Thursday, December 27, 2012

Patience

Kayla and Sandra
Merry Christmas! I know I'm a couple of days after the fact, but I pray Christmas goes on in our hearts every day. The last few days, we've been singing Christmas carols around the house, and lately, our younger girls have been also singing, "Jesus loves me" in Creole. "Jezi renmen mwen... Bib la di mwen konsa." For one, I'm glad they're paying attention and picking up on the language even while we're still in the States. But it has also been a reminder that I'm getting impatient. I can't wait for when my girls can be singing that song alongside of Haitian kids. I can't wait until the kids can be learning the language by immersion. I can't wait until I'm done preparing to go and can actually get to the going... I am impatient.
Our lives are not just about the destination. It is equally about the journey. But we get so impatient with the journey that we're rarely fully prepared for the destination even by the time we get there. And patience is not an easy thing to teach. It's something that you just need practice doing. In our society, we have gotten out of practice in this area. Everything is immediate. If it's not, we move on, not "wasting" our time waiting. What's more, is that the times when patience is practiced, it is motivated by selfish reasons. Sure, we'll wait outside of Walmart for hours, so that we can get the best deals for Christmas, but we get frustrated waiting 15 minutes for someone to show up to our appointment.
As I look at 1 Corinthians 13, Paul chose to begin describing love by saying, "Love is patient..." Patience should be a regular practice in our relations with each other. I read in a book by Henry Cloud (I believe it was called "9 Things You Absolutely Must Do") that one of the principles you should live by in life is to NOT play fair. At first, my reaction was to scowl. Dr. Cloud describes a business deal gone wrong where the other party said something to effect of "Do your part and I'll do mine. Don't mess with me and I won't mess with you. But if you cross me, you'll be sorry." Sounds pretty typical and it's fair. Jesus calls us to be unfair. Even when the other person messes up, that's when they need you to hold up your end and then some. God demonstrates this in His promises to us. We've been going through the Old Testament the last few weeks at our home church and seen God's desire to redeem us, in spite of the fact that we continually mess things up! God still always upholds His end of the covenant/promise and then more. He is patient with us. He also calls us to be patient with each other.
As a parent, I realize I need to give my children opportunities to practice being patient - and to practice being patient for others. That's not easy. It's easier to give in quickly so that they stop complaining or whining or whatever. But if we do, we're setting them up for failure. They need to learn (just as I do!) that we're not on our own time, but on God's. Sometimes He hurries us along, and sometimes He requires us to wait. Teach them that life is also about the journey to the destination and not just the goal. What is God teaching them? What is God teaching you? He is teaching me that I am not as patient as I thought I was...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nature of the Work

It occurred to me the other day that we had not yet posted what our involvement in Haiti would look like. Granted, some of that was a timing issue. However, for those who know us well, our involvement won't be any surprise. Cathi and I have been involved with Compassion International for a number of years, sponsoring, as well as being advocates for child sponsorship. It was through our work with Compassion that we really started seriously praying about future involvement in missions. Cathi enrolled in a nutrition degree with the mindset of missions work with impoverished children. That stemmed from our involvement in Compassion. As I started seminary, we would often talk about our dream would be to someday work with Compassion overseas - Cathi would help in the nutrition aspect of things, while I worked with local pastors, doing training and being a shepherd for them.
Ironically, as we got to Nehemiah Vision Ministries, we discovered that all the kids in their school (around 300) are part of a child sponsorship program. The program started a while back and has been facilitated by someone in the States, but has recently grown to a point where they need someone on the ground in Haiti who has hands-on administration. In the same orientation of NVM, we also learned that pastoral training had begun to take place since February of this year. Many pastors from the surrounding areas come to NVM for biblical training, encouragement, and support. Recently, they are planning to expand this aspect of the ministry to include a partnership with a dozen local churches. The partnership will extend beyond just pastoral training to include helping with building projects and plugging short-term missions teams into these churches to help them continue to grow and minister to their communities. Both of these roles hit at the heart and passion that God had placed in us already. To hear that NVM was not only doing these things, but also had a need for help in these areas sparked what was to be the beginning of our interest in partnering with them.
In addition to these neatly packaged roles, are those things that aren't so easily expressed. I would also be a pastor to the American staff there, as well as for those short-term missions teams. How that will exactly look is uncertain, though the need is there. Likewise, with the number of teams that go down every year, there is plenty of work to be done to coordinate for those teams. We would also assist the Missions Team Coordinators in whatever way possible in that area. Cathi's administrative skills will undoubtedly be used in other areas and I dream of being able to follow-up and connecting those who commit to Christ through our short-term teams. The reality is that there is plenty of work to do, and we're eager to get to it!
Hopefully this gives at least a glimpse into how we feel God is leading us to be used in Haiti and aids you in how to pray for us. Thank you again for your support.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Some answers and then more questions

This last week, we found out that the house we worked on while we were in Haiti ("B√Ęttisons") is where we will be living when we move there. It's been encouraging to have a picture (or several of them) of where we will be living - to be able to point to something with even a fraction of certainty. Interestingly enough, the same day that we found this out, we also met with a local realtor to talk about selling our house. At first, we had high hopes and were hearing good news. Today, however, the news turned more into, "we can't afford to even sell our house." Such an ironic statement, if you ask me. So, in the face of that, we have to lean on what we know. We know that God has called us to move to Haiti. The road to get there is proving to be one of trial and testing. There have been and will be plenty of excuses why not to go. It's inconvenient. Raising the support will be hard... and on and on. And it seems there are many people who rely on present circumstances to let them "know" what God's will is for them.
This last week in church, we looked at the continuing "story behind the story", going through the Old Testament, looking at the patriarchs of the faith and how their lives are God's story of redeeming His people. Abram was told to pick up and go, without a destination. He obeyed and was blessed. God made him a promise that Abraham would not see in his lifetime. Isaac would no see it in his lifetime. Jacob would not it in his, nor Joseph. It wasn't until generations later that God's promise to Abraham would begin to unfold. Yet each of these men were faithful to God and trusted in that promise. If Joseph had let circumstances dictate his response, he would have likely turned from God early in his life. But he had heard from God, knew His voice, trusted Him, and followed relentlessly, despite the turmoil that ensued.
God has made it clear where He wants us. I have no idea how everything will work out - only that it will and it will be in His timing and not in mine. And believe me, there are times that I have to force myself to say that. But I believe that as we are faithful to Him, He is even more faithful to us.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Beginnings...

This last week has been one of many emotional ups and downs. We've begun to sell things we know we can't take with us (which is nearly everything) and which we don't truly need right now. That included a home gym, treadmill, a drum set, desktop computer... so along with that, came the emotions of giving things up. On one of things, it's difficult and sad, in some respects, to give these things up. On the other end, it's also been freeing. It's also one step closer to our move to Haiti: one less thing that we have to worry about, one less thing holding us back. Soon enough, those things will become more significant (car, house), but still one more step in the direction God is leading us. Thankfully, God is also using this as a means to provide for us financially through these days and weeks. We expected this money to help us raise funds for the move, but current finances are such that the money from selling this stuff is helping us get by. God always provides.
Through these physical steps to get ready to go, as well as in conjunction with the physical preparation, there is spiritual and emotional preparation taking place to prepare us for where God wants us. Along with the physical things we don't need to take with us, there are emotional and spiritual things that are being identified that we don't need to take with us, either. So, we're cleaning house in all aspects of the phrase!