Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Dreamy Week

I was very much looking forward to this past Monday because this would be the day that my parents would come to Haiti after 5 years.  We would meet together in Haiti since 2007 when we left together.  Ever since it has been me in Haiti and not them, so it felt like a dream to have them here.  It still feels that way actually.  I have enjoyed their company, but I still ask myself sometimes if I'm dreaming.  I'm just glad that they could get away for a while to visit family and friends.

As for me, I will be leaving Haiti in 9 days, leaving my parents behind...AGAIN.  We're making a switch, if you would.  I'm taking a 2-month break from Haiti to take care of some personal things, get some rest, and talk to people about what I've been up to for the past 7 months.  I'm looking forward to returning to Bethany EMC, my home church, and just to be available and see faces again after just over half a year.  End of November my parents should be back in Canada.  I plan to return to Haiti mid-December.  So, I just think this whole period of time is pretty dreamy.

At Sunshine Home then, everybody is happy to witness the return of my mother because she's the one that held the fort here for four years.  And she managed the orphanage well.  My grandmother would like her to be the one to take over.  Although that's not possible for the time being, I'm sure God is going to open some doorss unexpectedly.

At the church, we are now in a period of 21 days of prayer.  We startedd October 1st and it will end October 21st, a day before I leave.  This is for the occasion of the church's 37th anniversary.  I felt that we needed to pray as a church more than anything else at this moment with the recent happenings in our midst and a few members echoed the same idea.  So, that's what we are doing.  And I believe the Lord is doing something special on the inside of each person who is participating.

The English institute is going well.  It's not big at all, it i actually very small.  But, I have a stable group of students who are faithful in coming to learn the english language.  They are 5 in all.  Of course, there were more. People came and went, but these are consistent.  So, I'm working with them and giving them the best experience possible.  In January, I will begin teaching in a different area on the days that I'm not at the institute.  The area is called "croix des bouquets."  The school I will be teaching at was built by a family member of mine who wanted to help underserved children.  So, I'll be teaching english from grades 1-6.  I'd say that the first extension of my english teaching and I'm happy with that.

I'm glad that the Lord is using me and leading me into things that I never thought I'd get to.  And I'm thankful to be able to have this kind of experience at an early age.  It gives a bit of time to modify some things for ministry in the future since early on I've been able to see what works and what doesn't.

9 more days and then I'll be home.  Quite dreamy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thinking of moving forward...

I have said it before and I will say it again.  It was no coincidence that my dad told me before I left in March that I did not know yet what I would be doing in Haiti.  And I'd like to re-confirm that he was right.  Even now I am figuring out what purpose exactly God has in all the responsibilities that I have.  I am giving my service to an orphanage, I am providing some leadership to a church, and I am teaching English to a very small group of people.  Yet, essentially, what I am doing is not what I just said.  It is much deeper than that.  And I have found myself seeking wisdom more than anything in these past 7 months.  The more I do, the more I realize how much needs to be done.

It has been difficult to grow through the disappointment of seeing people I could count on showing that they are not as determined or devoted as I thought.  Yes, we're human, obviously.  Some things are more difficult to handle than others.  DIFFICULT not IMPOSSIBLE.  Herein lies the issue sometimes.  Ministry is not about me being human, but rather about laying myself down on the altar and letting Christ minister through me.  John the Baptist would say "He must increase, and I must decrease."  However, sometimes we will let our feelings and emotions, thoughts, and will get in the way of what God wants to do through us.  This has been one of the most frustrating things to observe in the lives of those I work with in church.  Feeling entitled to being respected, being valued, being given importance... that's requiring the unrealistic.  If they didn't understand Jesus, I wonder why I should feel entitled to being understood.  And then comes the response, "Well, I'm not Jesus."  Oh... I must have forgotten. LOL.  But, seriously, until we're willing to not think so much of ourselves, we will always be discouraged and never finish right... or we'll start and never finish.

I think this could be a result of the true Gospel not being preached or taught.  The true Gospel focuses on Jesus-Christ.  Likewise, any other gospel is self-centered.  Change yourself, fix yourself, free yourself, don't do this or else, do this or else... human-centered.  Yet, the best way to change, to be repaired, to be free, and to live right is to constantly keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and as we do so we are transformed. 

This was the difference between Mary and Martha.  One understood the necessity of sitting at Jesus' feet, while to other was preoccupied with things that are of some value, but not necessary.  Notice that Jesus rebukes Martha, not for her service, but for her being worried and troubled about many things.  Being willing to receive from Jesus is empowering.  Wanting everything to be just right, or the way we want to be some we can work, will always be discouraging and will eventually lead to quitting. 

So, on a brighter note, I choose to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.  He alone has the power to do absolutely everything, and I would rather He work through me than me making personal and fleshly effort to meet the standards.  By the grace of God I am empower to know-be-and do what He wants be to know-be-do.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another Spetember and No School

At the moment I start to write these words, it is 6:23 AM.  I've been  up for about an hour and a half.  The Joed from Canada does not normally get up this early.  But, the Joed from Haiti really has to if he wants a fulfilling and productive day.  Do I crave the days when I'd stay up til 2 AM and get up at around 10 or 11 AM? Sure.  Do I need vacation? Probably.  Would I trade what the Lord wants me to do here for anything else?  Absolutely not!

And that's what it comes down to.  It's really not about me, but about Jesus.  Naturally and normally, I should be in school this September, furthering my studies at a college or university or seminary.  But, I'm here in Haiti, an unpredictable place really.  While you're in country things can be perfectly fine, yet that can change in a matter of seconds for just any reason.  The only consistencies are the travel warnings.  And yet, I'm still here after 6 months already!  Obviously, it hasn't been easy.  A lot has changed, a lot has happened.

Sunshine Home (the orphanage) still requires so many tweaks because its conditions are not exactly adequate.  There so much I can do to help, but eventually it comes down to the main leadership to choose to make a serious overall change.  In life, you do what you can and you don't undertake what you have no control over.  So many times, people demand things from you that are beyond your control and your limit of authority.  It is so easy to make demands and to say what you would do if your were this or that.  But, you don't really know what you're doing until you're in a position to act.  The virtue of patience is often what lacks because what some don't understand is that being quick to act is not necessarily the best option at all times.  I'm not quick to sanction, quick to fire, quick to punish, quick to scold.  That's doesn't earn you respect. That earns you fear and hate.  Anyways, that's my early morning rant about that.  What I do have control over right now is preparation for the children's schooling.  This year we have 31 going to school, ranging from Kindergarten to the very last grade of high school.  This is exciting!

At the church, things are interesting.  Before I left, my dad told me something. He said, "You don't know yet what you are going to do."  Well, he was right.  I didn't really know what I was going to do until recently.  I realized that I had a whole lot of teaching to do because the church had little to no foundation of teaching.  The people and the leaders are living on the basis of "visions" and "revelations" rather than the revelation that is Jesus-Christ.  And that is a major problem.  What has become popular lately is the creation of prayer groups.  I'm all for prayer, but not ignorant prayer.  The issue is that people are "praying" a whole lot, but refuse to be taught the Word, which ironically has the answers to their prayers.  It's gotten so bad that Christians are still praying for salvation when they've already been saved.  They have no assurance of their position in Christ.  It's as if any minute now if they do something wrong they will lose their salvation.  I'm concerned.  And I think that beyond church organizing and administration, making sure that this is a church that Christ can call His own is essential.  So, I choose to teach as much as I can.

The English Institute has been one of the funniest experiences in my life.  Although, when you're in it, it's quite frustrating.  I was expecting a lot of students.  Many had responded already to what I was going to offer.  But, I'm not sure what happened.  I ended up getting 8 students.  But, I'm going to stick with it til something happens.  I'm in the second level with one group of students and I will keep going because I know that my commitment to them will result in something positive.

At different times I have asked myself if I made the right decision, if I was really supposed to be here.  At times I have considered escaping and going back home.  But, sometimes God has something bigger than you for you and you have to learn to accept that you're in the right place at the right time even though the battle doesn't belong to you.  That's what I'm learning now.  Even when things do not seem to be going well in any area of your life, God has you right where He wants you.  Learn the lesson, pass the test, and get ready for what He has in store for you.

Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.
(Ecclesiates 7:8)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This past week has been one to remember.  There were some great times and some not so great times.  But, overall it was possible to see the hand of God in everything.  The discipline of studying and preparing without without actually being in school has taken some getting used to.  And now something that I embrace very much is the idea that I cannot give people food that I have not eaten first for nourishment.  Meditation has become an important part of my life and I have talked a lot to people in the church about it.  If we were willing to chew on what we are given and get from it every nutrient necessary for our spiritual growth, we;d be much better off.  I mean, John 3:16 means a lot, but you can never get on your knees reciting that verse until you meditate on it. 

Another thing that I have encountered lately is the fear of sinning.  People are afraid to continue to continue in sin.  This is definitely a result of the way they have been taught and it is sad when you know that the more you fear to sin, the more you will find yourself sinning.  I'm not sure why, but grace is no longer taught as it is.  I'm guessing pastors fear that if they preach it the people will take it as a license to sin and thus lose control of their members.  But, a correct teaching on and understanding of grace has the exact opposite effect.  You are actually empowers to no longer sin.  People sadly are putting themselves under the law still and are not yielded to the Holy Spirit who renews their mind.  Grace empowers you not only to "not sin" but most importantly to be able to do what God requires of you.  So, looks like I've got plenty of teaching to do.

Meanwhile, things aree moving forward with INSTITUTE 33.22.  More supplies have been bought and we are getting close to being ready to go very soon.  It's hard work, but it's good work and it's worth it.

Tomorrow morning I will be preaching on "6 elements of spiritual purification."  I'm looking forward to feeding the flock of God.  I trust that the Word will have the impact it needs to have in people's lives.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

After One Week...

It was at 2:45 AM last week Tuesday that i was sitting at the breakfast table preparing for my journey to Haiti.  It has been a week now and it certainly does not feel like one week.  It seems I have settled in quite nicely as opposed to other times when I felt like I was living a dream for the first two weeks.  No jet lag this time around, really.  I am pleased to see that the church is doing well with another qualified individual who has stepped up in the teaching aspect of the ministry.  We are really connecting in the work that needs to be done.  It is always nice when two people share the same vision for the advancement of the assembly.  This individual will be ordained shortly and I am very thankful to God for the immediate results I'm seeing from this man's teaching ministry.  I'm thinking one can take a thousand, but two can take ten thousand. 

I have been re-instated into church administration.  However, I believe that there are some changes that I might be calling for because end of December 57% percent of the central committee went on strike, refusing to continue with the minsitry because certain things weren't going their way.  I personally do not believe in strikes in ministry.  So, there will definitely have to be some changes made.

INSTITUTE 33.22 is slowly coming into being.  I am also negotiating with the founder of a school a ways away from my area who would like my services in his area.  The talks will happen in such a way that giving my services there does not override the project in my area.  So, talks will be happening soon.  I posted some photos of where I intend to start teaching.  There is plenty of work to be done there.  God is good and I believe everything will work out for the good.

I am also figuring out some things for the orphanage because the way it is now there is the possibility that it could be closed because of the inadequacies.  I am praying and also getting some information to see how I can prevent that from happening, because this house has been around for a long time and many good people have come out of it.

Overall, I am excited to follow God's footsteps and remain in His purpose for provision and protection.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's 2:45 AM

It's 2:45 AM and I am sitting at the table for breakfast.  In less than 4 hours I will be on a plane to Montreal.  From there, I will proceed to getting on a plane which will take me to Haiti.  By 1 PM, I should have arrived.

There something about the purpose of God.  It's so wonderful, and yet so mysterious.  You know the types of stories you see in movies where the person has a partcular calling and that great, but there are also some burdens, and even restrictions that come with that?  Well, that's not too far from reality.  When God sends you out according to His purpose you may be quite excited and honoured to be chosen for a particular task.  Yet, at the same time there are things you'd like to have or enjoy that you cannot because of the calling on your life.  It can be painful at times, but you really have to keep your eyes open to see the good in whatever happens. 

I think that what has kept me going, in spite of realizing that I "can't have it all" or "have it like everyone does," is the reminder that is it a PRIVILEDGE to be a part of God's ministry.  And when I look at the big picture, I am thankful to be in this position at this time in my life.  Being an ordained minister in Haiti at my age, being a teacher in and outside the church context, serving kids and young people in orphanages... this is a life God has decided to approve in my case.  And within His approval I find provision and protection.

Well, it's time to go to the airport now.  My dad recently said, "You don't really know what you're actually gonna be doing over there."  I can't agree more. 

(If you don't get that last part, I'll explain