So, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. I’ve determined I’m too social to keep up with these when I have a bunch of people around.
I also just get to share my thoughts with the people that are around instead of writing them out for all of you that are reading on here. So, I apologize for not sharing too much lately.
First off, since it’s been a while, a little recap.
I’m back in Pennsylvania right now, though I am currently in the car heading to Delaware for my great-grandmother’s funeral. She passed away at the age of 102. Crazy, huh? I’m glad to be doing music at the funeral, and I chose the song “You Hold Me Now” to portray the fact that now she is out of pain, her hearing and, in fact, her entire body are fully restored to a state that they have never even come close to in the prime of her life. After the funeral tomorrow, I will be returning to Johnstown until my next flight to Haiti. That will likely be May 10th or so, just after the Disaster Relief Training with “Mission to the World”, si Dye vle.
Last week was amazing. Some of my best friends from college came down to work with my in Haiti. Megan Ellis, and Daniel and Cherith Kennedy, got to road trip with my, 4 wide in the cab of the truck. Thankfully Megan and Cherith are small and we fit just fine. It was a great week of sharing with missionaries in the Jacmel and Grand Goave areas. Our projects were very much functioning to finish up loose ends before I returned home. Since Daniel is even better at everything I do than I am, we took full advantage. We put in a generator transfer switch for SurfHaiti, fixed the electrical system at Olive Tree Projects, diagnosed electrical issues at HAF-Jacmel, and checked out an inverter for Joy in Hope, all the while sharing time and experiences with the awesome missionaries involved in each project.
Then we went to Grand Goave, where we ended up fixing a generator for HAF-Grand Goave, helping to move a concrete mixing plant for Be Like Brit using Andrew’s Duece and a Half, and swapping out the outboard engine on Pastor Lex’s boat at MOHI.
Plus, I I got to use the new pressure washer that Dan brought down for me, as well as changing the oil in the truck with him. Overall, I am happy with the maintenance of the truck, and the pressure washer should help to hold off the corrosion despite the salt water climate.
And, we were able to bless Calvary International Development Ministries (Dave and Darlys Bird) with a new table saw after their’s had died the previous week. They run a carpentry shop where Dave has taught deaf teenagers their skills and end up building desks/table/beds for many other ministries in the area. It was an awesome week.
The day before those three came in, I spent the night in Croix de Buquet (spelling?) with some awesome doctors and physical therapists. Erin and Jeanie have been doing P.T. in Haiti for over a year now, and have done great work with stroke victims and many other people. Erin and I spent some time talking about “adaptive technology”, such as devices to allows stroke victims, who are paralyzed on half their body, to get back to cooking and washing clothes themselves. I would like to talk to other engineers/organizations about helping with some of these devices.
Sadly, Erin and Jeanie are leaving Haiti soon for their next endeavors, but they can certainly give some ideas for how to make things work. I am thinking about pulling a “junkyard wars” type weekend with some engineers where I supply the materials and the task, and we compete to come up with the best solution out of the materials at hand. It was a great time to visit with them, especially as it filled the gap nicely between dropping the Johnstown crew off at the airport and picking up Dan, Cherith, and Megain the next day.
The week with the Johnstown crew was awesome as well. My brother Josh, Sean McCool, Ian Keith, Megan Fabbri, Luke Parker and Ryan Brown all came down to work for the week in Jacmel. Once they got there (a day late due to flight delays), we had a great time. We stayed at the SurfHaiti guest house, and picked up a couple strays during the week to hang out with us. Carissa and Sarah from Hoola for Happiness joined us for most of the week, once we realized we were in the same area. Ian, Sean, Josh, and Ryan had met Carissa last year when we crossed paths in Haiti. The week included a lot of work with CIDM (Dave Bird), as we worked to pour the foundation for a house in the Jacmel area. The homeowner is a young woman who has 7 children living with her. 3 of the kids are her sister’s, who passed away. CIDM is working in partnership with Calvary Chapel’s Haiti Initiative (CCHI) to put up 6 houses for the women in this area, who were all still living in tents and caught the attention of Emily Pierce, who checked out their stories and recognized the need for aiding them.
We also got to do some work for Joy in Hope, and hang out with them and Olive Tree folks. I love my family in Jacmel, so it was great to have the Johnstown crew get to know them as well.
Before the Johnstown crew came in, I was hanging out with the World Race team. The 45 young adults from C-squard of the world race were in their 2nd month of an 11 month trip that will take them to 11 countries around the world doing ministry. They were awesome to hang out with, as we were working around the MOHI property in Grand Goave. Most of the work was on the foundation at the MOHI school, pouring concrete and moving dirt to backfill, but they also painted and fixed stuff up at the guest house, and various other projects. I shared some great times of worship with this group, and hopefully have some good friendships to continue, though it could be tricky since they have now moved to Romania, and will continue jumping around the world, so communication will be tricky. They use skype and keep up blogs, so I look forward to trying to stay in touch while I am home and have good internet.
And again, working backwards, I took a trip to Les Cayes in the middle of the time I spend with the World Race. I was working with Dr. Jay and MIA again. Basically, we were laying out the land to get ready to put in containers to build their new guest property/conference center/agricultural development center. I honestly spent most of the week sharpening machetes and axes. I was monitoring the electrical system for problems, so the grinding just gave me something to do between problems. However, it was a great experience to be able to help all the locals out just by sharpening their tools and helping weld their motorcycles back together.
Thus ends the recap section.
It was during this time that I started getting a song in my head, which lead to deeper thinking. Rich Mullins wrote a song about Christ being a homeless man, and it included the line “he had to axe to grind,” so that came into my head a lot as I was sharpening machetes and axes throughout the week.
The rest of the song talks about how Christ had to home, and how the world hated Him, as it said:
“Birds have nest, foxes have dens, but the hope of the whole world rest on the shoulders of a homeless man…and the world can’t stand what it can’t own, and it can’t own you because you did not have a home.”
It got me thinking back in life. When I was in college, and working in North Carolina, I was starting to get into my head that I needed to be more like Christ. It became part of my prayers. Father, let me be more like Christ, as you have called me to be.
First, it lead to quitting my job and pursuing ministry full time in Johnstown, but eventually, it has brought me to being homeless in Haiti.
It wasn’t what I had in mind. I get lonely, and I get unsettled. I don’t have a home, and I’m not a huge fan of that. And then I think more into the life of Christ. Back to the song, one of the verses goes:
“and you did not take a wife. There were pretty maids up every road, lined up to touch the hem of your robe, but you had no place to take them so, you did not take a wife”
So, again, apparently, I’m just living like Christ. Not what I had in mind. And I’m constantly surrounded with ministry. Even my peers in ministry need help with something many times. And I feel like I’m alone, even when I’m with people.
And then I look at Christ.
He was constantly surrounded by people who wanted his help. Then, even when he retreated with just his closest friends, they still wound up arguing about who would get to sit next to him in heaven. And when he went off by himself, and simply asked them to pray for him, they fell asleep. And he got angry and sad.
Guess I’ve gotten some of what I asked for.
Then I looked further.
When I moved home, we started a church. We prayed for a church like we see in Acts. We wanted to see a devoted bunch of believers, striving to share Christ.
Now, our house has people in it every day. The last two nights, when I went to sleep, there were still over 10 people hanging out in the living room. I make sure to put on pants to go to the bathroom, even at 3am or whatever, cause I never know who is gonna be in the house and figure I’ll save some embarrassment for both parties if I don’t walk around in my boxers.
Well, we said we wanted a close fellowship, the “met together and broke bread daily” (Acts 2).
We got what we asked for.
We’ve got a ragtag group of young adults, with crazy backstories, lots of passion, and typically not much financial stability. Not what most american churches are hoping for, but it’s exactly what we asked for.
So I come back to a thought I have had many times.
“Let your Yes, be Yes, and let your No, be No”
Josh had a whole series called “I believe, therefore….”
My thought is now, “I believe, therefore I stand by my word”
God has given me exactly what I asked for, and I am thrilled to say I have never been more full of joy.
This is a fantastic life, and I am sure that is what Paul would have said, even when sitting in a jail cell.
I don’t write all this as a pity party for myself. I count it a blessing that God is doing all of this in my life.
Yesterday, when I was at church, we spent an hour in guided prayer. I found myself asking things that are extremely difficult. I pray that I am man enough to stick with them, but it will only be through God’s strength.
It is through our weakness that He is made strong in our lives.
Therefore, my prayer is that God will keep me hungry, that I will trust him to sustain me.
That God will keep me poor, that I will trust him with my finances
That God will keep me broken, that I will trust him to hold me together
That God will keep me humble, that my arrogance will not get in His way in my life
That God will keep me lonely, that I long after him
That God will keep my heart broken for this world, that I will long for a new heaven and earth
That God will keep me from contentment, that I will not grow complacent
These prayers terrify me, but I know it is what I need.
I have not known faith in God to provide my meals, until I did not know where they were coming from.
I could not have know faith in God for my finances when I was making $50k as a single guy just out of college. Now I know Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord Provides)
I pray that you would strive to know God in this way, but I warn you, it is not easy. God is looking for people to step up, beyond just mere lip service, and stand by the words they prayer (and sing).
This is the cry of my heart, to see others grow to an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our provider, sustainer, steadfast rock in time of trouble, and our only hope in this broken world.