Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Day 3 - Modern Day Heroes

I woke up to roosters crowing this morning and knew that a good day was ahead!

Over these past couple of days something has happened again and again that has simply blown me away.  Everywhere I go people know of Grace church and the people of Grace.  When they hear I'm the pastor there - stories come pouring out of this person or that person who has impacted their lives from Grace.  I am swelling with a godly pride about the over 100 people from Grace who have visited this island over the past 10 years. Obviously these accolades have nothing to do with me but everything to do with the faithful people of Grace who have made the decision to invest in others. I'll give you a few examples.

1. Kate - a longtime member of Grace -retired teacher - in her 70's.  She has been in haiti for 9 years with no intentions of leaving anytime soon.  She has brought the gift of education to hundreds (maybe thousands) of people. She's like a folk hero everywhere I go. And Erica is Kate's friend and counterpart at the school.  She's not from Grace originally but we tease her that she has been 'grafted in.' We support her work here!

2. Bud and Jane - Jane has given the gift of schools, and organization, and child sponsorships.  Bud fixes everything in his sight.  If you work with your hands and like to get greasy and never imagined yourself as a missionary - trust me there is a place for you... don't shut God down because of dreaming too small.

3.  Don and Debbie - they have brought the gift of love and a variety of kinds of support and care for the people of Haiti and our missionaries. Everytime their name comes up it is with deep honor and respect.

4. Meg - the mention of those 3 letters M-E-G - brought cheers at the clinic here - her legacy of praying personally for each patient and the deep personal interest she took in every life - even when things were busy - lives on as legend.

5. Pam - again at the clinic Pam's name is honored because of her diligent work and fundraising and coordination in getting an X-Ray machine here and working.

6. Pastor Mike - he has spearheaded many of our teams and efforts here and he is deeply loved. His intentional prayers and many acts of love for the people of this country are held in high esteem.  I visited your special prayer circle today, Mike.

I could go on and on and on, but just wanted to say thank you to the modern heroes who have encouraged and inspired so many people and who have made a lasting mark on this island. Thank you for extending Grace's reach to the ends of the earth and for representing The Church and Jesus the head of The Church so faithfully.

This was the main thing I wanted to say- but if you'd care to read some more details about my day today - feel free to continue.  I just understand that my reflections are wordy and most people who read blogs have short attention spans!  Check back tomorrow for some reflections about our last day here.


Day 3 - Fresh bananas for breakfast was a great treat (there are banana fields right next to where we are staying) - they have so much flavor when they are fresh.

We then waited for a vehicle for transport to the seminary.  I was scheduled to speak at their chapel service this morning at 10 AM. Several cars were out of commission today with Bud scrambling around from vehicle to vehicle trying to get them running. We finally got a ride with another missionary couple (Bud and Cindy) who were also traveling to the seminary for their Creole classes.  With diesel fuel nearly $7.00 per gallon - they carpool as much as possible.

Our trip there (my longest van trip since being in Haiti) included views of the usual street vendors, lottery booths, and peopel milling about - but because the trip was longer we also got to see some rice fields, and pasture land, and the mountainous scenery is still breathtaking.  If you didn't know differently, you'd think you were in Hawaii. We came across the location of a leading witch doctor - his house was marked with many high-flying flags to let the waiting world know he was there. Also the roads are filled with so many potholes that even the shortest trip involves jarring jolts that leave you wondering if you've dislocated something.

The seminary is beautiful. It contains the fingerprints of many people from Grace who have worked there over the years.  It is a state of the art facility, with a beautiful modern kitchen, multiple buildings with classrooms, offices, dormitories, etc. We arrived 2 minutes before chapel was scheduled to start, but we were the first ones there.  I was relieved since I was the guest speaker!  Pretty soon some 60 well-dressed seminarians began filing in - a variety of 1st through 4th year students. The next generation of pastors and ministry leaders... the hope of Haiti.

The worship was powerful and passionate - I didn't understand a single word but understood the Spirit in the room in the most familiar of languages.  I shared from 1 Timothy 4:12 - and the importance of setting an example for the believers with their lives - of being men worthy of following and imitating.  I encouraged them that if Jesus could change the world through 12 faithful men, that he can certainly change Haiti with 60!  Dan and I spent some great time with Matt Ayers - the Director of the Seminary and I was blown away by his love for the scriptures and passion to teach theology.  We got to sit in on one of his classes - a Q&A study session for an upcoming test on Romans 1-4.  Just to give you a glimpse of the level of engagement and learning - here were my two favorite questions: 1) which is justification more dependent upon; grace, or faith, or both?  and 2) What is the connection (if any) between God's creation ex nihilo and the virgin birth? 

We then ate a great Haitian lunch of corn gritz and pureed black bean sauce. I'm a picky eater, but once I got over my texture-phobia the food was delicious. We had some more discussion with Matt about the seminary facility's potential role in our church-to-church partnership since they have turned out many of the pastors in the region and have a heart for ongoing training and development.  There is much potential here to be explored.

We came back to our headquarters and as Dan and I were discussing more detail about the church-to-church partnership, in walked Pastor Migueloson.  We had an hour-long improptu conversation that was very instrumental.  At every turn I am convinced of the strong fit between our churches.

We visited Dr. Rodney, the doctor at the clinic, who just returned from a hospital stay of his own after nearly dying. He was literally nursed back to life by one of the visiting Doctors with OMS.  It was an honor to pray for him. God will heal him soon.

We then went to the Wednesday bible study for the missionaries at Kate's house, and it was a sweet time of deep study of the scriptures (Matt Ayers led us through John 7) and a time of worship and sharing prayer requests.  I wrote down every request and plan to share some with you (without personal details).  I think it will be a great teaching tool to compare and contrast with our context the kinds of things that people who are on the front lines of ministry are praying about.

We had a great dinner tonight and on my way back to the house we're staying I received word that a young Haitian man was waiting to speak with me.  He is a young man who is engaged to a young woman who is a friend of mine and member of Grace. He was nervous to say the least - we had a wonderful conversation and made plans for dinner together tomorrow night.  He'll be taking Dan and I out on the town for an evening in Cap-Haitien.  I can't wait.

We talked for hours with Bud and Jane tonight, and I'm finally getting around to putting together some of my thoughts. Oh and I got to talk to Kim and all three of my kids tonight on the phone.  I miss them terribly so it was a great encouragement to hear their voices.

Please pray for tomorrow.  I'll be visiting the Prayer Tree in the early morning (a sacred spot where Christians come to pray every Thursday for their nation), we'll be meeting again with Pastor Miguelson and Pastor James to continue to frame out next steps for our partnership, and then in the afternoon I'll be meeting the family of the child that my family sponsors through Starfish Kids.

I have very mixed emotions.  Tomorrow is our last day here. We leave Haiti early Friday morning.  Dan and I covet your prayers.


Brent C Sleasman said...


We're following your journey. Question: what language is used at the seminary - English, Creole, or French?

Travel safely. We're praying for a productive trip.

Brent C Sleasman said...


We're following your journey.

Question - what language is used in the courses at the seminary - Creole, French, or English?

We're praying for a productive trip and safe return.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Derek: "The worship was powerful and passionate - I didn't understand a single word but understood the Spirit in the room in the most familiar of languages."

Glad to read about all the hearts you and Dan are connecting to. May Grace people always be thought of as Jesus people among the Haitian people. The journey continues.

Keeping you and Dan surrounded in prayer... PCobb