Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good things

After a blog post with a title like "Cesspool," I figured that perhaps I was portraying a bit of a negative and/or cynical perspective on Haiti and my work there. So I wanted to follow it up with a blast of encouraging positivity. I want to make it clear that not everything I do in Haiti is like being in a cesspool, nor even half, nor even a fraction. It's mainly "out there" in "Haiti in general" that the dysfunction and icky-ness is rampant. But God is doing GOOD THINGS in our creche, in our lives, and in our ministry. And there are GOOD THINGS about Haiti in general, and Haitians in general, and Haitian culture. So I want to counterbalance the negative effect of the words in my previous post. Even though my conclusion in that post was to rejoice in God's power and soar forth in faith, I still feel like someone may go away from reading that post with a horror of ever going to Haiti and a dead-set determination to refuse to go anywhere like it (India, Uganda, etc.). I hope that is not the case. Here, then, is a view of the sunny side of Haitian life.

God is on the move
There is evidence on all sides that God is reaching down into Haiti to touch lives, redeem lost souls, and break the power of darkness. I expect 2013 to be the best year yet in Haiti. God has already begun to move. God has already begun to answer prayer. Without even any missionary involvement, God is beginning to reveal Himself to Haitian people, who are subsequently so transformed that their maturity in Christ far surpasses the maturity of many believers I know who have been in the church for years. Their wisdom and insight into the Scriptures far surpasses what you would expect in a new believer who is relatively untrained. They have an undaunted faith and boldness and eagerness to share with others. To talk with one of these people is to have hope, great hope, that God is raising up leaders, NOW, from within the ranks of regular Haitian citizens, who will be (and already are) a powerful influence for good on their communities.

Children who pray
Let me give you a glimpse into the first day that I prayed with my students. We begin and end every day with prayer, so I had heard them pray individually, but I was unprepared for anything like this. One day at the end of October, we had finished up all our school work for the day. Lunch was late, so after the lunch break was over, it left only about half an hour before dismissal. As the lunch break drew to a close, I asked the Lord, "What should I do with just half an hour?" My mind ran through possibilities of short lessons that I could introduce, or an easy craft project with construction paper, or something along those lines. But God said, "Have a prayer meeting." So I gathered them back, and when they were seated, I said, "Right now, before we dismiss, I would like to use the rest of our time remaining for some extra prayer." Instantly, a hush fell over the room, a focus, a gearing up for engaging in battle. I have taught Sunday School for years, and I am used to a silent groan when the mention of prayer comes up, but not here. I took prayer requests. Their prayer requests were insightful, reflecting real needs, and not the childish, foolish type that I had come to expect from long experience in Sunday School. ("Pray for my grandma." "Okay, is she sick?" "No, she died." "Oh, well how about if we pray for comfort for the family members. When did she die?" "When I was 2." "Oh.")

I asked Teacher James (the Haitian teacher) to lead them in prayer, and he began to pray. Instantly, the room was electric. Children started praying, crying out to God, regardless of who might be listening to them or what others might be thinking. They prayed fervently, almost shouting at times, confidently approaching God in mighty faith that He would hear and answer their prayers. For the rest of the half hour, the room was humming with simultaneous prayer rising up from about 15 different hearts. I myself was put to shame by my weak, feeble praying, and stimulated to step up my own prayers and regain the childlike faith that my students had.

It should come as no surprise that the presence of God came into that room. We weren't just reaching up for heaven in our prayers--God himself came down among us, His presence burning in every heart, enabling us in prayer, and strengthening our faith as we cried out to Him.

How did these children learn to pray? Who taught them? Where did they get such a transforming experience, where they discovered how to enter into the presence of God? They are ahead of us. What group of American children do you know of who can pray with this much power and faith? What a grand and glorious work God is doing.

Red Carpet Treatment 
Of any possible situation that a missionary in Haiti can possibly have, I must say that mine has to be the best. God has basically rolled out the red carpet for me, blessed me beyond what anyone deserves, and treated me with the most amazing VIP treatment I could ask for. I live at Club Indigo, which is THE nicest resort in Haiti. I would never have dreamed of this or thought of being able to live in a place like this. Club Indigo is beautiful, safe, and relaxing. It has a wonderful buffet that is available for me to eat at any time if I need to supplement my diet with extra nutrition (vegetables and protein). We have stable, consistent electricity, running water, hot showers, and internet (which I have complained about being inconsistent in the past, but, it turns out, my own family's wifi at home is about as unpredictable). The windows of my room look out onto the Carribbean sea. Palm trees curve gracefully over the sand. The mountains are visible from just about everywhere, their rugged shapes inspiring the imagination with delightful prospects of exploring them one day.

Not only is my living situation basically like heaven compared to the rest of Haiti, my coworkers are like angels. God has put me in the best organization I have ever heard of. He has put me together with people who are full of faith, vision, and confident expectation that God's word is true and He will fulfill His word. We meet together daily to pray, and these are the best prayer meetings I have ever experienced. We encourage each other on and spur each other to greater faithfulness, love, and surrender.

Not only do I have a great living situation and amazing coworkers, but God has also provided financially. Without me asking people for money or making my needs known to anyone, God faithfully provides everything I need. I need money every month for my rent--and God provides it. I needed extra money for supplementary food--and God provided it. I needed money for a plane ticket to get home--and God provided it. He tells His servants when and how much to give, and they walk in obedience to Him, and I don't have to worry about it. All I have to worry about is being obedient myself, and God provides everything I need in order for me to walk in obedience.

Vibrant, exciting culture
Haitian culture makes me smile. There's just something about driving through town on a moto, the wind in your hair, passing women in the market with their baskets of produce, catching snatches of cheerful Haitian music that float through the air, seeing the vibrant colors, and hearing the Creole language spoken all around you. I feel Haiti creeping into my bones and pulling me in, causing me to feel like I am already, in some mysterious way, becoming Haitian. And when I feel that pull, I want to become Haitian. I want to understand the culture, be able to laugh at their jokes, and fit in (as much as a white person can expect to fit in). There's something exciting and alive about Haitian culture. It hasn't passed through the melting pot or been homogenized yet. It is very much its own thing. It has an exotic, heady flavor, like tasting a high-flavored curry when you've only ever tasted salt and pepper your whole life. The world with its media and peer pressure hasn't invaded Haiti so much yet. It feels insulated, like little jewels of pomegranate still hidden within the unopened rind. The world knows that Haiti is there, and it sees the outside of the pomegranate, but no one has quite opened up the pomegranate and discovered the surprising little bits of luscious sweetness inside. Haiti knows that the world is there, but the little pomegranate jewels haven't made it out of their shell to discover that there are also bananas and oranges and grapes and kiwis out there. I use these analogies, but Haitian culture is very difficult to put into words, like trying to explain the color green to a blind person. And I know that I myself don't even understand it yet. At ALL.

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So there are a few categories of good things that are going on in Haiti. May God be glorified through His further work there!

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