Some days and weeks go by fast while others seem to drag on slowly. Regardless we find ourselves continuing to work and serve. Most days see us performing the individual tasks and duties assigned to us by our respective titles but there are always new and challenging things that come up from time to time that keep things fresh and interesting. Last month we celebrated the two-year anniversary of our official move to Haiti. Darryl actually started on July 1, 2018 and spent several weeks in country before we made the move together on October 14 of that same year. During these past two years we have seen many evidences of God’s protection and provision. We also have had a ton of experiences and challenges that have been both good and hard. Some really good. Some really hard. Some both. But regardless of the type of experience we can honestly say that we have grown a lot through them and because of them. Even though there are days when we wonder if we are even making any difference in the lives of our Haitian brothers and sisters and children, we continue to strive to make each day count. One thing that we have learned and that has been made abundantly clear to us is that regardless of our inadequacies or perhaps even failures as “missionaries,” it is God who actually is making our work count for something. This was true long before we moved to Haiti. It has been humbling and freeing to recognize that God can and will use us, despite our best efforts that so often fall short, to accomplish his sovereign will.
And then there were two! In a little over 6 months the count of Americans living in the Irene’s Place “house” has gone from four of us down to just the two of us. Our friend Liz was married this last weekend, what a great celebration and blending of cultures. It was so sweet to be included and to share time with her family. We’ll miss living with her but we’ll see her often at work and she knows that she is always welcome to stop by for a visit
In early December (10th & 11th) we will be conducting our annual planning meeting. We will review the past year and make plans and goals for 2021. This is always a fun and important time for us as an organization as we reflect on all that God has done through us and as we dream about all that God can and will do in the year ahead.
We continue to feel very encouraged in our work by so many of you who love us, pray for us, read these monthly blogs, and support us financially. It is not even an exaggeration to say that without you we could not do what we do. We cannot say it enough but we will keep saying it…THANK YOU!!!
PRAYER REQUESTS FOR THIS MONTH
- For continued health and safety for us and for our colleagues (both American and Haitian).
- For our hearts and minds as we encounter the good and the hard each day in Haiti.
- For clarity and wisdom as we discern the future as an organization (and as a couple).
- For continued opportunities to have impact, especially long-term, on the hearts and lives of the families and individuals that we are honored to work with.
- For national stability, peace, and an improved economic situation for all. (this is a prayer request for both Haiti and the United States).
WHAT THE FOODIE IS UP TO…
We finally finished the labyrinth, although I am not sure that my attempted explanation to some of our Haitian staff was understood correctly. What I was trying to tell them was that this was a path to prayerfully walk. It is like our life, it makes twists and u-turns and seems to take longer to get to the destination than we first anticipated. The middle of the labyrinth is like finding aplace to rest in God’s heart. At that point one of them laughed and said , “non Bondye nan syel la” (No, God is in the sky/heaven). Oh well, I will keep my conversations more basic and try not to tackle theological discussions!
This is a bull that was purchased at the Saturday market one week. This one bull will be used to feed children, mothers, and staff – almost 500 people for 6 different meals. One bull = 3000 meals.
Once again there were many passionfruit available. I have decided it is one of the most deliciously fragrant fruits here. I wonder if there is an essential oil or scented candle that can match its fragrance. I was taught how to make ji– juice with it this month. We also had it in other forms : popsicles, mousse, and smoothies.
I have had the opportunity to use Physical Therapy again these last few weeks. I have “phoned a friend” as I am working with two young children. Trying to get a child to do glute and hip strengthening means coming up with a game that is fun. I am being affirmed in never really being a pediatric PT due to lack of creativity! Of course the younger little guy won’t even let me touch him yet. It is going to take time gaining his trust in this blan (foreigner). I do know that food and toys go a long way in building these relationships though.
We are working on getting the prayer bench meditations , from our Path of Life translated into Creole. This will be a process as some of the ideas won’t translate culturally. For example on of the words is “selah” or pause and consider. In the American version it talks about examples of pausing in considering such as, how you eat, or wake up. The fact that we have the ability to pause and consider our eating and waking could be seen as a luxury not available here. Translating will take different examples or a completely different way of pausing. For those interested, I have included the wordage to our Selah bench at the very bottom of this blog post.
The past month has allowed me to experience a lot of different areas of my work in Haiti. I am currently wearing several “hats” and this month I have been busy working under each one. I’ll try to provide a brief description of this work for each respective area.
Since July I have assumed the title of Chief Operations Officer for all in-country organizational functions. In this role I have developed some much-needed policies and guidelines as well as get many procedural things down in some sort of written or documented form. This is important for us as well as for future American personnel who join the MH4H team in Haiti.
As the Director of Agronomy this month has seen me creating an implementation plan and timeline for our next animal husbandry venture which will be a chicken (fryers) operation. Researching costs (start-up & operational) and getting bids/prices for construction of the required chicken house. We hope to start up this project in the second quarter of 2021. Next we recently harvested our corn crop. We planted corn from the top performer from last year’s seed corn project. The yield was really good, even for second generation corn. I have also been inspecting the work of some much needed (and ongoing) perimeter fence repair at our goat land. And we have some more baby goats which is one of the favorite aspects under this particular role.
As Director of Education my ongoing role is mainly encouragement and oversight. We have a lead teacher who takes care of the evaluations of the classroom teachers and helpers but I frequently visit classrooms to observe and make sure the teachers have whatever supplies they need (I usually can find what they need). Even though I love baby goats, watching these precious little children grow and is WAY better!
As Director of Leadership Development (LD) my role has seen a recent increase in activity. For the past year our LD program has been on hold as we have been planning and praying over how we want/need to re-tool this important pillar (we have six main pillars as an organization) for the future. I have met with our lead pastors and have recently created the new model and implementation timeline for this work. While many of our outcomes for the program remain the same, the model will look very different with an added emphasis on our staff and with much smaller but much more frequent cohorts. This new model will begin in mid-2021.
Even though Shelly is the real foodie I thought that I would share of what I make for breakfast almost every day. A few onions and green peppers, plus a fried egg topped with some hot sauce. The only variation of this is I will occasionally wrap this in a flour tortilla for a breakfast burrito. The stainless tumbler is filled with coffee (with creamer – can’t do black yet).
UNTIL NEXT MONTH….
Prayer Bench 4
One of my favorite ways I’ve head the word selah explained is “to pause and consider”. This fourth bench invites you “pause and consider” the divine fingerprint in others, our surroundings, and ourselves. Learning to see beyond our normal filters and what that means as we go about the daily-ness of life. At this bench we invite you to consider how to start adjusting your lens that you do life through! Again I am using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase – to challenge how you hear and see!
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
How would it look for you to infuse your ordinary life with the sacred? Let’s just take a couple of the tasks from this scripture and explore them a bit! Although this might not feel like “prayer’, I would counter with, the exhortation to pray continuously! (Thessalonians 5:17) This is a way to be open to the Holy Spirit, and offer activities up to God as acts of praise.
This way of prayer requires us to downshift intentionally, to turn off auto-pilot, and to engage when it is easier or habit to disengage. Consider this list as opportunities to try out and tweak to fit your personality and your tasks!
How do you wake up in the morning? What are the first things you reach for? Could you refrain from reaching for these (phone, computer, coffee, shower) for 5 breaths. Before you start your normal routine, intentionally take a regular inhale, followed by a longer (but comfortable) than normal exhale. Pause 3-5 seconds (again keeping it comfortable). Repeat 5X. Consider the inhale as in an invitation to be infused with the Holy Spirit. Then that longer exhale is about releasing preconceived ideas, false assumptions, and self importance. The pause is about sitting in that new space – filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to be moved by God, rather than moving on your own.
How do you eat? Mindlessly or quickly? What do you eat – does it matter? Consider sitting down, regardless of what you eat. Look at your food, recognize that God has created a beautiful design of digestion and elimination. When we eat intentionally – chewing food well, really tasting it, pausing between bites, enjoying conversation over a meal, stopping our activity to eat – we actually enable our bodies to benefit more from the nourishment than when we eat in a state of consumption on the go. In addition to the physical nourishment that occurs when we eat in a way that reflects an attitude of gratitude for the food as well , soul nourishment can happen as we trust that our work tasks can benefit from a rhythm of effort/rest, and the time spent stopping work with other people nourishes our hearts. This may not be realistic everyday and in every work place, but applying even these ideas in small ways is life giving.
How about, “walking around life”? Let’s be specific today and consider “running errands’? You know those days where your list is long, and everything that could go wrong usually does?! What if you start the list with a prayer to emphasize valuing strangers more than efficiency? Look people in the eye, smile or offer a hand to hold the door open. Look for opportunities to “pay it forward” or simply bless someone with a random act of kindness. The change this makes in their day could result in a ripple effect influence to the people in their lives. Not to mention the change it makes in your heart!
This is meant as an invitation to bring life to you, not another “to-do” thing to try to do perfectly!! Enjoy it and let it be an opportunity for joy.