Early this morning on this last day of 2014, I finished reading The Book. This Book of Life with all the stories of God that bring knowledge to the core of my being that God is present in history, in this very moment, in the soon future and in eternity. These stories bring truth upon truth for comprehending my own part in the story that is still unfolding.
From the trivial moments of discord in relationships to the wrenching tear-filled hours after another horror visits our lives, God is there. He is not far away but present bearing with us the pain we hold. He takes it all and transforms it, redeems it for a purpose greater than any of us. Eugene Peterson describes it well:
“Reality …is God-shaped and God-filled”
I hold this, cling to this, look carefully to have eyes to see it. We are for good or evil, living the story. I want mine to reflect His glory, to make Him visible. My one word for 2015 is Present. Both to be aware moment by moment and to reveal .
This time at home for Christmas is a glorious montage of pleasure and comfort: untold numbers of strings of lights on street after street, the aromas and sights of every food the heart might desire, the living room pine tree soaring to the ceiling with a multitude of the ornaments from so many holidays past, the fire is both heating and scenting the room, family has gathered bringing gifts with full hearts. With technology, even those a half world away have been able to join us to celebrate. I savor it all. I’m holding these moments and treasuring them. Tomorrow we will start our return to our other life. A life that has been an amazing gift of God, a much simpler life with great clarity of purpose. God knew that for me, leaving and serving in Haiti is what I NEED. Seeking the lost, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, teaching, caring for the least in the company of like- minded companions is a privilege. God knows well our “bent” and over and over I find the ways He prepared me over a lifetime for this task. There is one challenge for those of us raised to value independence and self-reliance: to lean back on God for the resources needed in this kingdom work. It is both a struggle and a blessing. It has its stresses and pressures but the gift that it yields is knowledge confirmed over and over that this is GOD’s work, not the fruit of my hands. Instead it is His Body, the Church, re-presenting Him to the world by their gifts and their actions that produce this harvest. Those who support this effort have paid a dear price and I take seriously the responsibility to use it well. It is this combination of all the various gifts we bring together that makes His work flourish. The stories of how this unfolds over and over with no effort on my part are strong reassurance of how life events come from the hand of God. I have some fresh new events of just December to share:
- Vitamin Angels accepted the grant application to provide daily vitamin supplements to pregnant and breastfeeding women and to children under five years old. It was shipped to Haiti on Dec 19. Sowing Hope Foundation chose to support this gift by raising the funds needed to ship the vitamins to Haiti. They learned of this project through a college friend of my daughters and contacted me to offer this help.
- OneEgg Haiti funding was extended another month through December through City Church/ Donna Tente’s support both financially and by bringing HHM to OneEgg’s attention.
- VelvetAshes chose to support our new initiative of tire gardening for 50 families PLUS a daily egg for 30 children for a full year as their annual December giving.
- The mamba closet was stocked for 2 full months (to assure supply during these times of political instability and disruption) because of the continuing generosity of Jean Behnke.
- Debbie Lehman with friends pulled together and packed the baby items that we use to reward women attending breastfeeding classes and bringing the new babies in to the clinic in first week of life.
- A ”chance” choice of a seat in the airport Dec. 18 next to Dee Mathes, Executive Director of United Deaf International Services, brought an offer to participate with a booth presentation in our Kid Health Fairs scheduled for May 18 and November 18, 2015, our first Special Needs Kids Health Fair in July 2015 AND to connect us to hearing screening professionals serving in Haiti.
- Yesterday, Team Canada Healing Hands responded to Dee’s email with an offer to visit us on Jan 11 to begin to organize hearing evaluations and referrals.
- Finally, two days ago I opened a card from my PNP colleagues from my years at Parkland to find a very generous check to fund a developmental toy lending library for the special needs children gravitating to our clinic. Allison Harker had just concluded a course called Perspectives and responded by asking me on Dec. 10 what could she do to help. An attached little yellow post it note on the check with each giver’s name brought faces and memories and tears too.
The blessing is getting to see it… the wonder of this God! The steps down this road over the past 5 years have been marked by experiences like this time and time again. At every turn, obedience has been followed by exactly what we need for the next step. We ALL can live as one sent: content, at peace, fearless, with great courage. Be strong: wherever He calls YOU. He is reliable for every resource you will need.
Humbled by the Gifts of the Poor
I am profoundly humbled by these gifts, bit by bit filling up a basket for children and mama’s in Haiti. My first response to the news of the help to come was tears and they rise again today as I write my thanks. Your contributions are truly sacrificial and reflect willingness to endure a level of hardship for others for the sake of the gospel. To make Him known to the ends of the earth; to poor women with not enough to feed their children in Gressier. I thank you for making Him visible to them, to me and to the church.
The mama’s of course believe we all have great riches in America and that the roads ARE paved with gold. They simply cannot know what each of you has given up in comfort and security to bring the good news to the places in which you are serving and now extending beyond that, to bring food to the hungry. But I know. Lives given joyfully, happily but still suffering for His sake.
My little feeding program serves the poor of a poor community. Some live high above us in isolated mountain villages no one could find without a guide. Others live in crowded metal shacks in conditions that shock even seasoned third world workers. But you have seen us. Your outstretched hand holding food has touched more than bodies. God has sent you from all over this earth to minister to a small program serving little people living in anonymous places . We know again that we are not alone.
Finally, you have offered a modern example of the widow’s mite for the church to see. You live on so little in your far-flung places. You must raise support in the too short times you are visiting the US. The gift represents food from your tables, time away from family and friends, lives laid down for the sake of the gospel. It is visible: Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Hallelujah! He has been proclaimed.
Numbers make me anxious. Geometry and algebra shifted my mild discomfort to full phobia by the end of my junior high years. I struggled through high school and then all the prerequisites for nursing, finally heaving a sigh of relief at the end of my nurse practitioner program. Math incompetence did not prevent me from achieving my dreams and by marrying an accountant–to-be, I would have a secure future never needing to manage this realm again.
Thirty-five years later, you know it did not all turn out like that. Each decade of those years had their financial issues that forced me to increase my skills in spite of fear and this season is no different. I am learning now that I can enjoy new depths of serenity, peace and security in spite of the circumstances I have chosen.
In choosing to obey Jesus and come to Haiti at this stage of life, I have reduced my income to the lowest of a lifetime while starting a malnutrition program that costs close to $2000/month. You are right, that math does NOT add up but I do not fret much about this. I have my moments of anxiety but I bring those thoughts captive to truth. God has orchestrated every decision we have made coming to Haiti and I remind myself that He is charge and works for me and every child in my program. He meets all our needs. If I focus on food, I will lose sight of His great purpose here to bring the Haitian people to a hope for eternity in His presence.
Celebrate with me in this fact: the resources come every month on time. It comes from small children emptying piggy banks to seniors sharing onetime gifts to faithful monthly supporters. In any lean months, I have had enough of my own resources to cover bills. People who have no idea of what the needs are have responded to the tug of Spirit of God and sent a contribution at just the right time for just the right amount. Down to the dollar.
One friend brought the OneEgg Haiti program to Haiti Health Ministries by funding the initial three-month pilot herself. Just as that money reached the end another organization, VelvetAshes, has decided to make OneEgg HHM their Christmas project. Do you see God’s hand?
“To seek the kingship of God first in every affair and every moment of life is a thrilling way to live. It’s full of freedom and peace and joy and adventure-and hardship; and it’s worth it all” John Piper