This past year has been quite the ride. For both of us, it has been the craziest 365+ days of our lives, and we are so grateful that God has continued to sustain us, lead us, and show his faithfulness to us. We have experienced great joy, great difficulty, and seen great clarity in God holding us in his hands.
And it all started by reading a little book. In the spring of 2008, we were living in Jacksonville and both Diana and I read a book by Gary Haugen called Just Courage. The basic premise of the book (which we highly recommend) is that we are invited by God to live our lives in such a way that we require him to be faithful and for us to be dependent on him giving us courage. Every day. So we prayed that God would lead our lives to make us depend on him for that courage.
We had no idea where he would take us, and most of the time we didn’t even know (and often are still unaware) of just how much courage God provide our hearts with. And he does it for every one of his children.
Disclaimer: Reading the book mentioned above does not guarantee you have to live through an earthquake in Haiti.
As we look back on this past year since we moved to Haiti, and as we look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead, we are grateful for the courage God promises us.
There have been times of great fear, and times of great unknown. The day after the earthquake was the worst and hardest day of our lives, with hopelessness and despair gripping this country. We experienced fear. I experienced it when we flew back to this island the week after the quake to drive in food and supplies, and Diana was afraid of her husband driving across the border where people had been shot for food. Diana was fearful when she flew back to Haiti that week to bring Mindylove to the US, and as her husband, I was afraid of my wife flying into the center of a capital city within a country in complete and utter chaos. Yet in all of this, there was indescribable, unimaginable courage – courage that we were largely unaware of, but that was gifted to us as God so led.
We love Haiti. And we love living here. We thank God he has opened the door for us to be here. And yet, often my mind races back to the hardest times living here. I recall the many tears we have cried. I think of the hopeless faces with have encountered. I think of the horror of earthquake aftermath and the car accident trauma in our hospital. I think of the sick people no human can heal, and the millions of hungry people we cannot feed. I recall the frequent injustices we see firsthand that make my heart sick. I think of the draining nature of all of it, and I wonder at how a human heart can survive pain like that.
In that wondering, I am brought back to thanking Jesus for giving us courage. He commands us to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9) but then he actually provides the courage for our hearts as well. And we know this is truly good news.
And we have witnessed truly great news play out. We have seen God rescue orphans, and have watched amputees walk again. We have been able to be a part of God feeding the hungry, and we have witnessed his protection. We have made lifelong friends, had hearts melted by countless children, learned a new strange sounding language (yon lang ak son dwol yo), laughed a lot, welcomed many dear visiting friends, and we have received a gift of real hope of seeing Haiti transformed.
A day of God's provision. A little orphan girl came home!
We want to thank all of our friends for praying for and encouraging us this past year, and we hope that you will continue to pray for us. And if you don’t believe in prayer, or God, or him giving us courage, we pray that God would draw you to himself, and make you dependant on him, and his courage, for every day of your life.
Also, if you have a few hours free, order that book, Just Courage
, and read it. I hope it will help you see the freedom we have been given ever more clearly.
we have a small little 10 day assignment for all of you... just to keep us fresh on working together... while raising asome money for work in Haiti... here is whats going on...
Chase bank is giving away over $5 million dollars, all to charities that have small operating budgets (under $1 million dollars.) They are having a voting contest on Facebook and the top vote getter wins $250,000. The next 4 spots get $100,000 each. The top 200 charities get $20,000 each.
There are 10 days left. We just found out about it yesterday, but because we are competing with small organizations, we really think Lespwa can win. The voting is on Facebook, and you can vote for up to 20 organizations, so share the love, and get out to the e-ballot-voting-stations. And you can even pretend that you have an "I Voted" sticker to wear around.
We believe that if we can get 1000 votes (we already have 150+ in 12 hours), we can win $20,000. Our goal -- and prayer -- is that we could get 20,000+ votes and possibly win $250,000. Either way, your vote could be worth $10-$20 dollarsTo do this, WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!
After you vote, (or if you are not on facebook) here is what is what you can do to help:1. Stand on your rooftop and shout (electronically through email)2. Put a link to the voting on your facebook wall3. Personally message at least 10 people encouraging them to vote, and then tell their friends!4. If you haven't voted, stop reading, and get out to the polls. Pretend it's election day if you need to!5. Write a similar blog to this (you have permission to plagiarize this blog if you want) asking your friends to help6. Take a minute to pray for the people of Haiti. Regardless of this contest, God will continue his restoration of Haiti, and we ask that you pray for the Haitian people. If you don't like praying, or don't believe in prayer. Tell God that too. 7. Tweet it, Digg it, Status it, and Stumble it, Etc it. (if you don't know what any of this means, or you are over the age of 40, you can skip this step)8. Go to our friend, Brooks Potteiger's website, and choose one of his awesome pictures from Haiti. (If you like some of his photo's please support him as well.) Then make that photo your profile picture on facebook, tag a bunch of friends, and make this the photo text: "I have personally selected you to vote for Lespwa Worldwide to help us win $250,000 dollars. Click here to vote: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/205019981-lespwa-worldwide-inc. After you finish voting, which takes just a minute!, please download a picture from http://brooksphoto.smugmug.com/Travel/Perspectives-of-Haiti/12772131_mm5MF#920294482_ZYk8e and tag all of your most awesome friends as well!"
Also, if you need it, here is the link to send to your friends for voting: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/205019981-lespwa-worldwide-incThere is a rumor going around that a Jeremy, Austin, Diana and I (Jay) will be making a youtube rap video, along with our Haitian friends, to send out to you all this weekend. If this rumor is true, we will let you know, and you can proudly show this video to all of your friends. The tentative title for the video (and this is secret for you guys only) is "Vote your socks off!" We are open to other video titles/ideas. If you have one that you think is better than that, please post your ideas in the comments below. Thanks a lot for reading, caring, and praying. Thanks for supporting and believing in us, and thank you for loving us.
Since we got to Haiti, every Haitian that we have asked has insisted it is safe here now. Even the white foreigners say that Haiti is safe now, that the gangs have been dispersed, and that Haiti has peace. For now. We are however (and forever will be) very careful here. We never travel anywhere without Haitians with us (partly because we can not function or communicate, but also for safety purposes). I have noticed, though, how peaceful the country seems politically.
Life feels a little less peaceful when entering the market. We went to the local market (with 5 Haitians of course) on Thursday. When I say market, I really just mean utter Mayhem. Chaos. Havoc. Everyone is running around. Carrying anything and everything. Its muddy from rain. The smells all combine to form a nostril-cleansing pasty haze. The meat selections come covered in flies, and of course cow esophagus and donkey hooves are both options for the taking. Live chickens cost more than the pre-slaughtered variety. Noises everywhere, buckets carried mostly on heads, and yet most of the people give us huge smiles, loving the fact that we are experiencing their lives, living with them. And they may not know that we love being here even more than they could realize. I feel alive here.
One of the guys who walked us to the market is a guy named Andeson. He is a member of the church here in our village and he is so incredibly gentle, yet has a laugh that can ignite uproarious joy. He is 24 and speaks perfect creole (as expected, but i am still jealous). He was at church today and hanging out with some of the church staff this afternoon. I met him years ago, and every time I see him, I think I really want to be his friend. For real. I know that much just by his demeanor, his smile, his handshake, and his laugh. But there is this gaping language barrier between me and about 98 percent of all Haitians. Andeson included. But today we attempted yet another broken creole/broken english conversation. I was so blessed. He asked me if I love Haiti. I explained I did because the people here are so special (but I dont know how to say even that sentence in creole). So, all I got out was that the people in this village love me. And I love them. He said that is because Jesus is in his heart. And Jesus is in my heart. And so "we love us" is how the creole phrase translated (meaning, the Haitian and the American believers love each other).
My new friend and I realized we both want to learn each other's language. We both need a teacher. And thus we are starting English/Creole class tomorrow. He is the Creole "pwofese", and the Americans are the English "teachers". And we get to hang out every day and grow as friends. I can tell him about my culture, and he can teach me about his, and we get to share life with each other. Daily. Learning from each other. And growing together as friends.
So God continues to give us friends. We feel blessed. The Haitians love us really well, and we love getting to live this life together with them.
P.S. Jay wrote this blog -- just clarifying for anyone worried about Diana spending one-on-one time with Haitian men. That is not happening. Nor vice versa.