Wednesday, May 27, 11 p.m.
We met tonight with members of four institutions (army, border patrol, police, and the local authority of the government) to present Climbing For Christ. Each group pledged to help and be “a friend” to the ministry on the Dominican side of the border. Rev. Jesus Mosquea Gonzales, the vice president of the newly incorporated Climbing For Christ Dominican Republic, stated that we are about helping people on the “frontier, where it's not Haiti or the Dominican Republic, but people who need help.” All are God's children; He transcends borders. Prayerfully this meeting will open the way to do His work without outside interference in the D.R.
Wednesday, May 27, 4:00 p.m.
Miguel teaching the seminary on the topic of prayer.
Twenty-eight pastors and church leaders from 10 villages enthusiastically participated in our May seminary at the Climbing For Christ church at Jimani. Today's topic: “What is prayer?” Miguel told the pastors from Dubois, Fond Verette, Gentilhomme, Jimani, Malasi, Nicola, Peniel, Piret, Soliette and Thoman that they must “lead the God work” and not look for money. I directed them to 1 John 5:14 and praying according to God's will.
During the seminary, the Haitian counsel called Miguel and asked to speak with me. He was unable to get away to meet us, so he called to thank us for helping the Haitian people. We helped the Haitian ministry leaders from our seminary back across the border after five hours of study and a big meal. We sent them off with prayers.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” — James 4:10
Gary with Miche and Sainte-Anne, who will travel to Colorado this summer for much-needed knee surgeries.
Tuesday, May 26, 3 p.m.
We hiked down out of the clouds that have been Gentilhomme during our short stay. Before leaving we met with Pastor Tresin and discussed the Seedling Bank project (transplanting coffee from the nursery to our 50 farmers), the state of the school (and our desire to see more students attending), and evangelizing in the village (especially to those we know are using voodoo, like Chalisma and Gilbert's father). We gave to the church 10 more Creole Bibles, bringing to 40 the total we have delivered to the people of Gentilhomme. We have distributed more than 100 in the Chaine de la Selle range to date.
We stopped in Soliette to visit the school, where 48 students were attending class in the temporarily repaired church destroyed last hurricane season. We then made a brief sidetrip to Port-au-Prince before returning over the Dominican border to Jimani. We will be preparing for a day of meetings on Wednesday — with the Haitian counsalate, our monthly seminary, and a dinner gathering with numerous Dominican officials interested in the work of Climbing For Christ. God has once again blessed us with an understanding of the great work He will have us do in Gentilhomme, Malasi, Jimani, Piret, Thoman, and possibly Soliette and Nicola. In His time and by His design. All glory to Him!
Monday, May 25, 6 p.m.
Miguel briefly taught the two classes in the school in Gentilhomme this morning. There were only 31 students in attendance. We are concerned about why more parents aren't sending their children to school, and why Pastor Tresin isn't urging them to do so. It is one item on a laundry list of things to discuss tonight with Pastor Tresin as we prepare to move out on Tuesday.
We checked on the coffee plants growing in the nursery we built next to the church. We delivered 25,000 coffee seeds to both Gentilhomme and Malasi last year. Around 7,000 will be transplanted in June and distributed to our 50 farmers in Gentilhomme.
Josh and I went down to the river to inspect the site for the water system he will build in December. The source for water we were planning to use was dry, so he will have to make new plans for a location to start bringing water up the steep hill to the village.
That dry source was about the only place that wasn't wet. It rained all day Sunday and started again this afternoon. It is the rainy season. The trails are made of mud. But it is helping the crops grow, so it is a blessing from God.
Sunday, May 24, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday worship at the Climbing For Christ Church in Gentilhomme.
The lesson in Sunday school before worship began at the church in Gentilhomme was from John 14: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” It was fitting since the message God gave me was from John 6: “I am the Bread of Life.” Miguel said, “That is the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit didn't stop there. After I spoke about the people keeping Jesus first in their lives, Miguel instructed the church “to be one people, to search for people who do not know Jesus.” This set up Josh's message about the church reaching out to the lost in the village. “For every one here today,” he said to the 207 people in the three-hour worship, “there are 10 who are not.” He urged the people to ask a family member, a neighbor, a friend or a stranger to come to church. “Bring them to Jesus,” Josh said.
That was our message for Pastor Tresin Saturday night. In an evening-long meeting we told him Climbing For Christ is not here just to serve the physical needs (food, seeds, fertilizer) of the people in the church at Gentilhomme, but to minister to the spiritual needs of all who are living in this mountain village — and others — in Haiti.
Saturday, May 23, 7:30 p.m.
We visited farms and checked on arborloos (toilets) built in Gentilhomme last December. We saw five of the seven that were constructed then. Only two were being used (Pastor Tresin's and Chalisma's). The other three said they know the importance of the arborloo, but they were unfinished. We will continue to build arborloos and educate the people about sanitation on Mission: Haiti 2009 in December.
The banana plants and coffee beans brought here last year are growing very well — better than in Malasi. It is 2,000 vertical feet lower in Gentilhomme, so temperatures are generally warmer.
After our short walk around the village, the clouds filed in for most of the day. Miguel, Josh and I spent time together discussing issues of Gentilhomme, including the presence of voodoo (we went to sleep to the distant beat of drums Friday night).
Then we had a lighter moment, playing “Stone-occi” (a game invented by Climbing For Christ member Brian Kimble and introduced to Gentilhomme by three-time Mission: Haiti team member Brian Arnold). The U.S. (Josh and me) defeated Team Haiti (Miguel and Pastor Tresin) 2-games-to-1 in the bocce-like sport that uses stones instead of balls. It was a good time of fellowship in preparation for a day of worship and teaching to come on Sunday.
Friday, May 22, 7 p.m.
We returned to Gentilhomme today. It is very green (and muddy) from all the rain we have been receiving.
Gentilhomme in the clouds.
On the way from Malasi to Gentilhomme we stopped at Piret (near Gros Cheval). The pastor from Piret had asked to be associated with Monté Pou Kris (the Climbing For Christ church), and has been attending our seminary. We worshipped in the church, which is like a park pavilion with no walls. It is a temporary structure sitting next to the rubble of the original church building, which was destroyed by Hurricane George in 1998. I told the people the church is not a building but a body of believers. I had them stand and look outside the church property. There were as many people outside watching as were in worship. I asked why they were out there. A church leader (a son of Pastor Josephefa) said some were Christian, but some were not. I told him all should be welcome. The son went out and invited all of them in to hear us speak and pray. Included in our prayer was a petition that we would be able to build a place of worship for the church at Piret.
Worshippers at the Piret Church.
Thursday, May 21, 4:30 p.m.
Malasi children are sized for school shoes brought from the U.S. by Josh and Gary.
We distributed 69 pairs of shoes to the children at the school and church in Malasi. Some came barefooted, others in soccer cleats, and still others in shoes coming apart at the seams. It was a joy to share what people had donated for Josh and me to bring. The sad part was turning away some, as we needed to limit the shoe delivery to three pairs per family, and some families have eight children. Miguel closed the afternoon-long event by telling the people of Malasi that God had provided these shoes. A woman broke out in a Creole song: “Jesus knows my needs and takes care of me.” Another mother thanked us for putting shoes on the feet of her three children, saying, “I could not buy any for them. I have no money.”
Wednesday, May 20, 4 p.m.
Children study and villagers worship in this unsteady, three-walled structure in Malasi.
We visited the school and the church at Malasi this morning. Seventy-two students were attending the classes. We discussed building a cement wall to replace the fallen wall as a short-term solution to the crumbling structure. It will cost only $200 to fix the wall temporarily, while we continue to raise support for a new church building farther up on another hill. That will cost $10,000, but will be money well spent.
The rest of the day we walked from farm to farm, looking at newly planted crops that are growing well in the spring rains — black beans, white onions, potatoes and corn. We talked with farmers who were busy weeding. Along the way we met a man, Dieu Martin, who called himself a voodoo chief. His wife and son go to our church in Malasi. But he does not. Miguel explained that for him, voodoo is a business. “He knows it is not right,” Miguel said. We asked if we could pray for him, and his arrogant posture changed. We laid hands on him and prayed that he would know Jesus as his Savior, and the lies of voodoo would be exposed. This is our prayer for the entire mission. It was a God moment.
Donya, left, smiling with her cousin.
The farm tour led us to Donya's house, where the atmosphere was much different than our visit in December. There was a celebration this time. When Donya saw her cousin, she hugged her and declared: “I am well. Look at me. I am well.” There was laughter and happiness where once there was only suffering and despair. Thanks to our healing Father in heaven. We shared this with the people, who agreed and joyously praised God.
Tuesday, May 19, 4:30 p.m.
I looked over my shoulder into the back seat of the “God truck” as we crawled up the rocky road toward Malasi. Donya looked back at me and smiled a smile I will not soon forget. She was going home for the first time since we evacuated her on Jan. 5. More than 8 months had passed since a lightning strike had killed her husband and child, and left her more in suffering than living. That's how our mission team found her in December. We thought she would need surgery to repair third degree burns to her left arm and legs. But, as she lived at missionary Miguel's house, God healed her. When, after a 4 ½-hour drive from Jimani, she arrived in Malasi with Miguel, Josh and me, Donya ran up the hill to see Pastor Vilicuis's wife. We brought her back to testify to God's goodness and grace. He is the God of miracles. One need look no farther than the smile on Donya's face to see that.
Gary (left) and Josh strike a pose next to Climbing For Christ's branded “God truck” that safely transported them, missionary Miguel and healed lightning victim Donya to Malasi Tuesday.
Monday, May 18, 11:30 p.m.
We were asked to greet the Climbing For Christ Church in Jimani. The church had gathered to pray and give thanks for our safe arrival around 8 p.m. In March, during a mini-mission here with Dr. Steve Quakenbush and Justin Lee, Josh instructed the church to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” God put the words from Deuteronomy 6:4-8 on my heart to share during a teaching by the pastor at my home church on Sunday. Especially verse 5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
After speaking to the church, we were welcomed into missionary Miguel's house by several of God's miracles through Mission: Haiti - Donya, Gilbert, Sainte Anne and Miche. What a blessing for us to see them. When any of them thanks us, we tell them to thank God. It's all His doing. We are looking forward to more of what He will have us do in the days ahead as we cross the border and into Haiti on Tuesday.
Monday, May 18, 3 p.m.
Josh and I have arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. When I asked our missionary Miguel the importance of this emergency mission, he said, “I think this trip is the same as the fireman who get the alert for a fire. He is a good fireman; he shall run there to see and to diligently try to put out the fire.
“What may be more of an emergency? Children cannot attend the school because they have no shoes, the hunger, and working as adults (in the fields). What will the future of Haiti be when the children cannot go to school? How can we fight against the evil if our people cannot read the Bible? I think you are right coming to Haiti now.”
We have brought many pairs of shoes and sandals for the children. Some food has been delivered. We will talk to the people about their future. Without God, that future will be hopeless.
Sunday, May 17
When our missionary to Haiti, Miguel Rubén Guante, requested that we make a special trip this month, we discussed the need. The people are the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — that much we know. But their poverty runs deeper than a lack of food or work. It is a spiritual poverty.
“The big problem is all the Haitian Christians keep a part of their faith for voodoo,” Miguel said. He explained this by telling the story of a woman from the Climbing For Christ church at Malasi, who died shortly after our Mission: Haiti 2008 team was there in December
“For the Haitian, when somebody die in an accident, they often say somebody killed him or her.” They believe death is nearly always caused by a voodoo curse. When the woman from our church died at 3 a.m., her family talked to the body for more than 12 hours, asking the dead woman who it was that killed her. Miguel said, “That may give you an idea for the faith of the Christian (in Haiti),” and what we are up against.
The focus of this emergency mission, which begins on Monday, is to once again share with the people about our One True God and His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will teach and preach about our “Bread of Life” (John 6) and urge the people to cast aside other gods. To God be the glory!