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. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Missionary


That was it.  As far as we could see these were our last days in Port-Au-Prince under the title of missionary.  This call seemed to have run its course.  We were mostly confused and burdened.  How could we have come with so much hope, excitement and expectation to be met with road block after road block and heart check after heart check.  It wasn't what we expected at all.  It felt more like we'd been treading in place for hours, days and months instead of productively moving forward.

A sense of productivity is very motivating.  My aunt had a ginormous garden and one summer it was my duty to pull these taller-than-me "horse weeds".  Before I started, it was difficult to see the plants hidden under the serious infestation of weeds.  One morning I started pulling, one row at a time...grabbing the base of the plant and pulling with all of my might.  Sometimes I'd plop back as the roots gave way from the earth.  Bam.  Then, get up and go again.  Row after row.  Hour after hour.  Even though I was totally worn out it was super motivating to look back at the finished rows.  Every time I stopped to appreciate how far I'd come there would be a new dose of motivation.  The unfinished rows weren't so daunting.  Who knew this experience would prove to serve me many times later?  A side note about these ordinary tasks in life...they often prove to be more educating than classroom study.  God uses every event and specializes in the ho-hum ordinaries to serve the greater.

Our hearts were wondering, "What, Lord, is all of this about?  We have to be totally missing something?"  The rigid season of wrestling and praying continued.  We were worn out.  There was not a "clean row" to motivate our efforts to press on.

Just when we kinda threw our hands up and surrendered,"I give up.  We give up.  I'm clueless.  This seems to be a finished event in our life."  The Lord intervened.  He had been there the whole time.  We knew His silent presence.  He was working and we see that better now, a few months after the fact, than we did then.

One morning we woke up.  It's like the light bulb went on, the fog lifted, fresh air invaded, clear understanding began to flow.  The treading was finished.  The burden eased.   He spoke.  "Your idea of "missionary" needs to die.  Your idea of serving needs to change.  It is not what you DO but WHO you are in Me.  It's not about you.  Are you willing to faithfully follow Me and enjoy Me...even, here in Haiti?  Are you willing to let Me define your ministry as we go along?  Are you willing to see poverty as it really is (broken relationship with God, self and others) first and foremost, or are you going to let the material poverty define your efforts to love and serve in this place?  Are you going to trust Me and fear Me above all else or are you going to let the 'fear of man' or the 'fear of supporters' determine how you live and what you do?"

We saw clearly that we had made missions and being a missionary so man-centered, so effort focused...  He simplified it all for us that morning.  Joy began to fill us up again.  Joy in Him gave way to joyful obedience to live for Him where He placed us.

As we made our way up the mountain a new perspective was setting in.  Driving past the many people on the street Jason remarked,"This is such a freeing perspective.  I'm seeing these people not as subjects to the project of ending poverty but as souls.  They are people and their biggest need isn't so much material goods but restoration.  Like me, they need to know their purpose - to worship God.  They were made to know, glorify and enjoy God forever.  We were created for Himself.  This is our greatest need."
"This realization of our election by God is the most joyful on earth, and we must learn to rely on this tremendous creative purpose of God." -chambers
We had made our call to be something other than what God intends it to be.  The call of every missionary is to be God's servant where ever He places him.
"We must continually keep our soul open to the fact of God's creative purpose, and never confuse or cloud it with our own intentions.  If we do, God will have to force our intentions aside no matter how much it may hurt." -chambers
It's this idea of being dependent on Him (loving, knowing and enjoying Him); being faithful to follow Him as He leads.  He will direct our steps.  He will give us things to do.
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
 BUT "good works" are not the main objective.
"Now the Lord says, who formed Me from the womb to be His servant..."  Isaiah 49:5
"A missionary is created for the purpose of being God's servant, one in whom God is glorified." -chambers
The missionary can't forget God's purpose for their life or the purpose for the lives of those around them.
"The entire human race was created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." -chambers
And so this is the beginning of our ministry: Chief End Ministries exists to encourage others to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!  That can work itself out in a variety of ways but only if we're lined up with His purposes for us and enjoying Him!  Onward we go with much renewed energy and joy for the journey!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Friendships

"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit."  -Aristotle

Makayla has really enjoyed coming back to her friends this summer.  





They've made some good memories.

Friendships are one of those gracious gifts that God provides that are meant to enhance our enjoyment of Him.  We're learning and growing in our friendships.  What is it to be a good friend, to invest and love others because He first loved us not because of what we primarily get?  Yep, we're all learning with thankfulness!  I don't know if we'll ever have it mastered but the process is good for the soul!  :)

Rollerblades & Smooth Roads


Ethan sat in a pile on the couch.  I could tell his mind was brewing and his heart was stewing. 

"What's up E?"

"Oh, I'm just thinking."

"Yeah, about what?"

"I don't want to go back to Haiti."

We visit this conversation a lot with Ethan.  Sometimes we have a hard time discerning where he's coming from.  Sometimes he can just be indifferent for the sake of being indifferent and then there are times he seems to have a legitimate concern.  Always, we need the Spirit aiding us in this role called parenting!  Honestly, I wasn't up for the big conversation that needed to happen.  Selfishness loomed and I'd much rather continue with the 'important' he was "interrupting".  This is the conversation that asks a lot of questions, allows Ethan to speak; drawing out his heart, reminding him who God is and praying with him.  I need this kind of care too but unfortunately I can respond quite lazily to him.  Not this time, Lord.  Help me to hear his heart and speak truth in a loving and gracious way.  We need you here.  Right now.

I jumped in, "Why not, son?"

"Well.  I don't know." 

"You probably had more fun in Haiti than anywhere we've ever lived."

"Yeah.  But now we're here."

"Ethan, is God's grace here with you like it was in Haiti?"

"Yes.  But...", he trailed off in thought.

"Will God's grace lead you no matter where you are?  Is He always there for you?"

"Yes.  But it's just that I like being here."

"Yeah, why is that?"

"Well...I like smooth roads.  You know, I really like smooth roads.  I like to rollerblade outside on those smooth roads.  And ride my bike.  In Haiti you're always trapped in behind big fences."

I nodded my head in agreement.

"And, Mom...I like my family.  My uncles.  My cousins.  I just like America."

"But Ethan, when you were in Haiti and God was so gracious with you there...you didn't really want to come back to America."  

"Yeah, I know."

"Ethan, if God's grace is always providing for you here or there, you will be happy in Him.  Because everything He's provided is meant to point you to Him not the thing itself."

He's tracking with me now and his heart seems open.

"Truth be told...there are things I really like here too.  It's hard to not have some of the amenities that our country offers but all of this is passing away.  He provides above and beyond every place he puts us.  It's not always what we expect or what we think we need.  Sometimes it's not things at all.  Sometimes it's Himself.  You know what?  In everything He provides it's always to point us to Him.  You see E, it's really Him that we want.  He is the Provider and He's always with us.  We want to be where He is."

With a much more settledness we prayed together.  Our hearts both needed reminded of this truth and His power to fill us with joy in Him.  We easily get our eyes fixed on His gifts; losing sight of Him.  Our hearts are happiest when they are satisfied in Him.  We're satisfied in Him when we're worshipping Him.  We can't worship Him unless we see Him and we don't see Him unless we're reminded often of who He is. 

Testy-Winds Blow

He has a way of confronting our fickleness.  He's always revealing Himself as faithful, strong and true to our easily distracted hearts.   I can be so sure one minute and then a gush of testy-wind blows over.  Quickly, I'm ready to lose heart and give up.  There are weeks that bring great encouragement and then there are those that test us.  They are telling; revealing that we always desperately need Him.  He continually calls in every situation, "Come.  Come to Me.  I am all you need."


Under this big blue beauty  the Lord brought to mind these truths.  Nebraska's big sky can be a good place to gain perspective.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

AND
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.   2 Peter 1:5-7
As I rounded the corner, "More than a friend", by Jeremy Riddle came on Pandora.  It reminded me of Who He is, even when winds blow.  (Heads up:  Cheezy videos like this one can be distracting so maybe only listen to it, not watch.)
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
Lord, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:5-10
 Doesn't it do our souls wonders to consider Him?  He brings joy to our soul even when testy-winds blow and fickleness is exposed; pointing us to Him.  He alone is our boast and that is complete joy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

We {heart} Real Hope For Haiti

It's sometimes really hard to find humanitarian aid being done well in Haiti so when you find a gospel-centered, humanitarian-based ministry they stand out like a major bright light. 

Here are a few reasons we're impressed: They love Jesus and it permeates their actions and words in the ordinary happenings of their ministry, you find your faith being built up as you listen to their joy in following Him even at great cost to themselves, they accomplish a lot with the little they have, they LOVE Haitians, they live amongst the people and have established real relationships within their community through the years, they understand the dangers of dependency and purpose to not slip into that M.O., their compassion doesn't replace dignity, their Haitian staff is happy and they obviously have an appreciation and respect for each other, the children in their care are not super needy but mostly content as their bodies heal and finally, they openly declare their purpose for doing what they do...[[God has asked us to do this. He provides. All glory to His Name.]] 

They have a huge project ahead of them that they desperately need. They are really out of space. We've seen it. We've visited them quite a few times. They are the real deal! Maybe you're looking for a place to plug in and help. Give here! Whole heartedly! We're happy to recommend them! :)


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Newsletter



If you're interested in catching up through our newsletter please click the link, read it and subscribe.  We'd love to have you join our clan!  

Friday, July 20, 2012

New-Things-Are-uh-Happenin'

Sorry, we've been checked out of the blog-world for a while now.  Between the whirlwind of packing up our life in Haiti and unpacking it in the States there just hasn't been a blogging-minute to speak of.  We are doing good.  Crazy busy but good.  Our family is so thankful for our friends and family here.  Jason's family has graciously offered him employment with their grocery business while we're State-side.  We're thankful!  So he is enjoying time with his family, punching the clock and grocery work.  He's good at his job and knows it well which is a good way to labor!  The kids and I are already contemplating the next school year and honestly, I'm looking forward to it.  Ethan enjoyed baseball this summer.  Makayla is in artsy-bliss with her piano out of storage along with her ample art supplies.  We're enjoying catching up with so many of our people.  It's good to love and to be loved!  The nieces and nephews have all sprung an inch or three, in some instances.  Celebrating birthdays and holidays with people you love is a big treat!  The wonder of infrastructure never ceases to amaze us.  Public restrooms?!  WOW!  Plumbing and electric systems on big grids?!  AMAZING.  Mail service?  INCREDIBLE. ;)

So in the midst of this little update we have an announcement to make... {do you hear the drum roll}...listen close!  Here it is:

After much prayer, counsel and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we have decided to continue our work in Haiti.  HOORAY!  We'll come under the spiritual covering of our home church, Cornerstone Fellowship in McCook, NE; operating under the name of our newly formed ministry, "Chief End Ministries".  This change will include us saying farewell to our friends at "Christian World Outreach" while saying hello to a new board of directors made up of a small group of friends and spiritual mentors.  Lord willing, we are planning to return to Haiti in September or October.  It's an ambitious goal but we are trusting God to provide the needed funds to make that happen.

Questions like, "What will you do?" and "Where will you live?" may be running through your mind. We are really excited about how God is leading us and we'll continue to share updates on our blog on a more regular basis.  Our bloggy-vacation is over.  The break was nice but we're happy to be back!

More information is coming in our latest newsletter which will arrive to many of you in your mailbox or inbox... or both!  If you'd like to receive our newsletter just give us a shout and holler and we can make that happen.  jason.schmick@gmail.com

We just wanted to give you a heads-up and get the word out there.  Thank you for your support!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

24 hours

We plopped down on the couch and took a deep breath. I looked over at Jason and sighed, "Whew, what a past 24 hours! Think about it." He smiled and affirmed.

Yesterday, it started out with us getting the house ready for our local TCK meeting. TCK is short for Third Culture Kids. We were happy to host an evening in support of our fellow missionary families. The goal is to eat together, fellowship (which you have to be so intentional to do here), sing together and discuss different components of fitting into a third culture category.

It was a good night. The nachos were delicious along with a house full of happy families. As I finished cleaning up in the kitchen my heart was lifted up when they sang, "There is no one else for me, none but Jesus crucified to set me free, now I live to bring Him praise...In the chaos, in confusion I know You're sovereign still, in the moment of my weakness, You give me grace to do Your will, when You call I won't delay, this my song through all my days....And all my delight is in you, Lord."

I was very glad that Zac and Hans (our Haitian neighbors in our yard), although they aren't officially TCK-kids, were able to join our group. Their situation is unique and they've grown up with a shaping American sub-culture. We've spent more time with them than anybody this first 7 months. We are so thankful for them and proud of the way their parents are raising them. It has been a serious blessing to get to know this family. God has taught us a lot as we've interacted with them and it hasn't always been easy. In three weeks we'll soon say, "Good-bye." That's what the topic of discussion was about. Saying Good-bye and doing it well in a God-centered way. Zac and Hans have seen many missionaries come and go. Soon their neighborhood will change hands again as good friends leave and new people come. We want them to not resist change and the sad feelings that come with good-byes but to trust God and love others even still. We also want to love them well in the next 3 weeks. It was a good reminder. We will miss them more than anything else in Haiti.

This morning we got going early. Some friends from Nebraska were visiting with another organization and they made time to connect with us. We were happy to make the trek and hug their necks. Seeing people from our homeland is always happy. They recently lost their adult son unexpectedly. Being in Haiti and hearing about how our community is walking in His grace with their family has been a great delight to us. Many days M and E remind us to pray for their son's family and particularly his four young kids. We used to teach them in Sunday school and now make it our joy to pray the Psalms for them. "Lord, uphold them with Your righteous right hand. Be their Shelter, their Hope and their Song in the middle of deep loss. Make Your Word their delight and protect them from the enemy's plans."

We got through PAP, down the mountain and almost to Rue 1 (the highway) when the road turned into a river from all the recent rain. Drainage down the mountain is a serious issue. Any debris can clog up the little drainage that exists and turn roads into rivers. I admire Haitians that still carry on with life; wading through it with smiles, pushing wheel-borrows full of fruit, taking the time to look nice even though they'll have to find ways to skip through the ponds to get where they're going. Our 4x4 carried us through nicely and it was adventuresome only to find that the road was blocked off with debris. So we turned around in the road river and made a quick "life-line call" to our friends. "Hey, Todd. Can you reroute us to Rue 1? This is where we're at..." Praise God for Google Maps and for friends on call. His directions couldn't have been more perfect. We were on our way.

However, I drank 40 oz of water and a cup of coffee before we left the house (horrible idea!). We'd been on the road for an hour now with another to go. There are no public restrooms in Haiti. Skirts are pretty and practical...that's the way Haitian women take care of business in such matters! Well, little Missy had to pee. What to do? Every jostle, bump, jump and pothole made the situation more dire. It went from serious to frantic...quickly. Then panic. This was unique. A first, if you will? Jason, watching my expressions pulled off on a little quiet side road (Haiti has a few of those). :) I was thankful for the teamwork of my family in providing privacy and relief. Next time you enjoy a beautiful public restroom smile while you get to use it! You are blessed!

Now we were free sailing. Getting out of the city has it's benefits. It's always amazing when we get to drive in 5th gear, the ocean along the highway is beautiful. The rain is making the mountains green and gorgeous. Soon we found our friends. They blessed us with fun gifts from the States. It was so thoughtful of them! It is apparent that God is sustaining them in their grief. We talked about Haiti and many of the thought provoking topics concerning foreign aid. The time passed quickly, our hearts were full and away we went.

The conversations were lively in the car on the way home. Lately, we debrief about our past 7 months and our transition ahead. It is good to recount God's faithfulness and His sustaining grace! He has been good. Our family needs to keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him as we get ready to leap.

All of a sudden we saw green tree branches laid out on the highway. In Haiti they use these with big rocks as we would orange cones in the States. Jason begins to slow down and traffic is almost to a stop while swerving around whatever is ahead. More tree branches pass when Jason expresses concern for the blockage. Then we saw a little person laying belly down on the yellow line. A few Haitians were surrounding him but it is obvious this accident is very recent. As we pass, I quickly tell the kids to close their eyes (thankfully, they did). There in the middle of the road a young boy stares blankly at us. He has tragically lost his life to the impact of a car. He was probably crossing the busy road when everything changed. Death is always ugly. Unexpected death is even more grieving. "Oh, have mercy sweet Jesus. Have mercy." We groaned and sat in silence. "Lord, come quickly. We need You to make all things right."

As we rolled down our street Georges happily opened the gate for us. Our whole family was so happy to see him and the cheerful boys in the yard. Home. Home is a bit like Heaven. It's a taste of peace. A break from the tragedy outside. It points to our eternal Home that has been blood bought that we undeservingly receive in Christ. Home is where Jesus is. We press on towards this goal while we walk with Him now. His sufficient grace is given in real time. We see it intertwined in our 24 hour days.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Newest one from Lecrae





One time for H Time
One time for D time
One time A time, M time
Yu
R.I.P. to Medgar Evers, R.I.P. to Dr. King
I ain’t tryna’ hate on my own kind
But Al and Jesse don’t speak for me
I’m probably goin’ catch some flack man
But Imma swallow this pill like Pacman
Some of these folks won’t tell the truth
Too busy tryna’ get them racks man
Church tryna’ rob my paychecks
Choir members probably having gay sex
Pastor manipulatin’ hurtin’ women
I wonder which he’s gon slay next
Bookstore pimpin’ them hope books
Like God don’t know how broke looks
And telling me that I’m gon reap a mill
If I sow into these low crooks
Plus I know ol’ girl a freak
And how she singin’ a solo
I walked in the church wit a snapback
And they tellin’ me that that’s a “nono”?
That’s backwards, and I lack words
For these actors called pastors
All these folks is hypocrites
And that’s why I ain’t at church
Truthfully I’m just doin’ me
And I don’t wanna face no scrutiny
As long as the church keep wildin’ out
I can justify all my foolish deeds
Smoking weed, pourin’ up
Keep that lean up in my cup
Maybe I could change the world
But this porn on my laptop got me stuck
Yeah I know whats right from wrong
But that there ain’t gon sell a song
I rather sell my soul then save it
If that’s what make my money long
It better not be no real God
With real hope, that heals hearts
That shows me that I ain’t livin’ up
To all the things that He put me here for
It better not be no real church
Real saints, who pray hard
And let me rock my snapback
With the 501s and the J’s on
It better not be no real folk
Who don’t think that they better than you
Straight or gay, drunk and high
They walk through the cold and weather wit chu
Nah we don’t wanna see that
Cause that might mean “life change”
That might mean I’m worth more than money, cars, sex, and pipe dreams
Better not be no real Jesus, real forgiveness, for hurt folks
If God gon’ take me as I am I guess I already got on my Church Clothes

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Never Once

God's Faithfulness is the one consistent and constant theme.  His daily distributed grace is sustaining.  Enjoy His Faithfulness today!  If you're His child, you are never-ever alone.
Praise Him!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Rainy Day

Out of the Box: Cornflower.  Project 64.
A Rainy Day.
Photo by Andrea Schmick

Keys

Out of the Box.  Project 64.  Entry - tan.
In Haiti there are keys for every door/gate and there seem to be many.  This is one of our keys.
Photo by Makayla Schmick

What's Next?

With more doors to be opened, we'd like to recap the past few and mention what we're looking towards.  What's next for the Schmicks?  Though we don't have all of the answers, we are planning to return to Haiti.

Photo courtesy Makayla Schmick
Looking Back
In October we came under Christian World Outreach with the goal of learning and building relationships.  We've been able to do that with this allotted year.  It was spot on.  Their idea is that we'd spend about a year in-country for these purposes with an evaluation to follow.  This has provided time to get a better grasp on Haiti, missions in Haiti, our family here, etc.   Although we're learning things we weren't anticipating, we've still learned so much.  Yet, it seems the more we learn the more we realize we don't know.  We're glad to report that God has been with us and very kind.

A special, THANK YOU, to our supporters for your generous love extended to our family in response to God's call on your hearts.  May He bless you with a better understanding of how valuable and enjoyable He really is!

The Lord provided many Broken Bow connections for our family through the recent purchase of Jason's family's second grocery store.  One of those connections was Will and Julie White, Haiti missionaries with M.A.F.  They happened to be going home on furlough about the time that we were coming.  So, the Lord totally had it arranged for us to rent from them for the 9 months they were away.  Our support wasn't quite ready which delayed our arrival date by 2 months making our first stay in Haiti a total of 7 months.

Currently
So here we sit 7 weeks until this first stretch is completed.  The White family is anxious to get home in June after enjoying their time in the States.  This means that we are looking at the next transition.  That 7 months has gone by very quickly!

We haven't been silent about some of the things we've observed in Haiti.  The large amount of foreigners in Haiti is astounding and maybe more appalling is how much foreign aid is recklessly distributed.  It's stirred deep questions.  We're still wrestling with things like what is missions, really, and what is ministry to the poor?  How can we help and not hurt?  Should we even be here?  Is foreign aid ever a good idea and, if so, in what circumstances?  How does the "Kingdom coming on earth" look today... in this situation?  How is the Gospel lived out in these circumstances?  These are questions that may never have a whole-clear-cut answer; making living in the middle of them a bit intense at times.  They have lead us to really dig in and pray, holding out open hands and hearts, "Lord, is this where you want us?  Please direct our steps.  Check our heart motives.  Make us see like you.  Give us wisdom because we lack it."

Although, we don't have answers to many of the questions above we do have a settledness about returning to Haiti.  It does seem like God is asking us to trust Him and return.  So this is our pursuit as He provides.  Some days we're more confident, seeing Him more clearly, than others.  Honestly, we have our share of days where we get discouraged, the tension in the questions seem too heavy or we just flat out have bad attitudes.  Still though, He brings us back to His quiet but sure, "You're not finished yet.  Keep going."  We're thankful that God is with us always!  Always.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  It's about Him and not about us...we seem to learn and relearn that important truth.  Like. it. is. always relevant.

What's Next
We are looking at houses to rent here in Haiti and maybe something will pan-out before we leave.  However, the tricky thing with Haiti is that rent is usually paid in one big lump annual sum and rent in Haiti is never "reasonable".  There are two economies here: the local Haitian economy and the Haitian expat economy with a huge gap in between.  This may be something we figure out closer to our next arrival to Haiti.

Given that this mini-transition/furlough/evaluation time was set from the beginning, we'll be in Nebraska at the beginning of June for approximately 60 to 90 days.  It will serve as a time to regroup, evaluate, spend time with family and friends (our supporters) and prepare the details needed to relaunch.

We plan to keep you posted through the blog and our newsletters as things unfold.  Thanks for praying for us and for cheering us on as He leads.  We are excited to see many of you and catch up on what God has been up to in your lives because He's always up to something good even in hard circumstances.  Always good!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Foreign Aid & Neck Rings


One of the questions that keeps smacking us in the face is, "With so much foreign aid here, whether Christian or not, why aren't things improving?"  Matter of fact we've had Haitians tell us straight up that things seem worse in some ways - not better.  We want to humbly remember this question is a bit black and white and not many things in the world are so easily contrasted.   There are many here who are doing a great work.  Although, we're being exposed to something we had not anticipated learning about.  Foreign Aid.  It's so true, "You don't know what you don't know." And folks, the "don't-know" category seems to grow.  Just when we think we've got something "figured out" it seems to blow ahead of us again - like chasing paper on a windy day.

We've had endless conversations about this topic.  What is foreign aid?  When is it needed?  How should it be given?  Should the universal church participate?  What is the long term fruit of people, communities or even countries that receive it?  Why does foreign aid seem to quickly deplete a community when it's meant to help?  On and on and on the questions fly.  They can haunt us in the night and there hasn't been a day go by that we don't contemplate it to some degree.  For us it has been one of the daily background noises here - just kinda always whistling its tune.  These conversations, at times, have been fun and fascinating to contemplate but most of the time they are incredibly tiring.  Our discovery seems to regularly pull up the damage caused by foreign aid.  It is really sad to witness good, well-meaning intentions that end up being misguided, unhelpful and sometimes even oppressive.  Even worse when organizations exist for the purpose of selfish gain and "exporting poverty" to that end.

Jason rightfully states to me (the analogy queen), "Every analogy breaks down at some point but they're still helpful."  So one night, a while back, we were talking about all of this and he explained that Haiti is like the women that wear neck rings.  Every ring represents an NGO (nongovernmental organization) of some sort.  They slowly add rings one year at a time and the weight of them actually pushes their collar bones down, permanently changing the structure of their body, to make the neck appear longer.  The skin is often scarred from the rings rubbing.  There are actually groups, or so we've read, that wear the rings for the purpose of drawing tourism.  This word-picture keeps coming to mind and we're praying a lot about how not to be another ring on an already stretched neck.

What does helping and loving the poor look like?  Especially as well known pastors draw the Western church's attention to the matter through books like, "Radical", "Don't Waste Your Life", and "Crazy Love."

I realize that we could delve into this subject matter like really, super-duper, a lot but I'm not sure this is the place and time to go there.  We're still struggling to articulate it let alone publicly converse on the matter.  Just know that it is something we see and are wrestling through. If you're looking to learn more on the subject matter, "When Helping Hurts" and "Awaiting a Savior", would be great resources to help you responsibly respond.

A Taste of Heaven

Sometimes the boys just connect.  It's like a piece of Heaven just falls down in our yard.  They get knee deep in the same idea and play their hearts out.  I mean they buy into the same vision and they really own it.  I remember playing like this with my own siblings, cousins and friends.   Permanently etched on your heart-memory, forever.  It's one of the things that makes childhood such an incredible experience.

Our yard magically transforms before our very eyes into the perfect setting for that given scheme.  It's been a battle field a few times.  They were ditch diggers the other day - all day; building a better directed drainage for all of the rain we've been getting.  The trampoline easily becomes a karate or wrestling rink.  The bed of the truck...now this place is the place for meaningful conversations.  It's kinda like Calvin and Hobbes when they're in the wagon or on the sled.  These boys can share heart to heart best in the back of the truck.  No kidding.  Oh and there's the big vine on the fence.  It's the best spot for spies.  How can I forget the top of the generator house.  It's been a house and fort.  I don't think there is a better place to eat fresh coconuts?  It really is incredible.

When these days come I can't help but stick close to the windows or plant myself at the picnic table just to soak it up.  It's better if I'm almost invisible because sometimes the slightest interruption will disrupt the magical connections of friendships and imaginations at work.  It's not every day that all of the components just fit - like the code on a treasure box lock.  Just some days.  And when it happens I try to change my day's plans around their fun.  It's too wonderful to hinder.  It almost demands that I be wowed by it.  It is worshipful.  It is God at work in their little hearts.  Just a quiet, delightful observation is needed with the occasional offer of drinks and snacks.  I think heaven will be something like this.  Can you imagine relationships the way He designed them with His creativity fueling the fun?  It's going to be great.

I popped around the corner and it was happening.  Hans has been growing his little sapling in a jar for quite some time now and Zacharie decided that today was the day for it's roots to spread out.  Ethan shared their excitement and all three became gardeners.  Just like that.

But one tree wasn't enough.  They found a volunteer tree growing right next to the house so all three played tug-a-war, them against it.  They won with a hoot-and-a-hollar,  in a pile on the cement.
With tree and partial root in hand they merrily proceeded to make another hole for it too.

Here it is.  Hans' little tree.  They even gave it a little shade with the upside down flower.
Lord, bless these boys and grow this up to be a tree.
A great big one that reminds them of Your great kindness.

Easter 2012

We had a good Easter.  It was a fun and busy weekend.  We're thankful for the way that God has provided our little neighborhood.  It makes holidays much more enjoyable amongst many other good things.  Here is just a little bit from our weekend.
Makayla & I made some Eastery-cupcakes for our neighbors.  Makayla doesn't really enjoy the kitchen yet unless we're doing something creative like this.  I like creating with her.
I'd never dyed coconut until now.  I always assumed that was for old people. ;) 
What's with the anticipation of waiting dye?  It's fun every year.
The possibilities are so happy.
They got 6 eggs each...with 3 ways to decorate them. 
Here are four fantastic kids.  


Ethan is the only half naked one...all of the time.



Enthusiasm on a Rainy Day

Our kids have always loved the rain

The minute the drops accelerate that look comes over their faces.

The look that invites and bids the other one to just jump in.

I always try to groan out a, "Guys - don't get all wet.  Okay?"  I don't even know why it really matters.
I guess it feels more motherly to caution against what could be "messy" or a potential sprained ankle.

Ethan is an enthusiastic person.

...and Makayla didn't miss the opportunity to snap a few.

I mean really.  Look at the pay off!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

anmbago

Learning Haitian Creole has been a challenging task. I started volunteering at a local grocery store to learn the language more quickly. It's helping a lot. The grocery store story is another blog post, but for now I will say that the owner and manager have been super kind to let me hang out there, learn the language, and even feed me! It's been a really good experience.

Back to the Creole though. Today I learned a new word - anmbago.

It's embargo in English. Some words are easier to remember than others.

The receiving clerk at the grocery store taught me the new word. A bit about him first and then we'll get to the word anmbago. This guy is a great young man. He carries himself with dignity. He has the respect of his fellow-employees, works diligently, is detail focused, and seems to be very honest. He's shown only kindness to me since I started working with him. He has a clean look in his eyes, he's a Pentecostal Christian, seems to have a lot of common sense and is patient in a job that can sometimes try patience. He also teaches Spanish in the evenings.

We were talking today about many different topics. He tries to bring up conversation and force me to answer him in Creole. Today we spoke a bit about foreign aid, NGO's (non-government organizations), and foreigners in Haiti. I asked him and another employee, who was sitting there, a question. I asked what their opinion was on all the people and organizations helping here. It's actually the first time I've asked that question of a Haitian. The response I received was interesting.

They both said they think that everyone should go back to their own country.

They were kind when they said it, but it was a quick answer and it was obvious they had thought and talked about the subject a lot.

The receiving clerk had some pretty strong opinions and ideas too. He said the problem with Haiti is the Haitians. His focus was more about the poverty of relationships than poverty as is commonly defined (lack of food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.) He said that Haitians aren't looking out for each other. Even in the church, he said, people only care about themselves and not their brother in Christ.

His solution: A 15 year embargo. He thinks all non-Haitians should leave Haiti and stay away for 15 years. He thinks that no new people should be admitted into Haiti for the next 15 years. He also thinks that Haitians shouldn't be let out of the country for 15 years. He's confident that this idea would fix Haiti. He thinks that if Haitians had to be responsible for the country, and there were no foreigners or foreign money to fall back on, then they'd figure it out by themselves.

He said that only God and Haitians have the ability to fix the people here. He said that foreigners have been trying for years with limited success.

His argument has limits, I know. It's probably not the perfect solution. Would it work? I'm not sure. Will everyone actually leave? Not a chance. But it's interesting and caught me by surprise. Even if I disagree with him on some of the details I think he may be onto something.

Is foreign aid hurting Haiti? Are the groups and people that came here to help actually causing harm by being here? Should we all go home?

I've been here for 6 months. I know very little about this country. This post isn't meant to convey my opinions about poverty and Haiti and foreign help. I just want to communicate their opinions as something to give thought to. I have opinions that are forming. I realize that I'm a rookie in Haiti and there are people who have given their lives, sometimes lost their lives, to help here. They know way more than me about all of this. In no way do I want to take away from the legitimate work, sacrifice and love that many have poured into this country.

But it's worth thinking about.

Give Me Jesus

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 
1 Corinthians 2:2


"Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus,
I've lost sight of all besdie,
So enchanted my spirit's vision,
Gazing on the crucified." -chambers

Christ is all I have; Christ is all I need.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Silence

Dark silence sits on the seed under the dirt.  Even though it holds much life and potential for great fruit it is just quiet for a time.  The common eye can't see or even know what is about to spring forth.  Unaware of it's magic the seed slowly softens and opens.  Yep, it needs this dark and silent place in order that life might erupt.

Recently, we were visiting with some of our missionary friends that came to Haiti about the same time as us.  We've shared some similar experiences (like the ones we last blogged about a month ago).  She shared that she feels like a planted seed, under the soil, in the dark, hidden in silence.  Just waiting.  Waiting for life to push through.  The next day Jason and I were making our grocery run and David Crowder's newest and last album was playing in the truck.  He set it to this song saying, "When she shared last night about being a seed this is the song I thought of."  It was perfectly captured.  Later that day we shared it with her husband.  He laughed but it was mixed with a tinge of, "This silence isn't easy."

We've also found a silent place under the earth.  It's been a month of quiet.  A month of waiting and praying for what the Lord is going to open up.  Decisions need to be made as we near the end of our first stretch here in Haiti.  We're praying about a lot.

Sorry to many of you who check here often to see what adventures we might be up to.  We're still here but its quiet, dark and we're waiting for Him to bring forth our little sprouts.  Maybe you can relate in your own circumstances.  Remember that He is our Hope and His Hope never-ever disappoints!  He always has a plan.  It's good to remember that He is the plan Master and His plans never fail!  Spring is here!  We're ready Lord when You are!  Enjoy Crowder's take!


Oh I've been pushed down into the ground
Oh how I have been trampled down
So many feet on top of me
I can't help but sink, sink, sink

Oh I've been pushed down into the ground
Oh how I have been trampled down
Lord I put my trust in thee
You won't turn Your back on me

Oh I am a seed
Oh I am a seed
I've been pushed down into the ground
But I will rise up a tree

Oh I can see it won't be long
Till I break free from what I was
Your river of grace flows endlessly
You won't turn Your back on me

Oh I am a seed
Oh I am a seed
I've been pushed down into the ground
But I will rise up a tree

I've been burned up in so many fires
From these ashes I will rise
Lord Your power has rescued me
For You I'll always sing

Oh I am a seed
Oh I am a seed
I've been pushed down into the ground
But I will rise up a tree

Oh I am a seed
Oh I am a seed
Won't stay long here in this earth
When You rain Your love on me
Lord, rain Your love on me