Tag Archives: mission trip

Haiti Makes Me Happy

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This week I’m in Haiti with students from Lifestyle Christian School and will be sharing what we are doing and learning. Our first two days have been full of travel, but also full of rewards. After two flights, we arrived in Port au Prince Saturday evening. When we got in the back of the coreluv.org trucks and headed through the city, I took a deep breath to breathe in the Haitian air. The noise of motorcycles whizzing by, the smell of burning trash, the blaring horns of semi trucks, the music coming from stores and people walking everywhere reminded me of the times I’ve come before.

I looked at the group of mostly first timers and exclaimed, “Haiti makes me happy!” They’re learning first hand this week how it makes them happy. When we walked through the door of our guest house, we were greeted with the smell of fried chicken. We sat down, ate and then retreated to the balcony for our first service. We sang worship songs accapella. We shared about our first impressions of Haiti. Then the missionary here told the group to be thinking of three questions this week:

Where did you see Jesus today?
What makes you sad? Mad? Glad?
What do you see that you are not OK with

On Sunday morning, we went to a Haitian church service. We didn’t recognize any of the songs. We didn’t understand any of the language either. There was no air conditioning on a 90+ degree day in that building. Even though it wasn’t like a church any of us were used to, we experienced the same God we would have at home. I noticed several times when our group had their hands raised in worship, had their head bowed in prayer joined in the corporate worship. It was amazing to see and experience. There are many nations, many languages, many denominations that serve the same God.

They asked if one of us would like to preach. Jeremiah threw his hand up without hesitation. He later said, “I don’t know why I did that!” I know it was because the Holy Spirit was upon him. He preached through an interpreter a convicting message about Jesus overturning the tables in the temple. He pointed out that Paul referred to our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. He asked, “Since when did we start thinking it was ok to put thing into our lives, our temples, that God is not ok with?” I pray that we give God permission to come overturn the tables of our hearts and turn our lives into houses of prayer.

We left church and went to visit a woman whose husband and father to her children is a witch doctor. They are very poor and can’t care for their children. They are considering giving up the children to the orphanage. If they are able to come, imagine the course change for that family. Children who were born to a witch doctor would typically become witch doctors themselves. Children who live in these orphanages grow up to follow Christ. Before leaving, our group joined in prayer for that neighborhood. We prayed that God would liberate them from idolatry and shine His light in such a dark place.

From there, we went to “Faith, Hope, Love”, an infant rescue center. In this orphanage are children with HIV, AIDS, lymphoma, HPV, brittle bone disease and so many other life threatening things. Their parents can’t afford the medical care they need so they drop them off here. We went in and began loving on these children, playing with them, putting them on our shoulders and marching around. Laughter filled the air as these kids without hope had students who weren’t afraid of their disease and touched their hearts.

We left Port au Prince and took the slow drive to Gonaives. We stopped at the mass grave site where over 100,000 bodies are buried in a field. Survivors of the earthquake shared their horrific first hand accounts of what happened and what life was like. We drove through tent city where so many in Port au Prince still live since that fateful day in 2010. We followed the coast northwest and stopped at a resort to let the team cool down in the Caribbean waters. They learned to catch jellyfish without getting stung. After leaving there, we drove through the farm land of Haiti to make our way to the guest house in Gonaives.

After an amazing dinner, we joined together on a balcony and began to worship God. We talked about what it means to give up everything you have for God. We also talked about the widow in II Kings 4 whose husband had died and she couldn’t afford his debts. Elisha asked her what she had in her house. All she had left was a jar of oil. He told her to get jars from everyone she knew, fill them with oil and sell them. When she did, she didn’t just have enough to pay the debt. She had enough for the rest of her life. God always goes above and beyond what we ask. He simply requires us to use what’s in our house.

Today, we’re going to work at one orphanage most of the day and visit another one later to play with kids. I’ll update you tomorrow.

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Miracle In The Making

I saw God do the impossible last week. A friend called me to get prayer for his wife. She was wanting to go on a mission trip to a country that required a Visa. He told me, “If that Visa doesn’t leave the embassy in Washington, D.C. today, it won’t get here in time for her trip. The embassy is closed because they’re under several inches of snow and it’s not stopping. We know God wants her to go on this trip, but it’s not looking good.” I immediately thought of Jesus’ words, “With man, things are impossible, but with God, all things are possible to him that believes.” We prayed right then for a miracle.

The next day he told me that they called all day and no one answered. She was supposed to leave in the morning and they were still having trouble. I told him the story of my in laws. A couple of years ago they were headed to Mexico. On the way, their truck broke down. They stopped in San Antonio and got it repaired. They continued on their journey only to have the same issue. They stopped and had it repaired again. They crossed the border and the truck started doing it again. The check engine light was on, the truck was sputtering as it had before and they were concerned about going deeper into Mexico.

They prayed and decided to turn around and go back to the border. The moment that they did the U-Turn, the check engine light went off and the truck began to run smoothly. When they got back to the border, they believed that was God telling them not to go on their trip. My mother in law remembered she had gone to the doctor in that town several months before on a previous trip, but had never heard back. She went to the doctor that day and found that he had tried to reach her. Her test had come back that she had early stages of cancer. They were able to get her treatment and kill the cancer.

My message to him, and now you, is that God will speak to us through a donkey (ask Balaam Numbers 22:28), a Chevy or an embassy. If God says, “No,” it’s as good as if God says, “Yes.” Either way, it’s His will. We aren’t to get worked up when things are happening and stop signs get in our way. We are to trust that He sees what we can’t. I told my friend we will keep praying that if she was to go,that God would make it happen. If she wasn’t to go, then He would stop the Visa from getting here. Of course, at that point, it was too late to get it here.

An hour or so later I got a text from him. It said, “God just might be cranking up the miracle machine.” I replied, “Of course He is.” The snow had stopped, they had returned to work, the Visa had been approved and was sitting on the consulates desk. They were missing the UPS envelope to return it to her so it was just sitting there. They couldn’t go get an envelope and UPS refused to take one. My friend called FedEx and they were willing to take one to the consulate. They were able to get the Visa over nighted to the airport first thing Saturday morning so they could pick it up on their way to the gate. She got on the flight and made the trip even though it had been impossible for man.

Whatever impossible situation you’re facing today, God sees it. It may seem impossible to you, but we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. He is not bound by the things that make it impossible for us. He does not panic when things look dim. What He does is crank up his miracle machine and sets things in motion so that we get our miracles at just the right time. When He sets up road blocks or tries to stop us, He knows what lies ahead and the miracle is that He prevents us from walking into a trap by any means possible. His “yes” is as good as His “no”.

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Living A Wrecked Life

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I have the privilege of taking teams on mission trips a couple of times a year. Before I take anyone to Haiti, I give them this warning: Your life will be wrecked. Someone inevitably asks me what that means. I tell them something happens to you when you physically become the hands and feet of Jesus to the least of these. Your life, your mission, your thought process all change when you give what’s in your hand to someone who can never pay you back. There’s a feeling of satisfaction like you’ve never experienced in doing the Father’s will. There’s a joy unspeakable that comes from holding an orphan’s hand knowing you’ve just become their “blanc”.

Things you’ve done your whole life just don’t seem fulfilling anymore. It’s difficult to go back to your day to day life knowing that the things you do there have little to no eternal value. I’d rather be working in the Haitian heat doing something that matters for eternity than to sit in an air conditioned office trying to decide where I’m going to go for lunch. I can’t even wash a bug off my windshield without thinking how the people of Myan have to walk six miles for drinkable water like the water that I’m using on an insect. It’s not easy living a wrecked life, but it’s a fulfilled one.

It’s one where you give all you have for all He wants. When you allow the scales of selfishness to fall off your eyes, you suddenly see this life was never about you. It’s always been about helping others. It’s been about giving what you have. If you look closely at what God does, you’ll see that He gives (see John 3:16). I believe He expects us to do the same. He put in us a feeling of satisfaction that only comes from giving. That’s why Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” When you give yourself, your time, your prayers or your money, you open yourself to being wrecked by God’s blessings.

God has placed in each one of us the desire to live a wrecked life. For some, that only comes from being on the ground in Haiti or some other part of the world being the hands and feet of Jesus. For some, it’s giving so that those who have the need to go can go and fulfill their mission. For others, it’s praying for those who go and give. They fight the unseen battle that rages over the lost person’s soul. Each of us have our lives wrecked when we fulfill our role in fulfilling the Great Commission. When we each do our part, we’ll each hear the Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

What’s your part in giving? If you want to have your life wrecked by God, ask Him what role He wants you to play in fulfilling the Great Commission. If it’s to go, organize a mission trip for your church and go. If you’d like to go to Haiti to work with orphans, email missions@coreluv.org. If it’s to give, find someone who is going on a trip and give towards their trip. You can also give monthly support to any full time missionary. They’d appreciate it very much. If it’s to pray, dedicate time each day to pray for those fighting on the front lines. They can feel your prayers and it gives them strength to go on. When you do your part, you give others the ability to do theirs and all of will live wrecked lives like God intended.

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Where’s Your Roof?

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One of my favorite things to do in Haiti is to get up before everyone else and meet with God on the roof of the guest house. There’s nothing quite like sitting up there watching the sun rise light up the mountain and spending time alone with God. As the tap taps and moto taxis go honking by with music blaring, there’s a quietness that can be found up there where I can block all of that out and just relax in the presence of God as I enjoy His creation and spend time in His Word. Most people on the team will also find their “roof” somewhere in the house where they can meet God. I love walking around the house seeing Bibles opened, coffee in one hand and a journal in the other.

With expectant hearts and open ears, we wait to hear from God. We hang on His every word to write it down and to share with others. We fill our spiritual tank each morning because we’re about to go give it all out throughout the day. After breakfast we have a team devotion where one person shares what God is showing them. I love to see how excited people get when all of a sudden God’s Word becomes alive to them. Scriptures they had read several times before start making sense to them. Words they had never seen or glazed over become real and applicable. We receive so much while we’re there because we expect so much.

My question is, “How do we duplicate that once we get back?” The first thing I tell those who as is to find their balcony or roof back home. In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to go into our closet when we pray. I don’t think He literally meant to go in there. He was telling us to go so we here private where we can be alone with God. He wanted us to find a place where we can just sit in His presence and expect to hear from Him. He wanted us to find a place in our every day lives where we could have our Bible open, coffee in hand, a journal in front of us and to be excited to be in His presence.

I believe God wants to have daily encounters with each of us. He doesn’t want to just do it when we’re on a mission trip. He wants to meet us in our every day life. If it means we get up an hour before the kids do or stay up an hour after they go to bed, that’s the sacrifice He’s looking for. We somehow expect reward without sacrifice when it comes to our relationship with Him. We expect Him to do everything in the relationship while we receive all the benefits. Your relationship with God is just like any other. It requires time, effort and sacrifice. If you want a healthy relationship with God, find your “roof” somewhere around your house and make time to be alone with Him. You’ll find that excitement you’ve been missing and you’ll hear from Him each day. Your spiritual tank will be full and you’ll be able to give out God’s love all day without worry.

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Saying Goodbye

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Saying goodbye in Haiti is always the hardest part in coming here. I know it’s coming on every trip. When I start to think about it, I start to cry. Fortunately, as you’ve read, we’re usually so busy, I rarely have time to think about it. At each passing day though, it looms and I’m made more aware of it. Day 6 on this trip was that day. It would be the last time we visit Myan and the last time we play with the children in Gonaives. I have to force myself to get in the truck so they can drive me away.

We started the day off in Myan. We wanted to go back and help those who didn’t get into the clinic the day before. Word spread quickly that we had returned. People would dress their absolute best to be seen by the nurse. They would come and patiently wait to get in. We had told them we were leaving at 12:30. When that time came, we had two pregnant ladies and two elderly people in line, plus all the kids who wanted to be around us. I couldn’t leave them sitting there. No one could. We stayed an extra hour in order to help them.

The kids were all running around playing, throwing balls and being kids. I got a couple of the older ones and pulled out my phone. I played a video of a few of them who had sung on my last trip. When that started playing, they yelled out names. Before I knew it, there were twenty kids piled around me wanting to see it. I then asked for an encore. The boys sang again and others joined in stomping feet, banging Toro bottles and lending their voices. I don’t know what they were singing, but it was beautiful. Afterthought song was over, they sang “The is the Day that The Lord Has Made” in their native Creole. I couldn’t help but to be overcome by the situation.

As we loaded up and drove off, I took one last look at the orphanage. The next time I come back, there will be orphans there, the buildings will be completed and generations of families will be changed because people give their time, money and talents. I tried hard not to look at anyone on our team because I knew I’d break down. Instead, I prayed over the future of Myan. I prayed for those who have yet to be born and abandoned that will call this place home. I prayed for those who have a hand in helping to make this dream possible.

We made our way to the orphanage in Gonaives. When the gates were opened, the kid who chose each one of us on our other visit came running through the gate to find us. The team grabbed their child or children and began playing. Soon, we headed off to the soccer field. Choosing teams was hilarious with kids running back and forth. I had no idea who was on my team, I only knew our direction. A kid pointed at me and then at the goal. I was nominated to play goalie. I picked up a Nelson, a small child who is HIV positive and is deaf, and kept him on my hip while we played. With every blocked shot, he gave me a fist bump. Every time we scored he made a sign of celebration.

As the sun set, it was clear that it was time to leave. The kids had to go to bed and we had to get back to the guest house. Fortunately, we were able to delay the goodbye until we leave for the States. When we got the guest house, dinner was ready. During dinner, the missionary asked if we’d like to have service at Myan. The team agreed. We quickly finished dinner and headed out there. Even though it was dark and late for this community, several locals showed up for our service. They came and dispersed among us as we stood in a circle on a cloudless night lit only by the moon.

God came down and met us there. As we stood in a circle, we prayed for the locals and then each other. We shared what changes we plan to make when we go back. It was a very intimate setting with a very real God. The locals left one by one as we continued to pray. At the end of the service, there was this quiet presence of God. We rested in that moment and then loaded the truck. The ride back to the guest house was like being in a bubble of peace knowing that God was happy with what we accomplished and who we accomplished it for.

Today, we make the long journey back. We have a four hour ride in the back of the truck sitting on suitcase. We’ll load a plane and fly home. It will be after midnight when we’re finally with our families. For some, their journey will continue until sun up. We can’t wait to get back to our churches and friends so we can share how God met us in Haiti. Our challenge is to continue having Him meet us when we’re back. It’s also to find what He wants us to do for Him over there. God’s desire is that we live daily in His presence and show others who He is by how we live our lives wherever we are.

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Dream Bigger

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One of my favorite things to do in Haiti is to go to the Roboto feeding center. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and Roboto is one of the poorest areas in Haiti. The further we drove into Roboto, the poorer it got. Paved streets turned into rocks covered in trash. The few buildings that are made of wood lean to the side a bit. The rest are made with rusty tin that has rusted through in many places. People sitting on their porches don’t smile and nothing is done to upkeep the area as if it’s too far gone.

When we arrived to our destination I was shocked at how improved our feeding center was since April. Teams have used paving stones to line ground on the property. The width of the property has increased and a second building has been added. The sound of children learning filled the air. As we walked to the back of the property that backs up to the ocean, we passed several classrooms filled with children in blue and white uniforms. They smiled and waved as we walked through getting a tour and tried to process what we were seeing. Over the fence at the back of the property is a beach that is covered by trash and looks more like a landfill. Fisherman were ashore in their boats cleaning their nets and the smell was nearly overwhelming.

As we broke into our assigned teams, we quickly began to work. The guys began to add swings to the swing set and to make repairs on it. The kids in the classrooms stared at us smiling and waving. They couldn’t wait until recess. When it was time for it, every swing quickly filled up. While we were doing that, the ladies were up front painting the entrance, front wall and principal’s office. The wall outside was painted a stark white and was accented by painting the gates bright green. We chose green because it represents new life and hope which is what we hope to bring.

As the morning continued, it came time for lunch. The truck arrived with three five gallon buckets of rice and one bucket halfway filled with macaroni noodles in a brown sauce. Team members grabbed plates and started putting rice on them. Others grabbed the plates and poured some of the macaroni and sauce on them. Others delivered the food to the classes. Others picked up empty dishes and returned them to fill with food again for other children. Each child waits patiently for their food. For most of these kids, this will be the only meal they get. Their parents are so poor, they can’t afford to feed them. What was just a feeding center in the beginning has evolved into an education center to those who would have no education otherwise. We also share God’s love with them and hope to make spiritual change there as well as the future of Roboto.

After lunch, we got to come back to the guest house to clean up a bit and grab something to eat. After lunch, we went to the orphanage in Gonaives. As we sat outside the gate and heard the story of how Coreluv became involved with this orphanage, the sound of children grew louder on the other side. When the gate was opened, the children came rushing out like water on rocks. They bounced from person to person looking at our faces as if to determine who they wanted to fall in love with them. You don’t choose the orphan you get to love, they choose you. They make you feel special because you are the one that they want to have hold them.

We did crafts with them, brought books for them and played games for hours. The staff got a much needed break and took the opportunity to rest. The sound of laughter filled the house. These children aren’t the sad ones on commercials begging for your money. They live in similar conditions, but they’re happy and well cared for. As a monthly contributor, I don’t sponsor just one child. My money goes into everything we’re doing on this trip. I get to see my giving in action and making a difference not just for the orphans, but for the whole community.

At the end of a long, tiring day our muscles were worn out, our emotions were drained and our minds had tried to comprehend what all we saw. We still walked out on that balcony to meet Jesus and to worship Him for giving us the opportunity to serve and to be His hands and feet. We heard from II Kings 4:1-7 and were asked what all miracles we saw in that chapter. One person said it best when he said the widow was challenged to dream big. God will fill as many vessels as you bring Him. The only limitations He has are the amount that you bring Him and allow Him to fill. After yesterday, our dreams just got bigger.

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