Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking things for Granted

It’s another beautiful blue skied day in Haiti.  Here, you wake up to the sound of children playing, adults working, and roosters crowing at about 5:30 a.m.  Once you get used to the early wake up, it becomes a sound that you want to hear every morning.  There are plenty of tasks to be done throughout the day.  A few include fixing the internet from lightening damage, fixing generators, fixing trucks, and taking food to people in the village. One of the most rewarding tasks that we do though, is visiting orphanages or schools that this mission feeds.  We have done that a few times since I have been here, and it’s truly awesome to see the healthy children that would be starving without this mission. 
                The most heartbreaking sight for me this trip is a house just over the hill from the mission.  It is made out of branches, some sort of grass for the roof, and pieces of tarp also on the roof.  Six kids and two parents live there! It is probably about a 10x8x7 ft hut (that’s a generous estimate).  It wasn’t until it started storming and raining when it dawned on me how miserable those people must have been on nights like that.  It would cost about $4,000 to build them a new block home. I’m praying that this mission will receive that amount for this family’s new home.  We take so many things for granted in the U.S., one of them being shelter. 


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Market Day!

We met at the rock for devotion and prayer at 7a.m. again this morning. By this point in our week of mission in Haiti, it is easy to be less concerned about prayer and more concerned about sleep. But we were reminded of how Job came naked into the world and would return into eternal glory naked. Our lives, in Haiti, are but a vapor and physical thing we can gain in this life will be lost. So we prayed for forgiveness for seeking ourselves, and pressed our spirits on toward the mission of Christ in serving and ministering to others. Off we went again in the big yellow lifeline bus!
 After being jostled through the streets of Haiti, (though we really didn’t notice it as much as we did the first day) we arrived at Labarre School. We got to do VBS with 172 children grades kindergarten through 6th. They really enjoyed the music with motions and listened (fairly:) attentively while Josh presented his lesson.  Then we helped the lifeline folks with their child updates. The children of Haiti are so beautiful!
We also got to view the market at Arcahaie. Wow, what a conglomeration of people and things. All things, as our devotion reminded us, that we will not take with us into eternity, but that seem so important to everyone, including the Haitians. Jeans, t-shirts, toothpaste, cleaning supplies (which is ironic), books, and food. Lots and lots of fresh food and cooked food. We ended up in a huge place for buying charcoal. This place was right on the ocean, and we saw fishing boats moored off-shore. We got some pictures, but this place was incredibly crowded so we didn’t stay very long. The experience was amazingly sobering, and reminded me that consumerism and worship of self is not confined to the United States of America. 
Finally, we returned to the compound, and our team spread out doing needed work for lifeline. Raking the soccer field, pulling weeds, fixing soccer goals, some landscaping and more. We were tired but very thankful to help. 
The final thing I must highlight was our dinner meal this evening. Our lovely cooks served us an authentic Haitian meal which included: rice and beans, cooked chicken, cooked goat, goat sauce, fried plantains, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, pasta, fresh pineapple, fresh mangos and even more. It was fabulous. We are incredibly indebted to our cooks. They have and continue to do a tremendous job. 
Praise God for cooked goat!  He is Lord of all Nations and He is our King!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Waves of Mercy!

Today we woke up to see the sun rise and to start our journey up the mountain to the village of Petit Bois. The hike up the mountain was very exhausting, but humbling. God showed all of us that we are very weak without Him. 

However tired we felt, God supplied us with the endurance to conduct a VBS at the school, Evangelique Mixte de Petit Bois, and travel back down the mountain, without stopping. This VBS experience was one of the best so far. There were approximately 325 children in the school, and the church was packed. We sang "Waves of Mercy" during worship and the children absolutely loved this song and the hand motions we showed them. In return, the school children blessed us with a song in Creole that was so much fun! We had no idea what they were saying, but we did the motion and danced to the beat along with them. Although this was a fun experience, we left with a heartbreaking story told to us by the pastor of the school, Pasteur Millien Jean Jules. He humbly came to us and asked us to sit so he could talk to us. He explained how the school worked and how he unfortunately had not paid the teachers since January due to lack of funds. Thankfully, the teachers have been volunteering, but they may soon quit leading to the closing of the school. He told us that he understands that there are poor people in America too, but that if anyone would be willing to help the school, it would be a great blessing.

Once we returned, we rested up and began working around the compound. The chores consisted of housework, shoveling dirt, and even attempting to pick up all the trash. All of this work helps the mission, and the people of La Digue more than anyone can imagine. Hearing about how poor the school is and the willingness of the teachers to keep educating the children has been a great blessing. God has opened our eyes to so many things and we are in awe of His wonderful creations. The Haitian people are wonderful and the island of Haiti is beautiful. We experienced the wonderful work of God upclose today, and this experience will stay with us forever.

Praise God!

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Do you love Jesus?"

This morning we started out by taking a walk to the Barbancourt School.  It was exciting to traverse across the rough terrain and see the countryside.  We enjoyed crossing the flowing river on our way to Barbencourt.  We had many young guides that helped us through the water.  We visited the school and presented a bible school lesson.  We acted out the Nativity story for the children.  Josh was our donkey, Kristen was our Mary, Dave was our Joseph, Jonathan was our innkeeper, Kaylee and Todd were the shepherds, and Bryan was the angel.  We also sang songs, played games, and made crafts.  My favorite part was feeding the school and village children.  They enjoyed their meal of rice, beans, and bread. 

Next, we went to an orphanage in Barbancourt.  It was wonderful to meet the beautiful children in the orphanage and show them the love of God the best we could.  Our team member, Dave, taught a powerful lesson about Christ on the cross.  We helped the children with crafts and played some games.

We went back to the mission and helped clean up the courtyard.  We worked on the pews at the church and did other odd jobs.   Later on, we gobbled down a delicious meal and finished off the day by playing some sports.

My favorite part of the day was talking to a young man named Jauq while watching the nightly soccer game.  We struggled to understand all of what we were saying to each other, but very clearly he asked me if I loved Jesus.  I said, “Yes, I do.  And you?”  He replied, “Yes, I love him.”  I was so moved by his witness to me and his love for the Lord.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Night three of our trip.

As we settle into night three in Arcahaie, Haiti, the sound of rain on the roof is gently reminding us of God’s mercy falling and his compassion on us.  We have all experienced a great day of seeing how the people live here in Haiti, from observing Haitians homes which are mainly tents at best seeing people come up to the Mission Lifeline compound and get clean water from the spigot outside of the wall. It is amazing at how children respond with heightened excitement as we participate in each of the planned events.  We participated in the local church service this morning as the Haitians brought worship and Word.  Through the afternoon we hosted a Bible Club where Jonathan, Todd, and Dave, led the kids in music and Russ brought a great Bible story Each student traced out their feet on a piece of paper signifying how we should be followers of Jesus.
Tree 63 has a song called The Revolution:
The Revolution
Who will feed the hungry if we don't?
There's people losing their lives 'cos we won't
If we believe but we still do not follow
Then maybe we don't believe

If we could only love this world like we've been loved
Then all the world would know what love is really made of
We live in plenty, there is more than enough
For what the world needs but not for our greed

Another world is possible, yeah
Another world is possible, yeah
The revolution's far from over
It's not over, it's not over

Once upon a time a small seed
Died in the soil and became a small tree
Now it's a forest still growing silently
A waterless earth turns green

Another world is possible, yeah
Another world is possible, yeah
The revolution's far from over
It's not over, it's not over, yeah, yeah, yeah

We are the ones we've been waiting for
We are the ones we've been waiting for
We are the ones we've been waiting for
We are the ones, we are the ones

Full stomachs and both parents
And a church that acts like it really believes
That the good news is good news
For everybody everywhere

Oh, another world, yeah

Another world is possible, yeah
Another world is possible, yeah
The revolution's far from over
It's not over, it's not over

The revolution, yeah, yeah, yeah
The revolution, yeah, yeah, yeah
The revolution, yeah, yeah, yeah
It's not over, it's not over, oh, oh, oh, oh
Truly “another world is possible” as we look to Christ and the Biblical commands which have been given by our King we see this clearly!  Scripture tells us that WE have been ENTRUSTED with the message of reconciliation!  Us?  You and I?  We must be people who believe that the Good News is really Good News for EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE!  God has given us His best through Christ by loving us in an immeasurable manner!  His love that has been poured out so richly upon us cannot be left on a shelf somewhere to become stagnate.  We have not been entrusted with it to hide it!  The Good News must be preached and taught!  Christ is our greatest treasure.
It is easy to be overwhelmed with the long list of continues “problems” that seem to mount up higher than Everest here in Haiti, but we realize from Mark 2 that really there is just one problem.  And only ONE solution to that problem.  Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and was completed taken by Christ for us.  The problem must be revealed and the good news of the solution must be shared.  Simply put, “preach the Word.”

Wow! What a Day

Wow. Today has been one of those days that will impact me for the rest of my life. I think I can speak for the rest of the team and say it was equally as impactful to them. Today's agenda consisted of visiting two orphanages. I had tried to imagine what a Haitian orphanage might look like. I had heard testimonies of couples who had adopted from all over the world. However, every effort I had made to prepare myself was washed away by a flood of tears. There is simply no way I can explain through any use of poetic, descriptive words what we witnessed today. I am not being theatrical, nor am I being overly-dramatic. What we experienced today was unspeakable.

The first orphanage consisted of a number of tents that were sprinkled around pools of standing, mosquito-infested water. Malaria is a major concern at this orphanage. 85 children and roughly 2 staff live here in these conditions. Some of the children were sick and could not come out. We dropped off some rice for them to eat. Josh delivered a message about how God loves and cares for little children. Jonathan and Dave led music, and the rest of us prepared crafts and played some games. The highlight of this orphanage came when the children sang to us with a jimbay drum. It was beautiful to hear them sing in Creole.
The second orphanage was staffed by 2 men and and 2 women. One of these women was probably 75 years old and she was blind. We went into a block building in the village that was dark. The block building consisted of 4 small rooms. We were led out the back door under a makeshift canopy shelter. The children began to appear in a line. It was like ants marching into the front rooms. One after the other the came in. Some would smile at you, some had blank stares. Spring delivered a lesson to the children about the creation of the universe. We then used a mural that Todd had creatively drawn to better illustrate creation. Painting was involved and the children participated.
The remaining time at the second orphanage was spent drawing "creation pictures" on paper with markers for the children. They would bring me their paper with their marker and want me to draw for them. They absolutely did not care about how terrible of an artist I am. I began to write "Jesus loves YOU" at the top of each drawing. The rest of the team was doing similar stuff with their papers. I could not get over, personally, how some of the children were the same age as my children are. Can you imagine your children living in these conditions?
Many of the children were severely malnourished. Many had hair-growth problems. Some were very skinny. The one that I will never forget was named Edison, who is my son's age. He sat on a small bench during the entire service, completely emotionless. You could tell that he was all cried out. I picked him up and taught him how to give me five. I simply could not get him to smile. As I was holding him, another child that I had drawn for came up and told me that he loved me. I looked through tears the entire time I was there, and it came to a climax when we had to leave. I sat Edison down on his bench next to the blind woman, gave him five one last time, and walked out of his life.
There are other stories from last night and today that I could share. They are all unforgetable, too. However, I want to leave you with that last image. The American church needs to hear Edison's story. And the American church needs to act now. This is not a guilt trip. It is Christianity.
Please pray for the orphans of Haiti. I am typing this on a laptop with a full stomach. Edison and thousands of other orphans like him will sleep on the ground tonight, empty and utterly alone. May the Gospel of Jesus Christ compell the church forward to do what is necessary. Until you understand the Gospel, that you were an orphan drowning in your sin before God the Father adopted you into His family, you will never understand the profound nature of orphan care.
I am attaching 3 pictures. May God bless you. We are sincerely grateful for all your prayers.
Yours in Christ-
Russ Kreuter