Sunday, January 2, 2011

Preparing to leave...

Wow! This week has been incredible! I know the team is probably not ready to come home and leave their new friends behind, but the trip is coming to a close. God is continuing to do AMAZING things! Please read along with Matt McCuiston as he describes Sunday's events!

We started the day off going to church. The people in the worship service were very enthusiastic about worshiping God. What really impressed me the most was when the pastor asked if there were any visitors there and told them to stand. There were three that stood up and he asked what their names were, where they were from, and if they knew Jesus as their personal savior. WOW! Why don’t we do that? That is what I call taking care of business!

After church we went to Port-au- Prince. What a devastated area. There was trash all in the streets, buildings tore down from the earthquake last year, and a lot of broken hearts. I realized that the government was not going to ever do anything about it when we pulled up to the capital building. The earthquake was last January, and the palace, which is their White House, was still in shambles.
Afterwards we came back to the compound and reloaded the truck and went to another church to deliver food. When we got there, the generator that feeds the church electricity was broke down. We gave them 14 boxes of food and two 50lb bags of beans. The pastor asked if we had anyone that could speak some words of encouragement, and the other team members volunteered me. So I spoke about keeping Jesus as their savior and that all their problems are temporary. I told them to hold onto God and that we all need to try to be better Christians for Him.

After this we came back and started packing for our trip home. What a week it has been. We are a blessed bunch. To have a God that not only sent His Son to die for us, but He placed us all in a free country where we do not have to scrounge around for food, we can take a bath whenever we want, we can worship freely, and I could go on and on. The simple fact is that God loves us all equally. None of us are better than the next, and its hard to believe but these very same people who have all these troubles, will be side by side with us “when we all get to Heaven.”
1 Samuel 2:8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s
and on them he has set the world.
The team is so thankful to everyone for their prayers, love and support! On Monday morning they will be wrapping things up in Haiti. The plan is to get up early and visit with local children before heading to the airport in the afternoon. Please pray not only for the team's safety, but for those they are forced to leave behind in these horrible conditions...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

You saw with your own eyes the great trials, signs and wonders; The mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples! ~ Duteronomy 7:19
Be sure to read today's comments from Brittney Edwards and Kelly Rezney...
1/1/11--seems like a perfect date for the start of an amazing new year. Last night we were told that we would be leaving at 5 am New Year's Day to hike two hours up a mountain to a village. While we may have groaned at the prospect of rising before the roosters (yes we hear roosters every morning), it was an experience that could top any Times Square ball drop or champagne toast. It was pitch black when we started climbing the steep mountain. As we climbed farther up, the sun peeked over the ocean and mountains in the distance. The sky opened up into an amazing display of colors. As we huffed our way up the mountain, we were passed by men on mules and a woman carrying supplies on her head. This steep journey, that even Brittney as a marathon runner was struggling with, is one that the Haitian people make it with great ease! When we arrived in the village, we led about 200 children, into the church. We handed treat bags to each of them and fitted the girls with pillow case dresses and the boys with t-shirts. Almost 100% of their clothing comes from the donations of generous Americans. They wear these with pride, even if they don't know what the shirts say. They quickly became entertained with the puppet shows and songs. The joy on their faces could melt the hardest heart. We ended our visit with a prayer for the people of the village that God could provide for their needs.
Our final destination of the day was to one of the poorest orphanages in the area. The people running it are indescribable, the love and hope they give these children is unparalleled. There were about 24 orphans to whom we gave fruit snacks, crackers, stuffed animals and clothes. We also colored with them and led them in songs. There was one little boy with special needs, that seemed to be missing his stuffed animal. Another girl came up, and at first Kelly thought she had taken his Tigger. But, it was just the opposite. The little girl, his twin sister, was safeguarding it for him. She looked after her brother and shared her food with him. This three-year-old girl who has no parents and no possessions in the world, could very well have kept the toy and food for herself. Instead, she was totally selfless. This is a theme we have seen over and over, like the little boy at the tent city who divided up his candy with the other boys--those with the least are willing to share the most. It is a lesson that we can follow. And here's the plug for Lifeline-- Kelly has decided to sponsor that three-year-old girl, and you can sponsor a child too, ensuring that they will get a full belly and the hope for a better life.

But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Today the group spent time distributing goods and supplies to a large "Tent City." These cities spread all across Haiti since the major earthquake.

All of Friday's comentaries come from the journal of Michelle Chapman:

"Once we were driving up the dirt road to the tent city, people started coming out of their tents, especially the children. There was a sense of excitement in their faces. We each took a box and followed the leader to different tents and dropped off our boxes. The tents were made of tarps and sticks. It was VERY warm inside of them. Each had one bed with a blanket, a chair in the corner next to the bed and in the front right corner there was a “kitchen.” The kitchen consisted of a foot by foot area where they can put their pots and pans on a very small table. It would not be what we consider as a house... After passing out the boxes, we moved all of the children into the tent church. Here we passed out pillow case dresses, treat bags, and t-shirts. I walked up to this little boy, about 2 years old that had no clothes on. He was eating some crackers from his treat bag. He ate so fast that by the time I got to him the crackers were gone! An older girl, Sonya, proceeded to open up his other bag of crackers. She took 2 of them and gave him the rest. I felt so sorry for him. He was just standing there. No parents, no siblings, nobody specifically looking after him. He had nothing but the crackers."

"I knew this may have been the only thing that he has eaten in a while."

"As we were getting ready to leave the leader of this 'city' gathered all of the people he could around our truck. Our time here ended with Todd bringing the gospel to the people and saying a prayer while Robinson, our Haitian friend interpreted."
"From here we went off to one of the poorest orphanages. We walked in and all of the children were sitting on wooden benches. They started to sing a song about how they were so glad that we were there. We handed each of them silly bands, treat bags, and pillow case dresses. All of the children joined us in a version of Father Abraham. They sang in Creole while we sang in English. After pictures of the beautiful girls, we were taken on a tour of this orphanage. There are about 20 children who live here. It is put together with some concrete block walls and tarps. There were 3 beds. We were told that most of the kids sleep on the ground on tarps. My heart was broken for them. As we were listening to the conversations between the woman and man who work here, I began to cry. The thought that keeps running through my mind is this:
We have a choice to make!
Are we going to sit back, live our lives, and do nothing, OR are we going to stand up for justice and do something to help others?"
Thanks again to all of our Pillow Case Dress Friends!
Please continue to be in prayer for the Starfish team members, their guides in Haiti and of course the children, men and women that they are working with throughout the week. This is a physically and emotionally exhausting time and they all appreciate your extra prayers!