Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Relationships

                Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of meeting with a friend of ours who is from Haiti. He met with us before the first trip to Haiti in order to give us a crash course in Creole. It was great to share our heart for his country and gain some of his insight and perspective into life there. We talked about everything from culture, politics, economics, etc. We even got to practice our Creole! It was good to get a taste of Haiti while still in the middle of preparations.
                One of the things that I came to realize yesterday was in the anticipation of this reunion. See, time is one of those things that tend to have different meanings across cultures. It is definitely the case in American and Haitian cultures. Anthropologists have categorized cultures into two groups – monochronic and polychronic. American society is very much defined as having monochronic time. This means that our system regards time as manageable, scheduled out, and a big focus of society. Some would also say it makes people much more task-focused. However, in polychronic societies, time is much more fluid and not the focus of life at all. These cultures tend to be more relationship-oriented. The clock is not binding, like it is here. When we were in Haiti the first time, we were told that things happened in “Haiti time.” When the bus was supposed to be there at 9am, it may actually be closer to 9:30 or even 10am. This is due to the fluidity of time and the focus on relationships, rather than time or tasks. In other situations, adhering strictly to time can even be perceived as a lack of relationship or respect. If you have a meeting at 2pm and you show up right at 2 or earlier, it can indicate that you’re only interested in business and there’s nothing more to that relationship. When the two cultures come into contact, sometimes it can be a frustrating experience.
                So, back to my meeting the other night: Due to our previous time in Haiti, as well as some missions studies through seminary, I have had an understanding of time. But, this weekend, I had to answer an important question in regards to this: How am I going to personally deal with it? We had set a time to meet in the afternoon, so we made sure we were going to be ready when he arrived. We even accounted for it to occur a little later than we originally planned. As the time ticked on and I waited, I came to realize that my whole world didn’t have to stop just because I’m waiting on this one thing. I had to be able to continue doing whatever else in the meantime and be willing to drop it and switch focus as the situation dictated, not time. As I’m thinking through all of that, Cathi was already working on preparing dinner for the family, obviously not bothered at all by the fact that this meeting was not happening on time. She’s always had a better fluidity of time than I (that sounds a whole lot better than “she’s always late!”). But on this occasion, she definitely showed me the better alternative to how to live with a whole lot less frustration in Haiti, where our focus definitely will be on building relationships.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Want to come along?

We are excited to have a date finally set for moving. May 15, come what may, we are going to move to Haiti. We are putting together a small group/team to come along. Mainly, we need help moving! We can only bring what we can take on the plane. If we have some people who are willing, we can bring extra checked bags for their tickets. Also, that gives us extra people to help us set up the house, do any work needed on it, and help the kids get settled. We also may need help picking up mattresses from a store and building some furniture. The bunk beds may be built before we arrive, which would be a huge blessing! So, if you feel like this is something you want to do, please let us know! You can reply on here, or e-mail us at ortizmissionsjourney@gmail.com We are estimating the cost to be between $900-1,000 for the trip. Dates are May 15-22. You do need a passport! The cost includes round-trip airfare, lodging and food in Haiti, and some incidentals. Maybe you have been wanting to get involved in missions overseas, and do not know where to begin. Maybe you are curious what we are going to be doing; maybe you love building and moving! We have room for all of these scenarios and would love your help! International missions has obviously changed our life...and I think that is true for the majority of Americans. We thank you again for your prayers and support as we seek financial sponsors and continue moving forward in this journey.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

God Provides

This past weekend, we spent hours selling everything we could. Multiple families from our church brought high-value items to our home so we could sell them and use the funds to help us move to Haiti. Because of this outpouring, we were able to purchase our airline tickets! We fly to Haiti on May 15 from Detroit, MI. I cannot stop there with this story. There was such an outpouring this last weekend that I must share. We have some amazing friends who are preparing to move to Thailand with the military, fully knowing they may stay there as missionaries. So, they are also purging belongings in preparation. They brought over some very high-value items which sold for high dollar amounts. In one such sale, we were bartering with a family interested in a custom book-shelf. We had a price set, and they were asking us to go down quite a bit. I met them in the middle and told them that was the best I could do. Another lady who was shopping our sale had just been talking to me about our move to Haiti. She turned to the lady inquiring about the shelf and told her, "It's for a good cause! It is all going to missions. Just buy it!" The lady replied with, "WHAT?! I didn't know that!" So the first lady said, "Yes. They are missionaries, moving to Haiti. This is all to help them move...just buy the shelf!" The sale went through at the price I quoted her. She happily paid the price and wished me the best for our family. The lady who spoke up to defend our sale prices purchased a great deal of items as well. As she left, she told me she was the photographer we had hired 4 years ago for a banquet we did with the youth group. She asked for our information, and found our blog. She was one of the times I saw God's hand in this sale. Additionally, throughout the weekend we had multiple people shop and try to find things they could buy to help us. When they finished, they gave us large donations in addition to the price I gave them. People poured out blessings and promises of prayer. In one such instance, a lady came who had seen something about our sale on facebook. My sister-in-law in North Carolina posted details about our sale on her facebook. One of her friends lives here now on the army base. She came out to the sale, even though they are getting ready to move again. She did not find much that she knew she could keep with their upcoming move, so she instead asked if she could make a donation. For her $7 worth of purchases, she gave $50! We were blown away by this outpouring. This is not the end either. Saturday we had a 70% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain. I posted on facebook that we needed prayers for the rain to hold off. The rain was welcome all night Friday night, as long as it held off on Saturday until 8 PM. The rain held off other than a 10 minute downpour. We did get a lot of rain Friday night, so we re-arranged the sale to make it all fit in the garage (thankful for a large 2-car garage!). People still came out and shopped our sale. God held back the rain for us!! This is incredible! So, if you are curious if God really cares about the small stuff, know that He worked miracles at our garage sale. Of all the money we made at this sale, at least half was from donated items. Solid wood shelves, high quality space heaters, lawnmower, bike, clothes and toys, tv, table with 2 chairs, etc....the list was unbelievable. We were able to earn almost $2,000 for our airline tickets. You cannot convince me God's hand was not at work this past weekend. Since then, we have emptied everything else out of the garage and house that did not sell. We have donated hundreds of dollars of clothes, books, toys, kitchen items, etc. We are still weeding things out. We have done some major reducing in every aspect of our belongings. While this is an exciting next step towards our move to Haiti, it is also scary for a lot of us. Our girls are becoming more vocal about their fears and all of the kids are fighting more, becoming more impatient with each other. This is all a sign of a deeper stress inside. We are so grateful that we do not have full-time jobs that pull us from home all day. If we did, the business of life would keep us from having these moments with our children to talk about how they feel and how we can help each other. We are challenging them to pray over each other out loud, which is therapeutic for everyone! They are realizing how soon they have to leave their friends behind, and this is hard for them as well. Please continue praying for us! Our kids need your prayers. We have so much to do in the next 2 months, but we know it is possible and God will make it all happen. So, we simply ask for you to pray for each member of our family - 4 children, 2 parents. We ask for fervent prayers for a buyer for our house. We do not ask for a lot of showings...just one. We only need one showing to the right family in order for our house to sell. We covet prayers for peace and joy as we try to remember all we need to do to prepare. Lastly, we still need 35-40 new sponsors to commit to financial monthly giving in order to allow our family to live in Haiti. Please be in prayer with us and for us! And to all that contributed this past weekend - monetarily, with physical items, in prayer, and in encouragement - a huge thank you! We could not do this ministry and move without our friends and family who support us so lovingly!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reality Check

This weekend we will be selling the majority of what remains "ours." We are still praying for the house to sell, but we would really love to not have showings this week/weekend! Pray with us! So, reality check: we are within 2 months of leaving home. Excitement is building, and our kids can hardly stand it! Another family in our church played a video from Haiti Sunday, and Kayla was fighting so hard to not totally lose it. She misses those beautiful faces in Haiti! Even Isaac (4 years old) is excited for all the things he will get rid of so we can pack and move. In his mind, timing is so strange...why we have to wait so long makes no sense to him. His only concern is that he doesn't know all the kids' names yet. God gave him a gift of speech and remembering names, so I do not imagine it will take him long to figure it out. As the excitement builds, we are also realizing how short our time is with friends and family. So much changes in 6 months - which is how long we anticipate it taking before we see everyone again. I find that I am often fighting tears....and my stress has escalated. Sometimes I feel like a crazy woman because my emotions are all over the place, and all so strong. There are the fears and what if's of who we may not see again. There are the financial concerns of continuing to pay bills here while buying things for the move and saving for it. It is a roller coaster to say the least. Through this time, I am trying to remember one thing: Jesus was the first missionary. He left His home to learn our language, share our pain and joy, hug us and cry with us, laugh with us and smile at us...He wanted to know us and for us to know His Father's love for us. So, He knows the struggles that come with becoming a missionary. I trust Him to carry me through it, even when I feel weird calling myself a "missionary." Today, I am just me..whatever title I hold is meaningless. Jesus came to love me and you....and I hope I can show the Father's love wherever I am...even in my craziness of the next 2 months.