Sunday, September 28, 2014

All authority belongs to Jesus

These words came to us from a friend who is encouraging us with prayer, "Clearly, the enemy is on the move, but he will not win!"  The reason we can repeat this statement as fact is found in Scripture...

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 
"All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth."  
Matthew 28:18

Just today these verses were offered to us now as we are seeking God's will to be done.  

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,  We demolish arguments and every pretension that set itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

As a new week is beginning, we are watching to see how God will move and work through Many Hands for Haiti.  As you will see, there is so much beauty and intrigue in the people and places.  We hope that by seeing some of it in the following pictures, you will be drawn in to pray for the people in this place.

This child is precious in God's sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the WORLD.

This just calls out...."Classic!"
 Here in Haiti, as in other places around the world, money means power.  
There is a terrible divide between those with money and those without.

From the anonymity of the rural countryside to the chaos of the city, God has his hand on Haiti

Can you hear the 'beep beep, honk, beep, honk" going on?  Cap Haitien is a city on the northern coast of Haiti

Stuff for Sale!  huh?  Did we mention 'chaos'?    This could be a page in an "I Spy" book 

Wonder what other tricks he has up his sleeve?

A 'trick' of a different nature.  Yes, it is a FULL size mattress and box on the back of a moto.

Here's one for your imagination...didn't get the picture...but imagine a full size chest freezer...
being transported on.....a wheelbarrow!

All kids love to have fun!

This hazardous section of road is HISTORY!
Mama duck will have to find a new pond for the ducklings to paddle around in now that the road crew has come

A different 'favorite treat'...hers not ours...In Haiti, ALL parts of the chicken are consumed.

Fabric shopping at the Market in Pignon

Hmmm... the peacocks.. just 3 of the 88 pictures currently on the camera card.  Did you know that mature peacocks have an annual molting cycle that occurs around July and August?  The new downy soft feathers are starting to show.  This bird has been taunting us for 2 weeks because he will NOT let go of that center 'double eye' feather

These children are ALSO precious in God's sight.  They have just gotten the opportunity to enroll in Many Hands for Haiti's Thrive for 5 Program.   Pray that in their hearts they will know Jesus as their Savior

We hope this helps put people and places in your thoughts and we ask you to say a prayer 
for the ministry of Many Hands for Haiti 

Real people, real places, real challenges, real answers to prayers.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  Eph. 6:18

Love in Christ Jesus,  Craig and Christi

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Long and Winding Road

A bit of a tight squeeze in the back of the taptap
This past Friday at 6:00 am we left our home in rural Savanette, Haiti for the long journey to Port au Prince and back again.  There had been items added to the list of  needed supplies which are not available in our area, so off we went.  We saw many sights and experienced a lot of Haitian culture throughout the course of the day.   With the confining nature of our transportation and out of respect to those around us, we have to ask you as the reader to use your imagination to visualize much of what we can describe from the day.   In other words, it wasn’t appropriate to take a bunch of pictures! 

We started out “a pye”, by feet, for 2 reasons.  First it rained 2 evenings in a row so, of course, the road was muddy.  The second reason relates to the first…Because the road is in such poor condition there have been a group of young men actively protesting on the road trying to get the attention of the government to come and FIX the road.  The way this is usually done here is….they ‘CUT’ the road.  Across the entire width of the road, somehow the group of guys had dug a trench about 3 ½ feet wide and 3 ½ feet deep so no vehicles could pass.  Pedestrians and donkeys were allowed to cross which required quite a JUMP across the new ravine which was filled with water from the rain.  On the other side of the cut we could take a taxi moto to Pignon which was also a challenge…we had to get off and walk through the worst of the mud.  This muddy sandal shot, times 5, would almost give an idea of the mud we ‘wallowed’ in. 

Once in Pignon, a 16 passenger taptap van was the next mode of transportation.  The driver kindly took our shoes and washed off what we couldn’t ‘stomp’ off.  At 7:15 am we started on the way to Port au Prince without a full load so we figured we would be stopping intermittently to pick up more passengers.  Our first stop was Hinche at 8:30.  We pulled to the side of the street in town to pick up a couple passengers.  Within view through the van window we noticed a sight!...There was a styrofoam food container laying open on the ground with something in it…and it wasn’t food…       UH, OH!  Well, we will just say that gives new meaning to the concept of a ‘port­-a-potty’.  Very portable.   

As we waited for passengers we were visited by the Police who pulled up on a motorcycle.  There was quite the ‘conversation’ taking place and as we learned, we were stopped in a ‘bad spot’ so the policeman got out his ticket book.  A friend explained to us that since the van was stopped in a bad spot the driver needed to make a ‘contribution’.  That is a new way of looking at it!

Our next stop was for gas at a gas station… with a pump.  We have grown accustomed to the method of getting gas out of a reusable plastic gallon jug poured into the tank using a plastic bottle cut in half as a funnel.  This stop also brought new meaning to the term ‘convenience store’ as the food vendors came right to the van... crowded around hoping to sell some cold bottled drinks, sandwiches, and other food items.  Pretty convenient to say the least.

The road was getting steeper as we zigzagged back and forth along the curvy, mountainous road called National Route 3.  As this is the major road that runs north and south, we like to make the comparison to US Interstate 35!  Here at least the road is paved.  However, still present are many road hazards like a small portable cement mixer positioned right in the middle of the opposite lane with piles of rock staggered along the way. 

Had to sneak this picture.  You have to look carefully to identify what is being transported on this small taptap.
The next sight was the load of a huge cargo truck spilled all across the opposite lane… PILES of avocados!  It is avocado season.  Any vehicle no matter how big or small is always loaded to it’s fullest potential.  Picture a small, beat up pickup with huge bags tied all around the outside of the pickup bed, 6 wheel barrows, 3 deep tied onto the back tailgate, boxes stacked 3 high on the roof of the cab, the pickup bed packed to overflowing and then add 25 people to that. AND some more items of cargo stuck between the grill and the brush bars on the front. 

Plastic 55 gallon barrels.  The other day outside of Pignon we saw a motorcycle with 4 of these tied on behind the driver.

Carving out the side of the mountain.  They are 'harvesting' limestone probably for road construction

There was a structure that disrupted the mountainous landscape.  Get this, an Olympic Training Center is nearly complete.  What do you think of that?

We arrived in Port au Prince just before 11:30 am.  We found a taptap to rent to get us around the city and to carry the items on the list to be purchased.  For us, this seems to be the dirtiest, noisiest place on earth.  People shouting, black exhaust coughing out of truck tailpipes, garbage in heaps here, there, and everywhere.  Traffic is the unruliest, there seem to be no boundaries, horns honking, motorcycles weaving in an out, giant trucks and gaudy taptaps filled to the brim with people.  Undefined lanes of traffic, everyone trying to get there before the guy in front.  BUT then, in contrast, we came to an area with a nice boulevard where women were sweeping the street and sidewalk with Haitian brooms… still, however, in the midst of the noisiest web of traffic on earth.  Hard to figure.  No rules of the road except the biggest and loudest has the rite of passage.

Wanna shop for some clothes?
The turquoise ocean water is within view, should be a tropical paradise.
The afternoon sped by too fast; time to load up for the van ride back ‘home’ to Savanette, or so we thought.  We left Port au Prince at 5:15 pm.  This time the van is more than at full capacity.  16 passenger vehicle now loaded with 21 people.  Like one giant sardine can with 2 odd sardines.  Our driver had some bad habits.  He would push on the gas and then press on the brake, push the gas, press the brake.  Have you ever been on an amusement park ride called the ‘Tilt-a-whirl’?  Similar sensation in the van.  On it went, we wound our way out of the mountains, sped across the last miles of smooth road, and then bumped and swerved over and around the rocks and rain washed dirt roads until…we would guess about 6 miles or so from home….the van and 21 people with luggage tied to the top…STUCK in the mud going up a steep hill.  It’s 9:15 pm in the rural central plateau of Haiti and the night is blacker than black.
This is a picture of the view where we got stuck in the mud  :)

There we sat, wondering, ‘now what?’ A couple of the Haitian men made the move to get out of the van.  We wondered if an attempt to get us unstuck was the reason.  Soon we decided, ‘not happening.’  One man with a duffle bag over his shoulder and the tiny light from his cell phone appeared to be setting out ‘a pye’, by feet.  We figured that’s how we started the day, we might as well end the day that way as well.  No moon tonight, no stars, just blackness.  The beam of our small headlamp flashlight seemed more powerful than we had remembered.  Thank you Coleman Summer Tent Sale in Okoboji, IA

We took careful steps to avoid the slimy, slippery parts of the road.  We caught up to the man that was ahead of us and walked together.  We learned from our new found Haitian friend that he works in Port during the week and comes home to his family in Pignon on the weekend.  We could exchange ‘piti piti’ Creole and ‘a little bit’ of English and had an enjoyable conversation, listening to several “krapo”, frogs, that must have been having a party in the puddles. We heard drums off in the distance but took comfort that the sound was behind us not ahead of us.  Finally we were able to reach a friend from Pignon by phone who graciously agreed to come pick us up.  After the moto headlight came piercing through the wall of black, we asked if our travel partner could get a ride to Pignon first.  We kept making our way north, step by step getting closer to home.  It was evident that we would not get all the way to Savanette so we called to make arrangements to stay in the Mission House in Pignon. 

We arrived at our overnight lodging in Pignon about 10:45 PM.  Now our sandals are the above picture TIMES 10!  Tired, dirty, kind a hungry…but thankful for running water, a bathroom, a pillow, even a mosquito net.  Laying in bed, we were still moving from the long day on the long and winding road to Port and back.  Earlier in the week the analogy had come up of constantly feeling sticky from the heat, like one big post-it note.  Tonight it doesn’t even matter.  Today we experienced a long and winding day on a long and winding road.

The Beatles song, The Long and Winding Road, ends with the lyrics:  Don’t leave me waiting here, lead me to your door.  That line makes us think of how our days may sometimes seem long as we wait for Jesus to return to lead us to the door of Heaven.

Those long days may test our patience, but what is our model for patience?  Look at 2 Peter 3:8-9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

We all experience long, trying, challenging days. Our paths may seem rocky and muddy, long and winding.  We may get stuck in a rut with our patience tested.  But look at the patience God has for us.  He is patient even with those who mock him in unbelief because he doesn’t want anyone to perish.  He desires everyone to come to repentance.

We often pray for Gods will be done and for Him to show us our role in His perfect will.  If it is God’s will that He wants no one to perish, then what are we doing to take part in that?  He provided the way, through His grace, by faith in Jesus. Consider how you may be used to help spread that Good News!

Thank you for having the patience to get through this story describing a day in Haiti.  We ask for prayers for patience and perseverance for the people who endure much more hardship than this on a daily basis.  

Love in Christ,  Craig and Christi

Here is a quick story relating to this verse...

You may have heard about the little boy who said to the Lord, "Is it true that a hundred years is just like a second to You?"  And God said, "Yes, a hundred years is just like a second."  And the boy said, "Is it also true that a hundred thousand dollars is just like a dollar to you?"  And God replied, "Yes, a hundred thousand dollars is just like a dollar."  So the boy said, " Well, can I have one of your dollars?"  The Lord replied, "Sure, just wait a second."

Friday, September 5, 2014

This Old House

This Old House

Recently, as we were sitting with three young gals in an interview setting, the question came up, “Where do you live?”  Next, came, “How many people live in your house?”  Simple enough question, right?  The question was presented to them individually and each one needed a minute to think through their household.  One of the gals replied 8 people, the next decided there were 11.  It was cute how the third interviewee was visibly counting in her head.  She finally concluded 14 people lived in her house. 

Another example happened when asking a friend, “How many people live in your house?” His reply after a pause to think, “Oh, 11 or 12.”

Doesn’t that seem hard to imagine, not knowing exactly how many people live in your own house?  To top it off these ‘houses’ are possibly 2 small rooms, most no larger than 4 small rooms and the total space might be 400 square feet (16’x25’)

Down the road from us, one household is just a bit different.  A little girl named Guerline and her Grandma live together, just the 2 of them.  We have gotten to know them through the Many Hands for Haiti Thrive for 5 Program which provides a daily meal, spiritual development, immunizations and basic healthcare for enrolled kids age 0-5. 

We learned from Grandma that Guerline was brought to her by the mother.  The mother has not been seen since. We don’t know a birthdate for Guerline but she is probably about 2 years old.  Guerline and Grandma are quite a team.  They come to ‘Thrive’ together each day, they attend church together, they go to market together, they do everything together.

                        Walking together on laundry day.  It is about 1/2 mile to the spring.

Typical Haitian living includes a home with a dirt floor which creates many health hazards.  An additional benefit of being enrolled in the Thrive for 5 Program is the potential opportunity to receive a cement floor in your house. Guerline and her grandma were in line to receive the new floor.  However, Grandma kept insisting that a new floor wasn’t necessary but they needed a new tin roof because their roof leaked every time the rain came.  The program doesn’t offer the option since the point of the cement floor is to provide a healthier living environment.  Discussion from MH4H concluded that Guerline and her grandma would have a cement floor AND a new roof. 


Old tin roof that leaks.  That is the sun shining through during the day.

With this announcement, Grandma was overwhelmed with joy, hands raised in the air, praising God.  She told us she had been praying for a new roof for over a year and a half.  She said God told her to be patient.  That day her prayers were answered.  The new tin roof was completed in one day which kept this inseparable pair dry the next 2 nights through HARD rainy season rains.

The roofer uses the nearby tree to get on the roof.  Some new wood was added also.

The cement floor was a 2 day project.  With all the personal belongings moved out into the yard, it created a neighborhood gathering spot to come and watch and share in the excitement.  There was community being built as well.
All the household items were moved outside for the cement floor to be 5 gallon bucket at a time.

The neighbors gathered to share in the excitement of the day

This home renovation project may not make an episode of ‘This Old House’ or an HGTV home improvement show but it was a classic scene depicting Jesus’ love and God’s provision IN ACTION.  The entire project was completed with Haitian workers.  Can you even imagine the fact that both projects were completed with a few simple tools: a machete, a hammer, a shovel, a couple 5 gallon buckets, and a trowel.   NO ladder, no tin snip, no power tools, no cement mixer, no electricity.  
A few simple tools

Done!  But still a temporary dwelling.  Jesus has prepared an eternal home.

Guerline and her grandma will now stay dry under a new tin roof and have a better chance at staying healthy with their new cement floor.  These improvements will help them deal with the hard life in Haiti.  But one day the roof will need to be replaced, again.  One day the cement will start to crumble. These improvements are temporary. Through ‘Thrive for 5’ Guerline and her Grandma are learning more about Jesus each day.  They are learning that Jesus has an eternal home prepared those who believe.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”   John 14:1-4

Guerline’s grandma waited and prayed for a year and a half for a new roof.  She waited on the Lord to provide and now she is giving thanks. Waiting…that can be the hardest thing.  Jesus tells us that he has a place prepared for us and that he is going to come back to take us to where He is.  We know the way and we have to wait.

Going on in John 14:5,6.  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.  From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

Jesus is the way!  Not a way, but THE WAY.  In Haiti, there are many who practice a religion of fear, voodoo.  Practicing voodoo is not the way, Jesus is THE WAY!  There is nothing eternal about Voodoo.  Jesus is eternal. 

Craig and Christi

Thrive for 5 Center located on the campus of Many Hands for Haiti in Savanette, Haiti
This past Saturday this building was used as the venue for a wedding reception.  Coming up on September 9 and 10 this will be the location of the first Many Hands for Haiti All Employee Spiritual Conference.  Guest speaker, Pastor Walliere, from Port au Prince will be leading with messages about the Historical perspective of Haiti, the power of the voodoo culture, and Freedom in Christ.  We ask for your prayers for all involved so that God will open each persons heart, mind, and soul to follow where HE leads.