When: Sunday July 2, 2016
Where:Somewhere in the middle of the mountains between Cap-Haitian and Gonaives, Haiti
Kreyol Word of the Day: Frape- "to hit"
Bible Verses: Exodus 14:14-The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Matthew 9:13- Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Pierre is maneuvering bumps, potholes, and hairpin curves all the way down this mountain. As we are driving, a tap-tap (taxi motorcycle) with three passengers on it, pass us yelling something in Creole. Pierre translates and says that they are yelling that we hit them. We are bouncing around in the big F350. When people saw us bouncing a vehicle the size of a bus down the mountain they moved out of our way, and none of us could recall hitting a motorcycle.
The motorcycle passes us and we continue bouncing down the road to the bottom of the mountain. As soon as we reach smooth pavement, a Haitian police car stops us and asks us if we hit a motorcycle. In the background, I see the tap-tap passengers pointing angrily at us. Pierre begins to explain it was a bumpy ride. This is where I learned the Kreyol Word of the Day because all I heard from Pierre, the police officer, and the driver of the tap-tap was frape...frape...frape.
I immediately began taking some offense. I knew the trio of tap-tap passengers where lying. Now, this is where I would roll my window down, furrow my brow, cross my arms, and call them all liars. But, I was in Haiti, can say a handful of words in Kreyol (Liars happens to not be one of the words I know in Kreyol), and I don’t want to disrespect my husband or the policeman with the military assault rifle on his left hip and a machete on his right hip. (He didn’t really have a machete on his hip, but I know one had to be close by.)
At this point, wouldn’t you panic? I’m powerless, vulnerable, and have our two youngest kids with us asking if daddy is about to go to jail. Usually, when I have no control I can always trust that Pierre has the control. This time He didn’t even have control! Just as Pierre finished saying, “Frape”. The police officer cut him off and told him to follow him to the police station.
Are you a sheep or a goat? Why do you need to know the answer to this question:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the Nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." --Matthew 25:31
Read on, weigh your heart, and discover if you are a sheep or a goat.
Have you ever had to ask someone:
“Is there any medicine to keep me from feeling hungry?
Yes? But, this isn’t so you can lose weight. It’s to lose the pain--the numbing pain of hunger.
Have you ever had to tell your child:
“We don’t have any food in the house. This is all I could pull together. You’re going to have to eat it or go to bed hungry.”
Yes? But, then you hand your child a cookie made of dirt, water, and the little bit of flour you had left?
Have you ever prayed over your food:
“God, please bless this food for the nourishment of our bodies?”
Yes? But, it’s because the dirt cookie you just gave your child is made from the same dirt people walk on, spit on, and use the bathroom on. And, even if the dirt cookie gives your child worms, you pray MOST OF ALL for it to stop your child’s pain of hunger?
What would you ask someone just so you could stop the pain of hunger?What would you tell a child so you can stop their cries of hunger?
This is what sheep will do and what God will do:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” –Matthew 25:34-35
“…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ –Matthew 25:40
This is what goats will do and what God will do:
“‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,” –Matthew 25:41-42
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” –Matthew 25:45
The freedom of this personality test is that you get to decide the outcome. This is the same freedom you get when you open up your heart and let Christ in.
So, you are free to choose. What are you going to be today? A Sheep or A Goat?
Emmanuel was one of our guides while hiking up Sky Mountain in Haiti. He had no shoes so, he asked a neighbor if he could borrow shoes to take us up the mountain. All the while we climbed up the mountain, he was patient with the many breaks, I'm embarrassed to say, I forced the group to take. On our way down the mountain, Emmanuel was the one to volunteer to run, what seemed down half the Earth, to get water for us to drink. We had 3 other guides with us, but while we lay near death, they just left us. Later we found out, to go rest underneath a shaded area of trees. Emmanuel however, stayed with us, and without a second thought went to get water for us.
Now, I don't know what God did to Emmanuel, but he was down and back up the mountain within 30 minutes. It took us 4 hours just to get up the mountain. When he returned with water, he gave us the water with a smile. As we were hydrating, Emmanuel said he would even be willing to carry Brandi, the other female director, and me down the mountain if he needed to. I wondered: Who is this guy willing to help us spoiled American strangers? He said he is a Christian that attends Pastor Damils' church.
It made me think about his actions. Emmanuel speaks Creole, so it wasn't his words that made him a Christian, but his actions. And his actions are just an expression of his heart. I had to wonder would I treat a neighbor with such love? Especially a neighbor in the world's view, more blessed than I because they are richer? Would I be obedient to God? If God told me to take some people to a place I know is a rough place to go, and then save them when they were in desperate need, and then do it with a smile? Could I...could you?
Or would I first begin by making excuses on why I shouldn't obey? "I don't even have shoes, why go?" I didn't get enough sleep, why go?" "I don't really know those people, they'll make it without me, so I won't go." Would I have patience while serving my neighbor? Or would I complain? Could God use me to save someone because I have the right attitude and willingness to follow Him. Or would I be lazy and become crossed when God asks me to serve someone when I didn't see any benefit I could get out of it? And finally, after all the thank you's for my help and service, would I give God the glory, or would I boast on how my agility and personal strength got the job accomplished? Would I act like a Christian that LOVES thy neighbor or would I act like a Christian who just TOLERATES thy neighbor?
Emmanuel reminded me of what it means to be an ambassador for Christ.The other guides left us, but Emmanuel was obedient and willing to sacrifice. If Emmanuel wasn't the Christian he is, we wouldn't have made it off the mountain. Emmanuel was obedient to God's plan to take us up a mountain. He was patient with us and his life saving actions demonstrated Christian love. AND he didn't expect to receive anything in return. He didn't have money or even shoes, but God used him greatly.
How many times has God wanted to use us to save someone for His glory, but our attitudes and disobedience kept Him from using us fully. God uses people to do the work of his kingdom. With obedience, we can align ourselves up with the will of God over our lives. If He used Emmanuel, a young man who doesn't even have a decent pair of shoes, then I know He wants to use you. Emmanuel is praying to go to seminary to become a pastor. This is a brother who needs a mentor and partner to financially support his instruction at seminary. Please keep this young servant in your prayers.
When we got to the top of the mountain after hiking 4 hours, we came upon the spring. When the Haitian people talked about this spring I imagined a clear stream, gently plummeting into a waterfall. I visualized just below the waterfall, a pool of cool water with butterflies fluttering into the water to get a sip. I Imagined it would be so enticing, I might not be able to fight the urge to cup water in my hands to drink. I envisioned exotic birds calling in the distance, rejoicing in the hidden sanctuary we climbed 4 hours to find.
When we came upon the spring, instead of birds, we heard the snorting of the hugest bovine beast I'd ever seen! Instead of butterflies in the water there was an ornery cow. Instead of fresh springs we saw a pool of sludge. It was true, however that it was an unending supply of water because we saw it bubble up. Once again we were humbled. This was the source of fresh water the Haitians put such hope in.
We began to travel down the mountain. We were so elevated we could see the curvature of the Earth. We were about 1/4 of the way down when heat and dehydration began to wear us down. We had no more water, and we were walking down a mountain with the unfiltered Caribbean sun above. I began to feel the signs of heat stroke. I stopped sweating and I was getting chills. All four of us were tired and thirsty. I couldn't go any further. My husband, Pierre, told me to lay down in his lap while he rested on a rock. I was so weak! We hadn't eaten breakfast, brought no food to re-energize, and had no water.
While I lay there, Pierre asked one of our guides, Emmanuel, to go get water. In my mind I knew it would be impossible to get water. We were barely to the bottom. Emmanuel not only had to get up and down the mountain, but he would have to find a vendor to buy water. All the conveniences of acquiring water in America were nonexistent in Haiti. I laid down in my husband's lap wanting to cry, but knew I couldn't waste the water left in me on tears. I began panicking. I knew I was going to die. They didn't have a helicopter that could come rescue us. Not even a donkey to climb on wandered by. I thought about never seeing my children again. When I thought about my kids losing their mother I began to fight for my life. I was raised a military child--eating MRE's and chasing squirrels with a BB gun in the woods and I knew I could figure out a way to survive. I thought about creating a shelter out of twigs to stay until nighttime when it would be cooler to walk down. I even thought about looking for leaves, laying them out to collect dew, and in the morning we could lick the leaves for hydration.
But, then I thought about the bible story of Jesus and the disciples in the storm in Matthew 8:23. The disciples tried to fair the storm on their own strength while Jesus slept. Finally, overcome with fear, they woke Jesus up and He immediately calmed the winds. That story made me remember I wasn't alone. I was like the disciples trying to save myself with my own strength because I lacked faith. Jesus was with me, I just didn't call on Him. I then began to pray a whispered, weak prayer: "Jesus, I know their is strength in Your name. I know You are here and all I need is to call upon You. God please, could you just send some rain, to just cool things down so we can make it down the mountain? Not too much so we slip down the mountain, but just enough. In Jesus's name I pray Amen." I closed my eyes, drifted into darkness, and void of time. I awoke to my husband calling my name. He said, "Lori, water is here! I opened my eyes and saw Emmanuel, our guide, standing over me, smiling, sweat beading down his face and handing me a bottle of water. (The story of Emmanuel will be shared in Part 3.)
I took the water and put it to my lips. As soon as it touched my lips it began to rain! Out of a clear sky...a cool rain...not too much, just enough to cool things down. When I finished drinking and took the bottle away; it stopped raining! I knew it was God telling me He was with us all along. The miracle didn't stop! Further down the mountain I needed water. When I put the bottle to my lips, it rained again. The same cool, refreshing rain. And just like before, when I stopped drinking, the rain stopped!
God taught us a life-altering lesson To submit ALL to Him. We can do nothing in our own strength. If I didn't build a shelter maybe I would've made it, but why go through the hours or laying in the wilderness when I could just call on Him! He had the perfect plan, and all I had to do was include Jesus. Imagine how many blessings we've blocked from ourselves because WE want control, only trust our own strength, and falsely believe we are trusting God. Because I used my faith to tap into His grace for us, he showed us He was with us. Yes, he used Emmanuel to get the water, but He gave it to us. It's time for us to stop trying to calm the storms around us ourselves, and call on Jesus! God may have saved us, when I was trying to use my own strength, because he is merciful; but, now, that I called on Jesus, I have a miracle to share that glorifies God!
This miracle also taught me the importance of having the Word in my heart. If I didn't read the Bible and didn't remember the apostles waking up Jesus, I wouldn't have switched gears and allowed God to save me! There are areas in ALL our lives we are trying to control when we should submit and let God take control. If we go to Him directly, we use our faith to tap into His grace for us. I pray that whatever area in your life you are trying to control, your submit it to God. He's our father and wants to bless us, but we must submit ourselves to Him first and realize He is the source of our strength.
On our last mission trip to Haiti, March 30, 2013, my husband, two GUHM directors, and I climbed a mountain our Haitian guides called "Sky Mountain." At 5 a.m. we were excitedly waiting at the mission house for Pastor Damil to pick us up to take us to the foot of the mountain. We packed the supplies we thought were needed: two bottles of water for each of us, Germ-X, bug repellent, and disposable wipes (in case nature called while we were on the mountain). All of us were eager to begin our trek up the mountain and, because none of us are really breakfast eaters, we skipped breakfast and jumped into Pastor Damil's truck. During the whole 15 minute drive from the mission house to the school, where the foot of the mountain begins, we all stared, overwhelmed, at this towering mountain we were going to climb. My adrenaline began kicking in, and I was ready to conquer this mountain! I suppose I should also explain our whole reasoning for climbing the mountain: At the top of Sky Mountain, there is a natural spring, that never dries up. This is the source of freshwater GUHM wants to tap into in order to bring water down to Pastor Damil's church and school in Grand Gode, Haiti. Haitians make this walk before the sunrises each morning and several more times during the day, down the mountain to get water. We wanted to put our eyes on the spring and physically experience the walk ourselves. By the end of this climb, we spiritually experienced it.
Pastor Damil pulled up to his church, we all enthusiastically hopped out, all eyes still gazing up at this mountain. Pastor Damil prayed over our safe return from the mountain. We had four Haitian guides, one specifically stands out, Emmanuel. We climbed this mountain for 4 hours before reaching the top. At times, we were on all fours just to get up to the next level. All the while I kept thinking, Haitians have to go through this EVERYDAY just to get water and food. And they carry baskets on their head while doing it! About 3/4 of the way up the mountain, we saw two boys sitting on the edge of a cliff staring down at us. They wore only a shirt. We heard their father in a distance tilling the rocky dirt with a machete to plant corn. The father was elated to see us. No missionary had ever gone up the mountain. We asked where they lived, and he directed us to his house. It was a cave! A family of four lived in a cave! God broke our hearts right then. We all were barely able to breathe or talk, because doing so would release a stream of tears. The cave was the size of a small bathroom. Inside was a straw mat made of leaves for them to sleep on. Their clothes were folded neatly inside are large metal bowl the family used for washing clothes. When we looked at the father's shoeless feet, they were swollen and resembled cracked leather. It hurt us to see children of God having to live this way. The family could only rely on God. They couldn't go to a neighbor , a government office, or even a relative for food, money, and other physical needs because they are all in the same conditions. They literally depend on Jesus for everything! The family didn't start telling us about their needs, or start asking for us to give them things. They didn't start telling us about their hangups. They didn't start making excuses or offer an explanation. No, they patted us on our backs, smiled, lifted their eyes and hands, and said, "God is good!" It is extremely humbling, when someone who has NOTHING is comforting US, who has everything.
Do you know that families living in the mountain are viewed amongst other Haitians as the lowest class? With that in mind, the family still walks down the mountain for 4 hours wearing their one good pair of clothes EVERY Sunday! Despite the mindset people may have about them, they are committed to God. I ask you: Where does your commitment rest? In America God gives us an abundance of opportunity and blessings. Yet we half-heartedly commit to Him and allow our circumstances to be the thermostat to our praise and faith in God. After meeting this family, we have committed ourselves to fulfilling God's purpose for this mission. God wants us in full partnership with our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We asked God to break our hearts for what breaks his and our hearts got broken.
My husband, Pierre, always traveled back and forth to Haiti. I didn't understand why he would leave his wife and young family for weeks at a time, sometimes months. Each time he went, some catastrophic event would occur. He was there when hurricanes hit and then circled back around and hit Haiti again. When floods washed away bridges and roads that connected him to the nearest exit route to get to the airport, and find his way back home to me. Once he came back with Malaria and spent a week, on what looked like his death bed, in the hospital. I couldn't understand why he kept going back and leaving me, his wife and young family! When he returned after the earthquake in February, he showed me a video of an unreached village in the mountains he and Pastor Damil stumbled upon while trying to make it to Haiti by detouring through the Dominican Republic (an awesome testimony he will have to share). In the video was a little boy, about the age of our oldest son-- 7, 8 or 9 years old. He was sitting in a dirty, white plastic lawn chair. He had on a blue t-shirt, but was naked from the waist down. One of his hands was crippled and shriveled, curved up to his chest. His tummy swollen, and head oddly swollen too. While he was sitting in the chair, he was rocking back and forth, head tilted slightly sideways, and singing. Now, I don't speak much Creole, but my spirit was moved by his song. Because I'm such and inquisitive person, I bombarded by husband with a string of questions: What is he singing? Where are his parents? Why is he naked? What happened to his arm? Pierre began to unfold the story of this little boy's life. A life I thought was traumatic and neglectful. He was born with normal arms, but became crippled a short time ago because of a fever. He didn't have access to medical care, so his fever spiked causing a seizure and resulted in a disfigured arm. He lost his parents in the earthquake and was living with his grandma. They didn't have clothes or food. So I asked Pierre about the song, the song that awakened my spirit...the song that transcended languages. My husband told me he was singing a song about how he loves Jesus. That rocked me. In the midst of his 7, 8, or 9 years and all he has suffered, he was singing about his love for Jesus! I asked Pierre if he was able to give him anything before he left their village. He said he got them food and gave the little boy all the money he had in his pocket. Pierre said that after he gave him the money, the little boy grabbed his hand and looked into his eyes. The little boy said a prayer for Pierre. This prayer took the scales off of my eyes and put my life into perspective. The little boy said: I pray that God will bless you, so that when you come back you can bless more children the way you have blessed me. Because I'm such an inquisitive person, I bombarded myself with questions: Would I have such love for Jesus if I lived that life? Would my children? How do I act when things don't go my way? How often did I skip church because I didn't feel like going? How selfish was I to not see how my husband was a blessing to such and impoverished people? How spoiled was I? The power of this child's prayer made me rededicate my life to Jesus. And yes, understand why my husband had to leave me, his wife and his young family to share the blessing that God gave us with Haiti.
In Latin "Lucien' means "light or illumination" and the suffix "-ary" means "the holder of".