The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cocobe' (Co-co'-bay)

Cocobe' in Haiti is the word given to anyone who is crippled or handicapped.  It is a word of contempt in most cases lacking any connotation of compassion.  In a culture where resources are so limited and life is already so fragile, very little compassion is reserved for those that are viewed as a waste of resources.  Why use up food, time, energy, and resources for a life that is not going to make any difference?  Even good intentioned, moral people have this mindset most of the time.  But Kevin was able to break down that wall in many of the lives he encountered in his short time here.

We were given Kevin as a last resort after he lost his mom in the Earthquake in January 2010.  He came to live with us in August and he brought much joy and  readjustment of priorities into our lives.  The lady that found him after the earthquake could not care for him and he weighed just 13 pounds at age 3 when we got him.  He had severe cerebral palsy and could not do anything for himself, but he had a smile that beamed and melted hearts.

Kevin managed to win over the hearts of all of our Haitian staff as well as any visiting missionaries that came to visit.  He would just hang there on my arm and smile ear to ear as we would go about our work around the mission.  I understand more than ever that every life is precious.  Every person is a perfectly planned out piece in the mechanism of God's creation.  Even though Kevin passed away today, I know his life made a difference.  I know it did for a fact because it made a difference in me.

I have never felt like I could care for a special needs child.  I never thought I had the patience or compassion. But I learned that God loves to use the least likely of techniques to change the things in us that need changing. As I helped build a coffin today to hold my little buddy and then washed and arranged his body before Joy and I dressed him for his burial, I could sense in my heart that God had done a work in me to help me love in a broader way and appreciate the sacredness of this fragile life we are given.

We buried Kevin today just 3 weeks after burying little Callie.  It has only been 2 months since Daphne died in my arms in the same hospital where Kevin died.  It is strange how death has such a profound affect on our view of life.

Joy reminded me as we were acting as funeral directors and dressing Kevin for his funeral, that children are a "gift" from the Lord.  When we got Kevin he did not have a name.  They never named him because his life did not seem to have a reason.  But I praise God for the "gift" He gave us in little Kevin.  I praise Him because it helps me appreciate the "gift" of all of our other kids- both Haitian and American.  I pray that I never get to where I can let another day go by without TRULY cherishing my family and friends and the ones God has given us to minister to.  Most of our lives are not as short as Kevin's but one day we will be just as gone as he is right now.  I am reading a book right now that I recommend called "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado.  I pray I can outlive my life in such a way that somewhere, in some way, some one can say that God used me to change something in them the same way that God used Kevin to change something in me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

For God So Loved the World that He Gave...

Things have been rather complicated as of late.  We moved to Haiti 7 months before the earthquake.  We lived in a little apartment on top of a small orphanage.  After the quake we moved from there to a place we found that we could rent from a Frenchman for one year.  During that year God blessed and we were able to start a children's home and all of the other projects you can read about on this blog.  But then that year ended and the Frenchman did not want to renew the lease.  That left us home hunting again.

The place we left was a resort-like property on the water where we were able to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean.  But it was very high maintenance and I had to spend lots of time and money generating electricity, pumping water, and fixing problems.  All of which had to be done after spending the day caring for the needs of the mission and the people we were ministering to.  So as we learned we would have to move we knew God would open a door for us...but as is often the case, it was not  until the last minute that it opened.

We looked and looked for a house that could accommodate a family of 8 and be secure and safe for the family during times of me being on the road or out late.  We also needed to be close to the mission and the fishing village.  As I was getting tired of looking for houses, Joy recommended that we go to the local hotels and ask if they had apartments or other properties to rent.  I hesitated as I thought that it would be too expensive even if they did have something.  So Joy took the initiative and called a friend that worked at one of the hotels and got us an appointment with the manager.  Long story short, we were able to work out a deal where I will serve as their eye doctor and our teams will stay there if they need a hotel, in exchange they let us rent the one 3 room apartment that they have that just so happens became available for the first time in three years.  So although we all 8 live in under 600 square feet, we love our new home.  It is safe, secure, and Joy has people there that speak English!

We have already been able to meet people from Germany, Bermuda, and several other missions as well as making connections that have allowed us to transport a patient via helicopter to PaP, hopefully provide a source of water for the Mission, and a connection with Samaritan's Purse to get OCC shoe boxes for our 1500 kids in Pastor Cesar's schools for next year...all in our first week at the new place.  God is so good!

We were at the mission Monday and little 5 month old Callie had a fever.  We started medication and thought she was doing okay.  Tuesday night she took a turn for the worse and died at 4 am Wednesday.  We do not know if she was suffering from an infection related to her mother's death a month ago or some other type of infection.  It was a painful loss of such a precious little child.  Mirlande was holding her as she died and so she is struggling with the reality of the loss.  It is still hard to believe she is gone.

So much more is going on with the orphanage, teams that are working with us, the fishing ministry which is really taking off, and a couple of new programs for women, and a building project to get the families out of tents by the river.  I will try to blog on each of those opportunities in the days to come.

John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible.  It says "For God so loved that world that He gave..."  What did God give?  If He has an unlimited supply of EVERYTHING, what could He give that would be a sacrifice?  The only thing He could possibly give that would be sacrificial to demonstrate His love for the world was Himself.  Anything else would have been simply giving out of His abundance but not a sacrifice.  Who did He give himself to?  The world.  So God demonstrated His love by giving Himself to the world.  He is our supreme example.  We are ALL called to do the same thing.  ALL of us.  We are not called to give a token out of our abundance.  We are called to give the world.  But that only comes when we- the same way God does- love the world.   And how do we as selfish, fearful, lazy, comfort seeking, pleasure driven creatures come to a place in our lives where we are willing to give OURSELVES to a sinful, stinky, deceitful, ungrateful, hateful world?    

I think there is only one way that can happen.  We have to get to KNOW God.  As we get to know God deeper intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically we begin to love Him more.  It is inevitable.  As we get to know a God that is the manifestation of love- God is love 1 John 4:8- we don't have to work up a churchy presentation of love.  We can't help but develop a deeper love for God.  It is the natural response of knowing "love".  As we know Him, we love Him.  As we love Him we develop a burning desire to demonstrate our love TO Him.

As we begin that process we often feel that religious activity can actually express our love to Him.  We often try to come up with ways to express our love out of true and righteous motives.  But eventually through continuing to seek Him, we find that His example in the most quoted verse of the Bible is the only way for us to truly show Him we love Him.  We must give ourselves.  And who do we literally give ourselves to?  The World.  It is the only way for us to show God we love Him.  Our love for the world is birthed in our desire to show God our love for Him.  It is all God's plan.  Why is it so hard for us to see that God so loved the world that He that we would give the we can care for the poor, meet the needs of the orphans, be a voice for the oppressed, and a light in darkness so that the world will know God so loves them.  By doing so, we find the try meaning of faith, love, hope, life, and eternity.  So in the end we are the ones that truly receive the end product of God's love for the world.  What an awesome God to allow us to be such an integral part of His plan for His world.

We are all in that plan somewhere.  We start off as the recipient of someone else's understanding of God and their desire to love Him so they share love with us.  Then we progress to the place where we are working through the religious facade of what love for God looks like.  And finally we get to where we understand that to know God, means to love God, and a desire to give ourselves WHOLLY to His world and we spend the rest of our lives on earth trying to learn what that looks like for us individually.  In the process, God saves us, and redeems us, and matures us.  Where are you today?