Hurricane Update #3 – Wednesday Oct 5 – 11am

Hurricane Update #3 – Wednesday 11AM

Today I rode down to the Operation Blessing Headquarters in Tabarre, Port Au Prince. On the drive, we saw some downed trees and power lines, but the roads have already been cleared.

The haitian community is quick to respond, and strong, they can handle downed trees fairly quickly with machetes, and they are doing that well.

Port Au Prince looks good (mostly).
The rivers are quite dangerous and have claimed some housing and property. Hopefully no lives were lost there, but we won’t know for a while.

I’ve asked some friends about road conditions and there is flooding in Leogane that would not be passable by car, and that Scott Payne stood at the bridge to Lavaneau for a while (which is passable), but saw no cars coming to Jacmel from the north, which sounds like the road may not be passable, although it could be that no one can even get to Dufort to start heading south.

I have checked in with the guys, and read more reports from Jacmel. It seems that most things were spared in Jacmel. In the words of Waly, God was protecting Jacmel. Kara at Hotel Cyvadier said they survived fine, despite being oceanfront.
Similar to hear, there are trees and power lines down, and some tin roofing missing from houses.

Unfortunately, all of Haiti was not so lucky.
Dame Marie has been completely out of communication for over 24 hours, and is completely cut off from the rest of the country by flooded roads. It is a community of 40,000+ that was hit hardest by the storm. Operation Blessing, MAF, and many other organizations are working on how to get aid out to this isolated and devastated community.

I have not gotten any more from Smiley out in the Savenette (outside Les Cayes) that a message that said “Not Good.”
I have heard reports of chest high water in downtown Les Cayes, and the river is high, fast, and terrible.
Another missionary said that he thinks every piece of tin in Les Cayes is gone and every tree is down. It may be an overestimate, but it gives an idea of the amount of destruction.

Sadly, the road between Petit Goave and Grand Goave suffered a broken bridge, so there is no way to get help by truck yet.

Will keep you posted as more is learned.

A few resources to know:
Operation Blessing (www.ob.org) is working on relief efforts from their base in PAP, trying to find a way to get to the south.
Maxima is going to start building emergency shelters again, though they run about $3000 per house. They are rated to Cat 3 hurricanes, and have stood well for the 6 years since most of them were installed after the earthquake. We MAY try to work with them in the future, but I’m not sure we’ll have the budget to keep up with the need.

We will be working on getting west to help out as possible, hiring our guys as labor to provide relief as we go.

God bless.

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Hurricane Matthew Update #2 – Tuesday Oct 4 – 6pm

Hurricane Matthew Update #2 – Tuesday Oct 4 – 6pm

It is tricky to update about different places in Haiti right now. A lot of the information on facebook must be fact-checked as there are pictures being spread from past events, such as Tropical Storms Jaoquin and Sandy, and even pictures from other places, such as Kingston, Jamaica. I THINK all of the following is accurate, but I cannot guarantee it.

For our family: We’re enjoying our time with the Lotz family.

Mara Making Friends

It has been a day of strong winds and heavy rain, but the house is dry and safe. There have been 10-20 trees fall within the view from our porch, including one which had a trunk over 20″ in diameter, but there was never anything that threatened the house we are in. Thank God for keeping us safe through this.

For our guys: At our house, the guys were reporting that everyone is safe, and the only damage that has been reported are to the Almond tree (in the front yard of our house), and the Breadfuit tree (which is by the stairs in the workshop), but neither damaged our property.

For Fort Jacques area: This is the area I can speak most definitively about, though I still only know what we saw from the porch. That is many downed trees, and a few houses with roofing tin flying off. This area is mostly large houses, so everything should be easily reparable for the residents, though it made for a cold and wet day. Power lines are down all over the place. It is a surprising bonus that since grid power was not on, it was safer for everyone when the power lines went down.

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Man fixing his roof during the storm – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

Broken Trees - Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Broken Trees – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Broken Tin Roof – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Broken Tree #2 – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Moto driving through the rain – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Branches on power lines – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

For Jacmel: Reports were moderate all things considered, though all of my reports are coming from ex-pats and what they can see from their compounds. I’m sure once we get out we will find that there was a lot of tin roofing ripped off of houses, and water damage all around. We know that trees were getting knocked down on ex-pat compounds so I’m sure they’re getting knocked down everywhere. Likely there were major mudslides as well, but I haven’t heard any reported. The rivers are extremely high and dangerous, including a large area that is typically marsh/swampland adjacent to Sarah Wallace’s compound. This likely means that Lavalle, Lavanneau, Bainet, and other cities in the mountains west of Jacmel are cut off from supply routes until the water receeds, assuming the (newly completed) bridge has not been damaged.

For Les Cayes: I’m hearing bad reports. The river is high and dangerous, cell phone coverage is mostly out, and there is extensive flooding throughout the town. More importantly, there are reports from Petit Goave that a bridge is out on National Route 2. This will mean that everything to the south and/or west of Petit Goave, including Miragoane, Les Cayes, and Jeremie, is cut off from the rest of the country until a safe detour is constructed. I have seen some terrible pictures of flooding, and reports of shoulder-high flood waters, but I have not confirmed them yet For Cote D’ Fer: I haven’t heard any reports, but it is likely isolated at this point completely if Route #2 is out, and the river is impassable from Jacmel.

For Grand Goave: All my friends seem to have checked in OK, so that’s good, but I don’t know any more than that. Considering a bridge was destroyed in Petit Goave, which is only one town over, flooding is probably pretty high in Grand Goave’s river as well.

For Port Au Prince: I have seen pictures from downtown Port-Au-Prince, as well as the Grise River between Tabarre and Santo, showing extremely high water levels, but I’m not sure of much else. With the amount of rain that has been falling, all lowland areas will be impacted by flooding, and that will be serious.

Moving Forward: This could have been a lot worse, but it is still very devastating, especially to the South and West of Haiti, the poorer communities, and the infrastructure. There will be many, many people who lost their houses and their possessions. Even more will have had significant damage, such as lost roofing on their houses. Disease, especially the risk of cholera or mosquito borne diseases, will likely jump in the next few weeks as everything is wet and the little “proper” sanitation that existed in the effected communities is likely destroyed.
Additionally, clean water will be even harder for people to get. The agricultural community probably lost most of their crops due to the high winds. And the lack of supply routes will compound the agricultural problems to cause food shortages, and make getting supplies to rebuild, and even just clear debris, more difficult.

Fort Jacques, Haiti - 4Oct16

Fallen Avocados, from a tree that lost many branches during the storm – Fort Jacques, Haiti – 4Oct16

I will try to return to Jacmel as soon as possible. Probably the roads will not be passable yet, though I can’t be sure. If they are, that is awesome. If not, I will try to catch a plane down there when the airports are open. At that point, we’ll get the house secure enough for Jamie and Mara to return, then get to work clearing roads and helping people dig out.

Relief teams would be more needed in the South and West. It would be premature to plan them until more evaluation is done. Financial support will be needed for all organizations that are working in Haiti to recover quickly, and to help their neighbors recover. Smaller organizations tend to be the most efficient, and the fastest, at distributing funds. Many have learned lessons after the earthquake on how to respond most effectively without undercutting local business, which combines the economic issues. For example, it is important to buy local to get money back into local hands and allow those people whose businesses survived to rebuild and help their neighbors to rebuild.
Additionally, it will be best to hire locals to do the work, when possible, so that they will have money to rebuild their own places as well. Obviously, at F1 we will use any money as wisely as possible, seeking to help re-establish infrastructure and provide jobs, but I would also recommend donations to Operation Blessing, Mission of Hope International and other organizations working in the South and West. I did have really good experiences with Samaritan’s Purse’s emergency shelters back in 2010, so they also seem like a decent choice to support, even if they are a “big” organization.

Please keep praying for us.

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Hurricane Update #1 – Monday Oct 3 – 2:26pm

Hi all,

I figured it’s a good time for an update.
As you probably know, Hurricane Matthew is nearing the south-western coast of Haiti. Since Haiti isn’t that big, this means all of Haiti is in range of the storm.

It is currently a Category 3 hurricane, so 100-110 mph winds and heavy rains are expected. Unfortunately, it has also slowed down, delaying the expected landfall of the center of the storm from this morning to this evening. This is really bad if it keeps moving slowly, as it will increase the time that the high winds and rain effect Haiti.

The winds will likely rip the roof off of most houses that use Tin roofing, and create many hazardous conditions with flying debris and falling trees.
Additionally, Haiti is a country with many mountains and little topsoil, so flash floods occur with any mild rain. This is the sort of storm that will wash away thousands of homes, including those of many people who have not evacuated because they either didn’t know it was coming ot didn’t have anywhere else to go.
The third hazard will be landslides, as many of the mountains have exposed slopes that do not have sufficient vegetation to hold the rocks and dirt in place. This will take out houses and make roads impassable as well.
And the fourth hazard will be the rising of the ocean levels (storm surge), which is expected to rise over 10 feet on the south coast, and over 5 feet in the Gulf of La Gonave.
Even in the best cases, most of Haiti is going to receive at least tropical storms grade wind/rain, so there will be a lot of destruction and probably significant loss of lives

It will be hitting the south west of Haiti, close to Les Cayes, where I have worked in the past with Missions International of America (Dr Jay’s organization), so please pray for Smiley, Jude, Pizo, and everyone out there. The outer bands are alreay hitting the coast. They will be effected as described by the high winds and severe flooding.

Halfway between Jacmel and Les Cayes on the south coast is Cote D’ Fer, the home of Billy and Debbie Oram and their 3 children. It is one of the most remote places I have worked, and I’m sure that many people did not recieve sufficient warning to prepare. Billy and his family were scheduled to return to Haiti from the US today, so they will be safe from the storm, but it does mean their property was probably under-prepared for the oncoming weather, and their region will be hit hard. Pray for their neighbors, friends, and everyone in that region, as well as for Billy and his family.

Heading North from Cote D’Fer, across the mountains, is Grand Goave, the home of MOHI (Lex and Renee Edme), one of Hands and Feet’s campuses (Andrew and Angie Sutton and their Family), Be Like Brit, and Tree of Hope Haiti (Angela and Gama Paryson).
Thankfully, Grand Goave should receive a bit of shelter from the winds due to the mountains, but rain will still be a huge problem.
Kay Mirliton, the MOHI guest house where I have stayed many times with teams, is on the water front of the Gulf of Gonave, which is expected to rise over 5 feet. This will likely cause significant flooding on their compound.
Additionally, the river will likely rise to dangerous levels, cutting off travel between this compound and pretty much everyone else in Grand Goave.

In Jacmel, we are expecting to see a strong hit from the hurricane and lots of rain. Yesterday I boarded up the windows in our house and reinforced the wooden parts of our workshop as best as I could. We cleared potential flying debris, hopefully well enough, and moved everything important in the workshop into the container for safety. The blue building has some stuff stored in it, but we expect that to get water, so there is nothing valuable in there anymore.
Our house is on a “relative” high ground, with lower properties for water to drain to on 3 sides, and it is “above” sea level, but not significantly. We are hoping the storm surge and rising ocean levels don’t cause flooding in our place, but we can’t be sure.

Around 2pm, we made the call to get our family out of Jacmel for the stormfall. So Jamie, Mara, and I packed up the car and drove north, to Port-Au-Prince, then up into the moutains above the city to an area called Fort Jacques where we are staying with our friends, the Lotz family. It’s a full house with Eric and Jennifer, their 6 kids, Kyle and Maddison (Jennifer’s niece and her husband), and another friend all here with us, but we’re secure and prepared as best as we can. We should avoid the heavy winds here, and should not flood because of the high elevation.

Back in Jacmel, our guys are staying at our house. We left them all our food supplies, as we had stocked up for the storm, and gave them permission to let friends/neighbors stay with them as needed.

Most people don’t realize how bad this storm could be, and I think it’s mostly because no one has memories of a big storm.
When Hurricane Sandy passed through a few years ago, it was only at tropical storm levels when it hit Haiti. That brought a lot of rain, and some gusty winds, but nothing too serious unless you were in a flood/landslide area.
For example, Joanes, a carpenter that works in our shop, came to “perpare” by putting away a wardrobe he had built. He laid it down in the driveway between the trucks and was content with it there. That’s how mild they expect the storm to be. They seemed surprised that I was boarding up the windows and that people were hiring them to cut solar panels out of their frames and move them inside.
The last Category 2 or above to hit Haiti was in 1963, so no one remembers how bad storms can be.

Please also pray for the aftermath, and realize that this will take a big relief effort.
Lord willing, I will return to Jacmel as soon as the storm passes. I may have to fly down with MAF because the mountain roads are likely to have landslides.
If needed, I will try to start clearing up in Jacmel, and even branch out to other areas, possibly even over to Cote D’ Fer since there are less people to help out in that region. Haitians are resilient, and will recover well, but it will take a lot of work. I’m considering the idea of having teams, but it would take some preparations and waiting until transportation issues are cleared up.

God Bless,

Travis

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Making Haste, Slowly…

I’m back in Haiti. 🙂

However, despite landing in PAP at 5pm on Wednesday, I am still in PAP and have not made it to Jacmel.
Yesterday, we went shopping, and everything was great on that end. We finally own a 25 kVA transformer, and an air conditioner, which I will work on installing once we get home.
We also picked up solar panels and batteries for some new missionaries in the Leogane area that the guys will start building racks for as soon as we get back.

However, Gayly picked me up in the F150, and it needs brake work done, and new front tires, before we head back over the mountain. Thankfully, we still had a place to stay for another night, and I was put in touch with a good shop to get the brakes worked on. It is run by an american and staffed by haitians. Overall, it seems like they are the mechanic’s version of the F1 workshop, so it’s nice to see other people doing this.

For today, we’ll get the brakes fixed and go home, but we will have to continue to work on the truck once we get there, as they pointed out that is also needs air/oil/fuel filters and an oil change, and the engine is running rough so we’ll probably get new fuel injectors as well.

I was considering retiring this truck, but since the Big Truck (the Chevy) doesn’t have air conditioning, this is our best vehicle for picking up batteries and solar panels from PAP, so we’ll work on fixing it again.

It’s gonna be a busy couple weeks before Jamie, Mara, and Mom get here, but I’m looking forward to it.
God Bless.

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On the road again…

For anyone keeping track (or trying to), the last 4 months or so have not gone according to our original plans.

In our minds, Jamie was going to be in the US for the month leading up to Mara’s birth, and a month afterwards, then she was going to visit Finland so Mara could meet her extended family, and I was going to head back to Haiti.

But God had different plans in mind.
In the end, our 2 month departure from Haiti became more like 5, but it’s been great, even if my guys back in Jacmel may not be so sure yet.

Our Finland plans didn’t work out as intended, so I “had” to travel with Jamie and Mara over there, which was pretty great if I’m honest. I kinda wanted to go all along, but was trying to be fiscally responsible and that her mom could take care of her while she was there. Then, her mom’s plans changed, and some dear friends chipped in to cover the additional costs of me heading over as well.

Then, the biggest delays to getting back to Haiti came because God provided our “new” vehicle.
Today, I dropped off our 2000 Isuzu Trooper at the docks, loaded with baby stuff and tools. We didn’t make a big deal about gathering the stuff to put in the truck this time because we realized that we needed to be quite selective with our limited space, but we certainly used up every cubic inch we could safely secure in the back of this thing.

And now, it’s time to head back to Haiti.

I’m excited (to get back to work with the guys), terrified (about what may have broken while I’ve been gone), nervous (to bring our daughter with us into the most politically unstable Haiti I’ve ever experienced), and relieved (because as great as it was to stay with my parents and catch up with friends, it will just be nice to get “home” and settle into life with Jamie and Mara in Haiti).

I’m also ready to move forward again.
I’ve been confused about direction lately, and I think it was mostly that I was overthinking things.
I wanted to get more involved in discipleship and building a church since they were “more evangelistic” than what I was doing. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
But you know what? I’m an engineer. And I’m actually a pretty good one. God has put me in a position to learn and grow into a role in Haiti that is quite unique.
And everyday, I get to work with Anderson, Gayly, Fleury, Waly, and Bouki, and we may even pick up some new people.
I’m looking forward to getting more involved in aiding other ministries again.
I was getting weary of that. Mostly because of the turnover I’ve seen.

We’ve seen friends leave for health reasons, family reasons, or even because they screwed up and had to leave
We’ve seen organizations grow well enough that they don’t need help, or implode
We’ve made new friends, only to say goodbye after a few short months.
We’ve seen Church on the Beach, which was awesome for a time, then got derailed, and now, only Sarah Wallace remains in Haiti from our original group of ex-pats that started it…
It’s crazy, because I moved to Jacmel to be with the missionaries there, and now there’s only a handful of us that remember what 2011 was like.

And for a while, all of that had be growing weary.
But you know what, our day to day life is still a worthwhile ministry, even if I was starting to doubt it. It may not be glamorous, but it is good.
I am looking forward to getting back to the workshop and working with my guys.
We have more ministries to help, including a few solar setups on the docket, and I’ve got more ideas to try with them so that we can develop their skills, and the technology to help other missions in Haiti as well.
And I’ll have a role in New Perspectives Church which Pierre and Lorphene have started. It may not be flashy, but God calls us to a daily walk with Him, taking care of each day as it comes, and I’m ready to continue that journey.

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It’s a Girl!

On Monday, April 4th, at 7pm, Jamie delivered our little girl, and now we are blessed and excited to introduce her.

Born weighing 8lbs 2 oz and 20 inches long, she arrived after a rather long labor and we are thankful to all of you who were praying for us through this time that God was able to sustain Jamie through the process.

Meet Mara Linnea Knipple
1st Week

Mara has several stories behind it, but it is a name that God put on Jamie’s heart before we even knew we were pregnant. In our minds, Mara is short for “Maranatha”, which was used as a greeting in the early church meaning “Come, Lord Jesus”, reminding all to look forward to his return. It is also a reference to East Africa where Jamie grew up, or specifically, the game park know as “the Mara” (Maasai Mara).
Linnea is a good Scandinavian name, but is also a reference to Lynn, which is my middle name as well as my dad’s.

We were released from the hospital on Wednesday and now we will continue to stay at my parents place in Pennsylvania for at least a month or so. (And we are thankful for that, as Grammy has come to the rescue of these sleep deprived parents a couple times already)

As many people have asked what this does to our plans, we will continue to follow where God leads, including the fact that He has lead us to Haiti for this season of life. We look forward to introducing our little girl to her new “uncles” Anderson, Waly, Gayly, Fleury, Bouki, and Daniel.

Please continue to pray that God would give us wisdom regarding what work we should be doing, when (and where) we should be traveling, and for favor regarding getting proper paperwork for Mara and (hopefully) letting her and Jamie visit her extended family in Finland.

P.S. We also announced in our last post that God has provided a family vehicle for us to take to Haiti. In case you missed it, here is what our 2000 Isuzu Trooper looks like:

WP_20160402_001

And look to our last post for more information 🙂

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Jehovah-Jireh {Family Car!}

So, we have big news to announce.
No, it’s not the birth of our little girl yet. Apparently she’s on her own timetable and didn’t get the memo that her due date was last week…
But, we have a car to bring her home in.

We’ve been praying about our vehicle situation for a while now. Our two trucks have been temperamental lately.
While they both still serve their purposes, reliability has become and issue, especially in regards to traveling over the mountains that we cross leaving our home town of Jacmel. So, we’re hoping to return to a point where the little truck (Ford F150) is essentially the work truck for anything in Jacmel, and the big truck is ready for out of town work. At this point, a new wheel bearing in the little one and a new battery for the big one should get us back in business on that end.
However, in addition to reliability, we’ve been praying about a vehicle that can:
(a) hold a child seat, since both our trucks are single bench seats
(b) be safe to travel to Port Au Prince when necessary (this includes reliability, but also working air conditioning so that we can keep our windows up while in traffic as that is a more dangerous situation)
and (c) carry other people when they come to visit (we’ve typically had to borrow a car when people come to visit).

All that said, I’ve been keeping an eye out as we’ve been praying about a car that would work for our needs.
In the end, we actually have to thank God for the opportunities He showed us, and that we feel He has finally provided a great car for us.
Two weeks ago, we came across a 2000 Isuzu Trooper and took it for a test drive.
It looked good, but we still continued to pray about it, eventually leading to us putting a small down payment on it of $200.
Then, we got back to praying that if this was to be our vehicle, God would provide the rest of the funding. Within that week, we received two donations. One that was for $2000, and one that was for $1500. So we received $3500 of the $4000 that the car cost within the first week, and someone else has already expressed interest to help us with the rest.

So, here is our new vehicle, with my parent’s Ford Explorer for a visual reference as well.
WP_20160402_001

WP_20160402_003

Isuzu is a brand that is commonly sold in Haiti, so parts should be easier to find that for our Ford and Chevy.
Also, this has 110,000 miles on it, with very little rust underneath since it spent most of it’s life in Virginia and Texas.
It passed PA state inspections already, but I will go to a friend’s garage and we’ll do a little maintenance work together before we send it down.

Additionally, please keep it in prayer as are still working out the details of when it will go down, and the details of how everything will work out financially, as shipping and import fees will probably be about the same as the purchase price.

And, please continue to pray for Jamie and our little girl. They are both healthy, but we’re anxiously awaiting her arrival now that she’s a week behind the doctor’s prediction 🙂

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26Feb16 – Prayers

This morning, I’m sitting in Jacmel, and I want to open up to those of you who are willing to pray for us.

Right now, Jamie is in the U.S., preparing for the arrival of our daughter, and I’m here to finish up a couple jobs before I head back up to be with her.

Scratch that, that’s my problem.
I’m not here to do a couple jobs. I’m here for a couple more weeks of ministry, but I’ve been distracted lately. It’s been great to have work for the guys, and I know they need the income…
But I’ve gotten distracted from why I’m here.
I’ve been a boss, and an employer, but I’ve been failing to minister to them through it all.

And I’ve been doubting myself, my skill, my passion, and my doubts have been crippling. I find myself wasting time, essentially procrastinating, because of my own insecurity.

So, as I know you have been faithful to pray for our needs, for our health, and for our little girl that is almost here, today I ask that you would pray for me. That I would be filled with His Spirit to have the strength, peace, wisdom, and grace to fulfill the ministry He has called me to, because on my own, I can’t do anything.
And while I know that, my spiritual life has been slipping, and even my times of prayer seem much more difficult. So please join me in prayer, that I would continue to grow nearer to God, to get back the intimacy that I had with Him, and even surpass that level.

Thank you.

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December Update

God is doing amazing things, both BIG and “small”, here in Haiti.
Please take a minute to read through our update below.
Or, if you prefer, you can open these links for a the 2 pages of a printable flier.
Outside (Pages 1, 4)
Inside (Pages 2,3)

Page1

Page2

Page3

Page4

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8Nov15 – Sermon – God above all Gods

The past few months, Jamie and I have been working with our friend Pierre and Lorphine St. Louis to start a church here in Jacmel.
Pierre is an Air Force Reserve chaplain, and the son of a Haitian pastor who immigrated to the U.S.
Lorphine was born and raised in Haiti, and just recently finished up her naturalization as a citizen of the U.S.
Down here, God has called them to start an orphanage, called Faith House, and they have been led to start Bible Studies and focus on outreach and discipleship, which now includes two Sunday service.

Typically, we do a morning service at their house, where Jamie and I lead the music and Pierre preaches, both in English, though we translate the sermon as the crowd is still mostly Haitian.
Then, in the afternoon, they hold a service at the orphanage, and I am helping their Haitian band with preparations and play guitar as needed.

However, about 10 days ago, Pierre and Lorphine went started a month-long trip to the U.S., leaving me in charge 😉
So, despite “not being a preacher”, I started with a sermon last week, and continued in a sort of “series” this week.
I’ll start by posting last weeks sermon, plus some additional comments to get across some of the cultural context that Haitians understand more easily.

Also, for the sake of humor, I must admit that this is “mostly” what I preached, though a miscommunication caused me to preach in Kreyol as I didn’t have a translator present, and therefore, it was not as clear as what I’ve written here. 🙂

******************************************************************
“The One True God in a land of many false gods”

This weekend is the celebration of Fet Gede within Voodoo culture. Gede is a celebration of “Gede” family of lwa (spirits) in Voodoo. It’s also a big “tourist” thing to do I guess, because the ministry of tourism publicizes Voodoo celebrations as some simply “cultural.”

I cannot claim to speak as an expert on Voodoo, but I have learned some things over the past 5 years that I want to share now.

It is obvious, from the time someone comes to Haiti, that Voodoo has a strong hold on this country. The ministry of tourism celebrates it, and many of the holidays are connected to it, including Kanaval, Rara, and Gede.

As a stupid blan (foreigner), that did not understand anything, I didn’t think much of Voodoo when I first came to Haiti. I figured it was a completely fake teaching, and that it had no power at all. I even tried to tell some haitians that there was nothing to be scared of because Voodoo had no power.

This was due to my upbringing in the U.S. In short, we typically disregard ghosts, mediums, spiritualists, demons, possession and the like as superstitions or irrational fears, even to the point of using them simply for their entertainment value.

Now, I have come to realize that I was wrong.
First, I was hit by a passage in 1 Samuel 28, where Saul goes to a “Witch” to raise the spirit of Samuel, and it works, and the ghost of Samuel rebukes Saul fiercely for using this evil magic. This told me that the Bible acknowledges witches and evil spirits, and there are also plenty of times in the Gospels/Acts and speak of demons and possession, so they must also be true.

Second, I had my eyes opened to the power of Voodoo firsthand.
Sure, sometimes the “magic” that Voodoo claims to use is fake.
But, sometimes, the “magic” is real. Sometimes, there is something very spiritual going on during Voodoo rituals, and that there is a power in it.
One night, in 2010, I was at an orphanage and saw firsthand the work of evil spirits possessing 2 of the girls. These tiny 10 and 11 year old girls required 3 or more grown men to restrain them, to keep them from throwing themselves on the ground and hurting themselves with sharp rocks.
They didn’t respond to their own names, but claimed different names which I couldn’t understand.

So, I had a practical experience to highlight the knowledge I had gained from scripture. There are supernatural events which are not of God, and are of other “gods” of this world.

As I began to realize this, I learned that Christians in Haiti are in a similar place to the children of God in the Old Testatment.
In the times of Moses, and later, Elijah, the children of God were living in a land where they were the minority. Most of the people in the land believed, and feared other gods, other spiritual beings.
In Haiti, it is said that the country is 80% Catholic, 20% protestant, and 100% Voodoo.
Everywhere you turn, there is evidence of the followers of Voodoo, and the spirits they worship.
But I want to talk today, not just about the spirits of Voodoo, but what God has done in situations like we are in today.

First, we will talk about Moses.
In the time of Moses, the children of God were in Egypt, living as slaves under the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh believed himself to be a God, and called upon spirits of this world in his practices. He had magicians and sorcerers that worked for him to put spells and curses.
So when God called Moses to go to Pharoah, he gave Moses certain signs to perform to prove that He was the One True God, that He was more powerful than the spirits that the Pharaoh believed in.
So we read in Exodus chapter 7 through 11.
God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand that Pharaoh would let the people of God out of their slavery. The first sign God gave was that moses would throw his staff on the ground, and it changed into a snake.
At this, Pharaoh has his magicians do the same thing, proving that they also had some power. (though Moses and Aaron’s snake did eat all the other ones)
Second, God commanded Moses to turn the water of the river into Blood. Again, the magicians of Pharaoh were able to do the same.
Third, God sent a plague of frogs into Egypt, but, again, the magicians did the same.

Finally, God decided to show his true power.
He sent plagues of Gnats, Flies, and Locusts, which the magicians could not do, proving that he was the God over all the animals and insects of the earth.
He sent Hail, large chunks of ice, which fell from the sky and was strong enough to kill animals and damage houses, proving He was the God of the weather.
He caused Boils on the skin of the Egyptians, proving He was the God in control of sickness.
He caused 3 days of darkness, to show his power over even the Sun in the sky.
And, he caused the death of all the animals belonging to the Egyptians, before finally showing his ultimate power by causing the death of the first born child of all the Egyptians, proving that he was the God over life and death itself. The one God above other spirits.

As we look around this country, and we see the power of the evil spirits worshipped by Voodoo, it is important that we remember clearly that we serve the God above all Gods.
We cannot deny that there are other spirits which have power, but the God we serve is the all-powerful, the almighty God.
We should take courage to know that any evidence we see of the power of spirits is smaller than the power of our God.
Our God is greater, and therefore any display of power we see from the evil spirits of this world should serve to INCREASE our faith, because we know that God is bigger than each of these displays.

However, there is a second part to this sermon as well.
All throughout the Old Testament, we hear the stories of the children of Israel.
Unfortunately, since they were living in a land that was full of people who worshipped other spirits, these people of God often started worshipping those spirits as well.

In our lives, we must heed the lessons learned from these Old Testament times.
Just as we are not to fear the spirits of this world, we must also be careful to not fall into trusting in, or worshipping these spirits.
Our God, the God of Israel, the one True God, is a jealous God.
He gave his children, in Exodus 20: 1-3, clear instructions.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods besides me.”

All the days of the Old Testament, there is a pattern that is easy to see.
God Blesses his children when they are obedient, and must discipline them when they turn to other spirits and away from Him.

We must learn from this pattern. We should take this passage in our hearts as this…
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of your sin, out of the bondage of death by the blood of Jesus. You shall have no other gods besides me.”

I have heard many stories in Haiti of “pastors” and “christians” who still seek the voodoo priests for direction, or for blessings and curses.
(This was even confirmed as each member of our church nodded in acknowledgement that they know of a “pastor” like this).

Jesus told us the problem here in Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

So, we are called to live in devotion to our Father, the one True God.
We are called to live, not in fear, but as a light and a testimony to the power of God in this land of darkness.

Elijah, in 1 Kings, also lived in a land of darkness.
In 1 Kings 18: 21-39, he says he is the last remaining prophet of God, yet there are 450 prophets for the spirit called Baal.
Read Passage*****

In this passage, God had Elijah prove that he is the one true God.

We must never grow complacent to the point that we dismiss the supernatural occurrences in life, and we should hold firm to the histories and testimonies we have of when God has indeed proven himself greater than all that we see and know.
Remember Elijah, remember Christ and the apostles casting out demons and performing miracles, and hold firm to any miracles you have seen in your own life. Do not downplay them as happenstance or luck, but acknowledge that the God you serve is mighty and has performed miracles on your behalf.
Be ready to show to other that the God you serve is the One, True God.

🙂

Again, this is “mostly” what I spoke, both due to a lack of a translator and the fact that I don’t read from this page, but simply used this as a basis to get my ideas in order. I just wanted to share it with you so that you more people can hear what God lead me to say last week.
Blessings.

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