Embracing Brokenness, when all is NOT well.

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“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” Psalms 51:17

Driving through Port-au-Prince a few weeks ago with my dad and some of our team, I had a unexpected thought. We were listening to worship music, which I love to do as I travel around Haiti.  It feels sacred to worship God surrounded by such beauty and struggle, my struggle included.  This day the remade song, “It Is Well” by Bethel Music  came on and my heart was having a hard time reconciling what I was seeing with a sense of wellness in my spirit.   It just was NOT well with me.  At that moment, as I watched children working the corners, hoping to score some goudes for cleaning windows, I wondered if all was well with them.  It was a passing moment of conflict that kept bouncing around in my mind and heart for weeks. Little did I know I was about to be made aware of a brokenness in my spirit that I had been stuffing down and trying to quiet.  The awareness came in 2 parts.  Part 1.  We were visiting some friends in the town of Morose, who many of you may remember. We were visiting with Naïca’s family.   DSC_1114

In case you do not remember, they consist of a single momma, Sylvie, and her seven children.  Happy Kids has been apart of their lives for a long time we were just checking in. When we arrived her youngest was being watched by Ynel, her six-year-old. Jackson, the youngest, just cried and cried and was not looking good. He has not had enough to eat in his 2 years and there is a very strong chance that he is HIV+ like his mamma and sister, Naïca.  After a short while mamma Sylvie returned and when I saw her a dam broke in my spirit. The reality of her struggle hit my love for her and the collision caused a brokenness that is yet to heal. It is NOT well with my soul concerning Sylvie and her beautiful children. We stayed with her for a bit, delivered some food supplies from a friend, then we prayed as a group.   My cries for her family spilled from my face and are still spilling today. It is an open hurt because the answers for her and her family are long-term and difficult. Part 2.  One week after seeing Naïca’s family I attended a women’s missionaries retreat.

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Over 1000 women living in more than 100 countries were going through the material and lessons during those days.   The sessions addressed fear, its effect on us and how to process it with the Lord.  After some broken moments with friends and a loving God, I realize that I was scared and trying desperately to numb my fear. My heart opened up in a different way as I was honest about my fears for my children and my fears about my inadequacy.  Another Dam had broken and my tears would not stop coming.

The thing is, I had shut down. The fear I had felt and the suffering I constantly see caused me to place my heart on lockdown. I just was not processing all I was feeling and seeing.   I was and I am broken about it. It is not well. Not right now. I am not OK with what I see. I am not OK with some of the prices my children pay. I’m not OK with my failures. Since the retreat I’ve been processing this brokenness.   I’ve been fighting to keep my heart open and fighting to feel, fighting not to shut down. I’ve been reading the Psalms and it has been a source of great comfort. The Psalmists did not shut down or go numb. They laid their grief and struggle before the Lord. They reminded themselves of God’s faithfulness and his history of shepherding them through the really tough stuff.

As I considered this, my mind returned to the old hymn, “It is Well” by Horatio G. Spafford.  If you do not know the history of this song, please look it up online. The author wrote it in a personal place of immense suffering. These words were not penned lightly.   If you look at the chorus alone it can be deceiving, “It is well, with my soul.”  The test of the song’s merit is not there. It is in the verses.   “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”   God is present deep in the middle of my brokenness. It is well, does not mean we are not broken.  He is TEACHING me to say, “It is well with my soul.”  We may be shattered but God is in the midst of all of our broken-piece processing. Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd,  I lack nothing…Even though I walk through the darkest valley…”.   Take time to read the whole thing if you are finding yourself in a season of brokenness, as I am. Take it apart verse by verse and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. He is present in our brokenness, our dark valleys. Being broken before the Lord is a good thing. Broken over our sin like David in Psalm 51:17. Broken over the suffering we see. Broken when it’s hard to obey.   I’m so grateful right now for this brokenness. I am processing with Jesus the pain of what I see. I am processing with my shepherd my fears for my children and the fear that I’m just not enough. I am being led beside quiet waters when I cannot possibly be or do enough. I am not numb right now. I am not shut down. My heart is open and my wounds are fresh. It hurts but my Shepherd is comforting me and because of HIM, I lack nothing.

Side Note:
May 7th marks our 1 year anniversary of living in Haiti.  I love Haiti and am so grateful to live here.  I am throughly content in Gods call and see what I am going through as a necessary part of staying for the long haul.   Thank you for hearing my broken heart and I pray this meets you in an area of your brokenness.  I pray that the presence of our shepherd gives you comfort.

Ministry Update:
Meetings with Family Social continue and Kris continues to be a part of these men’s lives.  He sits at soccer games with them and gets to hold their babies and laughs at their hilarious humor.  You know, they are friends.   We fed the beautiful children at The Silars’ children’s home in Port au Prince.  They ate every last bite.  We delivered them handmade pillow from the children at Beulah UMC and school supplies from Kelly Burkholder, Inverness UMC.  We received 6 goats purchased by my 7 year old niece, Emme Robertson,  for the people who need them in Haiti.  We will be delivering them over the next few weeks to needy families, providing income and food.   We have many wonderful teams coming in the next few months and we are excited to serve with them.  Honestly, we just love to show Haiti off!  The most resilient, giving, hospitable people reside here and we want as many of you as can to see.  If you have considered coming, please know God will use your obedience to make a difference.   Assemble a team.  Bring members from your family.  Happy Kids will put your love to work!

 

 

 

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JIMMY FALLON AND COFFEE

Blog written by the Colemans 13 year old daughter, Anna.
She serves with her parents and siblings in Haiti.

Hello, Hello, Hello, dear friends!!!!!

I apologize for not writing a blog in such a long time!!! As you most likely know, things in Haiti have been busy!!! Simple little things in Haiti can make you insane!! Well, a part of the reason of my non blogging mood, is because of the things that have been going on lately, emotionally, spiritually, and in every day life. This blog is about my testimony.

I will save you the gory details of a teenagers drama, and simply say I was having the most faith quavering couple of weeks. I completely stopped reading the bible, praying, everything. My weeks started getting worse and worse. In the beginning of all the drama, when I would sit down to relax and cry, a little voice told me to read the bible and pray. In my mind I thought “Ummmmm… No. Right now all I need is a little bit of Jimmy Fallon, and coffee.”, so that’s what I did. I created a wild obsession with Jimmy Fallon. He made me laugh even when tears streamed down my face. So as time went on, the little voice started to fade, and so did my self confidence. I became an awkward, weak and depressed little girl. I started staying up late, and crying, laughing, then moping about how “terrible” my life was. My mom cried and laughed with me, and I shared every thought that went in my head with her, because it just burst out. My sweet mother was there for me when I really, really, needed her, and she always has been. Anyway, one day me and my mom were sick and tired of all my fussiness and drama. She had been telling me to talk to God, and for some reason, that one night I listened to her. I opened my bible, read, enjoyed, then cried. Not because of what I had been crying about for two weeks, but because of how much I missed God. Then, I prayed and cried harder. My heart felt like it was on fire, full of joy and happiness. All I could think was… “I missed you so much God, so so so much. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me so much. I am so so sorry. God take my life, I put it in your hands. I lay my problems down, and give them to you God. Take control.” I repeated this over and over again. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why I would ever leave this feeling, this love that God graciously gives me. I woke up feeling free.

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On Easter holding a newly orphaned baby that our friends care for

This Easter, I decided that it was time I watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. My parents were there with me, prepared me as best as they could for what was lying ahead. We watched the movie, and I bawled my eyes out. I always knew that Jesus was beaten and crucified, but I just thought, “ya, they all like, beat him up, and put nails in him and killed him”, you know like I thought as an 11 year old. Now 3 years older, 3 Easters later, I decided that I should see what he REALLY did for us. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for watching that movie.  After that, I decided that I would put the fact that I am young behind me, and share God’s word, even if I get some funny looks. At church the next day, I worshiped like I never have. I felt like there wasn’t a SINGLE person there. It was just me and God. I realized, that I don’t have to be embarrassed to raise my hand during worship, because really, if you are actually worshiping, your raising your hand towards God, not to show people that you have faith. I worshiped with my eyes closed, and enjoyed my time with Jesus. Sure, enough, I got some funny looks, but I don’t care.  All I did, was give an example that a teenager can focus on God, just like an adult can. My faith is incredibly larger, and I enjoy praying to God, so much that I just want to do it all day.

So, in a way all the pain I have gone through, all the blood and sweat that I put in to fixing it myself, it was a lesson. A lesson that taught me to understand that God, and only God can save me, and that no one in the world can provide the amount of love and comfort that God gives me.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this encourages you! I hope you all know how much God loves you, and that God loves talking to you, and hearing your prayers!!!

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Me, Levi and Lydia on Easter

People

“People…People who need people, are the luckiest people, in the world.” Barbra Streisand, barbraher unique voice and that cool mouth, that is what I am sitting here trying to emulate as I type this. You can thank my mother for the fact that this song is dancing in my brain as I write this blog. All the John Denver songs (thanks Dad) weren’t enough for my parents…I have a virtual soothing 70’s playlist that I can play mentally at all times.

I am beginning to wonder if I will ever begin a blog with, “Wow, that was easy”, or “What a restful season this has been”, or maybe “Nothing much to report here”? You would probably all, if there are any of you left, faint from surprise that I have no exhaustion, stress, or fear to report. What would you do without my constant barrage of tropical disease updates and homeschool whines? I would hate to leave any of you confused or feeling light headed so I will keep the course. I am so funny, at least my mom thinks I am.

After returning from the states in January we got right back to work. So unbelievably excited to build more relationships, see more full bellies, deliver more medication, live God’s call in Haiti. 3 weeks later, our Happy Kids director asked that the kids and I leave Haiti while the presidency changed hands. We all agreed it was best for Kris to stay put in Haiti and continue work, but I needed to take the kids out of the country. It was a precautionary measure, and we so appreciate our organizations love and care for our children. Like a 2-year-old who DOES NOT want her green beans, I left Haiti. It is hard to be on the road with kids, it is harder to be on the road alone with kids, harder still to homeschool on the road and even still harder to homeschool, 3 sick children alone on the road.

But, I was NOT alone. I am not making some trite spiritual analogy about God being with me, even though HE most assuredly was. People, were with me…the kind with skin, not the virtual kind. My friend, Nic, got me from the airport in LA, welcomed us in her home in San Diego and made me a homecoming dinner that rivaled a steak house. She bought me treats, we talked, and at my breaking point we went to the beach and ate pizza. I left her house to surprise my sister for her Bday. SURPRISE, me and kids are here to eat your food, fill up your home to the point of no return and use all your gas. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Thankfully she likes me enough, that us being there made up for…us being there. lol. We had a blast. Every night, up too late, being stupid and enjoying a friendship that is a gift to me. Plus now we have matching scarves. I left there for the Happy Kids headquarters in Buellton, CA. The Luglis opened up their home for us, and provided much food and even a trip to the ER. Poor Lydia. Brian and Sandy Palmberg returned from a trip to San Fran and then cooked for us EVERY night we were there, but one. They ate with us and laughed and we shared a common heart and passion for Haiti that makes us immediate family. We left there to head further up north to Alameda to be with a wonderful church there. The church loved us, put us in a hotel, prayed for us and took us to the most beautiful lunch on the bay. People, people, people folks, the kind with skin on…surrounded us, lifted us up, laughed with us. They cleaned up puke, bought me wine, talked for hours at an ER, brought us ginger ale, I could literally go on for hours telling you how horrible (no really) the details of our our trip were and how wonderful the people were! If great people, serving us kindly could make pneumonia, bad flights and lack of sleep go away…it would have.  Even the manager at our last hotel went ridiculously above and beyond.

That is a lot like life and God’s call for all of us. When you are wiling to be a person…with people. Really WITH people. The kind of person who puts someone else’s sick kid in their bed, then gets their bed puked in. Life is messy. People are messy. Especially, 6 year old people with pneumonia, but that’s beside the point. When God called us to live life with the people of Haiti it wasn’t just to tell them about God and HIS deep and abiding love for them, although we do. It was to do life with them. To know their struggles. To walk the roads of life with them. To navigate joy and grief, to talk about unimportant things and to sink our teeth into deep conversations. Our friendships may not change their circumstances, but it means they are not alone.  I love this life God has called us to. It may mean puke on the bed, but it also means a beautiful, messy life. Where relationships are hard, but worth it.  It is a sacred space.  The space where the ordinary becomes worship and the dinner table a sanctuary.

Thank you to the people who didn’t take the easy way out while we were in California, riding out the political instability. Thank you for doing this messy life with us Colemans and helping me to remember what it is all about. A special thanks to Valencia Hills Community Church and Calvary Church Alameda for welcoming us on short notice. You were people that we needed to connect to during that time.

Now I will try and catch up with my responsibilities on the ground here. If you have sent a gift or a box of supplies, you are NOT being ignored or unappreciated! Your partnership means the world to us and every gift or box has warmed our spirit and furthered our ministry, your gift has been noted. If you sent supplies, they have not been distributed yet, but I assure you, pictures with beautiful smiles will be coming soon. Some supplies were delayed in transit but I believe that all sent supplies to date have been received. My phone did not work in the US, long story, and I had limited internet. I have also have had limited internet here in Haiti. Give me time to catch up and I will communicate with you all ASAP.

May God richly bless each and every one of you with people to do this beautiful, messy life with! Maybe you are God’s answer to someone who needs a friend today, like I did. It’s worth it. Go be a person…WITH people. I’ll do the same.

Ministry Update
-Family Social group Bible Study meeting every Monday. Having a blast talking about Jesus with these men.
-Jeanette’s land purchase was finalized last week. Thank you to all who donated.
-Childrens Outreach/feeding program Feb 27. Huge success, over 300 children fed and loved. Water, rice, beans, sauce (hear protein) for 300 little ones and our first time hosting an event with Family Social.
-Our friends leg injury is healing nicely. Grateful Kris was able to get him help in time. Thankful for Haiti Healthcare Ministries, Dr. Jim and Sandy Wilkins and the team for their tireless work in Haiti.   http://www.haitihealthministries.org/
-Pray for us all as we take the long, tiring journey to our mountain villages to have community with our pastors and community leaders there. Excited to bring our children as we serve.  We will be meeting with, and praying with these various leaders from Mar 2-5.
-Pray for our Pastors conference in the mountains Mar 5. We are looking forward to a great time being together, eating, worshipping and studying God’s word. Thanks to Ken Coleman, Kris’ dad, for your willingness to share with the Pastors!
-Pray for Jeanettes son, Anderson, he needs a medical visa to go to the US for medical care for his kidneys. We are wanting to begin that process but are not sure where to begin. Pray for wisdom and connections.

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Making the Montero Update!!!
We now have $1850 to purchase the Montero. Can you help us get to $2000? Thank you for your partnership! A huge thank you as well to those that have helped us get this far.

 

 

An Open Fist

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Life in Haiti is unpredictable.  I don’t do lack of predicability well.  I have poked fun of myself in this before.  I like to line my life up on a neat row, well dusted and arranged, taking down what I need when I need it.  Haiti has a way of making sure that my row is crooked and some slots are empty.  I have learned something from this.  The empty slot didn’t kill me.  When things did not fall in line, it was ok.  God was still there and He was enough.  When what I had planned didn’t happen, He was still there and what I thought I needed turned out to be an opportunity for me to stretch and grow.  I want to refer this way of living as open fisted.  The idea that God gives and God takes away.  When what I have set up doesn’t work, if my fist is open, no one has to pry anything out of my hands.  It is much easier to leave that hand open.  Not too attached to any THING, or even any idea of exactly what things should look like.  If I close my hand around a time frame, or expectation, or even what I am going to eat, then when it can’t happen that way, it must be pried out of my hand.  That is much more painful for me.  When my hand is open to what God wants to place in it and open to what God takes out of it, there is no battle.  He gives and He takes away.  There is so much freedom in that place.  Is there anything that you have closed your fist around?   He has changed my heart here in Haiti.  Haitians have open fists.  Giving to whoever has need and accepting change gracefully.   I have much to learn but by God’s grace my fist will remain open.  The open fist says, “I trust that God has this”.  The closed fist says, “I have to do this myself.”

One thing is certain.  As we begin 2016 with expectant hearts and open fists, God has brought us here to do good work (God’s work) and with God’s help we WILL DO IT.  Stick with me as I briefly tell you a bit of what is planned for 2016.  We have 5 teams scheduled to help with these endeavors in the next 8 months.  Welcome Focus One from Rockford First AG in IL.  Come on down Woodlake UMC in VA.  Lets do this Inverness UMC from FL.  Bring It Twelve from San Diego, CA.    Alright 1st Baptist  from Mason, WV.  Praise God, we are excited to see how God uses your unique gifts and your willing hearts to serve!

-The building of the land in Fond Dous will continue this year as will our relationships and ministry in the area.

-We will continue to partner with our friend, Mr. Sagaille, the teacher in Morose, to teach reading and writing to the adults there.  50% of the adults in his area cannot read or write creole.

-We will continue to support Jessie as she begins a Bible study in Morose with 15 teen girls.  Teaching value to girls whose culture DOES NOT speak that into their lives.

-Kris will make another trip to spend time with our Pastor friends in the mountains.  These pastors serve and love with little or no support.  Some cannot read and write but they love Jesus.  Kris has a vision to see a Pastors conference in the mountains this year for these men.  We want seasoned Pastors to come and create lasting friendships and do training for these men.  They are hungry need the opportunity to grow and learn for themselves.

-Our medical clinics in all 6 of our current locations will continue.  We are sure to be at every location every 6 months to ensure the deworming medication is given regularly to these beautiful children.

-How is it that a group of young voodoo men came here and asked to have a Bible study?  Story and Prayer request to follow!    Kris, Elimage & Antoine (Haitian staff members) have been building relationships in the community surrounding our home.  One day we got news that a young man (Chauffeur) we are friends with had a cousin that had accidentally taken a big drink of bleach.  You may remember me briefly mentioning this earlier.  She is a young woman with a baby and it was not looking good.  Finances had prevented her from seeking medical care and after 24 hours the family was afraid she may die.   Her cousin came to us and it was our privilege to use our personal money to get her medical care right away.  When you live somewhere like Haiti, with a finite ministry budget, you find yourself constantly figuring out how to help using the money meant to cover your own needs.   How can we not!  After taking her for medical care and after some tense hours waiting to hear if she would live, she pulled through.  Little did we know the door that this would open.  The next day, our friend, Chauffer (the young woman’s cousin) came by to say, ‘thank you’.  His eyes stayed low and it was obvious that this had meant more to him than we realized.  Apparently Chauffer is a part of a local group of men called, Family Social.  They are a group of local young voodoo men who have organized themselves to help in the community.  The President of Family Social came to see Kris that week.  He came to say that as a group they are so grateful that we were willing to help one of their group when they could not.  He wanted to know about the Jesus that would inspire giving like that.  They want Kris and Elimage to lead a Bible study with their group so that they can learn about Jesus.  Family Social also wants to partner with us to serve the local community!  We had no idea that one open fist would bring an avalanche of favor in our area.  Isn’t that true of all of us though.  We only care how much someones knows, once we know how much they care.  Our community got a message loud a clear that we are here and we care.  We are so grateful for this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Pray with us that as God asks us to keep our fists open that we would be wise.  That we would be friends, confidants and servants.

– We plan to focus this year, as well, on partnering with other ministries that are doing great medical, educational, hunger relief and discipleship work.  Since building a kingdom of our own is not the goal we will be content to build God’s kingdom.  We will be working regularly with other ministries to encourage and strengthen their staff and the people they work with.  Pray as we head into clinics, orphanages, building programs, schools, feeding programs and more.

We are thrilled to be about God’s business!   Pray that our open fists and hearts would become opportunities to share a love greater than any of us can even comprehend.  May Jesus permeate every heart.  

The Colemans
Kris, Rach, Anna, Levi and Lydia
Your Happy Kids Missionaries to Haiti

Giving Opportunity
The time has come for us to purchase a vehicle.  We have an opportunity to purchase a used Mitsubishi, Montero.  It is a reliable vehicle and most importantly we have found a mechanic who works on Monteros only.  This is a sturdy SUV with large tires to deal with Haiti’s rough terrain.  We need to purchase the vehicle, pay for insurance, have the title switched into our name and have some repairs made to seat belts for our kids in the back seats.  Would you consider partnering with us so we can purchase this ASAP.  We need a total of $10,000 to get it bought and have everything switched over.  Thank you for sewing into us as a family so that we can continue to sew into Haiti!  Please contact us if you would like to help!IMG_7534

Overflowing HOPE

Coleman Christmas 2015

Our Christmas started in early October as we began to organize and mobilize our friends and family who wanted to serve some people we work with in Haiti.  In honor of Christmas and those of you who participated, I just wanted to tell the story.

It all started with a message from Laura Burke stating that she and her home school group wanted to GIVE in a big way this Christmas.  She wanted to know if we had any contacts with people who could use some help.  With a resounding yes we began the process of contacting a boys home under the leadership of Pastor Isaac.  We assembled shoe, pant and shirt sizes as well as names and ages.  Pastor Isaac expressed that he really needed help purchasing the boys much-needed school books as well.  The list and those details were sent to Laura at the beginning of October with a request that all items be shipped by Oct 31 so we would have time to organize delivery before we left for the Holidays.  The 1st week of November 2 huge boxes arrived with shoes, clothes, toiletries, and gifts for EACH of the 10 boys.  She was also able to send a generous gift for the boys school books.  Thank You to each family that decided to GIVE this Christmas to these precious boys.  What an honor it was to see their faces and watch them light up!

My initial conversation with Laura Burke sparked an idea inside Jessie Mathieu to get similar help for the our sweet Neïca’s family.  Naïca’s family faces unique challenges due to HIV and the recent death of her father.  We agreed to talk with a few friends and family and to split up her family between our and Jessie’s contacts to see what could be done for them.  After one message expressing the need, each of Naïca’s siblings and her mother had supplies coming and within a week $320 had come in for food for them.  Whoa!  We sent out the names, ages and clothes sizes once again and by the end of October everything was in Haiti awaiting delivery.   We were able to purchase 100lbs of rice, 100lbs of beans, 2 gallons of cooking oil, 5lbs of flour, 5lbs of sugar, 20 packages of pasta, money for spices and 2 goats to begin a business.   The family will have food delivered every 2 weeks for the next 2 months.  When we return we will deliver some more food purchased with the remaining $30.  Thank you to EVERYONE (too many to list) who gave money for food or shopped for clothes and packed a box.  You truly made a difference and brought HOPE in a hopeless situation.

From this conversation, my sister (Michal Robertson) and I began to discuss her having a friend, Kim Ball, who wanted to help in some way.   It took no effort to find a little one who needed some help.  A good friend of Happy Kids named Jeanette has a son, Anderson, with kidney disease.  Jeanette also cares for her disabled brother and her elderly mother.  They live in a tiny bamboo house and struggle everyday to have enough food and to get their medical needs met.  My sister’s friends  decided to bless their family.  Once again, name, age and clothes size was sent.  By the end of October Anderson’s gifts had arrived as well as money to help the family with food.  Anderson was ALL smiles as he opened his gifts and his family was over the moon excited for him.  His favorite gift was a yo-yo that he was still sleeping with when we left at the end of November.

While we have been home Kris has been sharing a message of HOPE in churches we have shared at.  God is the source of all hope but sometimes he uses us, you and me to deliver the reminder that hope is alive.  We are sharing at a Celebration of Life service for Jerod Culleeney tomorrow, Dec. 17.  He left us too soon.  We are heartsick for our friends and know hope can feel far away.  For the boys in the boys home who may have lost parents, and feel insecure, hope can feel distant.  For the mother with HIV caring for her 7 children alone…what is hope?  For Jeanette who shoulders a huge responsibility, I think some days she is too tired for hope.  Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   When we stand with people, encourage loved ones, share our blessings with others, we give HOPE.  As you move towards Christmas, don’t just experience HOPE..overflow with hope and give it to those around you.

 

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Dedicated to Jerod. When I brought my first baby, ANNA, home from the hospital, you were there.  The mental image of you worshipping in Refuge is burned in my spirit.  You were a part of our lives and will be a part of our heart forever. We love you.

Thank you Jesus for bringing HOPE to us this Christmas!   Much love to you all!

The Coleman Family
Kris, Rachael, Anna, Levi & Lydia
Happy Kids Missionaries to Haiti

 

GIVING OPPORTUNITY:
Jeanette, that we talked about above, is having a bit of a crisis with her land.  She was renting it with hopes of purchasing it eventually.  She works hard and has been leveling the land above her bamboo, dirt floor home to build a concrete structure.  She found out last month that the land owner has passed and his family, who inherited the property, want to sell now.  Haitian law demands that she be given a change to buy but she would need to have the entire amount by January in order to do so.  If she cannot purchase, then she must leave her home.  If this is something you would like to help with, please let us know.  We have not committed anything to her, so your willingness to help may be an answer to her prayers.  Total amount needed to purchase land for her family, $1000 US.

Pushed away from Comfort

1 Corinthians 13.   The most quoted scripture at weddings, and I would say one of the most widely known scriptures.   If I start to write it, you can probably quote some if not all of it.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.”

I have to talk about something.  I have too, because it is challenging me and to be honest it is something I avoid talking about.  I am not sure why, but Kris and I tend to shy away from social media PDA.  While I believe most of the smushy stuff, some seems contrived and like a mask hiding scars, or worse.  We have been married 18 years.  It has been a great 18 years, but I have avoided saying it at times because I fear it causing pain in others whose marriages are struggling.  I know that my friends in different circumstances would not ask or expect me to hide our contentedness, yet, we do.  It’s odd really, but I feel almost guilty.  We have made some really wise decisions for our marriage, but I understand all too well that many people make the hard, wise decisions for their marriages, and still things fall apart.  I feel undeservedly blessed. I feel grateful and humbled.  I feel unworthy and honored.  I said all that to say, today, I will brag about my husband.  It was hard for me to decide to do this.  I tell him somewhat consistently how great he is.  Did you like that “somewhat consistently” thing?   Just being honest.   I don’t tell him like I should, but beyond that, I don’t stop to see it like I should.   Over the past month, his sacrifices have been seen anew with my eyes.   I am seeing who he is and what he does with fresh perspective.   Sometimes we all need a new perspective.   Here is what I have seen.

I always believed I was the Compassionate One.  You know how in any good marriage you attribute compete?  What?!?!?!  Is that not healthy?  “I am the compassionate one, he is the wise one.  I am confrontational, he is always measured in his responses.  He is disciplined, I am free-spirited.”  Like that.  Do you do that or am I just insane?  We have our lists and we appreciate these things about each other.  Where I am weak, he is strong and vice versa, cliché I know.  I cry.  I am a feeler, I feel compassion for people. Kris used to always say that compassion was difficult for him.  He has a hard time being empathetic, so he would not always recognize a need.   Meanwhile, I would be a slobbering mess in a corner figuring out how we can make it better.  Since coming to Haiti, I have realized something.  Kris may not feel compassion, but he lives it.  First he lives it at home, where it is really glamorous.  He chooses himself last every day. Every morning our room remains dimly lit with a fan gently blowing on me until I am ready to wake.  In Haiti that is quite a feat. It means some mornings he looks around for our battery box and plugs the fan in just to walk around in the dark.  It means he serves me every morning.  His love is KIND.  Then later, he ignores exhaustion, from an early morning, to listen to me ramble, because I need adult time.  He gives me time until he can no longer hold open his eyes. His love is PATIENT.  In Haiti, I imagined us both giving and serving, me just a little more often than him.  Cringe.  I knew he would be always willing/wanting to help, I just thought I would be better at it.  I cringe again, that’s embarrassing.  He is the one who regularly gives away his food.   When we are out with the guys and he realizes they don’t have lunch, it’s his sandwich that gets torn in half. He is the one who is ALWAYS figuring out wise ways to support a Haitian brother in school, or in business, or with expenses.  He puts his Haitian brothers before himself. His love is NOT SELF-SEEKING.  In this way, he is rocking my world, proving to be a Man of God of great caliber and keeping, in my opinion, company with the most notable missionaries in time.  I am so challenged by his giving spirit, I realize he has a lot to teach me about compassion.  Kris can overlook flaws.  Thank goodness, because I have plenty.  The guys we work with have some of their own.   Kris can see past it.  He can offer grace because he is humble.  He gives me grace and gives the guys grace.  Sometimes I want him to stay angry or hold a grudge, because I think that my anger is wisdom.  His love is NOT PROUD and DOESN’T KEEP A RECORD OF WRONGS.  Kris avoids the limelight, doesn’t crave position and rarely NEEDS to be heard.  His love does NOT BOAST.

I am learning that emotion does not = compassion. Compassion is a choice.  Love is a choice. A choice to position yourself lower than the people around you.  My Kristopher, makes non-emotional choices, one after another to be second.  How convicting is that?  As it turns out, Kris is more compassionate than I ever hoped to be, but man I sure thought I had this non-competition in the bag.  I am learning to be more like Jesus, by watching my husband.  He is a model that I can follow as he follows Christ.  In John 3:30 the disciple John says, “He must become greater, I must become less.”  Kris does this every day. It is not comfortable.  He is choosing hunger when he could be full, he chooses people over pride, and he chooses me when he could choose himself.  Do me a favor and don’t make this about me.  I like me, I am just growing and have been so encouraged by my strong man. Do Kris a favor and don’t make this about him, he is going to hate this anyway. Don’t take this to mean that my husband has no flaws, but don’t make me list them for you to believe my sincerity.  There was only one wholly selfless person, who gave his life for his friends and that is Jesus. I can tell you that this love that Jesus has for all mankind, does not fail. God’s love for us protects, hopes and perseveres.  December 13, 1997 I married a truly remarkable man and I have been so well-loved by him.   I love you Kris and am pushed away from comfort, towards Jesus, by your selfless example.   Thank you for endeavoring to love like Jesus!

Brief Practical Family/Ministry Update:

We leave for our 1st trip back to the states on November 25.   We will be traveling to see family, enjoy the holidays and share our work in churches.  Pray for us as we travel.  I also want to thank the MANY people who have donated supplies or gifts over the past 2 months!  We have been well stocked with medical supplies, gifts for struggling families and a boys home, and a few much LOVED supply boxes for our family.  We are so grateful for the immense support we have in all of you.   Because of you, a community care clinic will be starting soon in a small village.   Because of you, 1 boys home with 10 boys has new shoes, clothes, toiletries, gifts and school books.   Because of you, a little boy with kidney disease, has shoes, clothes, toys, toiletries and food.   Because of you a terribly poor family, whose mother has HIV, is getting goats, food, shoes, clothes, toiletries, and small gifts.   I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness and grace through all of you!   To our monthly supporters, you are the day in and day out facilitators of our stay in Haiti.  Don’t ever forget how vital your support truly is!

A broken washing machine, 500 goudes, and living life upside down

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Warning before reading…I thought I was funny today. Cracking jokes, right, left and center. Laughing at myself as I type. I apologize in advance.

In my usual fashion, I am updating weeks after I should be. August and September have been…hot. Lydia turned 6 on Sept 1st and is adorably demanding that I give her her 6 year old clothes (the hand me downs that I have put back for her). Much of my time has been spent preparing the kid’s homeschool curriculum, carving out a school room in a home we share with 11 people and then beginning school. We kicked off the school year on September 8. Anna had math remaining from all of our traveling, so her summer break was officially 3 days long. A fact that thrilled her 13-year-old spirit greatly. Sarcasm heartily implied. She was actually a great sport and we made the best of her 3 day break by swimming and talking up the fact that it was her summer break in every convo. We said things like, “Sure you can stay up late tonight and watch movies…IT’S SUMMER!” Anywho, All that is over now, school has begun. Lydia is challenged by her 1st grade curriculum, especially “curvis” (cursive), which I try to get her to say constantly. If you correct her, I will hire a hit man. The older 2 are really enjoying some wise curriculum choices on my part. *clears throat* Rocked it!

Kris has had a productive 6 weeks as he oversees the team here and continues to build relationships in our partner villages. He has met a new Pastor and was honored to have been invited into his home 2 weeks ago. It is a real sign of friendship to go inside the home of a Haitian. He has been meeting with young men in our community, Big and Chauffer, and finding out about the little businesses they run. Kris is trying to wrap his mind around business ideas that could provide employment to as many people as possible. We took the entire staff to the beach town of Jacmel for some family bonding. We had a great time just hanging out with Elimage, Antoine, David, Daniel, Wilson and Jessie.

While we have been busy with the everyday life of Haiti we have had many opportunities to serve and help. We were able to pay for the medical care of a good friend whose eyes had turned yellow following a fever. That’s never good. He had Malaria and we were able to get him the medical care he needed. His mother and father are precious people and showered Kris with gifts to say thank you. Limes, a mango, a wonderful lunch and again an invitation to come inside a Haitian home. We supported a local community event by donating funds for school supplies for nearby students. Coming up with the money for school is one thing…uniforms & supplies can really push it over the edge. Something to ponder. Many times a year’s school tuition, uniform and supplies for one child will be at least 2 months of an average Haitian salary. That is, of course, if the Haitian lives at the poverty line. Haiti has 59% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Doesn’t add up. This week I baked a cake for Antoine who directed our singing of Happy Birthday in Creole. He had two pieces. I love cooking for that guy, he always likes my food, makes me happy. We have gone to visit our future neighbors in Fond Douze. In late August, I prayed and chatted with a woman who said, “Sometimes I cannot talk without crying.” Her situation is dire but what she is struggling with is depression and anxiety, if I had to guess. There is no treatment for her here. So we will visit and we will be friends and we will listen and when she cries it will be to us and hopefully to Jesus.   I would be honored to be her friend. I prayed for an older gentleman who knocked on our door just to tell us that some people were being mean to him. Broke my heart. Sometimes all I have to give is a hug and encouraging words. He was not well, mentally, and there is a hardness here to that, because there just simply is no help. I could go on but you get the drift.

Ministry happens in the everyday. When you are looking for opportunities to DO something, they are all around you. Today for instance, one of our wonderful Haitian staff broke my washing machine. I wasn’t mad, just disappointed. She had never used one before 2 months ago and she overloaded it, causing the motor to burn up. Am I happy? No. Do I hold her responsible? No. She did not know that would happen, nor could she have. Still, I am out a washer. A few minutes later I offered her a ride home because I needed to run an errand. On the way home we were talking about her son, Anderson. He is sick with chronic kidney disease. She told me that on Monday he had to go the hospital. I kept asking questions and found out that it took all her money to care for him that day. ALL of it. I asked, “Do you have money for food?” She said “no”.  We gave her some cash for her to get groceries for the next week. She broke my washer, and I ended up giving her 500 goudes. We live in an upside down kingdom, or at least we should. Jesus frequently asks us to do the opposite of what we would naturally do. Here are a few examples.
Matthew 20:16
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 5:41
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
Matthew 23:11
“The greatest among you will be your servant.”
Matthew 5:44
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

Just ask my kids if I always live this principle. Bahahahaha, Never mind please don’t. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

OK, well. I have one other thing that I want to throw out there. That is THANK YOU! We have received some care packages this month from some dear friends and what a blessing it has been to get those small and large treats alike. Thanks to our day in day out supporters. You are the bee’s knees folks! Thank you for processing that support every month and for praying for us. Some days are great and others I wish were over by 8AM, but there is no way we could be here without you. Your giving and messages of encouragement mean the world to us. We are blessed by your friendship. If you ever want to connect personally or you ever have any questions, please contact us. We would love to chat via email. God Bless you dear friend and I will try to update sooner. No seriously. Much Love.