Luke turned 17. It is a pretty big deal. Our oldest child is about to officially be an adult. We had a birthday party for him in conjunction with our discipleship group. On the way to bring the group back to their house we noticed that traffic was just starting to back up. It was a little after dark and we were trying to figure out what was going on. After a little discussion we noticed three people laying in the road and a large pool of blood. It appeared there had been a motorcycle accident. We immediately started praying and then noticed a Red Cross vehicle come from behind and pick up the people that had been laying in the road. Definitely dangerous to be on the road here anytime – especially after dark.
Our neighbor Junior came over the next day looking really tired and haggard. He explained that his grandfather had died and they had a funeral. After the funeral they had a special party for the dead. His dad – who lives in America – sent some money for his mother to buy food for him and his sister. The mom spent all the money on the party for the dead grandfather, people came from far and near to eat the food, Junior didn't get anything to eat, didn't get any sleep because of the party, and now all the money and food were gone.
Somehow Luke and Junior got on the subject of good food, and Junior began explaining the best meat he had ever eaten was from a bird. Through the explanation Luke started figuring out that maybe he was talking about a flamingo. He went into our house and got a book with a picture of one so he could make sure. When Junior saw the picture he confirmed that it was the bird he was talking about. He said it was the best meat in the world. Apparently a whole bunch of them flew in one day, his relatives shot all of them and they ate them all - and they were delicious.
Every time I work on the fence I think about Nehemiah. There must be something spiritual about setting a physical boundary that satan doesn't like. Every time I begin it seems like there is a Sanballat and Tobiah standing near ready to throw out some harassment. It is just beyond me to understand it, and it only makes sense in light of scripture.
For some reason I have become recently interested in Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I bought the recent biography written by Eric Metaxas, his Cost of Discipleship, and even a movie based on the later events of his life. I don't agree with all of his ethical conclusions or methods. However, the fact that he could not sit idly by or withdraw to safety in the midst of Nazi controlled Germany is a clear example of a man of God leading by example. He eventually lost his life for standing up for the Word of God during the reign of an evil regime.
I watched the movie the night before I was about to be interviewed by a Haitian reporter in regards to the orphanage situation next door. I was asked to do this by another international ministry that has become involved in the situation. I had the option not to do it, or I could even remain anonymous if I decided to go through with it. After much prayer I decided to do the interview, tell as much as I knew, and be open about who I was. I knew this would put my family and I in danger, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
As I pondered and prayed about this the famous exchange of dialogue between Esther and Mordecai kept repeating in my head. Esther 4:12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
I knew the safest place to be was squarely in the will of God. Anything else would be folly and even more dangerous. When David defied Goliath he did it openly, clearly, and with the name of God as his reason. An open and clear presentation of the truth always brings the most glory to the name of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
When the reporter came I opened with prayer and then just told everything I knew to the best of my knowledge. I wrestled much afterward about how much I told, but just realized that I needed to tell what I knew, and trust God with the results. I didn't make anything up.
We had been praying so much about the house rental situation, and every day here seems to hinge on a thread, that when a man showed up at our house within minutes after the interview was completed to sign a new 2 year contract under the existing terms I knew God was telling us to trust Him and he had a long term plan for us to be here. The nephew of the man that owns the house showed up and said that everything was a go. He spoke English, was very professional, and is an active member of a nearby church with his family. It was actually a pleasant experience. God's timing.
One of our friends called shortly after all this to tell us some good news. His wife was pregnant. We had played music at their wedding over a year ago and they had already been through one miscarriage. We had been in constant prayer for another baby and this was a joyous call to get. We went over to their house so that we could all pray together in person.
Shortly after this one of the investigator's on the orphanage case showed up at my house to explain that the orphanage had officially been put on the list for closure. The children would be placed elsewhere based on what was in the best interest of the child. I thanked him for coming by to explain what was going on. About 10 minutes after he left I received a text message in French from a number I didn't recognize. After using a French – English dictionary to help translate I finally concluded that the message was positive and was an encouragement for what I was doing and that I needed to continue.
Working on the fence in the Haitian heat and dirt makes you completely disgusting. It is difficult to get really clean using 1 cup full of bucketed well water at a time. Thankfully we live close enough to the ocean that I can go an wash my body, clothes, and all in the salt water before “showering” with the cup. It was a refreshing treat one afternoon after returning from the ocean that God sent a wonderful rain storm. The kids and I all headed to the roof with soap and shampoo taking advantage of the holy shower.
The interview was aired on the radio and television. Several police officers and some of my neighbors were interviewed as well. All of our reports confirmed what was happening. People sought me out after the airing to tell me that I had done the right thing. After church a guy that I barely knew pulled me aside and said that he knew the reports were true. He said he had worked for the organization for several years and warned me that they were into voodoo and would definitely attempt retaliation.
One afternoon Amy and the kids had walked to the beach area to enjoy the evening and were approached by the lady in charge of the orphanage. She used her phone to video while making slanderous accusations about me such as I had burned down her house, stole her cow, and beat her horse to death. Amy didn't say anything and the lady eventually walked away. The next day we received a summons to appear in court.
The day of the court proceeding was Friday the 13th. My daily bible reading that day was Psalm 68. Psalm 68:1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. 2 As smoke is blown away by the wind, may you blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. 3 But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds--his name is the LORD-- and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
The court proceeding consisted of me, one of my neighbor's who was interviewed, the man in charge of the orphanage and his son, the judge, and a bunch of lawyers all crowded into a small room with no electricity and a bunch of people standing outside piling on top of each other at the doorway to hear what was going on. A suit is hot. It is hotter in Haiti. It is even hotter in a judge's chambers with no ventilation and a whole bunch of people crowded around thick with anticipation and suspense.
The main accusation being brought against me was that I was trying to destroy the orphanage so that I could start my own with their kids and receive their sponsorship money. I didn't even get a real chance to respond to this foolishness. The only thing I was able to say was that I had taught the reporter how he could find out the amount of money the orphanage was making. It is public information accessible on the internet.
The of the orphanage eventually got in an argument with his own lawyer which led to his son slinking out of the room. The judge had a police officer give him a copy of the interview and he listened to it. After this he made a judgment that he would check out the situation for himself and dismissed everyone. That is the last I have heard about it. A couple of the kids have visited a couple of times hungry and looking for food. I haven't seen any of them at all in over two weeks. As of this writing I don't know what is happening.
Last year I spent the afternoon with a pastor who counsels people who have been involved in the occult. He gave me some really good counseling advice and then a piece of personal advice. He said I needed to make sure and do something normal every now and then. Have some kind of a normal entertainment outlet so I can get a break because this stuff will bring you down if you don't. Right now this outlet has been watching old episodes The Greatest American Hero once a week as a family.
The kids got all into the X-men and Avengers last year. They talked about it constantly. I told them there was a superhero that was better than all of them. As I described The Greatest American Hero they all became very interested and we were able to watch the pilot on Youtube that week. It was definitely an instant hit. Our internet has been so bad this past year in our new location that only recently we have been able to resume watching. One of the kids found a place where they could download the episodes when we were in a place with good internet and then we could watch them later. The first episode we were able to watch after the court proceeding was entitled “Hit Car”. How appropriate. The best part about the show is that it is just a normal guy who makes plenty of mistakes. His only superpower comes from the suit he was given. He lost the instruction book and just does the best he can to figure out how to use it. Definitely easy to relate to.
We have been doing much better with nutrition an even buying food that we like to eat. It has just taken us a while to figure it all out and roll with it when a store is out of something. The more frustrating thing comes when they actually have it but won't sell it to you because they haven't put it in the system yet. I was holding a large container of Parmesan cheese that I had picked up from an entire case sitting on the floor and asked the lady working how much it was. She said that she couldn't sell it to me because it was “poko” in the system. This led to a Clint Eastwood style stare-down for about 30 seconds with neither of us budging or showing emotion. I could hear the theme music from The Good The Bad and The Ugly playing in my head as I stared back. In the end I said nothing and put the cheese back in the box because I knew I was going to get nowhere. About 2 weeks later I was actually able to buy it.
My neighbor Ti Mouche (aka Lucky Machete because he is always carrying a machete) has some friends in the US that have invited him to spend a couple of weeks with them. He asked if I would go to the Embassy with him and help translate while he presented his paperwork. After checking out his story I told him that I would help because he actually had everything he needed. He is also a really hard worker, good farmer, and has a family that he takes care of. His specific reason for going to the US is to visit places to get more info on farming.
I brought him to Leogonne where he applied for the Visa and set up an appointment with the embassy. In the middle of the process he realizes that he needs the papers in order to continue – but they are at his house. I asked him why he didn't bring them. This initiated another famous 30 second stare-down until I voiced that we needed to go back to his house and get them. He got the papers that he needed and we went back to Leogonne. A 30 minute trip one way.
I dropped him off at the office and said I was going to the bank to get some banking done while he was filling out his paperwork. As I passed through an intersection I heard a noise and the truck jolted. I almost didn't notice it, but Luke told me that we got hit in the rear by a motorcycle. There are no stop signs or anything else to help organize traffic here. It is just every man for himself.
I stopped the truck and saw where the motorcycle had hit me near the rear. Barely noticeable damage. I was hoping it was the same for the motorcycle and we could call it even. Of course the motorcycle was nearly totaled. It was obviously the other guy's fault, but I didn't want to push the issue. I just wanted to get out of there. Well that wasn't about to happen.
The motorcycle drive came over and started yelling that I crashed his motorcycle. I told him that HE crashed MY truck! Then a crowd gathered around and of course started siding with the motorcycle driver. I said I didn't want to do anything until we could get the police on the scene. Out of the large crowd of about 30 people stunningly no one knew the phone number to the police station that was walking distance form the accident.
People kept trying to pull me to the side and tell me all the reasons why we didn't need police involvement and the motorcycle driver just kept demanding money for his motorcycle. After almost 10 minutes of this I was finally able to convince all within earshot that I was going to the police station with or without the motorcycle driver. He was welcome to join me and I would even give him a ride there, but I was not about to do anything until the police were involved. Finally the motorcycle driver just threw up his hands and said, “Just go to your house! I don't want anything from you.” He then went back to his motorcycle and started walking it away. The crowd slowly started to disperse. I went to the police station, filled out what is known as a declaration, and then got their phone number.
I went back to the office where I had left TiMouche, but he wasn't there. He got tired of waiting for me and went to the next office with a moto taxi. As I was pulling away from the curb I heard a grinding sound. I couldn't imagine what it was because I had checked around thoroughly before pulling out. I got out of the truck and it turns out I had ran over some dude's bicycle. Again the 30 second stare-down with some other random guy dancing around in the background yelling “Accident! Accident!”. It was a small old dude. By this time I was worn out and I just asked him how much he wanted for the bike. He wouldn't say anything. I offered him 200 Haitian Dollars – about 16 USD with the current exchange rate. He smiled and happily took the money.
Luke told me on the way out that he had seen the guy place the bike under my tire as I was backing up and I didn't see it because I was looking backward. It was set for me to run over it as I pulled forward. Great. Information I could have used before paying the guy.
Yvenson spent most of the year skipping school, hanging out with a bad crowd, and giving his Aunt and Uncle grief. I finally confronted him about it and told him that I would not pay for him to go to school again next year. After a long discussion I told him that I would be willing to meet with him on a regular basis for a while to see if I could help him work through his traumatic past. He agreed and we set a schedule. I talked to his Aunt and Uncle and explained everything to them.
On our first meeting I brought Wesley along and planned to just start with the gospel and see if he was receptive. We waited for 45 minutes and he never showed up. His uncle said that he knew we were coming and even told his uncle he planned to be there. Finally I gave up and was ready to write him off and not waste my time with him any more. As Wesley and I walked down the trail back to the main road I heard someone calling “Pastor! Pastor!” It was Yvenson.
Wesley let him have it for being so late. We all went back to his house and I shared the gospel with him from scripture. He was in a good place of brokenness and Wesley prayed with him to receive Christ as his savior. Wesley and I continue to meet with him for discipleship.
With the fence close to completion I finally found a guy to build a big rolling front gate. He came over to measure and give me a quote. The first price that he gave me was so astronomical that I didn't even try to negotiate. I just shook his hand, thanked him for his time, and loaded up in the truck to take him back to town. As I was pulling out I heard a grating sound and air escaping. I got out of the truck and noticed an old bike brake hanging out of my tire with the bolt part plunged deep inside.
I pulled it out and backed up into my yard to fix it. I instructed the welder to sit at the outdoor table while I fixed my tire. I put on the spare and pulled out my plug kit. I was able to plug the hole and refill the air with the bike style pump. It takes almost 500 pumps to get to full pressure. I put the plugged tire back in place, the spare back underneath, loaded up the welder guy, and headed back out to town.
As we were pulling out he stopped me and said that he wanted to work for me and knew the initial price he told me was too high. We negotiated a more reasonable price and then got back out and wrote up a contract together. As the day was approaching I stopped by his shop one day to check on progress. He said that he wasn't going to be able to make the deadline because he needed more money. I had already paid him ¾ of the price up front and I wasn't about to pay him another dime until he completed it. I just stated the exact amount that I had already paid him to everyone sitting around and how much I would pay him upon completion.
He was startled that I just said all those numbers and was obviously not too happy that the people sitting around could hear and started back peddling. Murmurs from the loiterers started rippling through and finally he just said he would have it completed by the deadline. I left and didn't say anything else until the day before the deadline.
He sent me a text message that said he was ready to install the gate. I went by his shop and he said he would bring the gate that afternoon. I was meeting with another guy in my discipleship group when I got a call from Amy. He came, but was refusing to do any of the installation other than actual welding.
I came home and we sat down with the contract. The contract clearly said “tout bagay”- everything. I told him that I wanted him to deliver the gate, I would pay him what I owed him, and then I would find someone else to do the work. He didn't like this. He was afraid his reputation would be ruined if some other welder had to do the welding portion. This went on for some time and finally I acquiesced. The deception here is only able to be withstood by the grace of God. It is so far reaching. No wonder this place is a mess.
Me, Wesley, and a helper started on all the concrete work required the next morning. We were able to get a trench dug, and the concrete poured around the rail before evening. The welder came back the next day and completed the welding portion. When he was finished he said that he still wanted to do other work for me. I explained to him that I couldn't trust him. There was nothing wrong with his actual welding, but I only wanted to work with people that I could trust.
Baby's dad – Pastor Titus – brought me to talk to another pastor friend of his one day. It was a great conversation. They asked me a lot of questions about my intentions for ministry here. I was actually uplifted and refreshed after talking and praying together with them. After I was dropping off Pastor Titus back at his house he turned to me and said, “I would like to see you plant a church here in Fauche.” It was very encouraging and I said that I would consider it. It is definitely something I had been praying about. I received a book from the First Baptist Church of Roswell, NM called the Four Fields. I started digging into it.
It wasn't too long before God continued to solidify this calling to expand discipleship into planting churches. I got the blessing of our sending church as well as our local church here. I plan to fully engage in this effort beginning in September.
It is amazing to watch how some prayers get answered. I had been praying about selling the 3 wheeled motorcycle for some time. I saw Boss Son Son across from the church one morning and he asked where my motorcycle was. I told him that I wanted to sell it. He said he wanted to buy it. He came by that afternoon, we worked out a deal, and he drove away. It was actually pretty emotional for me. It represented the beginning and end of milestone.
It was great to have some American friends come to visit. They had been at Respire for the week and planned to spend one day with us. All Louisiana people from our hometown area. I went to Gressier to pick them up, ordered pizza from the restaurant next door, dropped them off at my house, and then went to Grand Goave to pick up some of the discipleship group to come and hang out together. About 5 minutes after returning from Grand Goave I heard a voice from the yard. It was Anna. “Isaac cut his leg really bad!” I looked up and saw the 12 year old son of one of the visiting couples limping into our house with the largest laceration I have ever seen on his leg. He had fallen on a rock playing soccer.
People started administering first aid and FanFan called the Mission of Hope clinic to see if they were available. It turns out they were there. I gathered everyone around for prayer, and I drove Isaac and his parents to the clinic. The Haitian doctor that is there now really cares. He explained that he would need some internal dissolvable stitches, and some external stitches that would need to be removed. He had the stitches, but no lidocane.
I told him I would go into town and try to find some. He told me what I should expect to pay for it. I found some at a pharmacy and of course they charged me 2 and ½ times what the doctor said because I am a blan. I got back in under 10 minutes and they were able to start deadening the area. They did a great job of stitching it up.
When we arrived back home the pizza was still not ready so we decided to go back to the restaurant and see what was up. It turns out the cook hadn't shown up yet but was on his way and almost there. It was about 1:45 pm. I asked if I should expect to pick up the pizza at 4? He laughed and assured me it would be ready by 3:30 at the latest. We finally were able to eat a little after 5. We put in the order at 10:30 am. A group member and I were sharing a birthday celebration together. He was turning 24 and I was turning 42.
We went to Port-au-Prince the next day and were able to see another good friend of ours that was bringing us a sewing machine for Pastor Titus. She was heading to a mission in Gonaives, but would give us the sewing machine in the airport parking lot. We used this opportunity to shop for supplies and pick up our mail from MFI before seeing her. We brought our neighbor Galy with us. It was his first time ever to Port-au-Prince. Truly a priceless experience.
On our way out of the grocery store about to head to the airport I heard a loud noise coming from the truck and saw steam going everywhere. I turned off the truck and opened the hood to make sure nothing was on fire. I stooped down and started praying. It was a pretty helpless feeling. It turned out to be a blown AC hose. I was so thankful. We could drive like that – just really hot. It was great to see our friend at the airport. I was able to talk to the mission director of the mission she was going to be working with a long time before she arrived. We actually met at the grocery store before the airport. He asked if we needed help when he saw our blown hose situation.
We both came to Haiti about the same time to work as directors of orphanages. We each lasted six months at our orphanages before we knew we had to get out of the Haiti orphan care business. We are both still here following the call of God on our lives to Haiti. I will be interested to see what may develop in our relationship in the future.