27 May 2017

Russia and Weddings

In case you're not on FB, here's some fun pictures of Matt in Russia with Harold.  Graduation was today (though today is very over in Moscow) and I can't wait to hear all the stories that go with these pictures!  I've only gotten to speak to Matt once, and it was about how to troubleshoot internet problems we're having...so...I have no idea what all is going on, but I'm thankful he's loving this experience and building these relationships!

Meanwhile, a wedding he was supposed to perform happened yesterday nonetheless!  Dear Phida, graduate of 2016 and one of the leaders in our discipleship program, married Nosebin, the pastor at Difour and our third year student!  It was a great day (with lots of EBS people there!) and we're just so happy for them both!

Many area missionaries are leaving this week as the international school is finished for the year, so the girls are spending as much time with friends this weekend as they can!  This evening, our first team of the summer arrives! Tomorrow, we have a big church adventure in Trou-du-Nord, Jodenel's church, and it's Mother's Day in Haiti tomorrow as well and pizza night for the team.

It's gotten so hot that you can see the humidity clinging to the mountains in haze...we're just trying to keep up and keep cool and asking to be filled up with all the fullness of God!
...thank you for all the extra prayers!

25 May 2017

to Whomever is the furthest away

The best part of yesterday was NOT Sofie waking me up at 5 am to tell me that she had peed the bed...and that that was after she had snuck into my bed.

(She told me later that she knew I wouldn't be mad, because she had told me the truth, "the most important thing!", instead of lying and saying that someone else had peed my bed.)

The best part of yesterday was also NOT Lily's school calling me again, this time to tell me that she had just thrown up all over her lap.

No.

It also wasn't trying to talk with Matt while all three girls also tried to talk to Matt while the call got cut. and. cut. and. cut.  Though they DID arrive and they ARE all good...so that's GOOD.

The best part of yesterday was the stories.

Instead of trying to cram one more thing into a crazy school year this year, I decided to interview all the first year students and get them into our scholarship program this summer.  THAT was a fabulous thought.

And so yesterday, I made Lily wait in the nurses office with Gatorade while I finished talking to the three men who came yesterday.

I adore Fresnel, and his story was great, as sweet as he is.  I'll share it with you soon!  I'm still trying to get to know Edelin, and his story was great, too, as passionate as he is.  I'll share it soon, too.

But Sundy is so shy, I wasn't sure WHAT I'd get out of him, and HIS story knocked my day out of the park.  When you have a minute, read about Sundy's childhood, his amazing conversion, and how God brought him to Emmaus...it just might be the best part of your day, too.
BACKGROUND          

They always tell me that when my mom was pregnant, the whole pregnancy, every time she went to the doctor, they said there was no sign of life.  The doctors told her I was dead, and everyone told her to have an abortion. For some reason, she always says that she wouldn’t let me go. When the time came for her to deliver, I was born feet first, and I was very sick and weak, but I was alive.

Neither my mother or my father served God, but they figured someone must have a plan for my life. When I was four or five, my parents split up...they were always fighting. 

I stayed with my father and grew up with him.  My whole life I was raised in a Catholic family who practiced Voodoo, but I always heard the Gospel being preached from a little church right next to my house.

My family says they will never leave voodoo practices, because when my grandfather was a young boy, an evil spirit came to him and asked my grandfather to serve him.  My grandfather agreed, and that spirit became the spirit of our family…he owns the family, the family serves him.

CONVERSION STORY             

When I was 15, in 2008, my grandfather died.  Only a few days later, I was staying at my mom’s house for the weekend, and that night, I had a terrifying and heavy dream.  In my dream, there was an evil, dark, heavy presence, and he said that he was my family’s spirit.  He told me that I would follow in my grandfather’s footsteps, and now the role of my grandfather to serve him was mine, for my family. 

I was terrified at the thought of being chained to this horrible spirit, and I told him NO.  He showed me all of these things in my dream…nice clothes, a nice house, a nice car, soccer equipment, and he told me to follow him, and that he would bless me with all of this stuff.  I told him NO.  Now, he came at me with a spear-like weapon, and said if I would not serve him, he would kill me.  I shouted NO, and he stabbed me in the side.  I awoke suddenly, and there was a sharp sharp pain in my side.  

I had never prayed before, but I called out to Whomever was the furthest away, to Whomever most opposite from this dark and evil spirit, and the pain was gone.

The church next door was always reciting Psalm 46, “Our God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…”  I thought through that Psalm that I had heard them call out so many times, and saw how God had absolutely been my very present help.

As I laid there, I asked God not to let that spirit kill me.  God revealed to me that it wasn’t the spirit who was bringing death to my life…but it was my sin.

I got up, I left my mom’s house.  I went home, I went to that church, and I asked them to please show me how to repent, how to pray, how to give my life to Jesus.

I was the only believer in my house.  A few years later, my father died, and the whole family started arguing and fighting over who the house belonged to.  It became awful living there, and finally I left.  I moved in with member of my church, and I still live with them to this day.

The ROAD to EMMAUS                     

I heard this message when I was 16 or 17 that has always stuck with me. The pastor said that if we are truly Christ-following young people, then when we finish high school, we can’t just think about what we want and pursue that.  He told us that it was GOD who had a plan for our lives, and to ask God what He wanted us to do, and to follow in that path alone.

So, as I finished high school, I was always praying about that, and my church was, too.  People kept telling they felt God wanted me to study His Word, and there was even an elder in the church who told me God showed him in a dream that I would study His Word.  I prayed about that a lot, even spending three days and nights fasting and praying about what God wanted.

I finally felt peace that this was what God wanted me to do.

Everyone told me to go to Limbay University, where they had a theology program, but I also really wanted to make sure I was in the center of God’s will on WHERE I went, too.  I prayed and prayed about “Limbay” and just never felt peace.  While I was praying one night, I was listening to Radio4VEH, and a man named Pastor Lucner (the academic dean at EBS) was on, and he was talking about a place called Emmaus.  As soon as he said the words, "Emmaus Biblical Seminary," I was flooded with peace.  I prayed more and asked more questions, and knew this was the right place for me to study God’s Word.  

I’ve only just started at Emmaus, in September '16, but I am learning SO MUCH, and better, I am learning how to take what I am learning and transmit it well for others.  I loved the preaching class…and am looking forward to studying more. 

Pray for me, that I will always stay right in the middle of His will for my life.  Pray that He will help me persevere, and that He’ll continue to provide for His calling on my life!  Thank you!


- - -

YES, Sundy needs a sponsor!! If you are interested in partnering with Sundy, and/or students like him, jot me an email and I would love to hook you up!

Partnering with one of our students means that you commit to providing a scholarship in their name and to praying for them. It also means that you can be in contact with them through Emmaus if you want, visit them and get to know them as much as you'd like.  You'll hear from your student throughout your partnership either way!

There are two ways to provide a scholarship (a full scholarship is $2000/year, but scholarships in ANY amount are greatly needed!) for one of our students...

http://ebs.edu.ht/give/

https://onemissionsociety.org/give/express-give









23 May 2017

4:30 Fullness

4:30 is not my preferred devotional time.

4:30 is not my preferred ANYTHING-BUT-COMA time.

I'm not one to give Satan any credit, but somebody woke Nora up.  And that stubborn girl was not going back to sleep.

Stubborn mommy was also not letting her get up at 4:30 am.  So Lily and Sofie tried to sleep, Nora hollered, and instead of fighting with frustration and disgruntledness-ness (how's that, Craig?) I insisted that I would be the "sweeter daughter" of yesterday's devotional and not the one being made, quite literally, evil.  I hate mornings.

"God always presses until we learn to make Him our first consideration," Chambers says, and so today, desperate for a totally different kind of day than yesterday, I did.

I made my coffee and pulled open Ephesians 3, the passage Francis Chan was preaching on Sunday.  I had been far too sick to ingest any of what he'd been saying, but he was passionate about the passage, so I blinked at it through my new eyes of the day.

That He would grant you, 
according to the richness of His glory,
to be strengthened with power through His Spirit
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts though faith
and you, being rooted and grounded in love
may know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge...
That you may be filled up with all the fullness of God.

Brothers and sisters, morning people, night-owls, mountain-toppers, valley perseverers, broken, thirsty, needy, lonely people today...

What prayer do we need more than this one?  

What more could I possibly need this suddenly overflowing morning, than the richness of His glory, than to be strengthened with POWER through His Spirit?

What more could I ever need than to have the living Christ dwell in my heart, grounding and rooting me in love?

What gift could be greater than truly KNOWING that which SURPASSES knowledge...the wide-and-deep love of Christ?

And what could I need more this morning than to be filled up with all the fullness of God?

Let me tell you something.

I can't come even close to wrapping my pea-brain around the fullness. of. God.  So I'm pretty sure that me being FILLED UP with the fullness of God means there would be absolutely no room for my ME.  Absolutely no room for my fears or weaknesses or worries or struggles or pain.  No room for complaining, for despairing, for moods.  Filled up with the fullness of God.

I was awake beyond coffee and prayed Ephesians 3 over and over.  I prayed it for Lily as she slept, 8-going-on-18, I prayed for Sofie, my firecracker bunny, I even forgave and prayed for sweet Nora Joy...still wailing from the guest room.

I prayed it for the Heckmans next door and Ethan in Jersey and the Edlers across the way.  I prayed it for Jodenel and Leme and Lucner and Claudin and Junel and Job, I prayed it for William and Jerry and Phida and Nosebin and Walnique.  I prayed it for Gertha and Micheline and Sharon and Lisa and Elise and Meg and Ana and Shelley and Jane and Prudence and Randi and Molly.

I got carried away, praying it for all of us, family, that we may be filled up with all the fullness of God, covering over, overflowing our faulty short selves and more of him, more of him, still more.

I prayed it all day...while we made blueberry pancakes together at 6, while we worked out together at 6:30 with Nora mostly trying to sit on my head, while we labored through multiplication and photosynthesis and Alexander the Great and "If You Were There When They Wrote the Constitution" with Lily and Sofie.  I prayed it in my office, working on a million little things with a million little interruptions and conversations and details, and through the afternoon of cleaning and cooking and preparing and helping and playing and changing diapers and reading.  And I'm praying it tonight, going to bed, remembering TO shut the door this time...

...because when you're praying strength and roots and love and fullness all the day long, everything is very very different, from my heart to my words to my peace to my patience, which all felt so very empty last night, and so very full today. 
Thank you for your lovely prayers...24 hours since leaving Haiti, Matt has now joined Harold and they are in the air for Munich, then on to Russia.  Pray for Harold's health, pray for their travels, but most pray that THEY might be the fullness of God to everyone they encounter this relationship-building trip.  Pray that they might be strengthened and grounded and knowing His great love and able to share that powerfully with the Russian students, alumni, professors, families, and people that they encounter and spend time with.

22 May 2017

russia

Matt and Harold are off for Russia (though they won't be getting there for a bit still)!  Thank you so much in advance for praying for their trip and for the Moscow Seminary graduation.  (Click the link if you'd like for some pictures...but it is all in Russian :)

I'm not really sure what's going on the with the girls, but I would greatly appreciate extra prayers for them...they are struggling with his leaving like I've never seen.  The day was entirely overwhelmed by tears, bawling, hysterics and concern, and then repeat...repeat...repeat...Lily's school even called and we had to go pick her up because she couldn't stop crying.  Very unlike her.

I'm still not feeling well at all, and Nora isn't either...

Please pray for strength and patience and joy, for peace for Lily and Sofie, for restored health for Nora and I, and that this would be a special time of growth for us Ayars ladies as we rely on Him and  share His joy and good courage with one another.

O. Chambers knocked it out of the ballpark for me again this weary morning:

If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17--because Jesus has prayed that you "may be one" with the Father as He is.  Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life?

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn't ask, "Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?"  No.  The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, more insistent on our own way.

The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy.  

So pray with me, that I might draw close and intimate with the Father during this time, and that I would patiently shepherd Lily, Sofie, and Nora's heart towards our loving Father these days.  Pray that in each moment I might emerge a sweeter daughter of God and shepherd the girls to be the same...that we may be One with our ever-present Father, filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Ephesians 3:19

Thank you!!

What's God drawing you into "oneness" with Him lately?

21 May 2017

update---Nora woke up thirsty and chatting...we are praising the Lord!  She handed all of her illness over to mommy, so today she's resting while I'm sick...much my preference.  Thank you for your beautiful prayers!

20 May 2017

behind the scenes

And now for all the behind the scenes stuff...which is a very big part of my scene :)

The girlies are not done with school until mid June, so we've been keeping on with school and friends and carpool and homeschool.  So thankful for Gertha and Micheline, spending extra time with the girlies while we've been finishing the year!

It's been raining every day again, and while most everyone's grouchy about it, Phil's flowers and all the rice farmers are happy.


It's getting hot again...Sofie today was rotating between playing in the sprinkler, playing with Alisha and doing her schoolwork :)

A few nights ago on our family walk, we got some photos from the tower (and by we, I mean me, because Matt gets nervous on the step ladder :) 
I am loving having regular office hours again and being home with the girls more...for reading and crafting and playing outside...and when I got home from the staff lunch Thursday, jumping off the bed.

How could this girl be any sweeter?  She talks up a storm, and all her little words and phrases and expressions are so priceless.

Wee Joel leaves next week for a few months, and she's going to be SO sad...he's her dear friend, whom she also likes to bully, and then feed to make him feel better!

This is our weekend with Matt before he leaves for Russia on Monday...but Nora-dear is terribly sick.  Throwing up, not eating, not able to drink. Please be praying for her with me... This is the sickest and most lethargic we've seen her in her little happy life.  I will update tomorrow.  Thank you!





18 May 2017

absolutely here, absolutely now

Look at that...I'm actually caught up with what happened today!

Today was our year-end staff lunch...a time set apart after everything else is finished to treat our hard-working staff to lunch, to reflect on the year, and for lots and lots of speeches!

Every year the students ask us to pray that they would grow spiritually, and because of THESE 25 men and women, Emmaus is absolutely the place, and now is absolutely the time.

These are men and women who are of character, on and off the job.  Men and women who are leaders and servants and servant leaders in their homes, in their churches, in their communities.  We live together, we eat together, we work together, we know each other well, and it is with such joy that we are able to say to our students: "Be Like THIS."
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1

Be like these women who serve us good meal after good meal together, with joy and in peace, without bickering and complaining and gossip.  Be like these security men who are faithful and firm and kind and serving humbly and continually every day.  Be like these staff who take your calls at night, have their office doors open, are always ready to help and pray and listen.  Be like these professors who are working together and praying continually and working to teach in the most practical and heart-forming ways.

It has been with much prayer and training and pouring and changing and growing and following that God's formed for Emmaus the men and women of character that you see here, men and women whom we can tell our students to follow.  These are the change in Haiti, the different in the world.
And listening to everyone's hearts today was a joy...Junel sharing his desire as an 8-year-old boy to be a person who would listen close for the Lord and would be ready and quick to obey...
Elize sharing his desire to do better still...
 

Phida's praise to the Lord for the family she never had He has surrounded her with...

Fanfan talking about the ways, just at lunch, that Emmaus is a family, not by word but by action...

Jodenel talking about all that Emmaus invests in him so he can invest in others...

and enjoying being together, all the while.
Anything exciting or meaningful or transforming we see coming from Emmaus is because of Christ in these men and women, the leaders.  The servants. 
Passing Him on, here and now.


16 May 2017

Graduation 2017

It's hard to believe it, but our 10th graduation happened on Friday, and it. was. awesome.
Lucner, center, is the man.  On top of all the other events as of late, he pulled graduation together and it was beautiful.  Here, he is going through the order of service with our staff before hand!  I hope Lucner is napping as I write this :)
Most of life at Emmaus is overwhelmingly men, so I was really thankful for these dear friends to share the day with!  
Some of our very serious staff, beforehand.
After a dozen culturally appropriate "beautiful" death-stare shots, I begged everyone to just let me take "one picture, where you look, I don't know, HAPPY to be together and to be graduating?"
be still my heart.  Love it.  THESE are the men and women we know and love and have sent out!  Be praying for (left to right) Samuel, Guiteau, Kerline, Joane, Aldy, Telemarque, Claudin, Roudeline, Ostilien, Moliere, Jorgia, Paul and Wency!
As always, the church was empty when we began...and packed out by the end!

Elize is always the Emmaus go-to MC...
Fanfan and the opening prayer
Matt and the charge...to carry not only the Good Food that Satisfies, served to a hungry world, but also to BE clean and beautiful plates to serve it on.
Brett, the OMS Haiti director, giving a word of thanks and encouragment
Pastor Chieldric, (adjunct professor and senior pastor of a large church in town) preaching the main sermon
Beautiful worship, led by students...


Receiving diplomas

A special time of dedication and prayer...




Singing the EB hymn...
The valedictorian, Aldy, giving his speech and introducing each member of the class...


...and making everyone laugh.
Aldy, "passing the torch" to the president of the third year (now fourth year!) class, Jean William


Paul's second child was born just one week ago, and I was so thrilled that his wife and sons came!


A big reception was held afterwards at EBS
Granny and Edlin...who are SO ready for a break :)
Bobanoit, one of our adjunct professors and the pastor of Pillatre Christian Church (where the service was held) was the class paren, or godfather, and I was the class marenn.  We are all back to not smiling.  So thankful for this special group of men and women!
So here they are...the handsome new fourth year!  They all served as ushers and decorators and helpers the day of graduation, and are now preparing for their last year of training and equipping at Emmaus!  



Here's the official EBS update from the day...

Friday, we celebrated 13 special men and women as they graduated from Emmaus Biblical Seminary.

Graduation from EBS is a bit different than the norm. 

These men and women aren't now heading out into the world to find a way to make their mark. They aren't setting out to find a job or to establish a church or to join a mission field.

They are already doing it.

Over the past four years, Emmaus has been working hard, not only to equip them for potential future ministry, but to engage our students in ministry NOW.  They have been doing internships in area churches, they have been evangelizing in areas unreached, they have been forming discipleship groups in zones far and wide, planting churches in many of them.  

That means that today, these beautiful graduates already have beautiful feet...continuing to take the Good News out, continuing to proclaim peace, continuing to proclaim salvation, continuing to point Haiti to "our God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7).  

And that's exciting.  

They have been practicing, they have been preparing, they have been doing...and now they will persevere.

Please persevere with them.  How greatly Jorgia, Paul, Claudin, Wency, Kerline, Ostilien, Roudeline, Telemarque, Aldy, Joane, Guiteau, Moliere and Samuel need and value your prayers.  Pray for their families, their churches, their communities and their great courage as they continue.

If you have supported one of these graduates, THANK YOU!  We are so grateful for your valuable investment in their lives and continuing ministries.  

We have a slew of first and second year students who are in great need of scholarships...Please consider supporting a new student at Emmaus today! Give online for badly needed general student scholarships, or email us for a specific student you can be praying for and be in touch with!