Our day began Sunday night at 2:00am when our bus pulled out of Lake Pointe parking lot. And what a ride! Even though the bus was a beautiful full size tour bus, we rode the entire two and a half hour trip with no heat! Melissa actually had two blankets covering her head the whole way! It really made us anticipate the heat ahead of us!
We arrived in Pittsburgh at 4:30 am. To my utter dismay (those of you who know how I hate to fly will understand) our plane to Newark was a propeller plane! Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:50am but ended up getting delayed until 7:40am...yes, you guessed it, because they couldn't get the heat to work in the plane! When we finally boarded, the inside temp of the plane was a cool 30 degrees! It just started to warm up when we reached the tarmack in Newark!
Since our flight in Pittsburgh was delayed, we were really pressed for time in our connecting flight in Newark. We sprinted to the gate just as they were starting to board. God is good! Cindy C.'s flight from Florida arrived right on time and she was at the gate to meet us....making our team complete.
Our flight from Newark to Santiago, Dominican Republic lasted several hours and we arrived...and I might add the heat worked wonderfully!... about 2:30pm. The Dominican part of our team - Tito and Mirka Cristians - were waiting for us at the airport with the taxi vans we needed to take us to the hotel. What a ride! 18 duffle bags, 13 carry-ons, 13 personal bags and 15 people jambed in two vans! No better way to get to know each other! The wonderful 73 degrees (it was cloudy today) felt great!
We arrived at the hotel and settled in for the night before going to the hotel restaurant for dinner. After dinner we treated ourselves to some ice cream to end our long day. It was great.
We'll be up by 6:00am tomorrow morning to be at the bus station by 8:30am so we can purchase our tickets and insure our seats for the 12:00noon departure for Cap Haitian. Especially pray for us around 2:00pm-2:30pm as we cross the Haitian border. Pray that God's favor would be on us and that our time at the border would be short. Also, pray that the eyes and the hearts of the team would be opened to the darkness of sin as they witness firsthand how our enemy has sought to seek and destroy the lives of the Haitians they will see there.
As we move deeper into the culture and ministry each day, pray for our strength and for God to reveal Himself to us as we minister in whatever ways he calls us.
We we're up early this morning for a 7:00am breakfast and to get ready for an 8:00am departure for the bus station. Everything went according to schedule - a Dominican schedule! - and we left by 8:30am...really good actually. I was a bit concerned that we would make the bus station by 9:00 am when the office opens...because if you don't get there to buy your tickets first (and we needed 15) you may not them (for the only bus that goes there that day).
But I forgot we were in the Dominican and everything runs by thier time! So, the office wasn't only closed when we got there, but didn't open until 9:45am. But, we did get to watch an interesting fight that broke out in the parking lot between a taxi driver (not ours) and about 20 other people!
We succussfully got enough tickets and our wait began. The bus doesn't leave until about 12:30. But, the ladies had a great idea...to walk to a nearby super store to do some shopping! Not a bad idea except it made for quite a bit "extra" luggage to carry!
The bus trip to the boarder took about 2 and a half hours. Thatnk you all so much for your prayers because we made it through both sides as quickly as we have ever made it. From the moment we crossed the border the world changed...and everyone could see it. Early in the trip we passed a group of Haitians celebrating Carnival in a small parade. Several of the people had their bodies painted white and you could see the voodoo influence.
We arrived at the bus station around 4:45pm and OMS met us with our ride to the compound...in the back of a cattle truck. We were again exposed to the culture at a deeper level as we drove through the center of Cap Haitian.
Once we arrived we settled into the different houses where we would spend the week and then had a great dinner. The heat is wonderful, but draining. After dinner everyone cleaned up, unpacked and went to bed. Another good day.
We slept in a little this morning and had a 8:00am breakfast rather than the usual 7:00am breakfast. After eating we took a walking tour of the 30 acre compound and Melissa and I explained alot of the ministry that happens on the compound.
We stopped at the hospital and met with the director, Dr. Rodney. Dr. Rodeny took the time to take us through the hospital and explain the day to day workingsand ministry that goes on and to share his heart for his people. Among many other things, they serve 300 TB patients, 1,500 AIDS patients, an emergency room, a maternity clinic, a nutritial program, teaching people how to grow food, a medical school with 300 students, and hopes (and faith!) for an expanding ministry of care and the gospel to remote mountain villages. We left Dr. Rodney with the profound sense that we had met a man with a vision from God!
We went back for lunch and after lunch we began preparing the ministry items we brought to minster in the village tomorrow. We cut out all our patterns, wrapped all our soap and washcloths, and organized all the things we would give away during our house to house evangelism. To our great surprize, we found two cases of reader eyeglasses that Melissa and I left here last year! So, we'll be able to bless some people with vision help! Pray that God would give us wisdom in how and when to use them. Part of what we broiught were baby cloths and after bagging them up we took them back to Dr. Rodney to give away in the hospital tomorrow during his baby wellness day. He was estacic!
Right before dinner Pastor Jean Vitant from Cetre Evangelic Church came to visit and talk about the ministry we would be doing in his village tomorrow. The name of the village is Petite Asne Madeline and is about 25 minutes from where we're staying. His church is small (about 60 people) but the village itself is very large. They don't have a church building right now, but meet under a pole-building type structure. He shared with me that one of the needs of his people are Creole Bibles. He will accompany us tomorrow as we evangelize door to door.
After diner several of our guys worked to change out propane tanks on the compound and get several hot water tanks working again. As well, we helped deal with a plumbing problem that was quite an issue! Please begin praying for these missionaries and this OMS compound. Many people come here to go out and minister to the Haitian people, but few ever invest into these front-line, warrior missionaries and the place they try to provide. You should be pround of your team for their willingness to help!
Now, right before bed, the team is just finishing up a wild game of spoons and I've had to quiet them down a couple times! I haven't seen blood yet, but there has been a threat to kill someone! They DO take their spoons seriously!
Our LP team is a great team!
Our day started with a great 7:00am breakfast. It was already hot outside! After breakfast we packed all of our personal backpacks with ministry items and made our plan of attack. Then, as we were waiting for our ride to come I got a call from Pastor Jean. Yesterday he had told me to expect about 20 chuldren for our VBS at his church...now he told me there were 30 or more waiting for us!
Well, we thought, 30 isn't many more than 20 so we rethought how we'd do our craft with the increased number of kids. We were confident we were prepared. We continued waiting for our ride and Pastor Jean called me again...now he said that there were 60 kids or more waiting! Now faith started kicking in! We were just trusting God to give us the wisdom and resources we needed (since our craft was prepared for 50 kids!).
Our ride finally arrived and we set out for the church. It was about 35 minutes away, traveling on some pretty rough roads! We all had to learn how to do the cattle truck "surf " as we braved the crater size holes in the road! When we arrived at the church we could hear the children singing and clapping loudly to the song "This is the Day." They were singing it in Creole, French and English. But, when we went into the church we were in shock...there were 94 children there waiting for us!
We started our Bible lesson...we taught them about Noah and the Ark...and after it was over we divided the children in half. Some of the team worked with half the kids doing the craft we brought and some of team worked with the other half coloring pictures of animals. God worked out our dilemma easily!
The kids loved the story and activities! After we were done Pastor Jean invited them back tomorrow for another story...there's no doubt in our minds that the number of kids will probably double for tomorrow! Pray for our ministry with the kids! After eating lunch in the church we paired up in threes and went out into the neighborhood to do door-to-door evangelism. All we can say is WOW. We were all recieved so well by the Haitians living there. Everyone was willing to talk about Christ! We could only spend about an hour doing evangelism...and six people recieved Christ as their Savior! Praise God for your prayers to prepare peoples hearts!
We're so excited for tomorrow to see what God will do. Our plan is to arrive at the curch a lot earlier...at 9:00am...and finish our VBS a little sooner to give us more time to evangelize. Please continue your Lake Pointe prayers for God to do miraculous life-change in the hearts of those we speak with.
Your prayers can also include those we spoke with today:
One young girl (17) who is being spiritually oppressed,
A young married woman whose heart is breaking to have a child
A 93 year old man (who we gave glasses to) for strength
A woman who was so close to recieving Christ, but put it off,
For the six people that recieved Christ to come to church on Sunday.
Again, as our day is ending the team's hurting one another in a friendly game of spoons. Hopefully, some of them will recover before our return home! For those who are freezing right now back home, don't worry, we're soaking up the sunshine for you...wishing with all our hearts that you could be here with us!
What an awesome God-day it's been! And totally unexpected on our part. When we went to bed last night the rain was coming down in buckets. During the night some of us were awakened by the continuing rain...and when we woke up this morning the rain was still falling hard! There was water everywhere. And being that the village we are working in has all dirt roads, we thought we might have to cancel our plans there today. But, in God's perfect plan, the rain stopped right after breakfast. We quickly loaded all our ministry items, lunch, water and backpacks and headed out for the church.
When we got there we were expecting double the children we had yesterday for our VBS. Instead, we walked into the church to find 28 children patiently waiting for us. The rain - we thought - was bad enough to keep the others from returning today. So, we decided to send a few of the team members out right away for evangelism since we didn't need everyone to help with only 28 kids. After the evangelism team left we started our program with the story of Jonah. Five minutes into the story Melissa saw more kids coming in and recounted them...there were now 54 children. After another 5 minutes she saw more kids coming in and recounted again...her final count was 98 kids! We ended up reading a second story - David and Goliath - and doing two crafts with the kids. We ened our VBS by teaching them the song "I'm so Glad Jesus Set Me Free" and we all sang it together in Creole, Spanish and English!
After our VBS and lunch at the church we split the remaining team members into evangelism groups and set out into the village. The afternoon was phenominal! I won't try to explain in deep detail, but 14 people prayed to recieve Christ as their Savior today! And scores of people that we met that were believers were blessed and encouraged by our presence and prayers!
Another miracle of God today was when Melissa, myself and Pastor Jean approached the house of a witchdoctor and were invited in to talk to him about God. It was easy to identify with all the voodoo paraphanelia hanging on the gate and his voodoo flags flying over his house. We started praying for God's wisdom and protection even as we were going through his door. I could even hear Melissa behind me calling on the name of Christ. Once inside his house we discovered that it wasn't only him, but also 7 of his followers. He was seated in the center, beside a voodoo pole with all kinds of things hanging on it, and his followers were circled around him.
God's presence was so evident and the truth of God's Word flowed so naturally that every person sitting there gave their full attention to what was being spoken. All of us took part in witnessing...myself, Melissa, Pastor Jean, Leoni (translator), Civil (translator), and Tito (translator whose father used to be a witchdoctor and is now a pastor in the Dominican). We ended up spending about an one and a half hours with them and the Gospel was clearly presented. As we ended our witness, I asked if I could pray over them and he agreed to it! I prayed that God would let the truth that we shared with them become a truth that they could not ignore...that He would continue to speak to them and convict them that the world of darkness they were living in was death and that the light of the Kingdom of God was eternal life. After praying we invited them to church on Sunday to see the blancs (us white poeople!) Please pray that God would draw them to come! As we were leaving his house - and Melissa pointed it out or I may have missed it - right on the ground beside the door was a human skull..."Greater is He that is in YOU than he that is in the world!!!"
After we were outside I stopped and took the camera out of my backpack and went back inside. I ask them if I could take their photo so when I went back to the states I could look at thier pictures and pray for them. Again the witchdoctor agreed. As I was leaving I told him I would be returning to the village sometime in the near future and asked if I could visit him again and he said he would like that!
As we left for the day the rain began again...and by the time we arrived back at the compound we were completed drenched! God clearly spoke today...we cannot allow the seemingly discouaraging events - like rain or small numbers of children - make us think that God is somehow no preparing our way for great things to happen! God's perfect timing in every circustance of our lives is nothing short of the miraculous!
We are so blessed and so excited for what God is doing! Continue praying for your Lake Pointe Mission team!
The plan for today was to visit the IDEDEE and EBAC orphanages. But, God had a different plan for us. The rain just kept coming all morning after breakfast. And because the road to the orphanage is dirt and full of deep ruts, it would have been impossible to negotiate.So, we spent the early morning and afternoon trying to identify some of the problems here at the mission compoud. Some of the men climbed up on a few roofs (being extremely careful because of the slippery conditions) to find some serious leaks. We found them and will seal them with tar as soon as the roof dries from the rain. Then, we took a look at the kithen faucet hoping to get the water flow what it should be. We also found some hydrolic hose leaks in the small bulldozer and took the hoses off.
After dinner we had an great devotion and talked about all the experiences we had so far this week and how we've seen God's hand moving in every ministry we've been a part of. God definitely meant this day as our day of rest, fellowship and reflection.
We're looking forward to church tomorrow and worshipping with our fellow believers in Centre Evangelic Church (the church we've been working with). Pastor Jean ask that I preach tomorrow and we'll be singing at least one song for the congregation. Please pray for God's Word to convict and encourage those that hear it!
What a great day to celebrate the Lord! We arrived at the church service today at 9:15am. The service had already been going since 8:00am! As we walked in to find our seats they were in thier worship service, rocking the building with their songs of praise. After singing awhile, they read through the entire chapter of Luke 7...a person read some then the congregation read some. Then they sang some more!
After corporate worship, several people from the congreagtion came forward and sang special songs. At least 8 specials! Then, Pastor Jean graciously introduced our team and we took the opportunity to sing a song of thanks to the church.Our choice..."Blessed be the Name."
It was an honor for me to share God's Word this morning with our Hatian brothers and sisters. Brett Bundy, the field director for OMS where we're staying, interpreted for me. May God continue to take the message and work encouragement in the hearts of the people who heard!
After the sermon, there were a few more songs, an offering and a song by the kids of the church. Our service ended at 11:10...a 3 hour 10 minutes service! Wow, how they set aside the entire day for the worship of God puts our American churches to shame!
We left the church and went directly to a hotel/restaurant to have lunch. At least 7 of our group tried goat meat for the first time! They said, "It wasn't too baahhed!" The food was wonderful. While we were at the restaurant I got a call from my friend Ruben, asking if we wanted to visit IDEDEE orphanage. Since we spent the day yesterday resting and reflecting...and missing the orphanage because of the rain and mud...we decided to cancel our time at the pool to go visit them. What a blessed decision!
IDEDEE now has about 60 orphanes, ranging in age from 0-4. As soon as the kids saw our van approaching they started running to meet us. Even before the team could get out of our van the kids were climbing inside to grab our hands and hold on to our necks! The whole time we toured the orphanage, we were lovingly "mobbed" by the kids. Everyone was holding at least one child.
We stayed there for about and hour before heading back to the compound for dinner. When we left IDEDEE we gave them two socceer balls and 60 of the pillows the church made for us. They loved them!
After dinner...and before the blood-drawing spoons tornament...we talked about our day and God's many blessings for us in it. Tomorrow, we'll spend the entire morning evangelizing around the church again. Pray that we find the other two witchdoctors and have the opportunity to give them the Gospel!
Be bold for Christ today Lake Pointe brothers and sisters!
What a bittersweet day...because we were all aware that everything we did today was going to be the last day we were going to do it! The morning was spend doing more door to door evangelism in the village. Another woman recieved Christ today! Prasie God for all that He's done this week. The team witnessed, prayed for every person we spoke with and continued to build relationships with people in the village and among ourselves as well. What sometimes seems to be the most difficult thing in the world for us Christians to do - share our faith openly with others - has turned into an anticipated event for everyone. God's presence has been strong and many lives will be forever changed.
Melissa and I, along with Pator Jean, visited another witchdoctors house. He wasn't home, but his wife was, along with his voodoo priestess. We spent a long time witnessing to the priestess. There was no mistaking the spiritual darkness that she was in...from her sporatic, incidious laugh when we spoke of certain truths to her outright admission, "Yes, I serve satan and I love to serve him because of what he gives me." She even said that she didn't want us to pray for her, because she did not want God to bother her...we told her we would still be praying anyway. Her eternal destiny meant absolutely nothing to her. How sad it is to see how our hateful enemy has blided the eyes of some people. But, you can see how vital it was for you, our Lake Pointe brothers and sister, to have covered us in your prayers as we entered those unrestrained evil places.
But, this was only the beginning...we'll be back! And we will not relent in our witness of Christ in this village. We will continue to wage warefare against these voodoo havens with the most powerful weapon we have...the Gospel of love! It has made great eternal difference in scores of lives this week and will contiue to do so as we remain faithful to our God and his calling!
Because there were several things on our scedule today we had to finish with evenagelism at 12:00 noon. Pastor Jean was so apreciative for everything we did for him. Both of us have committed to continue our language studies so our communication in the future will be easier. And praise God, someone from LPCC has stepped forward the cover the cost of Pastor Jean's whole year of English studies! We're also going to send him a few English Bibles.
After leaving the church we drove to tour the Cowman School, a school that was started for the missionarey children of OMS years ago. It began with about 20 children, but because of the quality of education they provided, many of the rich Haitian families started sending their children there...and today they have 115 kids.
We then went to tour the Emmaus Seminary. What a blessing to see pastors being trained in a quality theological education. There are currently about 75 students at the seminary.
Our final tour was at the Radio 4EVH radio station. It's in this ministry that OMS began 65 years ago in Haiti. In all of those years, these last two years are the only ones that they have been totally debt free. That's significant, since they broadcast not only over the entire island of Haiti with 24 hr. Christian broiascasting, but can be heard in Haitian communities all over the world!
\Our evening has been used to talk about what we've seen God do in the Haitian people and in us. He is so good...praise Him people of Lake Pointe!
We'll be leaving at 6:00am tomorrow morning for the bus station in downdown Cap Haitian to catch our bus back to the Dominican Republic. As we leave Haiti, our hearts are already aching to return. We will miss the relationships we've made and our prayers for them will be sincere and often!
Please pray as we cross the boarder tomorrow around 10:00am. We love you all!
OUR FINAL DAYS
Well, our last few days of travel are completed. We made it across the Haitian boarder with little delay and arrived safely at our hotel in Santiago. It was great to be able to relax and talk about the events of the week. There's so much that God has done and so much to think about and process.
What did God show us this week?
How did God change ME this week?
How do we struggle with God's goodness and trustworthiness in face of what we saw and touched?
How will our prayers be different?
What will we do now?
These questions - and many more - are what we have to seriously consider. You see, the Gospel doesn't change between boarders...the Gospel is the Gospel in whatever environment it is preached. If your Gospel doesn't work in third and fourth world countries as well as our own country then you had better rethink your Gospel! So, we wrestle with our previously preconcieved ideas and allow God to purify our thinking.
He alone is our confidence.
He alone can change the impossible.
He alone is all Wisdom when things don't seem to make sense.
He alone is trustworthy in all things.
He alone is powerful enough to defeat the enemy of our souls.
When we truly...truly believe those things, then we will have the boldness that Christ calls us to in being His witnesses!...we will be able to love like Christ calls us to love, regardless of the circumstances or people groups. That's one thing I love so much about missions...it strips away all of our excuses and demands that we face the reality of who God really is! Who do YOU beieve God is?
Our final day of travel - which began at 12noon on Wednesday - was a hectic one...dealing with delays, uncooperative TSA agents, security delays, etc. But, we finally arrived back in Erie - with almost 100 degrees drop in temerature from when we began the day - around 1:30am Thursday morning. Praise God, our trip is complete!
Our mission team will be presenting their testimonies of the trip at this Sunday's service. May God use the words of our lips to not only testify to His might and goodness, but to ignite your hearts to the mission He has palced in front of each of us...Go and MAKE DISCIPLES in every nation!