Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Our youth office decal
One Sunday afternoon while the young men in our youth strummed their guitars we rubbed it on the wall.  A silhouette of the world.  Perspective is necessary for growth.  To look at that big world that is filled with people, history, toil, triumph, beasts and birds.  He promises He never sleeps or slumbers but with a watchful eye cares for the entire thing and even rules over it.

We pressed it flat against the wall but really it is a gigantic circle that spins in outer space.  Sounds absurd.  It is except that He is God.  He is fascinating.  It's the expression of Himself.  His glory on display.  It's for Him.  He made the beginning and will bring its ending.  He spoke.  We're born into it.  He commanded us to not be of it but to go and make disciples.   Sin distorted it.  It groans for His return.  It's astonishing and so incredibly intriguing.  We're happiest when we worship Him as the Master and Creator of it.

Like looking up at the sky or the ocean you're put into proper perspective.  Wow, I'm small.  Really, really small.  Wow.  He's big.  Really, really big.  Growth comes with humility.  We put it up as a reminder of this reality.  God is global.  We want our youth to ponder these things.  Inspire them to worship.  Line up with His purposes.

Several have admired it and commented.  Here are some of their thoughts:
"Wow.  This is really nice."  (long pause-thought-scan)  "Now, where is Haiti?"

"This looks great!  What is it?"

"That's nice.  Is it the whole world?"

"Is it a map?"

(long look with thoughtful question) "So.  What is it?  Is it Haiti?"

"Where is Haiti?"  (Jason turned the question on them and they responded.)  "There." (They pointed at Russia.  Jason shook his head.  They went on a while until Jason pointed out each continent.)  "Interesting.  I've never seen a world map.  So where is Haiti."  (Jason pointed to the small island under Florida, next to Cuba.)  "It's small.  Haiti is small."

"This looks great!  Where's Haiti?"  (Jason showed them.)  "Haiti is that small."  (Jason confirmed and they baulked.)

Needless to say we're thankful for the way God makes His glory known and how He infinitely loves us by putting things into proper perspective.  He's big.  We're small.  We need Him and are happiest worshipping Him.
"God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose." — John Piper

Friday, October 25, 2013

What are you doing?

We get this question from time to time...glad you asked!
Here's what's going on in the youth group and young adult ministries at Quisqueya Chapel this week. For those of who pray for us or give to us or both - thanks! We are glad to be here and do this sort of thing. Serving in Haiti is a blessing.
There are several links in this blog post if you are interested in these resources.

Rejoicing in God's Good Design

For the youth group Sunday school class we are learning about God's design, purpose and roles for men and women in the church and in the home. It's been a very good study and has inspired some very interesting conversation. In today's culture, in Haiti, Canada and the Untied States (we have kids from all three places in the class), Biblical roles for men and women have been challenged and significantly perverted and blurred. I would highly recommend this study for any high-school Sunday school class.

To Be Like Jesus

Andrea and Dieula, a past youth group member, are team-teaching the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school class. Andrea started teaching the class with Dieula last year and plans to hand the class over to Dieula very soon.
To teach Children Desiring God curriculum is to be discipled by it. We've grown because of it and we pray that she will grow as she teaches it as well. Seeing kids, when they start to "get it", is very rewarding. Pray for Dieula if think about her. Teaching is rewarding and challenging. We hope that this will grow into something very good for her and the kids she ministers to in Haiti. God is faithful. If your church is looking for Sunday school, midweek or VBS curriculum I want to steer you to this place.

Disciplines of a Godly Man

Is there a place in the world that doesn't need disciplined, godly men? The lack of godly men is seen everywhere in Haiti (as in many other places). We are about three weeks away from finishing this book study. It's been challenging to each of our lives and my hope is that the men who have been coming to this will lead more disciplined lives for the glory of God. We've had about 15-25 men coming every Monday night to this study. "To open this book and find someone taking seriously the biblical call of agonizing to enter the kingdom and...boxing and sweating like a champion to get victory over sin is the most refreshing thing I could have set my eyes on." - John Piper

Because He Loves Me

Andrea is leading a Monday night women's study. They recently finished working through the book of Ephesians and are now using the book Because He Loves Me by Elise Fitzpatrick. There is a very good group of young and older women coming to the study. In January, Andrea and Makayla started meeting together in hopes that others would join them. They met together for about a month with no one else joining. On the fifth week of meeting, just the two of them, Andrea decided they could just meet at home rather than walking to the church every Monday. On their way out of the gate to head home one of the youth group members came in just as they were going out. So, they came back and did the study that night. Since then there has been a consistent and growing group of women meeting every Monday night!

What did you Expect?

On Wednesday nights we've been getting together with about 20-30 youth and young adults to watch video sermons. We've been gathering for several weeks, watching various pastors on video. Next up we are going to watch a series by Paul Tripp titled What Did You Expect? It is a study on marriage.


Discipleship has been front and center since we've moved back to Haiti. The first time we visited here we felt that Haiti was evangelized but not discipled. The longer we've been here we realize how true that is. We, with Quisqueya Chapel, are putting a special emphasis on creating a culture of discipleship. Part of what we are doing involves using the book Multiply by Francis Chan. Andrea and I are almost finished going through this book with four youth. We have plans for two or three more discipleship groups to start in the next few weeks. Another recommendation: if your church is looking for a manual on discipleship I would check this one out. Learn more about it here.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

When I was young my mom read to us a book called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Years later I took Andrea and the kids to a play on the same book. If you've ever read it you know what a good story it is. This year we are going to attempt to do it as a play for the church for Christmas. We need 25 youth to participate as actors and many more to help pull off the production. We look forward to spending many hours with the youth practicing and working toward doing this together. Our hope is that it will bless the youth and those who watch it with a clear Gospel message. We also hope to build better relationships with the kids who will be working on this project with us!

Narnia Book Club

Good fiction is difficult to find here. Finding a teenager who reads good fiction is even harder! Noticing that, we decided to see if there was anybody who wanted to read The Chronicles of Narnia with us. The response was good, so we started the Narnia book club and we are reading/discussing the Narnia series together. Currently we are on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and we have about 20 youth reading with us. Thank you to those of you (thanks mom) who have supplied us with dozens of these books. Aslan is on the move!

Youth Group on Saturdays

Every Saturday we meet for our regular youth meeting. We usually have over 50 youth in attendance at this meeting. Recently we've been studying issues of modesty from a Gospel-centered perspective. We're asking the question: How does the good news of Jesus dying for my sins and delivering me from the wrath of God relate to issues of chastity and modesty? 

The Gospel Coalition
Theological Famine Relief

They say it all here. The Gospel Coalition has made Biblical resources available to ministries outside of North America. We've been able to bring down several cases of books. Friends and family have also brought down books and Bibles to give away to youth, young adults, and future leaders in Haiti. Good theological and Christian living books are difficult to find here. We're thankful for TGC giving us these resources in English, French and Haitian Creole!

Pray for one of our youth group members 

Thanks to all of you who have agreed to pray for one youth this year and for purchasing the book Setting Their Hope in God. We are looking forward with anticipation to see how God uses your prayers in the lives of these young people! We still have about 10 youth group members who we’d like to get prayer partners for. If you are interested in joining us here’s how it works:

1) Purchase this book, Setting Their Hope in God, by Andrew Case.
It is available for $8.99 on Amazon. There is an electronic version for $.99.

2) Email us at jason.schmick@gmail.com and let us know that you’ve got the book and are committing to pray for a youth for the next year.

3) We will email you a picture of the youth and their name. (**We will only be able to share a name and picture to protect the youth’s privacy agreement.)

4) Read the preface and instructions at the front of the book.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Limitation.  I like how the guy has his binoculars.
Look for God.  He's working in every limitation.

They're everywhere.  Some change the course of a day while others a lifetime.  We encounter them all of the time. If they're not our own then we experience them in the world around us. Other people's limitations effect us. Creation is full of limitations. Streams of water are shaped by limitations. Cities develop according to limitations - whether demographics, the economy, history or weather.  The southern cities developed much more after air conditioning was invented because the hot weather limited it prior. We live within limitations and we ourselves are limited.

 While contemplating my next pair of running shoes I researched a recommended brand called Newtons. Their claim to fame is that they help you tap into otherwise unused muscle power by using better form. Most running shoes "use passive cushioning...that flattens under your body weight...". This cushioning obstructs your ability to sense the ground under you and communicate with your brain what muscles are needed. In essence you're running in a non-sustainable, comfy bubble that limits your best muscle/ligament power to propel you over the ground.  Crazy enough, you're even more susceptible to injury in that unrealistic bubble.

It dawned on me that many of the limitations I experience frustrate my "passive cushioning" which obstructs my ability to sense the real ground I'm running on. I can get all sorts of bent out of shape when limitations block my perceived desires, needs and goals. Worry and anxiety rear. A victim mentality consumes. Anger boils.  Depression and apathy paralyze.  Quickly my selfish-focus becomes fixated on establishing the "passive cushioning" I crave. My prayer life becomes about removing the limitations of finances, sickness, difficult people, etc. You get the point.  Any and all limitations must leave in the Name of Jesus. "Right?"

Stamina wains with my limited wisdom and remedies.  Thoughts are crowded with promising, bubble-visions titled, "IF only...".  As if that was possibly the only remedy.  However, with increased concentration, these limitations don't vanish.  Instead fears multiply because I'm not utilizing God's infinite power and wisdom to satisfy and propel me.

The blessed truth is that God is always jealously at work in every limitation. These limitations are totally in His mercifully-sovereign care.  He is the master of them!  They are essential tools in His skilled hands. Where I'd obliterate every supposed limitation and labor to restore or increase cushioning God is faithfully working to develop and tap into the better strength. The strength that comes when I realistically see and feel the road underfoot, realize He's bigger and trust Him to faithfully provide. Again, He has supplied all that I need to run this race with endurance.  There is nothing in heaven that He hasn't given.  He gave everything and held nothing back.  He gave HIMSELF.

I'm challenged to ask in the face of these limitations, "Who is God in this?  How is He sufficient?  Am I trusting in the fullness of Him and His perfect wisdom or am I seeking my own remedies?  Am I willing to pray through this diligently and keep running or  will I rebelliously fall down in a defeated pile?  Whose race is this any way?  Mine or God's?"

How about you?  Are you experiencing limitations today?  Are you enjoying His complete sufficiency found through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

I encourage you to rest in His perfect, protective love at work in your ordained limitations.  His righteous wisdom holds each of them with great love for you.  Do you trust Him to strengthen your real muscle power in Him or do you prefer the "passive cushioning" that doesn't last?

 Oh, how He loves us!  He doesn't give us what we think we need but instead gives us Himself and teaches us to treasure Him best of all; making our joy full.

Romans 8:32"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Disciples are multiplying!

This picture is defying. It is defying what was said couldn't be done. One of the two people in this picture said that they couldn't disciple. The one on the left.

Permit me to back up a bit and explain. 
We invited four youth group members into our apartment around five months ago. We didn't know them that well then, but we wanted to start being intentional about discipleship with members of the Quisqueya Chapel youth group. We prayed and talked about who to ask. Andrea made a meal and we invited them to come over to eat and go through a book on discipleship with us. We also committed to spending time with them outside of our weekly meeting. We swim, watch movies, eat, and do other things with them. Sitting around the table gives us many opportunities to speak in a parental way to the youth. Many of the topics that we discuss aren't in the book we're using, but we use it as a springboard to dive into the stuff that they have questions about. The weekly book study is an important part of discipleship, but it's only part of it.

About four weeks into the study we told them that our intention was that they would be disciples who go and make more disciples. 
Ernst, the guy in the picture, said "I cannot do it". 
Us: "Why?" 
Ernst: "I do not have a house like this. I don't have food to give and I do not have a table to sit around with people and go through this book together with them." 

Ernst had so closely associated discipleship with eating and hospitality and having a "nice" house that he felt unable to reproduce what we were doing. "Sure you can", we encouraged him, but he was settled on the idea that this was what we did and he could not do the same.

In the following weeks we tried to encourage all of the youth in the discipleship group to not make the mistake of thinking that the way we were discipling them was the only way. "Jesus discipled people as He walked along the road and as He sat in a fishing boat", I said, "and I'm fairly sure He was better at discipleship than I am. He didn't have place to lay down at night, but still He was able make some pretty impactful disciples."

A few weeks later Dieula and Sadrac, two of the other youth in our discipleship group, both asked for an extra copy of Multiply (the book we're using in our discipleship group). A week later Ernst also asked for a copy. We gladly supplied the books. They all had a friend who they wanted to disciple! 

A few Sundays ago while Ernst was spending some time with the friend he was discipling, another guy walked by and asked what they were doing. Ernst invited him to join them. He's now discipling two young men! 

This picture was taken on Wednesday night. Ernst meets twice a week with the friend pictured here and meets once per week with his other disciple. They meet, not at his home, but at the Chapel grounds. Andrea asked him how far Into the book they were. Ernst, with a smile, said chapter three. He said, "We never finish a chapter in one week, we talk and talk about many things." 

We are rejoicing in God's work in Ernst and the others. 
Going and making disciples = the mission of the church. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Editorial: Haiti | By Makayla

                The more time I’ve spent in Haiti, I find that I enjoy the country and its people more and more. My parents made a decision to move our family here with the purpose of discipleship. I’m beginning to learn the language. Every day I see the lives the Haitian people lead. I even have Haitian friends. 

 It bothers me when some of my family 
 and friends show adversity and hesitation towards the idea of visiting Haiti. I realize it is not us or the country, but their limited knowledge of Haiti that causes them to be afraid. I hope to dissolve some of those fears by way of exposing Haiti as honestly as I am able.  Maybe they’ll reconsider and come and visit. 
                When I first visited Haiti (it’s strange to remember) I had a very limited knowledge of the country, I was left with quite a bit of room for imagination. In a manner of speaking, I didn’t consider that Haiti might have a sun like America did, or grocery stores, or playgrounds, or showers ect. I just didn’t know what Haiti was! It was a blurry confusing shadow lending itself to fear and doubt. 

                   Some common fears amongst my American friends when they think about Haiti are: murder, extreme poverty, and diseases. Each of these exist here, but they look much more daunting through the lens of the US Embassy website and various photos on television and the internet. Every country has their share of such horrors. 
                In preparation for writing this paper, I asked my mom what one of her biggest fears was the very first time she came to Haiti. “I thought that everyone wanted to kill me,” she said bluntly. I think that many people think this way. Would you be afraid to take a walk in a common Haitian neighborhood for fear of your life? 
Out of curiosity I searched the internet for the murder per capita in Haiti compared with other countries in the world. On a list of the top twenty highest ranked countries for murder Haiti didn’t even make the list, but here are some of the countries which did: Russia, Brazil, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands.
            I can sincerely say that our experience with the Haitian people, since living here, has been quite positive. Rarely, in my daily encounter with Haitians, am I really afraid for my life including the times we take walks in our neighborhood. 
                After the big earthquake in Haiti, my mom was seeing and showing me horrific photos of piles of dead bodies; victims of the earthquake. Horror stories were read about people being trapped under buildings for days and days with nothing to eat or drink. Some were uncovered and lived, but others were not so fortunate. From various blogs and news channels, Haiti appeared to be nothing but crumbled buildings, heaps of dead bodies, and mass graves. The story that was told was nothing less than bleak. 
About a year or two later, when we moved to Haiti, we were talking with some Haitian friends about their experience during the earthquake. Somewhere during the conversation the question was asked, “Did you guys see lots of dead people around town like we did in America on the internet?” The answer was not really. Some said they saw a few, but mostly behind hospitals where the nurses would put them until they could be taken away to be buried. 
               The earthquake was extremely destructive! Many lives were lost! Buildings were crumbled to the ground. But Haiti was not dead bodies on every street corner like we thought it was.

               It is the same with the believed bareness of the country’s landscape. Once a couple came to visit us, when we asked them what one of the major things that impacted them about the country was, they said, “I never imagined Haiti so green! From what I heard, no trees grew here at all.” It is a rumor that nothing grows in Haiti due to major erosion. There definitely is a lack of bountiful good soil. Even so, trees, vines and fruits in Haiti are everywhere.                  
               All that to say, Haiti has abundant bad press working against its reputation. Keep in mind as you read the warnings and view the dramatic photos that it may not be as drastic as it appears. Media capitalizes on the negative drama.  

              So, if Haiti isn’t what the internet and television says it is, what is it? What is Haiti really like? Why should people come to see it? 
Haiti is a beautiful tropical country. Sharp awe-inspiring mountains are everywhere. We’ve found that this island can’t but help sprout all over with palm trees, various kinds of flowers, and fruit trees like mango, avocado, apricot, and banana. 
             Haitians love to sing, especially while they work. The word in Creole for sing is Chante (pronunciation: Shawn-TAY) It fits its meaning far better than the English word, I think. Often times, we have Haitian’s over to our house for supper, or spend time with them in Bible Study, or are nearby during one of their prayer groups, and again and again we witness their joyful singing.  They remain joyful in situations when I would be near my wits end. They are long-suffering, relational people. They love to do things together. Often we will see Haitians in difficult situations, and then they smile or laugh.  Haitian people have something to give to those of us who have grown up in the western culture.

             I think that it’s a very good, healthy, and educational thing to visit another country, no matter where it is on the map. America is not so much the norm as it is uncommonly unique because of its flourishing economy, less-corrupted government, and the Constitution. To leave its borders and see what other parts of the planet are like can be extremely fun, and definitely enlightening.
And now, concluding: Perhaps we’ll have the privilege of showing you this, our new home, Haiti. The mango juice is on us! ;) 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gearing UP - 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

This weekend we will host our first overnight event for the youth.  I'm seeing youth ministry from new perspectives these days.  Honestly, I've never been a big "youth-grouper".  John Perkins in his book, "Justice For All," cautions that the things you critique with discernment will no doubt call you at some point.  So ironically, the Lord has called us to this good work.  It's not that I don't regard the youth or see extreme potential in them as young adults and reason to therefore invest.  However, growing up I never really enjoyed the various youth ministries I was a part of.  Maybe it had to do with the fact that I grew up so quickly.  Broken homes can do that to kids.   I don't know.... playing leap frog until wee-hours into the morning or enjoying the high of Mountain Dew wasn't alluring to me, in the least.  It could be personality factors too.  I still prefer one on one with friends and older adults or the company of a small posse.

So here we are in the trenches of youth  ministry.  Our youth varies in numbers around 100 young adults with 40 regular attenders.  They've mentioned several times their fond memories of past events.  For them, it is a stake in time,  something to look forward to, time to hole up and get to know each other, building memories and opportunity for concentrated spiritual input.  Maybe the way that I view family vacation or the chance to get out of town with some friends or attend a conference.  These youth have much to teach me and they are.

The other night we were practicing for a music skit they are putting together for Youth Sunday.  After a hard night's work Jason and I opted to buy pizza from a local "fast food" restaurant.  This being the epic of the evening to us was a side note to them.  Many of them weren't even planning on eating.  They were more excited about singing praise songs together around the strum of the guitar.  Unabashedly, they hammered out the tunes to a new song.  They weren't fearful of learning it together, one was off key here, another missed the entrance and this one messed up the words.  None of this hindered their genuine worship and enjoyment of each other.  This particular small group has grown up together; attending the same English speaking school in the neighborhood.  They watch out for each other like family.  Jason and I sat by the chilling pizza in baffled awe; having mentioned a couple of times, "It's ready - let's eat."  We commented how much we had to learn from them.  Talk about feeling inadequate.

So this Friday we are hosting an all night event at the church.  It's by invitation only.  If they attended the past 5 times out of 10 they've been invited.  The requirement is their invitation and permission slip.  One young man whispered to Jason off to the side, "Is it okay if the pastor of the church where I sleep at night signs my permission slip?"  He doesn't have any other parental figure than the kind pastor who only opened up the church cement floor to him.  (pause and reflect and pray)  This overnight is such a gift of local fun, a mark of time, an opportunity to grow, to be poured into...

It's often difficult to accomplish things here; making special-extra things even more of a savored gift and it gets dark here so early that once school is out there are only a small-few hours to hang out.  Locking everyone in for a night provides more time.  And even more perspective: The opportunities to grow in relationships and to organically mentor around events like this is eye-opening.  For example a group of girls are coming over Friday to help make cinnamon rolls in preparation for Saturday morning's breakfast.  Time together.  Time discovering what makes each one tick.  Time to teach ordinary things like bread-making, hospitality, doing small things with great love.  Time.  Relationships need common goals, time and fun in order to grow!

We're praying for God to give us supernatural energy for this.  As it is, we crawl into bed with a smile at night.  Rest is a gift.  We're thankful for the handful of people that are helping out with food and parental over site!  Bring on the weekend!  AND...the coffee!  So thankful that God is continually at work in us; keeping me from getting old and crusty with "opinions" and one-sided perspectives.  Keep growing us Lord.  We're OPEN!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Futball after youth group

Pretty much every week after youth group the guys break out the soccer balls and play. Louis (one of the youth leaders) started bringing along some jerseys that some guy in California brought down on a short-term trip and gave to him. He was generous and brought them to youth group so they could divide in to teams better and it would give the game more "officialness".

It was fun to watch.
And they seemed to have a lot of fun too.

Team 1 - The big guys team. 

Team 2 - The little guys team (with a few exceptions). The green shirts were sized more for kids so the teams ended up being a little lop-sided.

Here's one of the exceptions. Jean Philippe's shirt is a bit tight, but he has a good sense of humor about it.

Let the games begin!

And green has the ball!

You can see some of the spectators on the wall in the background. The two to the far left you might recognize.

It appears like a good head shot, but actually he was ducking from a hard kick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In A Pinch

One thing leads to the next in Haiti; much of which wasn't expected!  Today there were a few things on the calendar; all of which got accomplished but not in the way we planned.

Let's start with the truck.  After, some much needed maintenance, it got a few defective glow plugs; so it wouldn't start.  Plan B was in the works.  Jason managed to bum a ride with Pastor Bobby's ride to a discipleship group.  On their way there they got pulled over by the police and then the transmission on the driver's car dropped.  Amazingly, they made it to the meeting in time, caught a tap-tap to get back home with time to figure out how to get the truck fixed.  However, we weren't sure how to get a ride to the parts' store.  Thankfully, Makayla's art teacher offered a ride to and from her art class today.

I'm currently low on groceries and had planned to make our weekly grocery run today because Dan and Liz Carl, past missionaries and our advisors, were joining us for supper tonight.  The non-running truck was the dilemma.  Then, the brainiac idea came to have Makson taxi Jason in hopes of getting the glow plugs inserted before our dinner guests.
This made me laugh.  Jason looks so giant.  Today he experienced two firsts (a tap-tap and a moto-taxi).
When it became apparent that we'd not get to the grocery in time we ordered supper from Dominoes, the only American food establishment in Haiti.  In a pinch this is a great service because they deliver.  Usually, it takes awhile so we ordered a little in advance.  Then Jason left for the glow plugs on the back of Makson's bike.  Not kidding - 10 minutes after he left they were waiting at the main road by our house.  I've rarely heard of them being that fast.  I did not have the money to pay the delivery guy  because Jason needed to get some cash.  So he called them and told him he was coming.

When returning home Jason spotted the delivery guy on his motorcycle.  He waved 'em down from the back of Makson's bike yelling, "vini, vini!"  ("Come, come").  The delivery guy followed them around the corner to our house, Jason was able to make the pizza exchange and Makson was on his way.

Unfortunately, the store didn't have the glow plugs we needed.  Tomorrow we'll tackle it again.  However the pizza is in the oven, keeping warm and we're anxiously waiting for our dinner guests.

Staying warm...waiting.
Welcome to a day in Haiti.  :)  It is a place that provides lots of opportunity for you not to take yourself so seriously.  A place for patience to be worked out in you and the joys of not sweating the small stuff.  You get to see the unique ways God provides, enjoy the adventure and laugh at white guys on the back of motorcycles.  One thing leads to the next here; much of which wasn't expected.  Flexible takes on a whole new meaning and Dominoes does in a pinch.  Things do get done - though not the way you planned.
Reasons they might exceed 30 minutes... just pick one.  Watch out for UFOs.  :)
The US Embassy should add this to their warning list. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gunshots and Isaiah 26:3

Two nights back, at 10:17 PM my phone rang. I've been leaving it on and beside my bed at night at the advice of a fellow missionary friend. He encouraged me to have it available just in case someone was in an emergency and needed help. Andrea was already asleep and I was in that state right between being awake and being asleep. The phone rang but it sounded like it was on the other side of the house, when it was actually just a foot away from my right ear.
I looked over to see who was calling. My downstairs neighbor, Spencer. I answered. Spencer sounded concerned and was almost whispering.

"Did you hear that?"
"No. Hear what?"
"Gunshots. Two of them. They sounded close."

Side note: Before I was married to Andrea I barely knew what a room fan was? In our home growing up my mom didn't have fans running most of the time. After we got married, Andrea quickly introduced to me to sleeping with a fan running in the room. She likes the background noise and the air movement. Consequently, we've always had fans running while we sleep. In Haiti, fans take on even more importance. They keep mosquitos away, help cool the room and drown out noise. We had three fans running when Spencer called!

"No, I didn't hear anything. We have the fans running and we're on the other side of the house."
Concern in his voice: "Yeah, there were two more shots about a minute later. The second set sounded a little ways away."
I said. "I'll get up and check it out, Kayla's on that side of the house."

I got up and walked to Makayla's room. It's dark.
I whisper, "Makayla!"
A completely unconcerned and un-energetic voice came back, "Yeah dad?"
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah" her voice sounded tired. "Why?"
"Did you hear anything?"
"Um...yeah", sounding uninterested and a bit annoyed that I was interupting her sleep. "I heard two gunshots," she said,  "and then a little later I heard two more. They sounded a little further away."
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah. Why?"
"Ok, love ya."
She rolled over to get more comfortable, "Love you too."
"Good night."

On the way back to our room I laughed. Makayla wasn't a bit concerned! She acted as though the gunshots that she could hear outside of her window where of no consequence at all! No worry in her voice whatsoever. Her concern was sleep.

This verse from Isaiah came to mind.

"You keep him (or her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he (or she) trusts in you."

The next morning I shared this verse with Makayla. God's working in her life and I'm really happy about what He is doing. She laughed and assured me she wasn't thinking "spiritual" thoughts when I came into the room the night before. She said, "I hear gunshots quite a bit since we moved here." She confirmed that she was more interested in sleep than thinking about what was happening outside.

And that's the point I think. It's a work of God, not man's effort. We can't make ourselves peaceful by trying not to be worried about gunshots outside. We trust in the One who directs the path of bullets and controls the mind of the guy who is pulling the trigger.

Trusting Him keeps us in perfect peace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holding Eshli

The excitement of Christmas hung in the air as our family made our way to the Chapel.  We were one of the first to stroll through the gate with armed guards.  Every time I enter into the Chapel grounds there is a sense of peace and quietness that washes over me.  It is a beautiful campus with wide open spaces to enjoy.  The Chapel is so generous to share it with both the missionary and Haitian community alike.  It is a delightful gift in a needed place.

We shuffled up to the front of the church and found a place to sit.  The row in front of us was full of girls dressed in red and white.  Kati explained that she taught many of these girls from a nearby orphanage last year.  They seemed to enjoy her familiar face and conversation.

The Christmas Eve service was just about to start.  I looked behind to see the church almost completely full and when I turned forward again there standing before us was this little girl.  She was one of the girls from the front row.  Her dress was a lacy white with a red satin sash.  She wore the traditional white socks and black shoes.  Her hair was in braids.  She couldn't have been more than 3 years old.  She smiled up at Jason and I.  Her eyes locked with ours.  She uplifted her arms to Jason so he picked up her stocky little frame.  She smiled and snuggled into him quietly.

Orphans often seem tired and/or needy to me.  They are desperate for attention, affection and rest.  Her situation is kind of unique but then again maybe not.  She belongs to a well-run organization but she'll never be eligible for adoption.  Every part of her life will be quite institutionalized.  Caring for orphans is such a tricky subject.  You wish there was a clear cut, black and white solution.  Don't get me wrong there are definitely right and wrong answers, but it's not always super clear.   One thing is for sure, God never is grey about His love for them.  He speaks boldly, consistently and passionately about loving them from the Old Testament to the New.  He loves them.  He is for them with special grace.

The service was in full swing.  She'd reach one arm to touch me and one to touch Jason until she decided to try my lap out.  She liked flipping through the pages of the old hymnal and even snuggled with it.  Sometimes it was upside down but the idea of a book in her lap with pages between her fingertips was significant.  Her nose was drippy leaving behind crusty white above her lip.  One of the  leaders leaned over and wiped her nose lovingly with a smile.  Jason also grabbed a kleenex for her.  She would blow and vigorously rub her nose on it.  She couldn't decide if she wanted to watch the service proceed, it wasn't the most captivating for a 3 year old, or if she wanted to sleep.  She flipped from observing to laying her head over my shoulder.  She rubbed my watch and my necklace between her fingers like many kids are curious about accessories.  She'd look up and smiled until it was returned.  I asked her if she was tired and she'd nod her head.  Pretty soon she'd be looking over at Makayla and Ethan for a responsive smile.  Her attention would divert when they returned the quiet greeting.

This was the hard and heavy emotional reality for me.  This little girl doesn't know or have a family of her own.  A family to celebrate life and victories with.  A family to make mistakes with, know the power of forgiveness within and the opportunities to grow together in deep, long-lasting relationships.  She'll never know the familiarity of those relationships, like the relationship of siblings.  It was too heavy for my thoughts to stay there.  I'd just be here.  Right now, I was here in PAP, Haiti at a Christmas Eve service and for whatever reason she decided we'd be a comfy place for her to snuggle into.  I mean, God decided and put one of His orphans on our lap for the evening.  Thinking about anything other than this was too big for me.

She started picking at the back of her head and every so often checking her little finger.  After observing her consistency I had Jason take a peek at the source of her trouble.  A dry, flaky patch of skin was itchy.  It could've been ringworm so I advised that she not touch it any more.  She smiled and stopped.  Three-fourths of the way through the service she said the only thing she said all night.  Looking straight into my eyes she whispered, "pee-pee."  I asked, "You have to go pee-pee?"  She nodded with concern.  I set her down on the floor and leaned over the lady in charge of their group.  She quickly found an assistant to take her.  My lap took a break while she was gone.  It's been awhile since I've had toddler age kids on my lap for that long.  Even nieces and nephews snuggle up for such a short time comparatively.

The service was extremely well done and I really enjoyed it but my heart and thoughts kept floating back to God and how often He talks about orphans.  He even says that we are like orphans; promising to not leave us.  Salvation is a beautiful picture of adoption.  When He came as a baby, it was planned from before time began, that He'd bring to the Father His children through His perfect life and sacrificial death.  He is familiar with all of our weaknesses and didn't consider it robbery to set aside the glory of God to become man.  He too was 3 years old once.  He experienced the brokenness of the world and the harshness of sin's effects.  Then Psalm 139 ran through my mind.  He created this little girl in her mother's womb. All of her days are numbered.  He knows her thoughts and the numbers of curly hairs on her head.

She was back from her bathroom break.  The leader encouraged her to sit on her lab but she politely shook her head no and stood, starring off; seemingly waiting for something.  Finally, she smiled over at me and walked across the isle.  She knew all along where she'd like to return to and waited until it seemed acceptable.  My lap once again accommodated her.  He arms had scars from mosquito bites and a couple of open sores from itching past scabs.  She was so super chubby and snuggly.  Her big brown eyes wrestled between sleep and alertness.

All of a sudden their row made a quick exit.  It was dark outside and quite late for a group of younger kids to be out.  The program was almost finished - it was time for them to return.  The main nanny, who grew up in the same orphanage and now works there, spoke a few Creole words to them with hands held out.  They clasped on and left.

I felt like I should give a last hug good-bye and promise to pray for her...maybe visit her too.  But all too quickly the good-work was finished.  I knew God to say, "Good job for giving her a lap and place of belonging, that's what I wanted for her and you.  Pray for her."

I'm reminded today of Eshli, God's big heart for her and the power of prayer.  Often times it is the "little" good works found within the nooks and crannies of a day that are outside of our "job description" that most powerfully bring down the Kingdom of God to earth from heaven (both in our hearts and theirs).  My heart was equally blessed, if not more, by this little girl and God at work in it.

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work.  It is the greater work." -Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Prism of Poverty - The Victory of Christ

Poverty is all around us.  It's in us.  No one is exempt.  We're born into this battle of poverty.  Every human being for all of time feels and knows the effects.  Some are able to momentarily cushion themselves from its sting while others are blissfully deceived into thinking they're exempt.  Poverty is brokenness.  Poverty is death; the destruction of life.  To live is to fight against this poverty.  Both in the natural and the supernatural we know the struggle.  Even to maintain good health we have to be strong enough internally to be protected externally.  "Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead."  In order to maintain mental health and spiritual moral there is a fight against deceit and threatening darkness. The Designer's original beauty and intent has been sabotaged by the created.  Romans 1:21-25 so clearly explains what happened:
"because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.  
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen."
 In the garden we see Adam and Eve's relationship with God effected.  They are found hiding in shame and sin from their Father.  After the garden we see the toil to live as man fights against the earth to produce what it needs.  Clearly relationships no longer hold the Designer's intent.  Brother turns against brother and hatred replaces harmony.

 Has it been sabotaged though?  Or was this the original intent to better display the depth and beauty of the Creator?  Does this backdrop of poverty better display the depth of Character, the glory of the Redeemer and His incredible rescue?  The story of Moses in Exodus when the people are exiting Egypt comes to mind:
"Now the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD."
The LORD God - the One True God is revealing Himself.  He is making Himself known and apart from His doing there is no way we would ever know Him.  He chooses to reveal Himself through the 10 plagues in this story.  He hardens Pharaoh's heart so that you may know that He is the LORD.

We often read this story and ask, "Why?  Why didn't God just destroy Pharoah...get it over with already?  Why 10 plagues instead of one?  Why did God harden Pharoah's heart?  What purpose did any of it serve?"  Likewise we ask, "Why does God allow Satan leash?  Why doesn't He vanquish sin and poverty once and for all?  Why must we toil and struggle and fight and know its effects?"
I appreciated Piper's explanation:  "God wills for his glory to shine forth not only through acts of physical power, but also through acts of moral and spiritual power that display the beauty of his grace with lavish colors. "
The idea of a prism helped impart this truth.  When you take light it is bright.  It is blinding.  It is one solid mass of glare.  But when you take a prism up to it, it breaks up the light and displays what light is made of.  All kinds of colors and beauty can be understood.  The components of light are displayed marvelously.  Likewise the prism of Pharoah's hard heart, the agony of the cross show forth more intricately the glory of God in such a way that we can really see Him and see Him supremely more beautiful than anything He has made.  We see with our hearts and our lives that, "He is the LORD."  He is all we need.  He is victory over poverty.  He is life.  He is what is absolutely true and preeminent over all.  When this seeing happens restoration occurs and the effects of poverty are pushed back or deflected.  Faith replaces evil with the victories and beauties of Christ.
This prayer ministered much grace to my heart this morning as I know more and more the fight against poverty:
"Heavenly Father, we are sobered that you would regard the glory of your Son so highly that it would be worth the ongoing existence of Satan to make it fully known.  We are ashamed that we have murmured about the battles of life when we should have made every effort to magnify your Christ-exalting reasons for giving the enemy so much leash.  Forgive us for failing to see your holy purposes.  And now, O God, by the blood of your Son, our Savior, give us victory over Satan.  Grant us to see and savor the superior worth of Christ.  Let us shame Satan by making much of Jesus.  Grant us to glory in the work of the cross.  Help us to cherish the finished work of Christ that disarmed Satan and took the sting out of death.  Teach us how to fight by faith against the power of sin, in the confidence that secured the triumph of all who trust in him.  Turn every evil design of the devil into sanctifying schemes of love.  Deliver us from his deceptions.  Keep the beauty of Christ clear in the eyes of our heart.  Make us instruments of Satan's defeat until you come and slay him by the breath of your mouth.  Make us valiant in delivering others by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, your great Gospel.  In Jesus' name we pray, amen."
I know the crucible of the cross to be breaking up His glory in such a way that I can more supremely value Jesus and thus understand the world around me.  The cross brings restoration, order, beauty and victory.  It is not easy but it is good.  He is good in all of His ways.

This song continues to sing over my days - over this transition.  Stephanie Montes sang it at Mia Bella (a women's group) right before we left.  I hear my Designer's words of promise - words of hope anchoring my fighting heart.  He is not a God far off.  He is near.  He knows poverty and is the Remedy that our souls are all longing for.  Come to Me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Family Moments

As we get ready to leave we're trying to capture moments to keep.  This little face will change a lot in a short amount of time.  Never under estimate a boy with boots.  Our nephew, Jude Schmick, is super cool!

Color: Antique Ivory

Color: Antique Ivory 
Seeing the beauty in the simple things.