from Jerry...

As we drove to our destination (Le Cayes) on our first night, you have no doubt heard or read that we witnessed utterly devastating poverty.  Later that night during a team meeting, Teren admitted that she had to quietly ask herself the question "Is my God big enough for this"?  When I heard that, I had to ask myself - how do we define the "this" which God had to be big enough for?  I believe the apostle Paul answers the question for us.
Ephesians 3:6:  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
If the "this" is - can God SAVE Haitians and give them joy in the midst of their poverty...then the answer is...YES!   This gives me hope.  This makes me realize that our goal is not to relieve their poverty and difficulties in everyday life, but instead, give them Jesus - and the hope of the gospel!     Acts 3:6: But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you."  We did not bring silver and gold to the Haitians, but we did bring them the power of Jesus!  We repeated to them that the gospel changes people!  Their circumstances may never change, but their hope remains in tact because they trust in the One who reminds them that there is an inheritance that awaits them that He Himself is keeping! (I Peter 1:4)  This is true for us all!

Why did I go to Haiti?  I mean, what is the reason that 9 Berean members went (and still are) there?  Was it to just go and bring the Gospel and it's effect to these dear Haitians?  Yes. But why could we go with this hope and expectation in the first place?  Well, God went before us with a promise, a promise to reach them with His gospel!  A promise to never leave them or forsake them!  A promise of a future hope that awaits them!  How precious our God is to us all.

My friends, the Haitians are actually rich because God in His mercy extended the gospel to the gentiles...to Haitians!  This is awesome!  We were not there because WE are merciful, but because GOD was and is merciful!  We were simply going to be partakers of the promise God made to bring the gospel to all nations...long ago!

I cannot tell you how profound this experience was for me.  Even now my eyes grow moist as I recount how gracious God was to allow me the humbling experience of even going.  To see Haitians look at me and listen with ears and hearts wide open.  To have several of them tell me how much they needed to know the truth of God about marriage - and how it is a picture of the gospel. You may of heard that I had trouble sleeping, but I tell you without hesitation that I can't wait to return to my Haitian brothers and sisters!  I have never been struck by a missions endeavor to this depth.  My heart is overwhelmed.

Now I am safely returned to my home, but my teammates remain.  I urge you to pray for them as they complete their objective to reach Haitians with the sanctifying power of the gospel!  Christ is all!  To my fellow teammates...I miss you.  Serve well...serve with humility, and watch God work in your midst!  Yes Teren, your God is big enough!
 
 
from Christy....
I am staying in the pink room at the guest house, room number 5.
Adorning my walls are two prints of Port au Prince in which the photographer was
careful in the execution of perspective.

As an artist I would say I have an understanding of perspective. When
perspective is used correctly, one can depict volume and spatial relationship on
a flat surface. Furthermore, the Latin word perspectus means to see clearly. And
I’ve CLEARLY been hanging with Teren too long! 

My role in this mission’s trip was to give an artistic visual tool in
order to solidify the objective of Teren’s messages. I’ve spent many hours in
preparation for this trip but I was not prepared for this lesson in
perspective.

 My education began immediately after landing with our drive from Port
au Prince to Cayes. My brain raced with visual overload. Everywhere your eye
could see people moved on all different modes of transportation. The colorful
painting of a single tap-tap would have been enough to gaze upon and observe its
multitude of color and pattern, but pile twenty Hatians in it watch it zig-zag
through speeding traffic free from rules and this girl could not find focus. 
My emotions were stirred instantly. All of a sudden the images of
destruction and poverty from my flat-screen TV became three-dimensional reality.
My perspective was changing and not in the right way. I allowed fear to creep
in, “How is what I’ve prepared going to change anyone’s condition?” “There is
too much destruction, where would we begin?”

 When I am confronted with chaos a deep need in the very core of my
being longs for order. As bus bounced along the path they called a road my focus
fixed on the disorder and my lack of ability to bring change. My eyes could not see beyond the
brokenness.
Thankfully my lesson didn’t end with my eyes focused on life under the
sun. As I became submersed in the Haitian culture I was able to spot hints of
beauty amongst the chaos. My days were filled with opportunities to serve and to
be served. My vision, although still blurry, began to clear. 

Monday everything fell into place for me when Teren spoke on submission
to the ladies at the marriage conference. She decided to scrap her script and
trust in the Holy Spirit to guide her talk and I’m glad she did. Jesus never
disappoints. I sat alone, off to the side, in the front of the church. Teren
began to engage the women and I transcribed the questions and responses. I
found myself flooded with tears as I documented the discussion. I realized that
these ladies have the same struggles I do. They find humor in the same things I
do. And they hurt like I do. Through those tears God clarified my sight. He
plucked me out of my seat and placed me at the foot of the cross. 
 
Instantly I could see clearly that I am not going to change
Haiti. I don’t have the means to do that but what I have, I will freely give.
Mine is the good news that once I was  blind but now I see. It is my privilege to
 invite my new Haitian friends to join me at the foot of the cross. There is no better view.   
 
 
"How do you practice biblical submission without feeling diminished?" That was the first question in our ladies Q&A. It was asked by the delightful young gal in the phot above. She and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary by attending the marriage conference. She is a kindred spirit. She voiced for all of us one of the greatest struggles of submission. 

What a privilege it was to help these women see how very alike we are. We have common fears. Common sin struggles. And can know redemption because of a common Savior!  Berean women, thank you for praying for me! (Teren)The experience of teaching these women was like none I've ever had before. God answered your prayers and teaching through translation was delightful! (I promise we'll get a photo of Marie-Lucie before we leave. She just works so hard and moves so fast that she hard to capture with a camera!) Thanks Colette and Karen for your helpful advice. I scrapped the transcript and taught from the depths of my heart. The talks would probably never pass any tests for speech-making, but God did use them to bind my heart and these ladies' hearts to our common Savior. They passed the test for friendship-making.

The Q&A time in yesterday's session revealed a lot of pain in the ladies' lives. I felt like I wanted to share with them how to pray a lament. Most of these ladies will not be there when I teach that session on Thursday. So I asked them if they would like me to share that with them instead of the session on respecting your husband that I had planned. The concensus was that they wanted both! So we punted. Last night we found a posterboard and Christy painted a background. The two subjects fit together perfectly and this group of ladies so appreciated those five steps. The sessions are very interactive, they were loud and fun. We laughed a lot! And their joyful response to the glorious reminder of the soon-coming, all-powerful King united our hearts.
Gorgette's smile throughout the sessions was such an encouraging gift -- but she doesn't like to smile for the camera. She's the choir director in her church and her husband in the head of the men's ministry (Caleb) for the central district of MEBSH. We are looking forward to getting to know them better through through the rest of the week!

That's all for now...someone else will write soon....
 
 
On Sunday morning we attended the church that meets in the upstairs of Pierre's parent's home. They invited us for dinner after church -- this was before the banquet. We had a wonderful meal and delightfully smooth Haitian coffee -- which was worth drinking even though we were dripping with sweat!

Pierre's father is not in good health so our visit with him was short. But, we were truly honored to meet this man who has so faithfully walked with God. Someday, hopefully soon, Rich is going to write about the thoughts that were going through his head as we visited with this man who has so faithfully served the Lord for so many years. Feel free to facebook Rich and let him know that you are waiting for the real post!
 
 
It's just travel. Hatian style.
Picture
....a bit of lag-time in communication down here. This is from Sunday afternoon...

White folks all dressed up bouncing through the streets of Haiti in the back of a pick-up truck. Yep. We (this is Teren) can now add that to the list of our new experiences. Oh, and did I mention that part of the trip was along the edge of a cliff...driving very fast...in reverse? But, we were late. Our set-up for the banquet took a lot longer than expected. Late arrival of the tables and chairs and the breeze we'd been praying for that arrived in gales didn't help make the plastic tablecloths and paper plates the vision of loveliness that we'd envisioned. I was tense and frustrated. 

Pierre had asked us be dressed by 3 PM so the people didn't see us in our work clothes. We wanted the couples to recieve a beautiful welcome complete with a special hors d'oeuvres. Instead the couples started showing up at 2 PM to a truly American team frazzled because things weren't going our way.

At 3 we jumped in that truck and raced in reverse across the cliff to try to freshen up. Sean, our missionary rescuer, asked a Hatian pastor to lead singing and 10 minutes later Pierre was back to translate for Jerry and kick off the marriage conference.

Jerry finished teaching and the rest of us breathed a sigh of grateful relief when Pierre suggested that they take questions. The food had still not arrived. But the people were engaged in the discussion, the food did arrive. And then we witnessed one of the best parts of Hatian culture. They are not in a hurry. They were not upset that the buffet tables weren't loaded or the silverware unwarped. They enjoyed the breeze, the gorgeous view and the time for conversation with their friends. Only us Americans were stressed out.

Picture
As the food was served the Hatians were delighted. Chuck's dream of being a french waiter was fulfilled as a table kept calling on "guy" to assist them. Its a nickname that's stuck.

As people started to leave Pierre sat down for a bite to eat. Someone asked him a question about Monday and he laughted and said, "I'm so tired I can't even eat -- let alone think about tomorrow." Just minutes later he learned that he was expected to preach in a local church in just a few minutes.  As he climbed into the truck the drived announced he had a flat-tire. Someone nearby had a motorcycle and offered him a ride. Half-way to church a motorcycle tire popped. Pierre hailed a taxi and then borrowed money from a stranger when he arrived at the church to pay the driver. In the middle of the message the power went out. This is Haiti. Piere continued preaching and the rest of us, unaware of all the transportation problems or the power outage, but knowing how tired we were and how he must be even worse -- we just prayed that God's strength would be strong in Pierre's weakness. And He was.

Our understanding of our need to live lives of repentance and to cling to the grace offered through the Gospel has been renewed. Its the story that we've come to tell. And we have been equal recipients of its message.

 
 
The church sang Happy Birthday to Rich in Creole. How many people get to have that experience? The gal in the pink shirt is Sean's wife Heather. Her birthday is Thursday.
 
 
Sorry about that goof on the post this morning! We tried to publish it before church but it didn't work quite right and we didn't have time to fix it!

The post asks you to pray for Jerry as he preached this morning...he did a great job! At the end of the service one of the deacons closed in a long prayer. Afterwards Sean told us that in the prayer he reiterated Jerry's teaching. Sean said, "They got it!" Pray that God will produce the fruit that he has promised. Fruit that will remain.

We had a wonderful lunch with Pierre's family and are now off to set up for an outdoor banquet that will kick-off the marriage conference at 3PM.
 

Day 2

08/18/2013

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Today was another good day. After a needed night’s sleep, we
  awoke to sunshine and another hot day (think Michigan in August any other year
  than this year). We have learned that we will need to drink water often to
  replace what we sweat out. It reminds me of the days as a kid with no
  air-conditioning – you can really appreciate it when you have it, but you adapt
  to in not being there.

 Today was a day of acclamation to our surroundings. We saw the grounds of MEBSH in Cayes, learned some about the ministries here, discovered where we would set up for the marriage banquet on Sunday,  etc.

 We also learned a bit more about each other and our Haitian  friends.

 We met Sean, a missionary that Cliff has talked about in past  blogs. What a great guy who loves the Lord and has a real desire to minister to  the Haitian people. He has been here 4 ½ years with his wife Heather and 4 kids, two of which we met today, Ellie (7) and Joey (?). (If you come to Haiti and meet Ellie or Joey, offer them roasted corn from the local street vendor and you will have a fast friend!)

 We had a great conversation with Sean on a drive to the beach where he shared honestly about the struggles of ministry, but also his love for it and desire to earnestly continue doing it. He has a real heart for the bible
school and for his students - evidenced, for example, by pointing out churches where former or current students served. He also shared some insight into the Haitian people from a missionary’s perspective. What challenges he and others
face here! For example, how do you balance giving to the needy when you can give all that you have and there still be abundant need? How do you spend time wisely when everything takes 3 times as long to do as we are used to in America – that is, How do you care for your wife and kids, manage a ministry partnership with MEBSH and help a group of Berean’s get to the beach or Church, etc.? Real questions that are real quandaries!

 He also shared his knowledge of a local bird (forgot the name – a bird that weaves grass baskets for nests) and how to kill them with a pellet gun – he is from good hunting stock in Wisconsin.

 He and Pierre worked up a game for us to play…a team building exercise called, “how many foreigners can you pack into a missionary’s car”. Take a guess. Did you guess 12? You would be kinda right. It was a trick question. The complete answer is 12 foreigners after Sean and his two kids were loaded in. Here is how the game is played. Take two vehicles, split up into two groups and head toward the beach. Stop for gas and wait for your turn at the pump (20-30 min). While you wait, marvel again at the fact that no one has yet been in an accident (think four way intersection with no traffic light and plenty of traffic – think loosely defined lanes and anything from hand propelled wooden carts, to bicycles, to motorcycles, to cars and trucks, to dump trucks vying for right of way). Head out again and have a breakdown half
 way up a hill. Discover firsthand why men gather on the side of the road. And finally, cram everyone into one car and head back to base.

 If you are like me you will ask, “Did you win or lose the game?” You might think the answer is that we lost, but you would be wrong. We didn’t make it to the beach, but we did have Christ-centered fellowship with a brother in Sean, we learned more about the people of Haiti…it was a great victory! On top of that we learned sort of what it was like to ride in a tap tap (local transportation).

 We had some time in the evening with Jean (think Jon with a soft j) and Marie-Lucie to discuss the conferences which was helpful. We learned that ministry looks in many ways the same across all cultures. Miscommunication, adapting to new information, working on the fly all take place here too. And it all works out in the end!

Pray for Jerry today. He preaches and also has the opening session to the marriage conference. Pray that the right people will come (there may be more than planned!). Pray that the food and supplies will last. Pray that the Gospel will be clearly communicated in the context of marriage, and pray that Jerry will have the energy he needs (sleep has been harder for
him).

 Thank you for your prayers!

 
 
Well, we didn’t bust…with the exception of one of our bags
  anyway. But what would a trip like this be without any adventure right. We
  decided that we shouldn’t wait until we made it to Haiti to start the adventure
  either.


Most of our days started at 3:00 am, perhaps a bit earlier. Rich
was the first to the airport at 4:00, well in advance of our departure of
  6:30am. Jerry, Chris and Christy followed shortly thereafter. All of the rest
of us arrived at the planned 4:30am, or so we envisioned. Reality was we made it
  to the church at 4:00am and realized that Chuck, Teren and I didn’t know the
  code to the garage to pull out the church van. We called at least 15 other
  Berean members and no one answered their phones (not really). I called Jerry
  and he gave me a few codes that also didn’t work. We tried everything…last 4 of
  his social security number, his mom’s birthday, his first date with
Collette…nothing. We decided to go into the church and see what we could find,
but Teren didn’t bring her keys. We decided to start to switch to plan B. Linda
had brought Chuck, we were going to load up our stuff in her car and have Joshua
Doredla drive the Maceno’s van…but we realized we had 12 other large checked
bags. We decided they would not all fit in one minivan and a Ford
Focus!


Joshua arrived a bit later to drive us to the airport…we
  scrambled around to track down van keys, finally found the right set and headed
  out to move the van to load the baggage (found out the garage key pad didn’t
work). Long story short, we did not pull into the departures at the airport
until 5:35am.


An amazing lady at the outside baggage check-in scrambled hard to
get us checked in and managed to do so (after some weight rearrangement amongst
the bags) just before the 6:00am cutoff. We made it thru security, well, all but
Jerry. A bag he didn’t pack needed to be checked. Jerry and I were the last ones
thru. I asked if he wanted me to wait so that he would have a companion on the
Saturday flight to Haiti. He turned to me, as the canned chicken, pudding packs
and other contraband he had no explanation for were being pulled out of his bag,
arms reaching forward to the closest TSA agent waiting for the handcuffs to
click, and said with conviction, “If I perish, I perish.”



Question for you to consider – have you ever seen 11 Bereans run
thru an airport frantic to make a flight? It was like an O.J. Simpson commercial
– Dashing down the hall, hurtling baggage, knocking aside the weak and elderly
(Chris couldn’t document this in photo form – there was no time). In all
seriousness, I made the gate at 6:20 or later with Jerry still behind
  me.


What did we learn? God is still in control! Can you believe that
a check-in agent, with a great attitude worked with us for a half hour straight
  to get our bags checked (Rich and Pierre behind the counter throwing bags onto
  the conveyer!).Can you believe we ALL made a flight with us arriving to the
  gate no earlier that 15min before takeoff (Jerry maybe 5 min before scheduled
  takeoff)? Can you believe that all of our bags made it onto the plane and all
  the way on To Haiti? Can you believe that Jerry made it thru security with a
  bag he didn’t pack (a managing TSA agent had to give him the ok…and did!) Can
  you believe that all of our carryon baggage had room overhead? God was kindly
  working on our behalf, blazing a trail for us to Haiti. (Pr
16:9)


We made it into Port au Prince to the stark reality of what
  physical hardship is really like. People massed in the streets trying to get
  thru another day and have food on the table and a roof over their head.
  Devastation is still evident throughout the city. Tent cities remain a fixture.
  What a contrast to our “difficulties” in suburban Michigan. It seems like no
  amount of aid can fix the visible problems in the city.



It is also a place of contrast. Cell phones in tent homes, Coke
  ads next to pikes of rubble, a man who lowers his head as a camera is pointed
  at him, yet raises it again with a smile to wave at Cloe in the bus window,
  well-built Lotto huts (yes there is lottery in Haiti) next to destroyed
  buildings.


We made it safely via a bus ride to the MEBSH guest house at
  about 8:30pm, having seen so much - so many emotions running through your mind,
  it is just hard to describe.


Pray for the people of Haiti. They have many needs, but none
  greater than the same need we all have – a need for a relationship with Christ.
  As Jerry reminded us last night – pray that God will conform us more and more
  into the image of his Son, both the Haitians and us. Pray that our focus will
  be to elevate Christ to the rightful position he deserves, preeminence in all
  areas of our life


Col 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven
and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
  authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is
  before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head
of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that
in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was
  pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
  whether on earth or in heaven, 
making peace by the blood of his cross. 
ESV


 
 
 
In November of 2012 Thabiti concluded a series of posts about preaching with the following helpful summary. As we head out this week for 10 days of preaching and teaching ministry, this is how we are praying. Will you join us?

"Resolving to know only Christ and Him crucified is the only way to cut the tentacles of worldly wisdom attached to our preaching. Resolving to know only Christ means five things:

  • Preaching with Christian ethos—humility, dependence and confidence in the gospel of our Lord;
  • Preaching with Christian pathos—sympathy and shepherding concern;
  • Preaching with Christian logos—Christ our wisdom, the organizing and governing knowledge of the universe;
  • Preaching Christ for a demos—trying to form a nation, a holy people; and
  • Preaching Christ with a telos—to see everyone fully conformed to the Lord
 

    Team Levanjil

    A written record of the work of God among the people of God in Haiti as members of Berean Baptist Church in Livonia, MI work with the leadership of MEBSH in Les Cayes, Haiti.

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