Friday, July 17, 2015

Struggles and Needs

I wish I knew why we as humans have to continue to go through the same struggles repeatedly.  It'd be nice to skip over problems and remind God, "Hey, remember, I've had this issue before we don't really need to repeat it."
And that in a nutshell is really what I've been frustrated about the most.  Like a whiny child, I've been asking God, "Really?  Do we really need to have this old issue crop up again?"  And the answer is Yes, apparently we do as I am still responding in the same old ways, trying to use the same old answers.
The issue is this:  we have people who can do the work, just not the resources.  And living surrounded by needs it becomes mentally and spiritually painful to not see the needs met.  Waiting on God has always been a hard path for me.  But it really gets down to just believing that He knows best and knows when it's best to move forward.  My only response can be to trust Him.  

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Real Development takes time....

In the summer months of 2001, before terrorists changed many people’s view of the world, a five year old boy named Enel P. was brought by his family to a local church in Lapila, Haiti.  His parents had been told that by doing so, the boy’s photo would be taken and perhaps with the help of some foreign friends, the school could pay its teachers for the coming year.  His parents thought this was a good thing.  When they later heard that some people picked their son’s photo to continue to help, they thought, “God has opened a door for him to go to school.”

With his brother and two sisters, five year old Enel started preschool and walked through sunny and rainy days to begin to learn about letters, numbers, and colors.  Each night returning to his home built with mud and sticks and a tin roof, he would sleep close to his five family members after doing “lessons” or repeating his school work back to his parents. 
School continued with the help of donors who kept his school open.  In fact, the stable sized school grew to house over 500 students.  Initially meeting just under sticks and thatch roof with no walls, the students were excited to see a 500 sq. ft. cement block building with cement floors go up after a few years.  Now when it was muddy outside, the classrooms could still stay clean.  Enel progressed slowly but surely although sometimes he had to share the school supplies he received through sponsorship with his brothers and sisters, but really, he was glad to do so. 
In 2009, he was thrilled to be able to start secondary school since he continued to have a faithful sponsor.  Enel walked further to attend school, but proudly wore the peach and tan uniform of the upper division school of College de la Grace.  The next year was very hard for his family because his father who had long suffered with weakness finally died leaving the family with even fewer resources.  Enel says clearly that if it wasn’t for the financial help he received through sponsorship, he definitely would have had to quit school then as an 8th grader.  But since he had that support, his family saw clearly that God had kept the door open for him to continue his education.
Two years later, while discussing life with one of his classmates and hearing many speakers at church and school, Enel decided to become a Christian.  It’s interesting that his classmate, Nesly, was also a sponsored student who was being helped by some friends to attend school.  Since becoming a believer, Enel has been active in the choir and enjoys helping to lead worship at his local church. 
While it’s taken a long time to complete, this year, after 17 years of steady investment, Enel finally finished secondary school at College de la Grace.  At the recent graduation, I recognized his name from one of the first groups of children ever helped through sponsorship.  He agreed to pose, tall and proud in his graduation robes, with the school founder, Caleb Lucien.  I asked him if he would stop by and talk to me the next day about his future dreams and what he would like to say to his sponsors. 
The next day, a Saturday, he eagerly greeted me and told me he was so grateful for the help his sponsors had given him and his family.  He is the first member of his family EVER to finish high school.  He dreams of becoming a doctor or an engineer but knows it will take many years to accomplish such a goal and he had no means other than his family’s farm.  BUT, he now is fluent in two languages, Kreyol and French, has the equivalent of an Associate’s degree, and a firm opening to “society” as we say here in Haiti.  He now looks me in the eye when we talk and speaks clearly about his faith and his sense of responsibility he feels for the future of his family.  Enel understands what a great privilege he has received. 
He told me he’s now waiting on the Lord to see what doors will open for the future.  I asked him how he could help members of his community this summer and in the fall and he thought he could help area students study, asking families to pay him only what they could afford.  I encouraged him by sharing several stories of how we’ve seen God work in the lives of other young people and how often they have to wait.  Finally we talked about his sponsors and what he’d like to tell them.  Mostly he said, “I’d like to tell them THANKS!  I’ve never had the chance to meet them but they’ve helped me so much”.   I told him I’d be sharing his graduation picture with them and let them know how they’ve blessed his life. 
Enel headed off that day back to his small home where he lives with his mother and some unmarried siblings.  He walks tall and straight and proudly, knowing the God who took him this far is able to help him arrive exactly where he needs to be. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

God winks & you can't outgive God

          I've heard the phrase "God winks" before in relation to the little coincidences we see that seem uncanny and speak of God's presence and care in our lives.  Recently I had one that encouraged both Caleb and I.  My part of the story started last week as I was shopping with my youngest for a prom dress.  She had been out looking with several friends and was feeling the pressure to get it purchased.  We're living on a pretty tight budget even with the help of many generous provisions while I'm stateside this school year.  So we really stretched it to make the purchase she wanted.  I headed home determined not to spend any more money for the next weeks to make up for it (smile).
          The same weekend my husband was hard at work in Haiti.  On Sunday he was scheduled to speak at a small community church that doesn't have a meeting place just yet.  He spoke under the tent covering about giving to the Lord.  Using 2 Samuel 24:24 he reminded the congregation that we can't offer to God what has cost us nothing.  He taught that giving to the Lord is simply obedience that demonstrates our reverence, commitment, faith, and love for Him.  Finally as he watched several women carrying 60 lb. bags of cement on their head to give for the building of their church, he challenged other members.  Caleb told them that if 100 people gave bags of cement he would match each bag to give for their building.  Happily 156 people responded!  So while Caleb gave more than he planned, he was glad to see the people giving with joy.
          Now, back to my side, I knew he was speaking but didn't know what all had happened or the gift my husband had given.   I went out to eat with a dear friend and was enjoying a great meal and fellowship.  She startled me and said her husband had felt urged to give us a personal gift and she promptly wrote out a check.  I was surprised but grateful and promptly texted my husband in Haiti to tell him about the Lord's provision.  His response:  PTL!  (Praise the Lord)  Later in the day he sent me more details about what had taken place over the weekend and what he had given.  What really blew our minds was that the cost of the prom dress & the cement in Haiti matched our unexpected gift almost to the dollar.  It reminded us that He is always in control, He knows our needs, and that we can't outgive God.  Living under His leadership is the most joyous and empowering way!