The Family

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two Years and Counting

June 22, 2009 we pulled out of our driveway of our farm on Bakers mountain in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina. It was the beginning of a journey that really has been more exciting than we ever would have imagined. I wanted to give a brief update of how things are going.

I came as an optometrist planning to have a little clinic doing eye care and helping the pastor we had been working with through the years of back and forth trips. God obviously had other plans! It's not fair though because He knew about the little event on January 12, 2010 - the 7.2 earthquake that destroyed much of the country and killing 200,000 people. Had I known about that in advance, maybe I would have had other plans here too!

Celebration Children's Home is our orphanage that houses almost 20 orphans, abandoned, handicapped, or neglected children. These little ones have been instrumental in changing our lives. Our vision is to develop a home where children can be united with loving adoptive families. The home is housed in a former apartment building that we have converted and also serves as our headquarters for the ministry. We call it The Mission and we employee about 20 Haitians that work with us there. That facility also houses long term missionaries that come for extended periods to serve with us.

In a country where only about 50 percent of kids get to go to school we get to pay for almost 100 kids to go to school through our child sponsorship program. We meet monthly with these kids in our Celebration Kids Club. We are working on getting that program more organized so that friends back home can be a part of changing the lives of these young Haitians.

Pastor Cesar has almost 1500 kids in 8 schools that we support. We pay and train the teachers and now are getting to the point that we are feeding all the kids a healthy meal ever school day.

Our most impacting work - most impacting on me if not the Haitians- is our work in the local fishing village. We have 13 fisherman that we are helping to develop their fishing businesses as well as discipling them. We are there almost every day and have weekly meetings and Bible study. Also in that village we have 13 women that we took out of tents by the river where they were living after losing their homes to a flood. We rented them all houses and have them working in our community development program. Three days per week they come and cook food for elderly shut ins in the area. They also participate in weekly meetings that include training on hygiene, family planning, literacy and other issues from a Biblical perspective.

Refugees from the quake live in tent villages throughout the country. In our town we have taken the last families out of that camp and helped them rent permanent housing. We are currently working one on one with them to help them come up with a business plan for providing for the family in the aftermath of this disaster. We have set a few up with wedding dress rental businesses, cosmetic sales businesses, small food stands, dry goods stores, and other small business ventures. As with all our projects we also follow up with teaching and training of Biblical truth teaching on how to live.

Oh yeah I almost forgot, we also do eye care and medical care. We have the only permanent eye clinics in our part of the country. This week we even have team of general surgeons here doing hernia repairs, tumor removals, and other much needed surgeries. What a blessing!

In the midst of all of that we are also trying to raise our 5 American and one Haitian baby that live here with us. School is our biggest challenge at the moment. We have discovered that homeschooling here is so hard due to our daily challenges. We found a mission school in St. Marc but they are needing teachers. If you know anyone interested in coming to teach for a year let me know.

So they we are in a nutshell. I am sure I left some stuff out but those are the high points. Keep us in your prayers and come to see us. We live in a hotel and we will leave the light on for you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hero Makeover

My father is my greatest hero.  He set a high bar for me to shoot for as a husband, father, and spiritual giant.  He taught me everything I know about how to stick it out in tough times and come out the better for it.  When I grow up I want to be just like Dad.  He is sitting now by his mother's deathbed with faith and humility that is a testimony of faithfulness.

My other heroes in life have varied as the seasons of my life have passed.  As I mature in my Christian faith, I realize that many of the heroes of my past were not the best role models to follow.  In the years of my life when I was consumed by the American dream of sucess and comfort, most of my heroes were the men that had reached the heights of worldly sucess for which I strived.  One such man was the most sucessful businessman I personally knew.  He had been very blessed by God and truly seemed to have it all.  I only knew him from a distance but desired to be just like him.  While I was prayer leader at our church he once flew us in his jet to New York City to meet Jim Cymbala and attend a prayer meeting at The Brooklyn Tabernacle.  I wanted to be able to do stuff like that for people.  What a life!

May 31 marked two years since I walked out of my optometry practices and businesses.  It marks the day the whole world changed for me.  Even my heroes changed.  The American dream and living in bondage to the deceitfulness of riches were becoming a thing of the past.  I embarqued on a journey that would take me to places both bodily and spiritually that I never dreamed I would go.  In just two short years I have seen God in ways I never dreamed possible.  I have learned more about myself and the Kingdom of Heaven than I ever would have imagined.  But it has not been easy.  There are days I want to jump in the ocean and swim home to America!  There are times when I lose sight of the end goal of pleasing God and I only want peace.  But that is when God steps in and reminds of where we are headed.

On a hot day about a month ago I was in Port au Prince with Joy buying supplies for the mission.  We had been struggling with several things in the ministry and in our family and needed a big dose of grace.  Then my phone rang.  It was my hero businessman.  He never called me when I was living in America and I secretly covetted his life.  I didn't even know how he got my number.He began to tell me how God had been working in his life and showing him things he needed to change.  He had been reading some books and studying the Bible and God had shown him that his life of indulgence was non-Biblical and that he needed a radical change.  He said God put us on his heart and he wanted to know if he could come down to visit so we could talk.  I was blown away.  My God loves me so much that he took the inner thoughts of my sinful heart and rearranged things in such a way as to unequivocably show me that what He had told me was true.  The path He had put us on was the true Way.  He showed me unmeritted grace and helped me see He was there.

My hero and now friend did come down and spend the week with us.  He shared unashamedly how God was breaking Him and setting him free.  His testimony was one of the most powerful I have ever heard first hand of God through His spirit revealing truth to one of his children.  It was a great week.  I learned so much and received great wisdom from a wise saint.  He is now more of a hero in my eyes than he ever was.  Not because of what he has or has done, but because of who he is becoming.  He has now made my short list of heroes with my dad, pastor Ruffin, Bill Stafford, and Aquaman.