So many times while living here I am reminded of the words of C.T. Studd - “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” It is difficult to drive around without reflecting on the many allegories of hell that have been depicted throughout history. From Dante's Inferno to more modern Clive Barker representations. The longer I live here the more I am able to understand that so much of the art throughout history depicting spiritual darkness was and is wrought from a firsthand look into it.
Without healthy systems of infrastructure garbage, human waste, and death lie along the streets where it is burned at the whim of whomever is closest and cares the most. The flames lick the air as you pass by and the pungent smoke billows thick and heavy swirling slowly through the tropical heat. Broken streets, buildings, and people mark the landscape identifying the effects of sin on the world that God created to be good, but we marred in our rebellion against Him.
It seems that here the veil between hell and earth is thin. A place where satan and his legions of demons have been openly invited to come and live. It only takes a glance at a Haitian child's history book to understand this. Cartoon drawings depicting a voodoo ceremony where the blood of a pig was drank for power to overcome the occupying French forces and a promise of dedication to satan in the event of victory.
Isn't this where we are supposed to be? Those of us that have been saved by the blood of Christ and called to live a life devoted to Him have not been called to a life of ease and passive enjoyment of entertainment in the grace that God has given us while the rest of the world writhes in painful agony. We have been called to live an active faith. Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The times of graceful pleasure that Christ lavishes upon us are meant for enjoyment to recharge us so that we can be stronger when we re-enter the battle.
Even though the darkness is so much more evident here than in most other places, it doesn't take much effort to find pockets of this in every city and town. Wherever God has placed us we are called to walk out and challenge that darkness in the name of Jesus Christ. We are to submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us. If we can rest idly while lost souls are dying around us, then I would challenge the depth of understanding of our own salvation.
Every time he is challenged though, we can expect him not to be too happy about it. Regularly since I have arrived in Haiti I walk the area I am responsible for and pray. It seems like the more fervent and effective my prayers are the more resistance I meet. The more I learn specific details to pray for the more fervently I pray. Most nights I walk the roof of our house. I always begin with praise to our Holy God, intercessory prayers for those in spiritual and physical need, prayers of protection for my friends and family, and always prayers challenging the forces of darkness that have such a grip here.
After learning some of the names of demons that are regularly worshiped here in conjunction with their manifested presence, I have been praying prayers against them commanding them to leave and release their grip on the people. It seems like there is always a battle the next day in some area of my life. Sometimes infighting in my family, sometimes stronger than usual temptations to sin, and the latest has been crippling sickness.
Being sick is hard. Being sick in Haiti is harder. Having most of the family struggling with stomach illness is hard. Having most of the family struggling with stomach illness while every flush of the toilet requires a bucket of water to be carried in from the well outside can make you question your sanity.
The month or so of sickness began like this. A rough night of stomach stuff and a rough next day or two. Somewhat usual for Haiti, still pretty hard, but we survived. Lance and Amy were the only ones still well and they pretty much took care of the rest of us. Did I mention that there is no relief from the heat here?
At one point I heard Abby moaning and asking for help. When I arrived I realized that there was a tarantula crawling around on top of her mosquito net. I chased it around and finally killed it with a concrete trowel, all the while Abby moaning, dry heaving, and trying to avoid the tarantula and my attempts to kill it with the trowel.
I can't remember the exact events in chronological order, but I will try to recount them for you the best I can with what I can remember. After the stomach thing Amy got high fever that just would not go away. She was incapacitated and bedridden for a total of 6 days plus two more where she was able to move around a little All of the symptoms pointed to dengue. No cure, just wait for it to pass. I gave her 3 malaria tests hoping for a positive because you can actually treat malaria.
The night before Amy's fever broke I went to the local store that sells Gatorade in an attempt to get her something that would help her re-hydrate. The fresh coconut water was starting to get old. I stood in line forever and finally arrived at the counter. When I paid the lady at the counter refused to give me change because she claimed she didn't have it. I knew that she could have just called to the guy out at the gas pump with a wad of cash in his hand, but she didn't want to.
Instead she just said, “You are a white guy, you can afford it, just give me the change.” I was furious and asked to talk to the manager. The manager looked at me and said, “She doesn't have it.” I told them to give me my money back and that I didn't want to buy anything from them anymore. At first she thought I was joking and refused. When she finally realized I was serious she reluctantly gave me my money back and glared at me as I walked out the door.
I wrestled with that decision so hard. The ethical, biblical, christian aspects as well as my wife lying in bed feeling like she was going to die and I didn't get her Gatorade because I was tired of being taken advantage of. I didn't sleep well and prayed for her checking on her every hour. At 2 am after 6 full days of high fever it finally broke. The next morning I got up early, took Luke, Bebey, and another Haitian to Leogonne on the moto truck to look for powdered Gatorade.
We asked around and finally found a place that almost resembled a grocery store. Much smaller and less variety, but they did have a few of the things we needed – most items were very overpriced. Gatorade Powder, Jiff peanut butter, and some sugary stale, off brand, cereal that tasted like gold to my kids as the ate it with powdered milk were a few of the things we found.
On the way out of Leogonne we passed by a man lying on the side of the road. There were people all around him just passing by with no thought to his existence. It seems like I always notice these things too late to really react. I noticed the sight, but then took a long time to process what I was seeing, and then even longer to process what my action should be. By this time we were long gone, but the memory still remained and my heart was heavy with what I should have done about it.
The man was lying down next to a gutter full of garbage. His legs were in the air with his knees bent and the only piece of clothing he had on was an old ragged shirt. He was just lying there shaking. A hundred thoughts raced through my head about possible actions to take, but in the end I did nothing and continued on consumed with my own mission.
I was feeling pretty bad myself having had various levels of sickness and different days of fever coming in and going out. Luke was in about the same condition I was in. The best part of the day was finding a store that sold real hamburgers. They tasted fairly clean and boosted our spirits.
The store next door sold Armour hot dogs and American eggs from a real refrigerated section. Meat has been our most difficult food to find and I am constantly concerned about the amount of protein and B12 we don't get. It is rare to find meat that has been handled properly and refrigerated. Most meat is handled in the open sun, in the open market, on wooden tables, cut with rusty machetes, no source of water for cleaning, and then left on the tables to be visited by flies and vermin until someone buys it. Even the hot dogs sold in the open market lie waiting in the sun devoid of refrigeration.
Even through the levels of family illness I continued to lead our English class, Bible studies, meet with the discipleship group, and preach. It is like being in war. There are bullet wounds, sickness, and casualties, but you continue to fight because if you don't you will be overtaken by the enemy.
It was so hard day after day to look at the thermometer and see someone else with fever. Lance and Amy both had the worst cases of dengue. They both expressed that it felt like they were on the edge of death the whole time. I would sit with them and pray, try to serve where I could, and continue with our mission. All of us contribute to regular living here every day. Whenever anyone is down it puts a hard strain on everyone else and their duties. Whenever multiple people are down it is only by the grace of God you continue to make it.
There were several times that I had the stark recognition that a breaking point could come and we would actually be in danger of not surviving. However, neighbors brought us lots of fruits to eat, there was always someone well enough to take care of everyone else, and God's grace prevailed. It is really hard to describe the gratitude we have for everyone praying for us. It means more than words can describe.
The health care system here locally is pretty medieval. We are so thankful to the doctors and health care professionals in our life that took the time to communicate with us. May God bless you and your families for investing your time and money into the mission work here. I remember reading stories in history of the early hospital situation in America where people would often die in the hospital because the situation was worse there than just riding it out at home. I can now understand first hand what this was like.
Amy started crying when Abby got fever. I don't know if it was a blessing or a curse when her fever turned out to be malaria. At least it was treatable. I was so thankful to the people at Mission of Hope Clinic for helping us through these times with malaria tests and medicine. Abby started recovering shortly after starting on the chloroquine.
Luke has been steadily losing weight since we got here. He went through various stages of fever, stomach illness, and lots of crazy skin stuff. He got a bunch of ant bites on his legs that just wouldn't heal and only continued to get worse. One of our doctor friends found that in rare cases ants can carry a parasite that you will be infected with after they bite you. Once Luke started treatment for this he started to get well.
I went to the pharmacy and bought some penicillin and B complex injections just to have on hand. I paid about 5 USD for 2 vials of each along with needles and sterile water. After leaving the pharmacy I stopped at a local store to buy some powdered milk and recognized a familiar face sitting in the doorway selling empty soda bottles. I couldn't place where I knew him from right away so I just started general conversation.
It wasn't long before I realized that it was the guy that we fed the day Lance's shoes were stolen. I looked down and sure enough there were Lance's green Nike slides – unmistakable. I stopped all conversation and simply said give me the shoes or I'm going to take you to the police station. Two guys were standing by the store drinking beer and overheard the conversation. One of the men pulled out his badge and said, “You don't have to go to the police station, I'm an off duty police officer. What do you need?”
I told him the story and the shoe thief didn't refute, he just said that he stole them because he didn't have any shoes. The policeman even made him find a bag for me to carry them in. I gave him the equivalent of 2 USD to buy a pair of sandals before leaving, but refused to give him a ride to buy some more.
Lance was pretty happy to have his Nike slides back. He washed and bleached them then dried them in the sun. I'm not sure how word travels around so fast, but amazingly Albertson showed back up that day for the first time in weeks. I told him that I knew he didn't steal the shoes, but he still has to be responsible to tell me if he knows someone is going to steal something from my house. He resumed his routine of showing up in the afternoon for a plate of food.
One of the most difficult things is being treated differently because of skin color. Every time I shop for our food in the open market I have to battle the stigma of being white and assuming I can and will pay more because of this. Wesley always helps me shop in the market and time after time Haitians complain that he should not help me get a fair price. One lady almost became violent saying that he was against the Haitians because he was helping me shop and wouldn't let me overpay. A long argument ensued that Lance just happened to catch on film. Wesley simply said that he and I might be a different color but we had the same Father in Heaven and that made us brothers.
Theft is so common and it is difficult to know sometimes that you are buying products that were acquired through legitimate means. One product that is easy to spot as stolen is boxes of rice meals that have been donated. The Haitians call them Ti Panic. Organizations and churches donate this product to Haiti in hope that those who are truly hungry will be fed. Too often I am learning that this product gets taken at some point in route to the hungry people and sold at a price in the market.
While walking through the market I noticed a tall stack of the boxes being sold. I asked the lady selling them where she got them. She thought I wanted to buy some and started negotiating a price. I challenged her and said that I knew the boxes were stolen and that what she was participating in was wrong and she could only expect God's judgment for continuing. Completely unremorseful she just justified her actions and said that she needed the money. Oh God bring your conviction of sin that leads to repentance.
The house we are staying in has so many needs to be more comfortable and secure. We decided to invest in window bars with heavy mesh to keep out people and tarantulas. I saw some windows like this on a neighbor's house and asked where I could buy them. I got a name and it wasn't long before the guy showed up at my house without me even asking. Word travels fast.
He came, measured and gave me a price. I thought the price was too steep but thought that as long as he did a good job it was worth it. He lives right across the national road from me. I thought it would be good to put the money into the community. We agreed on what would be done and set a date for him to begin. He assured that he could do all the work and I would not need anyone else or need to spend any more money. I paid him ¾ up front and agreed to pay the rest upon completion.
He finished the windows on time and even showed up to install them when he said he would. It became obvious right away that his measurements were not that exact and there were large gaps on every window. His install job wasn't that great either. When he got down to the last two windows he said I would need a concrete worker to install them. A cover for the well was also part of the agreement. He hadn't started on it yet, however he insisted on being paid.
I haggled with him a little bit because he didn't finish the job, but then reluctantly paid him wanting there to be no fault on my end before God. I got Wesley to finish the last two windows and put concrete around all the rest. Wesley did an awesome job and made up for all the poor workmanship of the welder. The guy didn't show back up for almost two weeks and finally came one day to measure when word started getting around that he hadn't finished the job.
He called me later that day and said he would need more money to complete the project. That was it. From somewhere in the depths of my being I mustered all the Creole necessary to explain each problem that I had with him in sequence, explain that he could keep his money and I would find someone else to finish, and also I would be bringing someone to his house to help me translate so that everything would be clear. This all just happened to be the same day that I was in Leogonne buying the Gatorade for Amy and I was already pretty stretched thin.
After returning home I went to pick up FanFan so he could help me translate. I went to the guy's house and there was the well cover all complete and even painted sitting in his front yard. He wasn't very happy that I brought someone to interpret and tried to pull me over to the side to smooth things out. I wasn't having it and just stood my ground. He then just straight lied.
He said that he thought I was someone else with the same accent and same phone number when he called me. He said it was just a miscommunication. Feeling pretty sarcastic I just said, “Oh I understand, you were doing another job for another white guy with the same phone number and same accent.” To this he sheepishly replied, “Yes.” I got the cover home and it was just small enough that the bucket we use would not fit through it. Thankfully Wesley found a special bucket for us that would fit through the opening.
Haiti seems to be the land of broken things. We brought a 2K inverter with us from the US that didn't work right out of the box when we opened it here. I just happened to pick up a 400W inverter at Radio Shack on sale for $20 thinking that it would make a good car inverter once we got one. I was so thankful to have it when the big one didn't work. I have two large 6V batteries running in series that we charge every night when we run the generator. The small inverter can at least charge some laptops, run 1 small fan, and run two light-bulbs that we use when it gets dark. It didn't take long for the 400W inverter to stop working. Thankfully God had sent us a couple of guys to spend a week with us. One of them fixed the inverter with an external switch. God always gives us what we need when we need it.
Wesley has been able to witness this in our life and is continually amazed at God's provision. It seems that every time someone in the market tries to cheat me, we end up with that same item for free another way. I have explained to Wesley the amazing provision and grace of God through this. Our neighbors have been so generous to bring us coconuts, bananas, breadfruit, and avocados. I tried to buy avocados in the market, but the lady wouldn't take my money because it was too worn. She wouldn't take larger bills either because she didn't want to give me change. In the end I just ended up not buying any. Since that day we have had neighbors bring us more avocados than we can eat.
In addition to this the fruit trees on the property have really started to blossom with an abundance of fruit. Tropical cherry trees, bananas, and mangoes. We have not been able to eat or give away enough bananas to keep the ones we have on hand from spoiling. God is truly the great provider. Joshua 24:13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.'
Two of the biggest root problems I have been able to observe since we arrived here 1 year ago are voodoo outside the church, and heavy legalism on the inside. I prayed so much about these things with a recognition that my prayers may lead the way for God using me in His resolution. In my preaching schedule around the local churches I have started preaching against this legalistic traditionalism by expositing on Colossians chapter 2. In addition to this God has given me a heart to reach out to the local voodoo leadership by building relationships based on the presentation of the gospel. Offering hope and freedom in Jesus Christ instead of slavery to satan.
The heavy legalism is truly crippling. Wesley has accepted Christ, but has never been baptized. The local church leadership has refused to baptize him because he keeps his hair in short braids. Instead of simply submitting to their demands for him to cut his hair, I counseled him that we should pray about this and see what doors God would open up. After a few months of prayer and preaching on traditionalism, the pastors reluctantly agreed that we could put him on the list for baptism like he is. I see this as a major victory for breaking free from the bonds of legalism.
I gave Wesley, FanFan, and Bebey a challenge. I gave them a puzzle made from nails and told them to solve it together. I really thought there was only one possible solution, but Haitians continually show me that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Actually Haitians like to eat cat. At first they were pretty sure that it was impossible. However after much time and attempts they actually solved it their own way. I just shook my head and congratulated them showing them that at first what they thought was impossible they were able to overcome together.
We then read the story of Gideon and God's calling for His life. God whittled his army down to 300 devoted warriors and used him in a mighty defeat against their Midianite enemy. I asked what they saw as their biggest problem facing their local community and was surprised by the answer. They told me they believed teen pregnancy was the biggest problem that they saw. It will be interesting to see how God uses them to tackle this problem.
We had been planning for months to receive Terry and Tyler as our first short term missionaries. The night before they were to arrive Hurricane Erika showed up to give them a Haitian welcome. Everything was tense as we waited to see the outcome and what plans might be shifted as a result of the storm's presence. We didn't get much sleep that Friday night as the winds and rain battered Haiti. The next morning we woke to general storm damage with most of the banana farmers having lost large sections of their crops.
I had arranged for a good friend of mine to bring me to the airport and he showed up right on time. We always leave for the airport 5 hours early even though it is only about 40 miles away. The Haitian road and traffic system is just as broken as so many other things. We were driving for less than 10 minutes when we came to a dead standstill in traffic. After some investigation it was discovered that there had been an accident the night before during the hurricane and no authorities had come to clear the way.
My friend got out and walked to check things out. He came back and said that the accident had happened at 10 pm the night before. It was now around 10 am. Two trucks had collided. One of them was carrying about 20 people and a full load of the sugarcane moonshine known as kleren. Being highly flammable, the trucks burst into immediate flames upon collision. There were no survivors. My friend had taken a picture to show me. Had I known what he was trying to show me I would have refused to look, but I looked at the picture and took a while to process before I could process what I was seeing.
When the police came and cleared the road there was no attempt made to shield the dead from all the passers by. Instead they were on full display for everyone passing to gawk and take pictures. Just another scene reminiscent of the fire of God consuming his enemies in an eternal hell.
The police showed up in time to clear the streets so that we were not late to pick up the missionaries. We actually arrived an hour early to the airport and were able to meet with a man that had a truck for sale. We have been praying for months for God to give us a truck so that we could have real transportation for getting into the mountains with the Gospel, as well as taking care of personal needs.
He said he would bring the truck by the house the next day so that we could take a look at it.
The missionaries got here right on time and we started back to Grand Goave. Right on the edge of Port-au-Prince in the area of Matissant we got a flat tire. At least we had a spare. We changed it and were on our way.
Riding in the back of a pickup is pretty standard for most of the transportation here. The missionaries and I rode in the back of the pickup and I oriented them to our surroundings as well as what to expect for the upcoming week. We stopped at a small parts stand in Leogonne on the way back for some nuts to replace some that had fallen off my motorcycle.
Things are so different here. Instead of walking into Lowe's with isles of all the parts you could imagine, there are just some roadside stands with half oil jugs full of parts on an old wooden table outside. I told the guys what I needed and gave them one of the bolts so the could match the right nuts.
After about 10 minutes of searching they gave me 4 used nuts of various types, but all the right size for about 2USD.
We got the missionaries settled in by setting up mosquito nets and airing up their mattresses. Then we sat down to eat under actual light-bulbs that I had installed the night before and were running with our inverter and battery bank system. Amy had made some Mexican style beans and rice and we commented how nice it would be to have some tortillas to go along with it. The guys looked at each other and said they actually brought us some. We pulled them out right away. Corn and flour tortillas that tasted like heaven. Oh thank you God for your provision and for using your people to bring encouragement to each other.
It seems that God brings an abundance of so many blessings at the same time. The very next day after our missionaries Terry and Tyler arrived we were able to work out a deal to buy a truck. They only had to make 2 trips on our 3 wheeled motorcycle before we got the truck. Thank you God for good transportation.
The spiritual warfare is so strong here that it was good to have Terry and Tyler with us to pray and provide support as we carry out the mission. They brought us all kinds of good food and items that we have trouble finding here so it was an amazing encouragement to have them with us. They also helped us out with our English class.
One of our greatest areas of successful community outreach has been our English class. We don't get too deep, but instead keep it light and conversational. Terry and Tyler introduced themselves to the class and shared their testimonies in English. We asked the class to tell us what they heard in order to engage in conversation. As a test we decided to have a mock store with Terry and Tyler as the storekeepers because they could not speak Creole. It would force the students to speak English. It was a great success and everyone had a good time. They did a great job of interacting with everyone in the community.
One of the days they were here we visited a voodoo temple in order to share the gospel with the voodoo priest known as a Houngan. We spent quite a bit of time before going in prayer and even stopped at the church with FanFan, Bebey, and Wesley in order to pray before proceeding. When we arrived at the temple – known as a peristile – the Houngan was not there. His son informed us that he was away for the day.
While we were standing there talking another man walked up. He said his name was Pastor George and he is the pastor at the church near the peristile. He had been fasting and praying that morning and noticed our arrival from the door of his church. He invited us into his church building for further conversation.
He told us that the Houngan use to beat missionaries and drive them out of the area whenever they would come. For a long time the entire area was filled with voodoo and heavily resistant to the gospel. One day the Houngan got very sick and was near death. It was during this time that the Lord softened his heart and he started to allow Christians to come and share with the community.
Pastor George had just began the church there 3 months before and had been praying for other Christians to come and share in the labor together. That is what he had been praying for when we arrived that morning. He said that the Houngan visits the services of the church, but still has not given his life to Christ. Pastor George remains hopeful that God will eventually save him.
We went from this area known as Deshun to the top of the mountain of Vallue. Everything was so much easier with a truck to get us where we needed to go. It is amazing how God provides just what we need as we need it. We visited the same church there that I had been to before with Wesley. Terry and Tyler shared their testimonies along with some worship songs Terry learned in Creole. Terry played the guitar and they both sang. We were able to encourage the church there to continue in their walk with Christ.
When we finished speaking I was surprised to hear that Wesley wanted to speak. He just shared a little bit of his walk with Christ and then encouraged FanFan and Bebey to speak as well. It was amazing to watch this spontaneous event and to see the guys began to grow in sharing their faith.
After the church service we drove to a market area to eat lunch. Terry and Tyler had brought some trail mix and beef jerky with them so we ate some and shared with the Haitians. After this we started walking down the trail to visit with another Houngan that is Wesley's friend.
We parked the truck at the trail head beneath a tree known to house the head demon for the whole area. He is regularly worshiped here. We stopped before proceeding and prayed over the tree. We prayed that God would drive out the demon and instead the one true God would be worshiped there.
The trail was very rugged. Terry was battling a cold and still trying to adjust to the climate. He really struggled as we walked. Tyler was amazed that people could even live in this rugged area devoid of any services or modern conveniences.
When we finally arrived at the house of the Houngan we found him standing in his yard with several friends and family around. When he found out that we were missionaries he didn't take the meeting seriously at first. But as I began to share the freedom offered in Christ, he seemed to soften and actually listen. I assured him that I would be back to talk to him some more.
There is a local boy age 13 named Yvenson that I have gotten to know. He escaped from an abusive orphanage in Leogonne and just showed up at church one day. After much inquiry we found that he is staying at the house of his aunt along with 8 other people. They provide him some very basic needs, but cannot afford to send him to school.
One day FanFan was helping me with translation while I was talking to him and trying to find out the details of his situation. FanFan critiqued him for running away from the orphanage without his paperwork. I corrected FanFan and told him that it is better that Yvenson is safe and to not be so hard on him. I was truly amazed a few days later when Yvenson showed up at my house with a paper that is the equivalent of a Haitian birth certificate. Upon inquiry I found that he had hopped on the bumper of a truck and rode it to Leogonne. Somehow he had talked to the director of the orphanage and gotten his birth certificate. I would say that is motivation.
We have been getting to know him most of the time we have lived here and decided to help him go to school. I talked to the school director and got him enrolled after taking an entrance exam. He only tested up to 3rd grade level, but I know he has been through a lot.
I took FanFan, Wesley, and Bebey to Gressier along with Yvenson so that we could search for the things he would need for school. It is my desire to commission them to take care of Yvenson. This would be the ideal desired outcome for discipleship. To make disciples that could make disciples - especially as they care for the real practical needs of each other.
As we were searching for a pair of school shoes in the Gressier market the usual discrimination took place. I was standing off to the side of a booth while FanFan negotiated for a price on a pair of shoes. When the negotiation was complete and it was time to pay, the people selling the shoes added to the price when they found out I was paying. They spoke freely to the Haitians not realizing that I could speak Creole.
As I listened and figured out what was going on I walked into the booth and spoke face to face with the people selling and explained that God hated what they were doing. If you have different weights and different measures for different people then God will not bless you and you will never prosper. I went on to say that this is one of the reasons there has not been much change here to the economy. God will not bless swindlers and thieves. The two people just sat there with their mouths open realizing that they were busted. After I walked away they called me back and apologized agreeing to take the amount settled with FanFan. I forgave them and paid the fair price.
This past week our fever was finally all gone, but all of us are still weak and in various stages of recovery and emotion hoping the sickness does not return. We all went to Leogonne and got a burger together. It was a pretty joyous day. The little victories are what keep you going.
I try to take 1 day out of every week just for our family. A true day to have a break. It doesn't always work out but we do it as often as we can. It is amazing the amount of recovery 1 day brings. We are always more effective when we get it and always less effective when we don't. We finished out our day off with a board game sent by a friend of ours through Terry and Tyler. We hadn't played a board game together in a long time. As we sat there in competitive interaction, I realized how important it was to spend time like this together. Oh God please give us health – spiritually, emotionally, and physically – so that we can prosper and advance Your kingdom in this dark place. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. Amen.