Report by Pastor Jeremy
It’s Monday morning and we are in full swing of taking pictures of all the Haitian children in the school. Clint, Lisa, and Vicki are hard at work with organizing and picture taking. Kristin and Miranda are sitting at the exit point giving each child a bracelet that Miranda and her Grammy made (over 400 total!). Our family, church family and friends helped supply the materials Miranda needed for this endeavor, and it’s quite rewarding to observe the smile on the kids’ faces as they receive their bracelets. These are simple rubber band bracelets, yet they bring so much joy to the kids. Once again I’m reminded: it’s not the expense of a gift that makes it special – it’s the heart and motive behind the gift-giver. When we finalized plans to come to Haiti a month ago, Miranda had a goal to make 400 bracelets and give one to each child; God gave her that vision, and expanded to many others who helped her accomplish her goal. To sit and observe what is taking place brings such joy to me. Our prayer is that each child, when looking at their bracelet after we leave, will be reminded of our love and, most of all, of God’s love.
Last night we worshiped at Jerusalem IV Church. In a word: WOW! We sang, praised, lifted hands, danced, laughed, and enjoyed the presence of God as we each worshiped in our language. I preached on living pure lives. My object lesson was a water bottle filled with clean water, representing a clean, pure life. As I added scoops of dirt to the water, I talked about how our life becomes dirty and unpleasant when we sin. God desires our life to be a living and pure sacrifice. We can’t be pure with sin in our life. As I shook the water bottle and the water became very dirty, I then took another bottle filled with clean water and asked the people which one they would rather drink. They laughed when I held up the dirty water and asked, “Would you like to drink this?” “NO!” they exclaimed. Then I held up the clean water. “Would you like to drink this one?” “YES!” (actually it was “oui” or “wi”) they laughingly rang out in concert. I simply left them with this thought: if we desire cleanliness and purity, why would we offer God anything less? He desires righteousness, and our righteousness is found in Jesus Christ. I prayed, and when the pastor led in a response time, 3 young people prayed to receive Jesus as Savior!
On the way to the church, we rode in Gabriel, which was packed with Haitian youth. On the bumpy, dusty journey up the mountain, praise songs broke out! They were singing so loudly that as we approached people on the side of the road, they stopped what they were doing and focused on us driving by. They responded with smiles and waves. I’ve said it before, but I must say it again: the pure joy and happiness of the Haitian people is one among several things that impacts me the most. How can one be so happy and joyful with so little? When you have the joy of the Lord, you have all the reason in the world to rejoice! Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met have had the most materially. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever been around have had the least materially. Once again, Jesus must have been on to something when he posed, “What does it prosper someone if they gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”
By the way, Haitians don’t have “space” issues that we have in America. We’ve been sat on, rubbed against, leaned on, crammed in the back of Gabriel with our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ, and we love it! Yesterday afternoon we walked through the village surrounding the mission compound distributing some bags of rice. We were invited into a home smaller than a typical work shed in an American backyard. As we were greeted with hugs, our team crammed into this little house and had a great visit. I think our “personal space” issue we have in America is one more ingredient mixed into our culture that has disconnected us from experiencing the joy of fellowship. My personal space has been invaded…and I’m the better for it.