Fellowship

It will soon be Easter. On that day, we will stand together remembering the One who lived, died, and rose for us. This is the climax of history, the focal point of God’s saving works. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

But then what? What are we to do? Where are we to go? To whom can we turn?…this is where the Church comes in. We are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are the Church. We are the ‘now what’ and the place we go. We look to one another, united in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We fellowship together, live our lives together, share our possessions together. We are the body. We are the Temple. We are family. We show up on Sundays, Wednesdays, whatever days we gather for worship, and shake hands and say hello. Then we go home, we go to work or school or elsewhere, we go about our lives until we come back together again.

But fellowship is not just Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights; fellowship is sharing our whole lives together in living out God’s mission and proclaiming the Gospel. Fellowship is not just when we get together to eat; it is opening our lives to one another. Fellowship is having each others’ backs and supporting one another through the good and the bad. Fellowship asks more of us than coming to worship or going to Bible study. Fellowship is about opening up the entirety of our lives to one another and about walking together in faith and love.

It is now that I need fellowship the most. For the past six years, I have been actively seeking God’s call on my life-to be an orphan care worker in Haiti fulltime. For the past year, I have been looking for enough financial support to finally achieve this. Today, I regret to share that I am no longer being pursued for my dream position and the position God has put on my life. I do not often ask others so blatantly for emotional support, and it is strange for me to do so. But today, I need a fellowship of believers and friends that will have my back and support me in this time.

And know this: I will not give up on achieving God’s will on my life. He has called me to the orphan. He has called me to Haiti. He has called me, and I have said, “Here I am!” One day, I will make it. One day, I will rejoice in what God has done to get myself there. One day, I will understand why He says “No” to getting me there right now. One day, I will share with the Haitian orphan why we celebrate Easter, why we celebrate Christmas, why we celebrate God’s love.

Today, I may not have all the answers. Today, I may be questioning a lot of stuff in my life, especially the past six years. Today, the past six years feel like a failure. Today, I say, “Your will be done!” whether I understand it or not.

Remember what the father does in the parable of the prodigal? The father does not rub his son’s face in his failures. The father does not magnify his mistakes. The father does not say to him, “I told you so.” The father does not tell him how dirty he is, how smelly he is, how bad his life has become; he already knows this. The son does not need reminded; he needs welcomed back in a joyous way. And so his dad pulls out all the stops, and says to the son that, in that town, in that community, “this son of mine is getting a block party-not because he deserves it-because he’s my son.” Today, I come to you as the prodigal son. Today, I need fellowship. I need welcomed home.

I conclude by saying this: in no way do I have bad feelings towards the ministry or towards anybody with whom I met as a potential supporter. The executive leadership has been very supportive in this decision and they are helping me with the logistics of my transition. The funds that I had raised will remain with the organization, as this is their policy and will be used to help support other areas of the ministry. This is an incredible ministry and you can rest assured whatever donations were made will be used in the best possible way to provide orphan care. It is my hope that I can work with the ministry as often as I possibly can-they are by far the BEST mission organization I’ve ever worked with. In fact, with a portion of the donated funds, I will be travelling to Haiti. It is my hope that those who supported me financially this time will consider joining me when the time comes to get myself there according to God’s timing.

Thank you to the ministry for being there in many ways: Beth, Todd, Corrie, John, Jason, Jeff, Janice, Brent, Anna, Dan, Holly, Matt, Julie, David, Jayne to name a few. The staff as a whole has been pouring so much into me in the past year that I felt included, accepted, loved. Thank you to all of my one-time donation givers. Thank you to my annual supporters. Thank you to my monthly supporters. Thank you for all the fellowship I’ve been a part of these past many years.

This is not the end!

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More than dreaming

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

More than dreaming, I want to do, to go, to love, to be. Because love does. Because chasing whimsy is better than dreaming whimsy. Because passion will fill my sails. Because there are so many people to love and places to go and experiences to have. – Lauren Ellis, “more than dreaming.” 23 June 2014

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Ever since I was young, I have had the same dream: help those who need it most. Although I have been on mission trips in many of the states and also in Haiti, I know that weeklong trips aren’t enough for me. Love does, not love sometimes does. I need to do more. I need to love more. I need to fulfill the Great Commission in everything that I do.

God is calling me to live in Haiti fulltime as a missionary. God is calling me to the orphan. I know this as fact. Friends see me as crazy, extended family disapproves, lack of financial resource limits how long I can be there and governs when I can move; it seems as if everyone around me is getting where they are called to be, but I have to wait. How do I go about following through with God’s calling when nearly everywhere I turn, the world is discouraging me from doing so?

I guess time will tell. I will trust in Him. I will delight myself in everything He does. He has put into my life a purpose, and He will get me there.

Haiti 2016: 1 and 2 February

This year, Church of the Savior and Valley Forge UMC are working in Village de la Grâce, one of the many tent cities in the Port-au-Prince area. Through the building of 12’x12’ tin and lumber homes, it is our hope that the people are shown God’s love in ways they could not have imagined.

When it is time for a new home to be built, the morning of the people tear down the previous tent and relocate the stuff within. Imagine having your home torn down and all of your stuff being moved out in less than 15 minutes. It certainly puts things in perspective for those of us who live in such a privileged society.

On Monday, we were able to complete nearly three homes. Greg ended up feeling under the weather and had Fanfan take him home as we did more work through the day.

In order to build the homes, we had three people on cutting wood, many on building frames and putting the tin on, as well as took turns loving on the kids and playing with them—sometimes to get them away from the work site, as it can be dangerous for little ones, sometimes because we were taking a water break. The ground is leveled, the blocks and floor are set, and work on the walls follows. Four walls, a roof, a window, a door, and two shelves replace the tent that the family previously lived in. At some point after finishing the homes, we pray a blessing for the house and family, as well as present the family with a Bib La (Haitian Bible). We did this for one of the houses.

I was able to make it 10 days in Haiti without getting a sun burn or minor injury. That’s a new record. The area in which we are working has no shade for the majority of the day, so after spending so long in the sun, you start to feel it. At one point, I was playing futbol with some of the kids and all of a sudden one of their heads met my lip, which then met with a tooth. Fat-lipped and red-armed, I was ready for the next day.

Today, we built two-and-some houses again. We were able to bless two more homes.

God moment for the past two days: After blessing the first home on the second day, we learned that it was for one of the worship leaders in the tent city’s church. In thanks, she began to sing in Kreyol ‘How Great Thou Art’. The other Haitians around us joined in as well as those of us on the work team. That moment of experiencing so many of us worshiping the same God in differnet tongues was awe-inspiring. It is a moment many of us will never forget.

Last night’s devotion involved me telling my testimony (read the following post Prodigal in order to read it if you don’t already know it). Tonight’s is coming soon, and I will post the devotion that is in the book later on.

One Trip Ends, Another Begins

My final day with B2B was spent relaxing at Kaliko Beach on Côte des Arcadins. The missionaries and their kids spent a good amount of time poolside or collecting sea shells and dried-up starfish and sea urchins. Most of that time, I spent with them at poolside, while also taking some one-on-one time with God.

Beaches are one of my favorite places to go. When I look out into the ocean, I am reminded of all there is in the world. I look out to the horizon and see opportunity. I see where I stand in the world. I take the time to just sit, pray, contemplate, and enjoy the moment.

In 2010, when I went to South Carolina with my high school mission team, we had devotion on Edisto Beach. We waited until twilight to place a cross in the sand, sing a few songs, and pray and listen to God. We learned of His redeeming grace that is often seen in the sacrament of baptism. The water washes away in a moment all that was in your past and brings you into the world in a fresh way.

Yesterday, I took the time to walk out into the ocean – about knee-high – and read some passages to remind me of the rite of baptism, the living water, and the love of God. I returned to sit by the poolside for a while before lunch.

Today, I have already met up with the Philadelphia portion of my group for the Servants In Fellowship half of my trip. The Cincinnati group is expected to arrive at the airport around 730, and get to the guest house around 800-830.

It is my hope that in the past week, and in the one forthcoming, we were/are able to share a sliver of that love and living water with those in Haiti.

I asked if I could write the devotions for the Servants in Fellowship trip this year. As the week progresses, check back in for what we have been doing, as well as to follow along with the devotions as we get to them.

Haiti 2016: 28-29 Jan

 

For the most part, the past two days were pretty low key.

Yesterday I accompanied Brent on a trip to Valerio Cazan, where a good amount of furniture and appliances can be purchased-kind of like an Haitian Sears. While he went to purchase a new oven and check to see if an item that was requested was in stock, I went ahead and looked at about how much certain items would cost for when I finally come down to live in Haiti more permanently. I took the low- and mid-range prices and for furniture and appliances alone (not including security money, rent, vehicle, general support, etc.) came up with anywhere between 8810 and 22460 (recommended to go closer to the higher end of these figures).

Work on getting the paperwork done continued, and I helped with translating English to French for a few documents. Some of the staff had a Skype meeting that I was able to listen in on while doing said translating, so I was able to see how some of the inner workings of international non-profits work.

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Today, I went out to Titanyen with the Hickman family to visit a home of seventeen children. On the way, we stopped at Yulti’s, a nearby Haitian restaurant, where I had griot (triple fried pork). I always look forward to eating Haitian food. I also saw the water up close for the first time.

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When we arrived at the home, I was able to see more of what a captain does. We played games with the kids like “volleyball” and a game that involved putting a spoon in your mouth and balancing a bouncy ball on it while walking-kind of like those ‘don’t drop the egg’ type games. We didn’t stay too long because the kids hadn’t eaten yet-we didn’t want to postpone their meal.

A stop to City Market to pick up a few things (including Casino cookies for me!) happened on the way back to the guesthouse.

Dinner was with the Ravenhorsts and Holly’s sister, Bri, at their place.

I got back to the guesthouse in time to join the Fudges during their family movie night-High School Musical 2.

Haiti 2016: 27 Jan

It came time for the missionaries to go in to get some medical checks, and in order for them to all go at one time, they had me substitute for Janice at the school. All morning, I was in charge of making sure the nine missionary and two Haitian kids did their studies. Since each one is at a different grade level, this mainly involved them working from workbooks specially crafted for that grade level.

The day began by having a Bible lesson: review of Matthew 8:23-27 and why instead of being afraid, we should have faith in God. I let the kids know about my fear of raccoons – hopefully they won’t use it against me sometime!

Once we were done with the lesson, we sung a few songs about God being a superhero and about the books of the Bible.

Time for working in the workbooks came and went before recess, where the kids can have a snack and play for a little while.

After recess, we returned inside and while some doodled or colored, I read two chapters from a book on George Müller. They learned of the first Bible studies he attended and felt God and his father’s rejection of the fact George wanted to become a missionary.

After a total of four hours, the missionaries arrived in time for lunch, when I ate and ran an errand to Cassandra Supermarche with Jeff. We returned to the main office/guest house where he caught up on e-mails. After a short time, we unloaded blocks from one of the ministry trucks that will be used to build an additional shower/toilet area.

Dinner was with the newest set of missionaries and their kids at the other building, and good conversation was had. I had a few questions that I have for the other missionaries, but will have plenty of time for that later.

After returning to the guesthouse again, the Fudges and I played some games and watched funny videos on Youtube. If the medical stuff had lasted as short of a time as expected instead of four hours, the day would have included a trip out to another home. Instead, I’ll be able to do that on Friday.

Keep checking in!