Monthly Archives: February 2012

Haiti Trip Day 1&2 (and -1&0)

Bonju everyone! It is a beautiful morning here in Port Au Prince at the New Life Children’s home. I’m taking a pause to write a little bit about the jounry thus far.

 

This team’s trip actually started on saturday with a drive to Ft. Lauderdale to deliver a Land Rover and Frazer’s eldest church van to the port to be shipped over here via – well, ship – arriving later on next month. I was not with them during that leg of the journey which is unfortunate because it was by far one of the most interesting pre-trip trips so far. The key to the land rover included (as many modern keys do) a chip to inform the car that it was not being stolen when the ignition is cranked. Unfortunately this part of the key fell apart halfway down to their destination. The assembly broke off along with two tiny parts of said chip. Between the engineering genius of Woody Parramore and the mechanical expertise of DC Cole, after 40 minutes – and the generous donation of tinfoil from a local Dunkin Donuts – they were able to get the car up and running again.

 

In addition they had trouble finding a hotel to stay for the night on saturday and when they finally found a place with a vacancy it was truly only a single vacancy so Keri Ward and Elizabeth Beaird slept in the room while the guys slept in the church Van. Because of the broken key they had to first visit a Land Rover dealership before they could call it a night on sunday. Finally they made their way to Haiti on Monday morning where they met up with Kyle and visited the old deal camp first thing in the morning. I joined them that afternoon.

 

I had a very different Monday morning. Like the others I awoke at Dark:30 in the morning only my drive was to Atlanta to drop off the car that we would be riding home in on saturday from the airport. The day of travel was pretty smooth and I was very happy to find that everything I was bringing to Kyle indeed arrived safely in Port Au prince. This included about 10 books, two packages of coffee, three packages of coffee creamer, two drink cozies from the tipping point, several smaller odds and ends and (dah,dah, dah-dah) a laser printer with extra toner. Yes ladies and gentlemen Kyle can now print. You don’t realize how big a deal it is to have something as simple as a decent printer down here until you don’t have one.

 

I was expecting to ride to new life with Naz, the orphanage’s hired chauffeur, but as I battled my way through the crowd of haitians begging to take my luggage I was met by Keri and Kyle who brought me over to a small pickup truck – our chariot for the week. Woody, DC and Elizabeth were  standing in the back ‘shouting’ my name sign as I approached. For those of you just joining our program my name sign, given to me by the deaf community in November is a ‘W’ signed over the stomach, I wish I could disagree with their assessment but every time I see a picture of myself I have to admit that it is my best feature ;-)

 

We rode back to New Life – the orphanage in whose guest house we’re staying this week and had dinner before discussing how tuesday would go.

 

Yesterday morning started with a devotional from Elizabeth – which naturally included scripture reminding us that ‘The deaf will hear and the blind will see.’ There is little doubt in the minds of those involved with this ministry that this scripture is being fulfilled right before our eyes. No, I’m not talking about deaf miraculously regaining their ability to hear. But without a doubt, this community of deaf people has heard the Gospel more clearly than many people with all five senses.

 

After breakfast here at New Life we hopped in the back of the truck for a ride out to the new community at Leveque. The ride takes about an hour total, but would take half that in the states. Traffic is terrible around Port Au Prince and the roads are worse, though half the Journey is made on one of the nicest roads in the country. The trunk we’re riding in isn’t exactly what we would consider a ‘full size’ in the states. Six people in the truck bed makes for a constant game of human Tetris as one person’s leg falls asleep and another person gets tired of standing. We get lots of interesting looks from the Haitians many of whom have no love of ‘Blanc’ or white people. But we arrived at the deaf community to cheers from our community members.

 

As we pulled up I was immediately greeted by several familiar faces who hugged me several times over. I was especially glad to see the community’s leader, Mackenson St. Louis. Right off the bat Kyle gathered up the interns from Mission of Hope who were facilitating another mission group from Minnesota. When we were all circled up Kyle prayed in sign language and Elizabeth interpreted while a Mission of Hope employee interpreted into Creole. Praying in three languages is always cool, but sign language is an especially beautiful language for prayer and praise. I have to mention to anyone who is reading – if you’re running camera for another church group and you see that another guy is taking video, it’s just common courtesy to stay out of each other’s shot. I’m talking to you, guy from Minnesota who thought the best vantage point was in-between the pray-er and interpreters. . . .anyway  . . .

 

Embedding the video didn’t work but please click here to check out a video of Mackenson praying. 

 

After we finished the prayer the group from Frazer followed Mackenson up the hill to the location where the new church is soon to start construction. We prayed over that location – Keri prayed in english and Mackenson prayed in sign. I neglected to mention that when I arrived at the Atlanta airport on Monday Virginia Thompson, our pastor’s wife, called me. She had just gotten back from Haiti for a weekend trip and told me that she had tried to take a large stone from the future location of the church on the hilltop, but because her luggage was all carry-on, she wasn’t allowed to bring the rock aboard the plane. She called to ask me make sure and bring her a stone back in my check luggage for her. So I took this moment to find a large rock for Virginia. So, Virginia – your rock is on it’s way.

One of the coolest parts of the day was when William, one of the deaf leaders who one day hopes to be one of Haiti’s first deaf pastors, invited us into his new house. For me it was special because I got to see where he had hung the photo that we had taken on him in November with the Help-Portrait group and delivered in December. Before we left he shared a song with us. He writes songs and performs them in such a powerfully expressive way you could almost swear you hear the way the music sounds in his head. It was nothing short of awesome in the true sense of the word.

 

 

After looking around the new community at Leveque we got to painting one of the houses in the new community. The houses are all painted on the outside already, but the inside is still gray concrete. Painting may not sound terribly practical, after all you can live without paint, but when you’re light source is entirely based on sunlight coming through window vents, it’s pretty amazing how much different light colored paint makes in making a room brighter. When we walked in the room seemed so dark, even with mid-morning light beaming straight into the room, but when we finished the first coat by the end of the day it was sup rising how much more light there was in the room simply created by paint that reflected the light around the room.

 

Our first few hours painting were pretty chaotic as the children in the community wanted to help paint too. In addition to the kids there were the six of us, several deaf adults and a few pieces of ‘furniture’ to work around. After we got most of the coat done we decided it was best to get the kids out and make sure we were actually providing them with a decent paint Job.

 

Our lunch was back in the town of Cabaret (which isn’t far away from Chicago – again, musical theater joke) The food in Haiti is always enjoyable – rice and beans, chicken and Coke with real cane sugar – that may not sound like a big deal, but to those who have had it – they know what I mean.

 

Back at the community we finished up the first coat of paint. The team began to sing praise songs together and them moved on to disney songs. Alexis, one of the guys in the deaf community, had his hearing aid in so he could hear us well enough to laugh at us and sign to Mackenson “They’re singing crazy.” We finished up with what paint we had and at the end of what felt like a too-short day we headed back to New-life. On the trip back Kyle bought us some sugar cane while we were stopped in traffic. Most of us enjoyed it as we continued our game of human tetris – standing up when we could no longer feel our backsides, sitting down when we got tired of getting hit in the face by bugs. I have to say, I love riding in the back of the truck it’s a bit of a rush when our driver pulls out to pass a big truck only to miss a head-on collision by ales than ten feet. This is normal driving in Haiti and somehow they don’t seem to have accidents. It’s pretty remarkable.

 

I’ve even included a video via my GoPro of riding on the back of the truck in Haiti – click here to see it.

 

When we got back to New Life, a delicious dinner was waiting for us. The evening was restful and included some good time to process the day. Keri Ward is the only member of the team to not have been here before and both Kyle and I remarked on how quiet she had been on our way back that evening. She said she was just trying to process it all. One by one we all went to bed.

 

That catches you up to this morning! I thank you all for your continued prayers. It is truly awesome to see the progress as the community has moved out to Leveque and continues to develop together. Even yesterday as we were talking one of the deaf people kept saying ‘We must be patient. We must trust god to protect us.’ Their faith is always inspiring.

 

Not another reboot!

Hollywood is doing all these gritty reboots these days, I thought I might as well do a not-so-gritty reboot of my blog. Check it out it’s all different looking and e’ry thing. I hope to have the contents of my old blog restored to this one shortly but for now I should be writing again soon – as in tomorrow.

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.