The last several weeks have been nonstop. So busy I’m dizzy.
Therefore I requested today (Monday) off – and it was granted. Last night I slept 14 hours! Holy smokes. Then late this morning I was happily munching cereal whilst watching others work.
After getting caught up on a mess of e-mails, making a relaxing airport run (stopping by Deli-Mart for a chocolate Bongu drink enroute), and playing the piano at Ryan and Melissa’s house (thanks!) I now feel composed enough to write a blog post relating pertinent happenings.
*** Three days later… ***
It’s hard to find time to write (and finish) blog posts. Now it is Thursday. Without further ado, and with my thinking cap firmly affixed, I’m attempting another noble stab at publishing this.
Barry & Run for Life
Let’s see, my friend Barry McDonald ran across Haiti as a fundraiser for Heartline. My part was to drive one of the support vehicles. In short, this was an epic adventure. Who else gets to go road-tripping across a beautiful third world Caribbean country?
Despite the fact we lodged in a few nice places, mostly we stayed at hole-in-the-wall hotels and local ministries widely differing in quality (though great hospitality all around).
I now have a much better grasp of the geography of Haiti, seeing I logged about 50 hours behind the wheel. And some 50 miles laced up on the road chugging along with Barry. Perhaps no better way to see the country than on foot, eh?
On the run we had occasional excitement what with roadblocks, protests, Barry about keeling over from injury, our truck getting stuck in the mud, team drama, and an auto accident witnessed before my eyes.
The day after we got back home, excitement continued with Ryan and Melissa’s house getting broken into while they were home sleeping. Ryan wrote about that here. And in the photo below Ryan is getting the Canter unstuck. He gets around.
So what else is happening? Time is flying by. It seems like I’ve only been with Heartline a few days and it’s coming up on two months. They keep me hopping. This week Ryan and I are spending coaxing our ministry 4Runner back to life. We’re making progress, its’ heart is beating again.
I’ve read a few books recently: African Friends and Money Matters, The Copper Scroll (Rosenberg), Monster (Peretti) and The Forgotten Children (about terrible conditions in Northern Uganda). Wish I could read more, but don’t have much reading material, nor time.
Since coming to Haiti I haven’t watched a single movie or hardly any YouTube. Internet is slow. Oftentimes my entertainment during an evening is visiting with guests. I’ve met many interesting people. It’s sad saying “goodbye” so often.
Another great form of entertainment (and one of my favorite things to do) is driving around town with music cranked up, singing along. Few people in Haiti own a car or know how to drive. It’s a shame, because they’re missing out on a real pleasure.
Somewhere in the world it is cold outside. That place is not here. Somewhere in the world all mosquitoes are deceased, happily tucked into their graves. That place is not here. The other night I woke up because my fan had gone off (which means city power had gone off, the backup batteries had died, and the generator was out of gas). Consequently, mosquitoes were chewing me up with their fang thingies, particularly my head and arms. In my drowsy stupor I got up and took from my shelf what I thought was the all-natural ingredients variety of insect spray and squirted it right at my face and all over my head. Then I looked at the bottle and saw I had picked up 100% DEET spray instead of Lemon Eucalyptus. Oh well, no more bug bites that night. Perhaps cancer next week though.
I was surprised to notice I’m losing weight. For the longest time I always tipped the scales at a comfortable 165 pounds. But at the clinic last week I measured myself on a spiffy scale (with balancing weights) and it reported I was down to a middling 154. Hmm, 11 pounds under normal. On the bright side, maybe now my previously non-existent gut is gone.
At one of the hotels we visited there was a floor length mirror (not attached to the wall, but in the room) and upon witnessing my scarecrow self made a mental note to begin working out.
It’s not that I don’t eat, I eat like a horse. But it’s healthier food than I’m used to. I don’t know… my body might not do healthy. Leastways, it’s not used to it, and healthy doesn’t stick to my ribs like Taco Bell, apparently.
Here is a picture of my Daily Bread (rice and beans with chicken):
Discussion on Poverty Relief vs. Teaching God’s Word
So I’ve been thinking a lot about the entire “alleviating poverty vs Gospel work” debate. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen and visited with a number of people in various ministries. And worldwide I’ve interviewed many ministries and seen firsthand this struggle Christian organizations have between meeting pressing physical needs with less apparent spiritual ones.
I’ve heard it said we don’t need to share God’s Word because showing love is enough. Others claim our focus should be on long term development, creating jobs, alleviating misery. Here in Haiti there is certainly plenty of physical misery. Read Dying in Haiti – No Urgency for the Poor, if you want to be depressed about misery here.
I’m thinking the deeper issues are deeper than meets the eye. Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5)
I recently saw a motorcycle accident happen. When I came up to the thrown cyclist his obvious visible injury was a broken leg. But I remembered from my EMT class being taught it’s not uncommon for the more serious injuries to be internal so not to get hung up on something that looks bad on the outside. Forgetting this can result in someone dying from hidden injuries while the responder is busy treating serious, but not life-threatening, external problems.
In the same way, I think there is room for caution in thinking we only need to treat physical need and neglect spiritual need. I think saying all we need to do is “share God’s love” is misguided.
No doubt poverty and destitution kill people. It has, it does, and will continue, despite interventions of well meaning people. Poverty will never be eradicated. Even Jesus said so, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” (Mark 14:7).
Feeding programs, home construction projects, medical clinics, schools: all efforts at helping that can be accomplished by both Christians and non-Christians. What I ask myself is, “What can a believer do that a non-believer can’t?”
Well, they can give hope to others for the next life. They can share their faith. They can tell about their personal relationship with God. They can teach God’s Word, the Bible. In short, they can treat “internal injuries.”
I have more to say on this topic, but am too tired to write it.
On Enjoying Life
I’ve never met someone who wasn’t going through something challenging in their life. Even those who look like all is together are still invariably hurting about something or being stretched in some way. That’s just the way life works.
Despite this fact, I find it good to step back and thank the Lord for everything that is going well. To thank the Lord for the glimmers of beauty he shines through into this sin-cursed world.
Sometimes the beauty in life hits me over the head, like last week when I enjoyed the stunning sunset pictured below. Other times it’s more subtle, like sharing laughter with a good friend. But life is a beautiful thing, and it’s imortant not to take it for granted, I think.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”