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Category Archives: Adventure

A personal look back across the past year.

At Frazer the volunteer year runs from February to January so I often think of my year beginning once the last production crew from the previous year has finished up. I don’t like to spend too much time blogging about me and my personal life, but I had a really awesome year in 2011 and I want to take one last look at it before I close its book.

In 2011 I had some really awesome opportunities. God moved me closer to Him and He introduced me to some great new friends, some powerful truths and He greatly enlarged my territory. I challenge you to read it and seek similar experiences in your own life that you would be blessed, be challenged and be encouraged to grow.

 

  • At the start of 2011 I started a new Life Group. It was one of the richest experiences I’ve had in my spiritual walk since moving to Montgomery. As a part of that I met Kyle Reschke, who has become one of my best friends over the past year. He would later go on to become Frazer’s missionary on the ground in Haiti. The group read through the books of 1st Timothy and Philippians together and we read the book ‘Wild at Heart.’ We also went Kayaking, Watched Movies together and we played several games of Settlers of Catan (best game ever)

 

  • Probably the single biggest thing that happened to me in 2011 was the opportunity to go to Haiti three times. Frazer started an initiative to help move a community of Haitians who are deaf out of Port Au Prince and into a community where they can become self sufficient. While I hope that my presence in the project has contributed to the lives of the Haitian Deaf Community, It has definitely been a challenging and enriching experience for me. I’ve gotten to know Mackenson Saint Louis, who is the leader of the Community. He’s my age and yet this whole community of over 150 families looks to him for guidance. I’ve been learning ASL ever since, to try to expand my discussion with him and the other members of the Haitian deaf community.

 

  • I went to Catalyst again and this time had the pleasure of bringing several friends along. Catalyst is always an encouraging time for me, but I especially enjoy getting  the opportunity to bring other people and have them experience the same bold teaching that spurs me on every year. One of the biggest blessings that came during that week was that I won an iPad in a drawing! I can tell you that I’ve used it numerous times in my ministry here and I would have never had it otherwise.

 

  • I grew closer to God, to my family and to my friends. This may sound generic and cliché but I can honestly say that this wasn’t as true in 2010. The year before I was largely stagnant in my faith and at different times I had moments where I felt both far from my friends and far from my family. In 2011 I was blessed to not only gain new friends and family (in the case of my new niece) but also to grow in my friendship with all my friends and family.

 

  • One of the greatest blessings of the past four years of my life has been to be the class sponsor of Asbury University’s Fearless class of 2011. Asbury has a long-standing tradition of electing two Juniors to sponsor the following years freshman. Sponsors pick the class’s name, colors, logo and advisors. We also act as the big brother and sister to the entire class. I got the smallest taste of parenthood as I watched the class of 2011 graduate. It’s always a gift to visit Asbury, but this time was especially meaningful. I finally had some understanding of what my parents mean when they say ‘We’re proud of you.’ I said that to the fearless class a lot; it wasn’t that I was proud of what they had accomplished as much as I was simply proud of who they had chosen to become.

 

  • This summer I returned to something that I loved doing when I was a kid. I’ve been writing fiction. I wrote my first fiction book sometime long about 3rd grade. It was terrible. I kept writing until one day I just decided to give up. I remember hearing about an author who wrote her books by taking notes over a series of years. When I was in high school I started taking notes about characters and plot ideas. I’d occasionally return to that through college, but hasn’t been until this year that I actually started writing the resulting book. I don’t know that it would ever be published, but it has been a really great hobby for me.

 

  • Finally this past fall I decided to do something that is totally outside of my comfort zone and I began working with a mixed martial arts trainer, learning Brazilian Jiu Jutsu alongside other techniques. At this point in the conversation I usually have to say, “Really – I’m not joking.” I’m not ‘training to be a cage fighter’ but it has been a fun new thing to learn and a really entertaining way to get in shape. My closest friends are probably tired of hearing me talk about it.

 

I just want to encourage you to take on things that are going to challenge you and encourage you. Take time to cultivate rich friendships with people who will pray you through things. Take a retreat and get to know God, better yet, to know His plan for you. Do things that are good for you. Waste less time with empty entertainment. Like John Wesley Said

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Haiti Help Portrait Trip Day 2


I have to start this entry by saying thanks to everyone who has been writing us on Facebook, twitter and otherwise. We really appreciate your prayers and your kind words.

Today was another incredible day here in Haiti. Before breakfast was served we got talking about a particular youtube video then we had to pause and let everyone watch it. You may have seen the “Teasing the Dog” video – it got us all laughing. I mention this because it turned into a major joke throughout at the day and if you want to get a feel for the jovial attitude that this team has you’ll want to watch it. After breakfast we met and had a devotional where we talked about the day. We had a great prayer time. Kyle said that Josh made his journal today when he prayed for a Hope that is ignorant of the odds against us here in our endeavors with the deaf culture. Between a full night’s rest, a good breakfast, some fervent prayer and a hearty laugh we all felt really energized for the day.

 

We started off the day with a long ride to Leveque just outside of Cabaret, which is close to Chicago, oddly enough – that’s a musical theater joke – Okay, it wasn’t close to Chicago, but it did take us about as long to drive there. It was interesting to see rural Haiti after spending a day in Port Au Prince. The n

 

eighborhoods are generally safer and this area has lots fertile land and several good schools that the children in the community could attend. Mission of Hope has already built a considerable number of homes in this area already. The people living in this area all have space for gardens and we met a few of the residents as we came to tour around.

photo by Lori Mercer

Photo by Lori Mercer

We hiked around the property and saw where the deaf community will move – with the ocean just to the west and mountains to the east and plenty of room for gardening it’s a prime place for this relocation. We also saw the place for the new church that Frazer will be helping develop. I took the opportunity to take several video segments with Kyle explaining about where everything would be located. There will be basketball courts and a soccer field in addition to a new guest house for our future mission teams. I hope to have the video edited quickly and on the missions blog and transformation blog soon.

Photo by Billy Pope

Billy Pope, a photographer with 15 years experience said that this has been the most fun that he’s had shooting photos. The spirit ofratitude is palpable as its mutual between the deaf community and our team as we all feel so blessed to be here, participating in such a fun act of service. The single most common sign we see everyday is ‘thank you.’ Every time we show them their photo they say thank you and we thank them for letting us take it. The proud mothers with their children all lined up, the young couples as well as the elderly all lined up – each eager to get their picture taken and so loving and thankful while we’re just as thankful for the opportunity.

There were a number of children who were very fascinated with my beard. They all would run up to me andclimb up on me and start tugging at my chin. At one point I was carrying four children around. They’re all so loving and eager for attention. Many of the teenagers were also around at this point and I started talking with them teaching them different english words. Kyle was working hard to get all the kids young and old to start calling me “Grizzly Beard” this was too difficult for the Haitian children, to say fortunately so he settled for calling me “Papa Bear.” At one point they were all surrounding me chanting “Papa Bear! Papa Bear!”

One of the coolest people that we’ve gotten know over the past few days is thewoman that Kyle calls his ‘Haitian Mom’ I wish all of you could hear her voice – in spite of being deaf, she’s quite vocal and she has the most infectious laugh. She treats the kids like she’s all of their grandmother -shooing them away when they’re misbehaving and giggling when they’re being silly.

Perhaps the coolest indicator of how close we’ve become is that some of us have scored name-signs with the community. Yesterday the several leaders argued over what mine should be – they finally settled on a ‘W’ over the stomach (a loving comment on my weight.) Diane also got one – a ‘D’ on the cheek. I spent some time trying to pick up new signs today while the photographers shot. Again, the eagerness and thankfulness of the people in the community is just astounding.

Here are a few photos from today from Billy

And here are a few from Lori

And a few from Nick

My personal favorite moment of the day was probably toward the end of the day when a little boy came into the doorway of the leader’s hut. I had been sitting with the sign language dictionary trying to learn new signs. I signed to him “Christ Loves You” and he smiled and said back in sign language “Thank you.”

And so I end saying to all of you – Christ loves you and thank you for your continued prayers. Tomorrow is our last full day so please pray that it will be all that it can be. So far the trip has been amazing.

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Haiti Help Portrait Trip Day 3

Bonswa everyone. Our last day has been a truly great one here in Port Au Prince. Our day started with a devotional out of My Utmost for His Highest from a couple of days ago.

We also spent some time discussing the current political climate in Haiti. The new president has recently declared that he wants to rebuild Haiti’s national army. This may not sound like a bad thing until you find out that it was the Army that was the cause of much of the political instability in Haiti until the 1990′s. Apparently one dictator would seize power then a few months later his general would move the army in, kill him and take his place, only to have his new general move in a few months later. This President is expected to order the UN peacekeeping forces to leave so that he can replace them with an Army, creating Jobs for Haitians. The problem with this is that the government can’t afford to build a force equivalent to that 13,000 UN troops that currently keep the peace here. Many Haitians don’t like the UN. At best they don’t think they do much; at worst they don’t think they should be here at all. So to say the least, Haiti’s situation needs prayer.

 After breakfast we took a photo of the team and headed out for the day. Our first stop was a place at which the other teams who have come here have stopped, Rebuild Globally. This is a cool organization that uses materials readily available – old tires and trashed clothes – to make flip flops, jewelry and bags. It’s great because not only are they recycling materials, they’re also employing haitians at very good wages. We talked to them about ways the deaf community and Frazer can get involved with what their doing. We discussed the possibility of opening a Rebuild Globally branch near their new homes and the managers were enthusiastic. I hope we can get involved in helping them finding places to sell their goods here in the states. You can visit their website for more info.

Photo by Billy Pope

After stopping by a gas station to grab some water and snacks, we headed on to spend the rest of the day with the deaf community. My sign language had gotten good enough to make some conversation finally. As we finished out the photos we had come to find out that there was one couple that had recently had a baby and that she wasn’t ready to leave her house, so Billy, Josh and I headed over to their house and we caught a photo of them. It was one of the most precious photos that the team took.

We took time to interact with the community more. At one point I started dancing to some music with the kids and Josh told me that one of the community members signed “The fat guy can dance.” This is beginning to be a theme; maybe its time to lose some weight. I got into a conversation in the leaders hut about the percussionist Evelyn Glennie who is deaf. They talked about how she could feel the vibrations. After a few moments I started stoping out a rhythm on the floor and suddenly they all started stomping and tapping around the room. It was so much fun. I got into a tap-dancing competition with one of the guys. It was a blast.

Photo by Lori Mercer

We all told the community members that Jesus loves them and I was surprised at how shocked some of them were to hear this from us. The leadership council of the community took a photo together as well as Mackenson, the leader of the group. It was really cool to see the leadership take charge of organizing the group – settling disputes and making decisions. I learned the sign for ‘wise’ just so I could tell Mackenson how impressed I was with his decision making skills.

We finished with Nick and Billy walking around getting photos of a few of the children for future sponsorship profiles. Soon we’ll be offering people the opportunity to pay for a child’s schooling here in Haiti and they’ll be going to one of the top schools in the country- all very exciting. We were pretty tired at the end of the day. I don’t know that I have a reason for posting this picture other than the fact that it’s may favorite picture of Billy and Nick from this week. I think it looks like a buddy comedy movie poster.

If you can come up with a caption for this photo let me know – I can’t figure one out that is worthy of the awesomeness of this picture. In addition to this one (one of the only photos that I shot) Billy, Nick and Lori worked hard for us to total our three days to over 120 portraits between three days of shooting. But now the real work begins. They’ll have to edit through hundreds of different photos, picking out each household’s photos. We’ve been talking about having a special photo exhibition to raise the money to pay for the prints and possibly raise funds for future Haiti trips or Help Portrait events. Let me know if that sounds interesting to you and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

Click the thumbnail to see the full photo.Here are Nick’s

Billy’s

Lori’s

Over all this trip has been amazing and we’re already talking about our next Help Portrait event and many of us are excited to get back to Haiti again soon. I’ve got some sign language to work on – as many of the deaf people told me. (And apparently some weight to lose) But I’ve never had this much fun on a mission trip. I really feel that we conveyed the love of Christ to these people, even just in taking these photos and talking with them. I felt so fortunate to have been a part of this trip. At the end of the day I asked Mackenson what he would like to say to Frazer on video and the thrust of it was that this team was helpful and he’s glad that Frazer is involved with the community.

We head for the airport first thing tomorrow, so pray for safe travels! We’re excited to get these photos printed and framed! Thanks for everyone who has been reading. If you read this I’m telling you that you should come to Haiti. Whatever obstacle is in your way God is bigger. Learn some sign language, get here and love on these people.

Tompy, the Haitian 410 Bridge National Coordinator was extremely helpful throughout our trip.

 

To God be the glory.

Further reading:

Nick’s Blog, Lori’s Blog and Billy’s Blog are all awesome as well.

-You can always visit Frazer’s Mission Blog and Transformation Blog to read about the progress of this and other projects.

-To get closest to the action visit kyleinhaiti.com to hear from Kyle Reschke, a good friend of mine, and Frazer’s missionary in the field in the deaf community.

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Haiti Help Portrait Trip Day 1

butch said we had to be up at 4:00 in the morning, my response was “No, silly 4:00 is in the afternoon!” Photo by Lori Mercer

Mr. T escorting us by motorcycle to the New Life Children’s home Photo by Lori Mercer

I write to you at the end of a very long day. We started today at 3:00am (for us) and flew out of Ft. Lauderdale. We got to the airport really early but took some time to review our sign language and Creole. The flight was good. We arrived around 10am and made our way to the New Life Children’s home where most of Frazer’s teams stay on our trips here. The compound includes a guest house, church, garden and orphanage. It’s walled and there’s an armed guard at the gate. There is no better place for mission teams to stay at Port Au Prince.

Kyle met us in the airport and we were escorted from there by our Haitian police friend who is lovingly referred to as “Mr.T.” Once we got to New Life we sat down and Kyle told us a little about how things were going to go. He told us that the leadership of the deaf community volunteered to organize the people in the community to be ready to have the photos taken.

When we arrived at the community we were quickly mobbed by all of the children who absolutely love Kyle. As soon as the car from 410 drove up children came running out of the huts to meet him. Many people are surprised to find out that even though the adults in the community are deaf, most of the children are hearing. It’s very common for this to happen, but especially in Haiti where much of the deafness comes as the result of illness rather than condition from birth. The children in the community love to sing. Kyle plays guitar for them and goes through the few praise songs that he knows – often translating them into Creole. One of the coolest moments of the day was hearing all these Haitian children singing at the top of their lungs ‘Wi Jezi, wi Jezi, wi Jezi…’ – the chorus from ‘Trading my Sorrows.”

We got to hear from several members of the leadership council most of whom are very young and all seem like very smart, determined people. Mackenson St.Louise is one of the leaders and he is determined that the community learn English as well as French, Creole and Proper American Sign Language. In an effort to help in their endeavors we delivered to them several books that help teach proper sign language. They wasted no time as soon as we were done they they all took one of the books and set down to read them. It was awesome to watch them as they devoured the books – each of them was trying out the signs depicted in the books and then showing the others.

Josh Brewer, our wonderful translator was there to translate several amazing stories as the leadership council each shared where they were during the earth quake and how they came to the deaf community. You can hear more about Mackinson’s awesome story on kyle’s blog.

Photo by Lori Mercer

The team and the members of the deaf community were fast friends as they were all telling us stories and asking us questions. Many of them sat with us as we all hand-spelled our names and made what conversation we could. It was an enormous blessing. We took a tour of the community were we saw that a number of the people there have already started their own micro enterprise – artisans hocking their wares, other people selling other kinds of goods – there’s even a local pub.

Let the Photos Begin

Photo by Lori Mercer

Finally we started taking photos. God really provided for us in a cool way when it came time for us to decide where we were going to shoot. Since the first meeting we had been wondering were we were going to stage the photos, originally thinking that we’d try taking them totally outside in front of the T-houses you see in the above picture. But when we got there we found out that just in the past few weeks a new tent had been donated by UMCOR (woot! woot! UMC represent!). The tent was the perfect size and opacity; It provided a great back drop with a neutral white and wonderful diffused light that allowed the photographers to set up a single flash and take pictures that look exactly as if they’d been taken in in a studio.

It didn’t take long for word to get around the camp and soon Billy, Lori and Nick had their hands full with families wanting their photos taken together. Diane was busy taking names so that we were sure to match up the photos with the correct households when we return with the framed photos in December. I acted as a light stand for much of the afternoon. Butch was doing crowd control and Josh was in the middle the whole time, making sure that everyone was understood. I wish I could tell you how amazing it was to take photos of these people and show it to them. Though none of them speak english – and many of them don’t speak at all – we could all see the joy in their faces as they each saw a photo of themselves. All of them were very thankful. It was funny to see the number of things that are universal – the awe of an elderly couple looking into each others’ eyes in one photo, teenagers refusing to smile in a family picture and the fact the everyone feels joy knowing that they’re worth photographing.

Here are a few of the photos from today – all three photographers contributed a great deal today. These three photos were taken by Billy Pope. You can see the larger image by clicking on them. Keep in mind these were all taken in the same tent in the deaf community.

for more photos by Nick, you can visit his blog 

End of the day

Tonight we had the blessing of joining the children at the New Life Center for their evening devotional. Though the whole thing was in creole, I was still struck by the sincerity of their faith and the universality of our God. As the team leader I was asked to stand up and tell the kids who we were so I explained through a translator what we were doing and introduced the team. After the devotional each one of the children approached each one of us to wish us ‘good night’ or ‘god bless’ in english. It was a really cool experience.

over all it was a really good day – we’re all excited to get back out there tomorrow, but the whole team is really tired. Even as I finish writing this a little after 9, I’m the last one awake. Thanks for your continued prayers – we’ve been feeling them! God is doing a great work here!

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My Help Portrait Trip to Haiti Day 0

The Team: Billy Pope – photographer, Josh Brewer – interpreter, Lori Mercer – photographer, Diane Klaaren – Assistant, Myself, Butch McPherson – director of missions, Nick Drollette – Photographer

As some of you know Frazer, my church and place of employment is currently partnered with 410 Bridge to help house, educate and disciple the deaf community of Haiti. We’re also now working with Mission of Hope which miraculously helped us find land free of charge for the deaf community in exchange for our partnership with them to provide spiritual development for an entire community of Haitians, both Deaf and hearing. You might be interested in reading the posts from my first trip to Haiti to hear were we were back in april, and then check out this video to hear the most recent update from Kyle Reschke, our missionary on the ground.

This is my second trip to Haiti and my first Help Portrait event – What is Help portrait you ask? Well you can visit their website for more detailed information or you can simply check out this graphic:

And this is what we’re going to do for the Haitian Deaf community. Frazer’s November mission team to Haiti will arrive in Port Au Prince tomorrow morning. We’ve got three pro photographers and myself (an enthusiastic hobbyist) as well as a couple of people to assist and an interpreter for the deaf. We’re going to take high quality portraits of each family in the community and return in december to give them their photos, matted and framed as a christmas gift from Frazer. It’ll be the first picture they’ll have to hang in their new homes. Many of these people have had photographs taken of them, but they’ve never had a portrait of their family that they could keep. For some of them it may be the first photo of themselves they ever owned. But more than the photos we just want to love of the deaf community. Relationship building is always the number one goal of these trips and we’re hoping that through those relationships we’ll see more and more people in Haiti – deaf and hearing – come to know Christ.

Today we traveled to florida and took a few moments to get to know each other and talk about how we’re going to be working as a team over the next few days. It’s a tall order to get high-quality portraits for over 150 families over the next three days, but I believe this group is up to the challenge. So far our team has really enjoyed hanging out – just check out their Facebook pages for some of the fun pictures from today’s day of travel.

We’re all very excited about tomorrow and the team is very appreciative of the support we’ve been shown on Facebook today – lots of people are praying for us and that is a huge encouragement. We’re hoping that more than giving them great portraits that we’ll get a good opportunity to relate to the community. You can be praying for us in several ways: That the language barrier isn’t a barrier, that we’re able to use our time there wisely and that the weather holds out so that we can get portraits of the whole community.

Further reading:

-You might be interested in reading the posts from my first trip to Haiti

-You can always visit Frazer’s Mission Blog and Transformation Blog to read about the progress of this and other projects.

-To get closest to the action visit kyleinhaiti.com to hear from Kyle Reschke, a good friend of mine, and Frazer’s missionary in the field in the deaf community.

Thanks for your prayers and if the internet connection cooperates I hope to be writing you tomorrow evening as well.

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Catalyst 2011

Catalyst is always a major inspiration to me – in fact last year’s Catalyst was the inspiration for me starting this blog. Every year that I go to this, my favorite Christian leadership conference – I’m challenged, encouraged, refreshed and very much inspired.

So this year, like last year I thought I’d tell you about some of my favorite moments of this past year. In no order whatsoever, here are a few of my favorite moments from this year’s Catalyst Atlanta event.

– The first few moments of the conference were filled with crowd participation – my personal favorite of which was the LED lights that we were all given that everyone was wearing like rings. It was really cool to see 13,000 twinkling lights all around the arena as people participated in worship by lighting their LEDs and raising their hands in the air.

– Katie Davis, a 22 year old young woman who, after high school left for Uganda and now has adopted 13 Ugandan children. She’s released a book Kisses from Katie that was on sale at Catalyst. Her genuine, enthusiastic faith was plain for all to see and very inspiring.

– Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS and one of the people who inspire me about whom I did an entry a few months back. I bought his new book Start Something that Matters. Need I say more?

– Tripp and Tyler had numerous funny videos that I hope to post here later. There was ‘God Bods’ a christian aerobics video a video uncovering the secret of how Andy Stanley gets so much done (he has a twin named RAndy) – but my favorite was probably a parody video called “TIMS” displaying the TOMS one for one model applied to smoothie machines – for every $600 smoothie machine you buy TIMS will give one to a child in need… it was pretty hilarious.

– Juda Smith asking the question “Since when is Jesus not enough?” – he preached great sermon – he’s a young pastor of a church called ‘The City Church” which, btw, has hands down the coolest website of any church I’ve seen. (I heart minimalism)

– The “Present Tents” area, which was a single tent in the corner of the Arena and at the beginning of the conference two pseudo-randomly selected guys were given the opportunity to have free Catalyst tickets for life as long as they stayed present in the area directly surrounding the tent for the whole two days. It had food, sleeping bags and even a toilet for them – they got the tickets.

– Jeff Foxworthy coming out to talk about his involvement with a ministry in Atlanta that caters to people who are substance addicted.

-David Kinnaman coming by to talk about the latest research on young adults and their thoughts on the church – more details in his books Unchristian and You Lost Me copies of which were available at the conference – the research sounds like it might be helpful to anyone trying to reach 18-35 year olds – so, hopefully – anyone in the church.

– A representative from 58 – a movement that is working towards the eradication of extreme poverty globally; a goal they seem to be making significant progress in. They shared a fact that was quite surprising: In 1981 global extreme poverty was at 52% – over half of the world wasn’t able to afford their basic needs. Today that number is 26% – half of what it was 20 years ago; if our generation keeps pace then it is possible for us to eliminate extreme poverty globally. For more information on 58 visit their website.

– Getting to see people from my church who are involved in a powerful ministry, Inner City Evangelism –  as they too were inspired by Catalyst the same way I am every year. It was a huge blessing to be able to share this event with them.

– Well I debated mentioning this, but it was such a huge blessing that I don’t know how I could not say something about it. Every year at catalyst the vendors have give-aways to promote their products – Books, discipleship resources, services to churches and families, etc.- This year, like the year before, many of them were giving out iPads and also like last year I entered several of those drawings. I didn’t expect to win anything which is why I was shocked when Zondervan contacted me via email to ask if I would come to their booth to claim my shiny new iPad 2! I was so shocked I couldn’t believe it. I thanked God for trusting me with this blessing and I only hope that I can use it for whatever creative projects He has in mind for me over the coming year. Such a huge surprise and a wonderful blessing!

This list just scratches the surface – there are many more wonder tales to tell of Catalyst 2011 – but alas, they will have to wait for now. I hope all of you consider taking the time to attend a Catalyst event – I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that they are life-changing. If I see you around maybe we can talk more about all the moments I was challenged, made to laugh, awed and inspired at this year’s Catalyst.

Haiti Trip: Day 3

Today  marked the last full day here in Haiti, it started very early as Patrick, Butch, Michael and myself went out to take a look at one of the places were looking to possibly relocate the Deaf community. The land looks like a really good option, though nothing is certain yet.

 

The trip out and back to the land was a short drive, but a long trip because of Haiti’s traffic and poor roads – this is the single biggest challenge to anyone patience, though our team has never showed a sign of frustration toward it. I got to sit and talk with a young man named James. James is going to college and majoring in computer science. He speaks English really well and taught me several Creole words including the word for sweet, which is pronounced something like “doose” which is also used the same way it is in the States – to express that something is especially cool. Kyle Reschke and I have adopted the word for expressing our approval at something.

When we reunited with the rest of the group at the deaf camp we were excited to find that they’d made a great deal of progress on the Census. As soon as we got there Tara interpreted for a young man who wants to be a preacher. He said he reads the Bible but he doesn’t understand it all and he wants to be educated – it was a powerful testimony.

 

Anne Louise and Kaylee were hard at work in the deaf camp painting the faces of the children. The kids in the camp are so cute and they’ll walk up to anyone and just hold their hand or beckon you to pick them up. Several of the kids were ver fascinated by my equipment. Something that was funny to me was that even the youngest of them wanted to see every picture I took of them on the back of my camera. It reminded me of my nieces and nephews who did the same before they could form sentences.

The kids are so affectionate and trusting, its hard to leave them, but with the census completed and a thorough ‘orvwa’ said to all we climbed back onto our bus and left the deaf camp. As we were leaving a deaf man came up to the side of the bus and signed to robin. “I need a Laptop, a TV, anything. I’m married. I’m bored.” We couldn’t help but be a little entertained from the young man laying it out there. This did eventually turn into a real discussion of ways we could encourage community building and even entertainment within the deaf community.

 

In the afternoon we visited a church where we discovered they have a considerable ministry to the deaf already in place. This Baptist church would be considered a small to medium building in the road in the States, but here its one of the larger churches in the area. Walking into the church there was a sense of calm. Butch commented “It feels like Frazer.” We sat in their sanctuary and met their pastors then we went out into their courtyard and played basketball with some of the teenagers at the church. We met a few deaf folks that don’t live in the camp. Its exciting to meet future partners in ministry here.

Last night we enjoyed dinner here at the children’s home one last time and sat down with our team plus Margret and Tara and debriefed. It was clear that everyone was excited about the possibilities moving forward; moving the community, building them homes, getting them clean water, educating them, building them as a community, giving them fun things to do and building  them a church.

There is much more a could tell you, but I have to get packed. I’ll see many of you soon. Thanks for the prayers!

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Haiti Trip: Day 2

Bonswa everyone! It has been a busy day here. It started with breakfast at the guest house. There was delicious mango that was (as with most of the food) grown right here on the compound. After thinking the kitchen staff, we drove to the deaf camp to take a census of the residents.

In order to take the census more quickly we split into two teams, each had one person who could interpret for the deaf and one person who could interpret for Creole. The Deaf camp has made considerable improvement over the last time we sent a team. They now have what are called “T-houses” – T for temporary. The houses are made of plywood and have tin roofs but have no bathrooms or water of any kind. They do have porches which is where they spend most of their free time.

 

The Census was mainly to find out if the community was interested in relocating and overwhelmingly they responded in the positive. During this time I walked around with my HVX200 video camera and a D90 still camera. I was surprised that everyone who saw me smiled – many beckoned me over to take their picture. I was shocked by how interested they were in being photographed. This reminded me of of some interesting charities I heard about at Catalyst last year that take photos of people in marginalized communities so that those people can have a photo of themselves and their family. So I’m contemplating a photography mission trip in the near future.

While the situation was much better than it was last time (largely thanks to the IFRC who built the T-houses) it is far from what most americans would consider livable. They have to walk to another part of the camp to take a shower, they have to walk even further to use the toilet. Parts of the camp have very tall grass still, which means misquotes and malaria.

 

Robin Pass, who was worried at first that she would have trouble communicating with the deaf, served as one of our interpreters. She was surprised to find out that the deaf here in Haiti are very similar to those in Alabama. Possibly the biggest difference is that when they sign they are mouthing Creole. Robin and Tara speak english while they sign. Both Tara and Robin say that the Haitians do sign with a Creole “accent” while Robin signs with a southern “accent” and Tara signs with a New York “accent.” It made me wonder if there are any deaf people who do impersonations of each other.

In the afternoon we took a drive around down town Port Au Prince.

If you have heard that Haiti has not progressed since the earth quake and didn’t believe it, here is photo proof. What you see here was actually a government building that housed several government agencies. It still lies in total ruin. As we drove past the first time I couldn’t process what I was seeing fast enough to take a picture – this was from the second time we passed it. We also visited St. V
incent’s, a school for the handicapped that had to be relocated after the earthquake. They teach deaf, blind and otherwise handicapped children. Robin signed with some teenagers there and remarked on how much they were like American teens; they were coy with their signing at first, blocking her view – (whispering, if you will) but they eventually warmed up to us. When we asked about school they all said they were done with school for the day and they didn’t want to talk about school

things. We took a picture of our entire team including Tara, Ronald and Margaret from 410 Bridge and several of the kids at St. Vincent’s.

The young man in the wheel chair told Robin that his parents abandoned him because he was deaf and lame and therefore ‘useless.’ Robin wouldn’t let him go until he finally said “I now understand that I am important.” He and all the kids at the school really enjoyed having their pictures taken.

We continued through Port Au Prince where we continued to see more devastation.


These piles of rubble are everywhere throughout the city – combined with trash and (sorry if this is too graphic) even human waste. Perhaps the greatest indicator of the condition of the country was what they call the palace. This is their White House and in the wake of the disaster it looks like a strong wind could blow it over.

Could you imagine our white house looking like this? The dome is cracked and fallen forward. It looks like a scene from the movie Independence Day after the aliens have attacked. Could you imagine living in a country that couldn’t organize enough to repair it’s president’s house?

When we finally got back and had dinner we met with a woman named Georgia who is part German part Haitian. She works with the deaf community. This was very helpful in learning about all the players in the situation.

  1. “Friends of Deaf Haiti” – an organization that got the community to the location its in today and with the help of a french diplomat and an American. These people advise the community and are trusted as the leaders. 410 bridge is working on building their and our relationship with them
  2. 410 Bridge – the mission organization with which we’ve partnered. Most well known for their work in Africa, they specialize in building self-suffecient communities based off of micro-enterprising.
  3. Frazer – Us, the church that wants to preach the gospel, educate and build church for the people in the deaf community as well as answer any medical needs they have and assist in their becoming independent.
  4. The IFRC – International Federation of the Red Cross (not the same as the American Red Cross) this group oversees the land that the camp is on – they want to move in blind and paraplegic Haitians.
  5. Other smaller players – We’ve run into a few other smaller groups that also want to get involved in way way or another – not all of them are looking to collaborate in their efforts.

So the short version is – we need prayer to be sure that all entities can come together to help this community as best we can.

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Haiti Trip: Day 1

As some of you know, I have the honor of accompanying a few folks from Frazer on a Mission cultivation trip in Port Au Prince, Haiti. While our church has taken many trips to Haiti for different purposes, this is the second in a series toward a long-term goal of growing and developing relationships with a deaf community here (here because I’m in La Plaine as I type this.) We’re hoping to help them over the next several years, build housing, develop education and most of all show and tell them about the love of Jesus Christ.

Already the trip has been quite amazing – after a long journey that started at 3 am we arrived in Haiti this afternoon and made contact with Tara, a young woman here who is working with the deaf community. Tara introduced us to Ronald and Tompi who are both Haitian men that are also employed by 410 bridge. The team that came late last year for the vision trip had met Ronald at that time. He speaks english well and all three of the 410 staff here are obviously passionate about their work here.

We were escorted by a policeman to a children’s home that has a very impressive walled compound here. We’re staying in the guest house – we had a great meal here – most of the food was grown right here on the compound, its the only way to be sure its clean enough to eat fresh.

 

John Paul’s Story

After dinner here we were introduced to Pastor John Paul. Now, I’m going to try to tell his story in brief because its amazing, I might not have all the details exactly right. John Paul was born in Haiti. When he was young he went to a revival where a missionary called him down and said he wanted to pay for him to go to the US and be educated, go to seminary and return to Haiti to preach. He agreed because he wanted to go to the US.

The man was true to his word and got John Paul to live with a family in the states where he finished high school and went to seminary. The missionary showed up at his graduation and John Paul didn’t even know who he was, the man gave him $1000 and told him to go back to Haiti and preach the word. John Paul thanked him and stayed in the states. He got an electrical engineering degree. He got married He got a job. He had kids. He lost a job and got a better one. All the while he had a dream in which he said he saw ‘a man’ who said to him “When are you going to go back to Haiti?” All the while he was getting wealthier and more comfortable. One day when he was taking his kids on a vacation in a brand new car when the car lost control – perfectly good weather, first time driving the brand new car and he lost control of it – he nearly drove it off of a bridge when it suddenly stopped.

That night he had the dream again and this time the man said “I could’ve killed you today. Go to Haiti or I will kill you and send someone else.” He was awakened by his wife who said she had a dream in which a man told her that He would’ve killed them because her husband hadn’t come back to Haiti. This was particularly miraculous because in all their time together he’d refused to tell her how he got to the US or anything about his life in Haiti. She asked him “What kind of deal have you made?” and he told her. They agreed he needed to go to Haiti. He came back here eight years ago.

This is all the short version, believe it or not, but today he has a children’s home with 60+ kids and a church with 2,000 members. He told several miraculous stories, but possibly the most amazing was about the day of the earthquake here. He had a meeting with his staff that day because he was tired of the Kids getting dinner late because it wasn’t ready. He told them if they didn’t eat earlier that day that he would fire them all. He even stopped through halfway through the day and reminded them. In the afternoon he felt unusually tired and so he went home early – so he wasn’t there to be sure that they got food on time.

When he got home the earthquake hit and by the time he got back to the shelter he saw that everything was flattened, including the place where they ate their meals. He began to cry and shout, looking for everyone when someone came and found him. “Pastor!” he said “They are all alright… The food was’t ready!” As it turns out the staff had worked hard to get the kids there on time and they weren’t ready. All of the children and his staff survived.

The earthquake’s effects are unimaginable; tent cities as far as the eye can see in some parts of the city. John Paul’s congregation lost over 200 people to the Earthquake, so much prayer is still needed – Imagine one pastor having to comfort 200 grieving families.

There is much more

It is clear there is much to be done here and I could write for hours just on today, but I hope that I’ll be able to get some good footage tomorrow and perhaps tell you more about it tomorrow night. Prayers are appreciated. To God be the glory!

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