Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nerve wracking times, yet moving forward

Almost every week we have heard of someone we know being kidnapped, or molested in some way as they go about their work and lives. I spoke with my husband recently about whether he was being cautious or not in how he plans his schedule and specifically his travels in the capital.

If 'd been more spiritually minded, I would have appreciated his response more. He said, "Deb, the Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear?"

"Yes, I appreciate that," I commented, "but I'd like to know that you don't expect God to rescue you when you do something stupid, too." (not exactly the supportive wife talking).

"Don't worry," he soothed. "I'm being careful." This said as he strode out the door for a flight to the capital.

The truth is I'm glad the man I'm married to is quite fearless when it comes to serving the Lord and doing what he feels like he's called to do. He's just as courageous as the Caleb in the Bible who wasn't intimidated by the things he saw in the land as a scout with Joshua. It takes a real visionary to have the courage to continue on with reports of kidnappers, robbers, and terrorists world-wide.

While I try to shield my elementary aged daughters somewhat from the newscasts, they have heard about how children are kidnapped and been hurt or killed both here in Haiti and worldwide. What strikes me about this is the fact that it never occurred to me as a child that that was a real danger. Yet any parent now must train their children never to talk to strangers, avoid going near a car they don't know, and in our area, stay AWAY from police. It helps me, I suppose, to realize that women worldwide have the same core fears and concerns that I do; concern for their families and uncertainty for the future.

I have much to learn in this regard . . .and graciously, a God who has much to teach.

Back to School, Haitian-style

For most of the world, the months of August & September means the end of vacation and getting ready for “back to school”. Here in Haiti, kids and families are also getting ready but it looks a little different. Rather than going home, for many families returning to school means going away. Many communities don’t have schools within walking distance so the kids are getting ready to go and live with friends and families in more developed regions.

The past decade has seen a lot of changes in Pignon, Haiti, where we live and work. Back in 1993, Caleb founded the very first secondary school in the community of 30,000 plus. For the first time, kids could live with their families and attend school beyond 6th grade. At first, some parents didn’t think a school in our small town could compete with schools in the cities. The majority of students who did enroll were from families who could never have afforded to send their children before. It’s been thrilling to see students who are the first members of their families to ever finish 6th, then 10th grades, and then even finish high school.

However, similarities to stateside preparations do exist: buying material and sewing uniforms, finding notebooks, pens and textbooks. This past Sunday one announcement in church struck me with yet another huge difference. The pastor announced there was to be a day of prayer and fasting for the new school year. No one in the audience was surprised as this is an annual, expected event. Teachers, administrators and parents (& some students) arrive early in area churches to pray for God’s blessing and especially His provision for the coming year. Even enrolling for school is an act of faith for many families in our neighborhood. These parents do not know for certain where the tuition and supplies will come from. But those who are believers know Who their source is.

Please be praying with us for area schools, their teachers and administrators who step out in faith every year. Also, if you want to help a student, our sponsorship program needs more donors who are willing to give $25 monthly to pay tuition/meals, uniforms and supplies for a student.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

One recent day at the airstrip

Not too many weeks ago I was on my way to our local airport (a grass strip with cactus fencing) which receives perhaps 2-6 flights a day. With me were my two young daughters and an American visitor and a driver, all just out for the fun of picking up my husband who was scheduled to fly in on a chartered Missionary Aviation Flight. (their planes carry 5 passengers and are the size of a small suburban)
As I drove up to the entrance it became obvious that there was a larger crowd than normal. I soon saw what the attraction was: not one but two large white U.N. helicopters parked on the grass plus a large U.N. truck filled with Chilean troops. These guys rotate through our area every two weeks protecting us from....maurading goats? The irony on that matter is that if there is a security problem, we can't call them. We (community residents) have to call the capital and ask for them to send a Haitian police officer to come from 3 hours away. Obviously the response time is a bit sluggish. But anyway....
So the helicopters even weren't that unusual but what the crowds talking were. In rapid fire Haitian Creole the bystanders were leaning on their shovels and holding their donkey reins and saying, "Will you look at that?"
"What Jean?"
"There's a bunch of blan/ foreigners lying down on the grass at the airport"
"What's wrong with them?
"I think they're sick"
"Nah, they don't get sick"
"Well, they look like they are hurt!"
"Should we call someone at the hospital?"
"I dunno, Joe, there are all the soldiers just standing there, why don't they do something..."

By now I was pretty turned around and sure enough there under the helicopters were about 8 South American troops lying in various states of repose. Some appeared to be "sick" ...holding their heads, while some were lying in the sun getting a tan. Since the U.N. troops weren't getting too excited, I rapidly discerned that this was a military exercise going on to check response time. Hmmmm.
The only people getting excited though were the local residents behind me wondering what it was they should do. I wondered why the U.N. translators weren't explaining that this was all a game for safety, but figured they were too busy protecting the "gamers".

"Well, Joe, I think they are o.k., one of them is now reading a book."
"Do you think I should offer him a ride on my donkey?"
"Nah, they've got that big truck over there."
"Well, I hope they are alright"

I did too. (they were, & this exercise cost the UN several thousand $'s, and was given to ensure the Haitian people will have peace & prosperity I'm sure)
Just another day in the developing world . . .