dallas young adults in Haiti

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this is not the end

From Christy Chermak (it hardly seems fair to introduce myself so let’s just leave it at this- sinner saved by grace):

This was my third trip to this small island nation and 2nd to Mission of Hope. It has been remarkable to see the growth MOH has had since I was there just last year and the lives their ministry is touching. But even in the midst of seeing all that and clearly watching the good that God was doing, this was still a challenging trip.

More than in my other visits this one gave me the opportunity to speak more in depth with older men and women and the stories I heard where hard. A 16 year old orphan prostituting herself to make ends meet. A young mother trying to provide for an unwanted child from an uninterested father while the community ostracized her. A mother caring for her 20 year old son with cerebral palsy with no electricity or running water. Children with bloated bellies and orange hair. Prayers for jobs and for food. Thousands of orphans and even more uneducated children and adults. Men and women rejecting the gospel because they thought they had to be perfect before they could know Christ.

My heart especially broke for the women I met this week that were struggling to find their identities in something other than Christ. Women who knew of Him but didn’t know that their worth was in Him and nothing else. Women who believed their rape, poverty and debts to voodoo priests defined them, not the way in which their Maker lovingly looks at them.

And as the heaviness of some of the week started to sink in, I dared to cry out to God “what in the world are You doing?”.

This is not the end, He said.

His heart breaks for these things too. He sees the 16 year old prostitute, and He also sees my lost and hurting coworkers. He sees the single mother in Haiti just as much as He sees the single mother in America. He sees the orphans and unschooled in Haiti just as He sees the college student turning away from Him in the US. He is calling His children home and this is not the end.

Not the end for Haiti, not the end for our team, not the end for me. He wins in the end. We are fighting on the team of the predetermined victor. The battle may be long, it may feel impossible but it is not yet the end because in the end He wins.

In the end these women will know how much their God loves them. They will be held closely in His all providing arms. Their past will be washed clean.

For us this is not the end either. This week coming to a close does not mean we return, kick our feet up, and call it quits. We keep fighting the good fight, keep investing in the ongoing battle that has already been won for us. We see everyone as an opportunity to invest in that battle, even the gentleman checking our passport at customs.

He isn’t done. He is in the midst of something beautiful and I am blessed to watch it unfold in Haiti, at Mission of Hope, amongst my team, at my church, in my city, within my community group, at my workplace….in my own heart.

This is not the end.

The farkle leader board

Because I know you were wondering…

Night one brought an interesting turn of normal events when the gentlemen on the team decided to act upon a farkle of their own. The next morning all of MOH staff and other visiting teams were made privy to a confession from Michael that had been eating him up inside. Apparently in less than 12 hours he had managed to drink over 25 sodas without contributing to the honor system donation box. The other teams were not impressed as he asked for donations to cover his tab.

On the next day Kariss was a bit greedy and forgot her Texas table manners as she traveled around to different teams and took bites from the food on their plates. Apparently dessert was really good that night.

Day three I (Christy) was the unfortunate victim of a burn accident in the kitchen and had to get others to help feed me my breakfast as my hands were bandaged from the burn wounds. Go figure our team was too busy laughing at me to help so I was forced to depend on strangers. Brandon was willing however to shove impossibly large bites in my face while making airplane noises.

Day three also found Stephen feeling very friendly as he gave a stranger a 60 second bear hug…complete with a leg lift.

Later in the week Brad decided to offer his singing talents to one of the other team’s leaders as a gift for his birthday. Oddly enough though Brad only mouthed all the words to “Happy Birthday” and not a peep came out. His hand gestures were pretty moving though. As Heath observed, it looked like Brad was about to eat the poor man.

On Friday we had an unfortunate turn in the game when both farklers (whom shall remain unnamed) chickened out of their consequence which had to do with public admittance to suffrage from the Haitian Sensation (think: bathroom issues). Don’t worry though, they made it up by performing an air guitar and drum set in the airport. The performance brought in a whopping $1.80.

All proceeds will be sent to mission of hope.

God’s calling: louder than a Ugandan war cry

From Heath Herrington (porch leader, Dr. Quinn look a like, and scissor kick champion)

We are now leaving behind our one week journey we had in Haiti, and anxiously awaiting the next upcoming journeys back in Dallas, TX. Where will God place us next? Who will we meet upon our return? How will we use our many eye opening experiences within the jungles of Haiti to build Gods heavenly kingdom? God feels very near. More intimate than any relationship one might experience on Earth is the feeling a believer gets when he or she is living by the powers of the Holy Spirit. I love you Jesus. I love you Almighty Father. I pray that you would open the eyes of my heart in a way that allows me to see your glory. There is no better adventure out there than taking risks for the Lord Jesus Christ. Being bold for Him provides us with a confidence which cannot be replicated by mans own power and control.

I believe these Haitians taught us more than we taught them. Getting addicted to humility is so completely refreshing. When you can rip pride out the window and invite humility in, Gods glory abounds and is hard to not become attracted to it.
Our team is ready and motivated to return to Dallas forever changed, knowing that His hand is in our lives if we let Him take over the reigns. Will you speak to us Lord? We desire to be your faithful servants wherever we go whether Dallas, Haiti, Africa, or wherever you may call us. Please reveal yourself to us. We love you God. We need you to survive. Without You, we will die. We search for you as if searching for hidden treasure.

Thank you for the plan of which you’ve already put in place for us of which we do not know, that you know. We believe in your almighty comforting hand . Bless the children we administered to and be with all those we’ve planted seeds with for your glory Jesus. Amen.

I’ve seen God

From Kariss Lynch (who already got an intro so now I’ll just add that a week later she looks a bit more like a lobster):

Where to begin after a week of living with another people in another country? How to describe this experience to you at home?

Every day, we’ve explored villages, played with kids, shared the gospel, and grown closer as a team. And every day, we’ve seen the Lord work.

Where have I seen God?

I’ve seen him in my teammates picking up naked children and holding them close.

I’ve seen him in the woman meticulously caring for her tiny, one room house and trusting the Lord and our prayer to impact her 20-year-old son with cerebral palsy.

I’ve seen Him in the little girl who understands that to follow Jesus you must give him your heart and soul.

He’s been in the translators – future leaders for this country. They passionately share the gospel, and eagerly led us from house to house to share the good news.

He is in the young woman about my age who sings a hymn for us on her front porch in the most beautiful voice and then encourages us!

I’ve seen him in the strength and resourcefulness of these people as they make the best of what they have.

I’ve seen him in the woman at the well who tells us that we may have different skin, but we share the same blood.

I’ve seen him in the old woman who tells us she loves us and in the deaf Haitians who praise God with their hearts and their hands.

He’s here in the conversations with staff and interns and other teams at Mission of Hope. He’s in the smile of each baby in in the toddler room at the orphanage.

I’ve seen Him in the child who climbs in my lap, aching to be held and in the smile of 3-year-old Pierre who has a brain tumor but just keeps smiling.

He’s here in the heat and rain and wind. He’s here in the growth of this ministry and the decrease of voodoo influence in the surrounding villages.

He’s here every day, in the laughter and tears and shared stories of my team as we seek to love others with everything we have and every night as we gather and share what God has done.

He is the same God in Haiti as He is in America. He is moving in BIG ways. And we’ve seen Him in every moment of every day. I pray we continue to look for Him as we come home.

Praying for Transformation

From Vanessa Whittaker (Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center volunteer, squirt bottle fanatic, and one of the most nurturing hearts I’ve ever met)

Yesterday we met a 16 yr old girl named Amerouchelle at a well who opened up to us and shared her story with us. Her father left her family when she was 2 years old. When she was 14 her mom purchased some land for them to build a house for her and her sister. A man in the same village believed if her mother built a house she would be living better than him and he killed her mother. This left her and her sister alone. Since then she was been prostituting to get money to survive. Through this she now has a 1 year old and the father is not involved with her child. When we asked her about her faith she said she would accept Christ after she killed the man who killed her mother and the father of her son. She understood the gospel and forgiveness and still wasn’t budging on how she felt.

I decided to tell the woman of my story and the forgiveness I’ve had to work through with myself and with others in my past. It was a very emotional and intimate conversation with her as I realized that despite the extremely rough situation she was in, her heart and ours are not very different. I could tell she had a lot of pain and anger stored up that were preventing her from accepting how much God loved her and allowing that love to transform her….just as many of us do the same thing with our own hurts.

At the end of our conversation she still would not allow us to pray with her but a few of the other teammates had been praying the entire time behind us. Who knows how God will choose to use our time together to direct her towards Him; in this situation all I can do is pray on her behalf. My prayer for Amerouchelle is that the Lord softens her heart and that she comes to understand the forgiveness offered to us by what He’s done on the cross. I pray she is able to forgive those that have harmed her and accept Christ and His transforming love into her life!

Marie

From Laura Looney (patient and gentle spirit, expert little kid hand holder, and chicken salad enthusiast):

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I need to do a better job stewarding my blessings, furthering the kingdom of God through an externally focused ministry. On Sunday night, we were shown a video of Mission of Hope’s (“MOH”) history and vision. We also talked about child sponsorship. I immediately felt a stirring in my heart from the Lord that this is where He wanted me to invest. After the prayer ended, I walked straight to the back of the basketball court, and the first card I picked up was for Marie Helene Saintil. She is 17 years old and an 11th grader at MOH’s school.

Today (Thursday) I got to meet Marie face to face. When the translator introduced us, I was expecting a handshake at most (older Haitians aren’t big on physical touch). Instead, her face lit up and a huge smile formed on her face as she rushed towards me and gave me the biggest hug. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart filled with joy. We were able to sit and talk through a translator for about 20 minutes while I painted her nails.

To be honest, I had a bad attitude in my heart about five minutes before we met. I was boarding the bus for our last day of village ministry when I found out that I would be meeting Marie in 30 minutes and would not be able to go out with my team this morning. I was sad. God, are you being serious? What am I going to do for the next three hours by myself? This wasn’t my plan. Oh, but it was definitely God’s plan! He used this time to break my heart for sweet Marie. Not only that, but He provided time for me to reflect on this week and all of the good work He has done. I was also able to spend some good time in the MOH orphanage and love on the sweet babies there.

{God, you are so good. Your ways are so much better than mine, and your timing is perfect. I pray that you watch over and protect Marie. Give her endurance and focus to complete her education. Draw near to her, and I pray she draws ever nearer to you. Use her to make a difference in this nation that glorifies you. Remind her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that her identity is found in you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.}

We have seen God working in Haiti this week and are confident that His name will continue to be made famous throughout this beautiful country.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I have sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Jackson

From Stephen Morrow (expert cactus spotter, calm and confident evangelist, and professional team photographer):

Today we went to a small village called Mesaye to love on the Haitian people and share the Gospel with them. As we are walking through the banana fields, we come across a gentle old woman who stopped to talk to the group. We go through our normal “relationship building” talk, and learn a lot about the old woman. Come to find out, she has heard of Jesus and knows who God is, but refuses to accept the free gift of eternal life through our Savior Christ Jesus. We leave the conversation discouraged and concerned about the woman’s fate.

As soon as we walked off, we run into a young man walking toward us down the trail. He stops to talk to us and tells us his name is Jackson (or Jaqúe Sun in Haitian). He is a local banana farmer in Mesaye. After learning more about him, he tells us there is no local church in the village. In light of this, I ask Jackson if he has ever heard of Jesus. He says he knows who Jesus is, but doesn’t know anything about Him. I ask his permission to tell him the story of Jesus (aka “The Gospel”), and he enthusiastically says yes.

After walking through the good news of Jesus with him with our evangi-cube, he tells us that he is ready to accept Jesus and give his life to God. Our moods are immediately brightened as we see that he truly has a desire to know God and serve him. We pray for him and ask Jesus to come into his life and bless him and everyone he comes in contact with.

Praise be to our Father for showing us that although we get discouraged in our circumstances sometimes (like with the old woman), God has a plan for everything he puts in our path, even if that be to hold us up long enough so we can share the Gospel with the next person that enters our life.

Please pray for our new brother in Christ, Jackson, that the Lord would reveal Himself to him and work through him to make Haiti a better nation. Also pray for the old woman that refused to accept the free gift of everlasting life with our God, that He would open the eyes of her heart to the freedom that comes from sin when we have a relationship with Christ.

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