This is Me!

This is Me! The good, the bad, and the bald. You get it all! But I have hair now. This spring I'll be rockin the pixie.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Looking Back - Part 1


It is hard to believe that Mark's trip to Haiti is here and gone. I think we always know things will come and go faster than we can imagine but when it does it is still a bit mind boggling. I am going to try to put words to Mark's experiences with him for you. I'm not sure he even knows where to begin with it all.

To say that this trip was life changing would be a gross understatement. At the first mention of a possible trip last spring, our pastor thought Mark should go. Being well employed with a demanding job, this was not even a blip on his radar. But when you don't have a job to prevent you from doing things you wouldn't normally do... I guess you could say "the sky is the limit!" God saw fit to allow Mark to be unemployed to make this decision a little bit easier. He still felt that the timing wasn't right to be going on the trip when he didn't have a job to pay for it. I said one thing that I think he may have listened to. "You don't ever go or not go on a mission trip based on your finances. You pray about it and let God decide. If He wants you to go, the funds won't be an issue." And God was faithful to provide abundantly what was needed for this trip, for the whole team.

As the preparations began to take a more physical form; shots, supplies, donated items, I think the reality of it all began to sink in. He was going to Haiti. With this firmly in his mind, he moved forward with eagerness and determination. He actively participated in fund raisers, got all the things he would need ready, only to be met with the first and only real road block. In early to mid December, as you may remember, commercial airlines were unable to land in Haiti due to political and civil unrest among the people. This really dampened Mark's spirit. After hours of prayer at home, at the church with the elders, and with the other team members, and with the ban on the airlines lifted we made a decision as a church, as a family, and as a team to go forward. We had been given a word of prophesy that God would create a window of time for our team to safely go in, hold their clinics, help in the orphanage, and get back out. He did just that.
I mention this background to just give you a little insight into his heart before leaving. It wasn't for the people of Haiti so much as it was a heart of obedience.

Something changed that! Dramatically! After spending 10 days in this dark and broken country, Mark's heart has forever been changed. This began the moment they landed in Haiti and got off the plane.

The air holds a fowl stench. Odors of burning plastic, rotten garbage, raw sewage, and death permeate the air confirming that you are no longer in the US. Validating this assault on your sense of smell are the sights you take in. Now your eyes have been accosted by this atrocity. Mounds of rubble containing concrete from buildings, folded re-bar, and trash are the common landscape of this country, broken up only by the vast expanse of tent villages. These blue and white seas of make-shift homes are everywhere and they are truly massive. Hundreds and thousands of families are still housed in these tarp communities. Not exactly living the good life, is it?

Eager Haitians surround you, hoping to be of some assistance with your luggage, expecting a tip of some kind in return. Fortunately, they had been warned of this and arrangements had been made for them to be picked up. This may have been the first time Mark ever felt glad to pay a tax to the Department of Transportation for road maintenance and repair. Driving in Haiti is an adventure all on its own. With no laws to govern the roads, no lines to designate lanes, and horns to announce a merge, you put your life into the hands of your driver the second you get into their vehicle. I assure you this was no yellow brick rode that they followed either, rather a road of poverty and despair. Judy Garland said it best in "the Wizard of Oz" "We aren't in Kansas anymore Toto."

In addition to the things previously mentioned, there were streams of water flowing through the town, full of debris and garbage. Another common occurrence was people relieving themselves where ever and when ever that urge should arise. Broken down vehicles were not towed and repaired. They were left where they died and anything of value was stripped from them. Street vendors hawking their wares lined the streets. And everything was covered in dirt.

And so begins his journey.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Final Day in Haiti

Can you believe the time is almost up? I know of at least one that was wishing it were a bit longer. Today they continue with the medical clinic, clean up projects, and English lessons. Pray that the God would protect the team today from fear and temptations, that He would keep the unity of the team in Christ, and that they would remain healthy and strong for this final day.

Just because our teams head back home tomorrow and our personal interests of having a loved one back will be met, lets not forget the passion we have felt this last 10 days in praying for this people and nation. I urge you to continue to set aside a portion of your prayer time to remember this people group. Continue to seek God's spiritual cleansing of the land. Pray that darkness would be vanquished and the true light and love of Jesus would begin to shine and grow. And pray for those children. There are hundreds of them stuck in orphanages and children's homes. Pray that God would use this confined opportunity to make himself known to this younger generation.

As our team and the team from Alabama head home tomorrow, remember to pray for safe travels for them, but more importantly lets ask God to really be speaking to them about how this trip will affect their lives in the future. What did He show them in Haiti over the last 10 days that He wants them to carry with them throughout their daily walk? What things do they need to leave there and hand over to God? What will re-adjustment feel like and look like? Does God want them to make big changes in their own lives and the lives of their families, or was this a time to grow in Him, serve others, and learn to trust Him on a deeper level for things beyond their control? For each person the answer to these questions will probably look very different, but I pray they each take the time to really seek God as they re-enter our fast paced, modernized, lives of "stuff" and discern His will for their tomorrows.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Are you looking to start the new year by not only trimming your waist line but trimming your expenses as well? Me too. On both accounts. One little trick I have is making my own laundry soap. I got this recipe last year from my sister-in-law and have been using it ever since. It is very easy to make and extremely econmical. All you need is Borax, Washing Soda, and FelsNaptha soap.

Things you will need to get started:
1 c. each Borax and Washing Soda
1 bar Fels Naptha, shredded

1- 5 gallon bucket with lid
5-8 cups of water to get started.

In a big pot, combine the above ingredients with the several cups of water. It isn't exact on the water. Stir over medium heat until all ingredients are mixed well. I find this takes about 10 - 15 minutes. Once it is melted and well combined, pour into the 5 gallon bucket and fill the rest of the way with water. Occasionaly it will set like with a jello like texture. I use my hand mixer and find this works really well to get it into the liquid state I want for washing.

I know several others of you that have made and used this soap so if you have any additional hints or suggestions, please post comments so we can all learn the new tricks.

Use 1 c. per load of wash. This year we got front loaders and I find we are only using about half that much so it is going even farther.

Happy New Year!

Today in Haiti, the two teams are reunited to fill the children's home with lots of fun games and prizes and some totally deserving kids. That's right its New Years Party Day. Deb Anderson went above and beyond to provide some really fun, special treats for these kids today. She has planned a New Years party extravaganza. Let's pray the kids are blessed a much as she has been in planning this day. They will also be holding a special praise service to honor the Lord and his faithfulness in 2010. Pray that they would all feel the presence of the Holy Spirit right there with them, celebrating. Lord I ask that this would just be a fun day of relaxing and celebrating for all the team members and children. I pray today the laughter of the children would be to your glory.