to her hut and gave her food, too. The look on her face. She was so grateful and it was obvious there was an imminent need. While fixing Osner’s windows our friend Willie showed up. He is one of the older boys in a family with 7 kids being raised by a single mom with AIDs. He just wanted to hug Kris, the look on his face when Kris saw him was precious. We were able to give him rice/beans and go visit with his family. We visited with Sylvie, Willie’s mama, for a while and then we started our trip back to Gressier. About half way between Gressier, our home, and Fond Doux is a pizza place on the beach. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving pizza with truly full hearts. We got back home just after dark and we were spent but God had a bit more for us to do. As soon as we got to our gate 2 women who needed medical care just happened by. We were able to give pain meds to a woman with cancer and the money needed to our neighbor for meds from the day before.

I know that was quite a lot of information but it goes to my point. A very loving, well meaning person said, “Wow, you didn’t have to do anything, God just brought all your ministry to you today.” Yes, and no. After reading about our day I know you can see that it was a mix of hard obedient choices and miracles. In my life God tends to move after I do. We made a plan and prepared to serve on Thanksgiving. The Bible has already told us it is God’s will to serve and give. In the middle of our obedience, God showed up with the miraculous. We had food to give because we purchased and packaged. We saw the pregnant woman because we were on the way to Osner. We fed 2 more families because we were serving Osner. The 2 women were able to catch us as we went into our gate, because we had left our gate earlier that day. Sometimes I think we wait too long for God to show us where we should help. Sometimes we are so busy looking for the miraculous way we can be used that we forget that we just need to leave our gate and GO SERVE.
What does that look like for you? Do you have a heart for the homeless? I can assure you that when you prepare to serve, God will make a way for you to serve. Our ministry to the homeless began after we bought the supplies and made the “Blessing bags”. Once we made them, the amount of ministry we were able to participate in is nothing short of miraculous. So step out! Become a Big Brother/Big Sister. Are foster children burning a hole in your heart but you are waiting for the perfect time? God will move once you do. Since living in Haiti, I have learned that most miracles happen on the other side of obedience. Sometimes scary obedience. So check on your neighbor. Visit veterans. Be kind. Your most incredible ministry might be just behind a simple gesture. I heard someone say one time, “Stop waiting on the move of God, We are the move of God!”

Spend time in the upper room. Pray for miracles. Ask for guidance, then get up and go. Leave your gate, church. You are the move of God and the world is waiting. There is addiction, brokenness, loneliness, hopelessness. There are orphans,the hungry, widows. God did not mince His words about what He expects of us. I need to remember this too. We all have our gates we need to walk out of. Go now. Stop waiting for the Miracle, it very well maybe waiting on the other side of your obedience.