12 October 2018

the beauty

Somehow, this sweet little man is three months old!!  What a beautiful gift he is on our lives, sleeping through the night now, way less grouchy in the evenings, and the easiest baby to pull a smile from!
And somehow, everyone is still really not feeling well...and now Matt's in the mix.

Greg and Cathie have safely arrived all the same, and we're going to try to slow down a bit for the weekend and enjoy the beauty of their friendship and keep working on getting these girls better (and keeping Ben from getting sick!)

Yesterday afternoon the girls and I were out watching the guys play soccer and basketball, and I was just hit once again with the BEAUTY of where we play, where we live, and the community we live in.  Praise the Lord for His awesome creation, and for the rarities of a nice basketball court and gorgeous yard for all our men and women to relax in.  






11 October 2018

our firm foundation

What a week!  After fighting off the virus everyone's been passing around, we hosted five fantastic pastors from the Harvest Bible Church community in Canada Tuesday night, and fell into bed for a good nights sleep when all three girls started taking turns throwing up all over everything throughout the night.  By the time they'd each been sick 3-4 times, it was morning, and we were all good and wiped.  I taught in the morning Wednesday, but except for that we all mostly bleached, napped, ate crackers, showered, tried not to kiss all over Ben, read books, watched Swiss Family Robinson (I wish you could have seen Guesica's reaction to the massive snake scene...we're supposed to be HELPING her sleep :) and bleached some more.

This morning everyone woke up hungry and wanting to play, so I'm praising the Lord for His great help yesterday and for His healing today.  Matt and I are happy to be back to work, and the girls are working on a day of homeschool before heading back to school down the road tomorrow!

No more major tremors or earthquakes, so we are thankful for that, and working with Lily as she continues to struggle with going to sleep at night...thank you for your prayers.  We've been enjoying the quality time with Gues and Leme, and tomorrow they will try to move back home (prayers for them, too, please!) and our dear friends who live in Port-au-Prince are coming to meet Ben!!
Greg and Cathie were God's very powerful, healing, loving and empowering hands and feet in my life both after high school and after the death of my mom, and played a major role in Matt's first trip to Haiti, and we haven't seen them in FAR too long.  We are all SO looking forward to a weekend catching up with them and helping our kiddos have a relationship with this Godly couple!
Not two seconds after they leave, Matt leaves too, this time to attend and speak at the OMS Presidential Gathering in North Carolina.  We'd be getting sad, but my dear friend Elisa is coming to also meet Ben, and to spend the days Matt's away spending good time with us! We're all kind of crazy about her, and are looking forward to all this good friend time!!

While Matt's still gone, we have an IWU professor coming to teach, the Heckman's get back for a 2.5 week stint and a team of five from Waco, Texas, come for a week to help Phil keep this new classroom building MOVING!
So it's a good time to be healthy, and for the ground to stand firm.

Thankful that He does, regardless!


09 October 2018

burst from the heaves and come down!

After a second earthquake on Sunday afternoon, this one a 5.3, it's not super surprising that our Internet is officially down.  Matt did something magical with my phone so that we can keep updating and download emails...

Thank you for all of your many prayers these days!  Leme and his wife are staying with us in our one-story home this week, and the message on Sunday truly planted that peace that passes understanding in my heart. Matt was able to share a similar message at Emmaus yesterday (along with some instructions on good earthquake practices), and classes and masters courses carry on, as does our worship!

I was particularly moved yesterday morning when I opened my Bible to finish off my reading of Isaiah, and the very first verse painted a picture that would never have been so powerful pre-earthquakes.

"Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!
How the mountains would quake in your presence,
how your coming would make the nations tremble." Isaiah 64:1

The mountains ARE quaking, and we ARE in His sweet presence, and that is enough to have praise on our lips today and peace in our hearts today, and every day.

Thankful for a GOOD night's sleep for all eight of us last night, something that is eluding many, for your continued prayers.

We--our family, our friends, our students, our co-workers, Christ-followers through the world, broken and dark--rely on your faithful prayers, to bring us again and again before the throne,  to encourage our faith and to hold us up in Christ.

07 October 2018

in the middle of all our earthquakes

By the time the house stopped shaking and the rumbling of the earth was silent, Nikki, Matt and I were standing in the coolness of night out front, reassuring the girls.  Rob and Lori came flying out of their house, and a minute later, Bill and Julie and the boys were outside across the way.  The weekend students came running from the men's dorm, Rob went to check on Mark and Marybeth, and Job, the head of security, came jogging over to headcount.

Matt was already on the phone with Junior in Port-au-Prince, who said the waves of earth had been quite mild, and within minutes my phone started lighting up with messages from friends throughout Haiti..."Are you guys ok?" and "That was terrifying! Everybody safe?"

We couldn't help but remember the last time we'd felt the earth shake like that, when Lily was just a year old.

No one could help but remember the last time.

Leme!

God brought him quickly to my mind, and I reached for my phone, not even sure what I would say.

But last time his father never came home from work, never to be seen again.  Last time Leme's leg was pinned under a building, he still bears the scars.  Last time he was there above the epicenter, and while this time I knew he was ok, just a few miles down the road, I knew that this time he'd be thinking of last time, and that that would be terrifying.

Renting the first floor of a huge concrete three-story building, I was right.  He was shaken to the core, as was his dear wife, and a few phone calls back and forth and he and Guesica were on their way to sleep at Emmaus...not that they'd be able to.

I laid in bed half the night awake with most of the island, googling what we should have done (which was NOT what any of us did!), researching every bit of news on the earthquake, thinking about how we need to do drills in the dorms and on campus, thinking about the great earthquake, remembering.  Thinking about what I would do, right now, if the earth started shaking again...should I grab Ben first, or Nora, and should I wake Matt up to make a plan? Was that an aftershock? How was Matt even snoring right now!? Should we all climb into Sofie's bottom bunk bed? Should I move the crib further from the wall?  Should I go wake up Lily and Sofie and tell them if it started again, to climb into the bottom bunk and pull Nora into bed with them? Should we be sleeping on the porch?

I prayed again and again, prayed for Leme again and again, prayed for all the hundreds of thousands of millions of people also laying awake all around me, remembering. Worrying.

We were all exhausted by morning light, but Matt had been invited weeks ago to visit Guenson's church and to share the sermon, so we were committed.  We called Leme to check on them, to see if they wanted breakfast, but Leme and Gues, who attend Guenson's regularly, were already at church, Leme teaching the baptism class at 8 am.  He said he's slept a few minutes throughout the night, but that poor Guesica had been up all night.

So understandable. 

What do you even say?  You don't really understand, there's nothing you can say or do to really help.  I'd just have to keep praying for them and so many others and hopefully, as time goes on without the earth shaking, they would stop being afraid again, or at least forget to be.  I was just thankful that God orchestrated for us to be worshipping with Leme today, because at least perhaps our friendship would comfort him.

Discipleship Church's new hanger was beautifully decorated and when the service started there were a few hundred people there.  It was good to sit with Leme and Guesica, to let them talk some, to see several of our staff and students in the audience, good, despite being tired, to be in church.
We spent some good time in prayer, prayed for our brothers and sisters and countrymen in Port-de-Paix, sang through some good good worship, and after another hour or so, several hundred people more were there, every chair and step and stump full of people, and Matt was on.

He talked for a few minutes about how natural it was to be feeling frightened this morning, about our experience, then had us turn to the story of Jesus in the boat during the storm, then to the story of Jesus walking on water, then to the Exodus passage on Sabbath.

These were not his passages...that was not what he'd told me he was preaching on!

For almost an hour you could have heard a pin drop.  Everyone was tired from a sleepless night and everyone was hungry for some comfort food.

And I was me--sitting in the back with a lap full of sweaty children, translating for our team, and running his new message through the never-ending-Stacey-filter.

And cringe, look at my lap, how did he dare?

WHY would Matt say that we not only need-not be afraid, but MUST not be afraid, when MATT never lost his father in an earthquake?  How could he say, Leme two feet from me, that we cannot hold fear in our hearts when HE has never been pinned under a building!?  How dare he gently talk about the perfect faith of Jesus in the Father as our example when that thing last night was so SCARY?

Why would Matt confront the fears of last night so forwardly, so simply, so ridiculously, so SOON, when everyone knew that everyone SHOULD be afraid, that it was TOTALLY understandable, that there was no way NOT to be afraid?  Surely in THIS circumstance, fear was justified and to be comforted, not confronted!!

Surely I sounded a lot like the disciple who shook Jesus awake that storm.

Thankfully, just as Jesus confronted them that day, the Holy Spirit quickly confronted me today.

Matt wasn't saying that perfect love casts out fear.

Matt wasn't saying that when fear is reigning in our hearts that we are lacking in faith.  

Matt wasn't saying that Jesus wants full confidence from his disciples and from us, despite the storms He walks on.

Matt wasn't saying that the peace of Christ must rule in our hearts if we have Him, even in the midst of earthquakes and loss and memories and trials and tribulations.

Matt wasn't even saying that to worry in our hearts and to be consumed by fear was sin posture.

The Bible was.  The Bible IS.

That's what GOD's saying, and the reality of the Truth of the Gospel is that often times, it's just not what we want to hear. It's not always what feels good. It's rarely tickling our ears and saying, "It's ok to hold onto this!"  It rarely says, "Everything's gonna be ok, and everything's fine, and I promise everything's gonna be just peachy and that nothing bad is going to happen to anyone."  The Gospel speaks the TRUTH, and the hard truth this morning at church was that there IS NO ROOM FOR FEAR in the life and heart of a Christ-follower.

Concern? Wisdom? Natural responses?  YES, said Matt. But we cannot live in it.  We cannot live in fear, we cannot wait for times of peace again to make us trusting people.

We must choose to trust the man sleeping in the bottom of our boats, we must choose to trust the hand of the man walking on the waves...IN the storm.  NOW.  Even THIS.

Because it is NOT just the earthquake God's Word speaks into.  Matt went through a culturally appropriate list of chains of fear that our Cher Ayiti battles, and challenged "NO MORE."  I mentally added Stacey culturally appropriate items to the list of fears.

He talked about how voodoo continues to dictate our ways, the ways that fear of revenge and curses continues to bind us.  He challenged NO. MORE. FEAR. to the most openly afraid country I've ever been in, and suddenly I realized that while I had tried to give Leme shelter and food and friendship and comfort, what he really needed was what I really needed, too.  The TRUTH.

And the truth is that the Sabbath the Old Testament commanded we take externally---to cease striving, to cease working, to rest in Him and to show Him our complete trust--the New Testament commands we hold INTERnally.  To cease striving on our own.  To cease working it out by ourselves. To STOP thinking it through our way, to stop standing on our past fears, to stop stop worrying, to stop STOP stressing, and to. Trust. Him.

How many ways does the Bible present it, ask it, COMMAND it!?

Drenched in sweat, Matt asked us to take His hand TODAY and to NOT FEAR, and as Guenson stood and spontaneously led us in powerful worship, the Holy Spirit was there graciously sweeping, raising renewed hands and replacing wearied fears.

and Leme?  Leme was grinning.

For His truth?  It sets us free.

May we embody His truth publicly in the missionfields we are each in today, and in the dark quiet places no one will ever see.  In the places that feel impossible. In the places where only HE can help us. In the middle of all our earthquakes


06 October 2018

shaky

Would you be praying with me tonight?

We just had a bit of an earthquake...a 5.9, and strong enough to shake everyone up for sure, but all our people from throughout the country are reporting the same thing we felt....shaking and loud noise like heavy trucks passing by, but not hard enough to do damage.  Cap-Haitian is about 75 miles from the center.  We grabbed the kids from their beds and ran outside with all our neighbors and weekend students, but all is physically fine.

But those millions who lost loved ones in the 2010 Earthquake, those many thousand who almost died themselves...the earth shaking tonight brings up all kinds of awful all over again, and my heart breaks for them as my own hands stop trembling.

It's scary to have the earth shake under your feet...but it's traumatic to feel it shake again after having lost so so much last time.  We have several staff members who came to Emmaus as students due to their schools being destroyed in the great earthquake, missionary friends in Port who still struggle, many friends who lost dear loved ones...

Will you be praying with us tonight for their hearts and minds and rests? To the God in it and above it all...thank you.



PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook northwestern Haiti late Saturday and there were early reports of damage and injuries, though the extent was not immediately clear. There were no immediate confirmed reports of deaths.
The U.S. Geologic Survey said the quake hit at 8:11 p.m. local time and was centered 12 miles northwest of Port-de-Paix on Haiti’s north coast. It was 7.3 miles below the surface.
The country’s civil protection agency issued a statement saying several people were injured and some houses destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island. Among the structures damaged was the Saint-Michel church in Plaisance.
It said other, largely minor injuries were treated in hospitals elsewhere.
The quake was felt lightly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is especially vulnerable to earthquakes. A vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 300,000 people.  --USA Today

04 October 2018

“Can a woman forget her nursing child? Can a mother have no compassion on the son she has born?  Even if that were possible, I will never forget you.  I have written your name on the palm of My hands.”  Isaiah 49:15-16

Born in the suburbs of Gonaïves, Jonas was the youngest of four, and sick from the start.  “My stomach was hugely swollen and painful,” he remembers, “and so when I was four and my parents split up, they decided to be done with me.  My father took 2 of the kids, my mother took my sister, and they left.”

A cousin tried to take him in for a few years, but she was unable to feed him, much less put him in school. Jonas’s sickness and agony continued, and finally, she left him at an orphanage at age 7, the orphanage he still goes home to now over Christmas and summer breaks at Emmaus.

For the first time, Jonas’s life was full of education, food, and stories of Jesus. He learned that the sickness plaguing him wasn’t sickness, after all, but malnutrition. So much permanent damage had been done that he underwent corrective surgery at age 10 and was finally healed. He met Jesus over and over, and started telling the 70 brothers and sisters he grew up with that one day, he would be a pastor.

The dream faded, however, at 17, when he stopped being influenced by people in the church and started to be influenced by people far from the Lord.

“One day,” Jonas remembers “I snuck out and participated in a party that brought shame to my caretakers. The orphanage was worried about the choices I was making, and they sent me away to one of their Haitian missionaries in Gwo Mourne for 22 days.  There was no power, no phone service, no water, no parties. I was helping the pastor there, and he gave me a Bible, the first one I’d ever had. He told me that he could see in me great potential to lead, but that I had to decide now if I was going to be a leader for Jesus, or if I was going to lead people in darkness. He told me that every day, I had to open that Bible, and I would find what I needed.”

When Jonas returned from the mission, he told the directors that he wanted to be baptized and follow Jesus. But he still wasn’t ready to give God his future. “Do you still want to be a pastor?” they asked Jonas, but Jonas said no.

“I decided I wanted to be a dentist, because I’d helped dental teams from time to time, and I saw that in Haiti, it is NOT easy to be a pastor. I told them that I was sure God was calling me to something that would make money, not to a certain life of poverty.”

When Jonas graduated, he was pared with a sponsor from the United States, and that sponsor asked Jonas if he truly felt called to be a dentist. “I told him no, but that I was sure I was called to have money. He didn’t agree with me, but told me the same thing that missionary from Gwo Mourne had told me, to be in my Bible every day, and that God would make my path clear.”  It was arranged for Jonas to study dentistry in America, and his visa work began.

“But then one night in my bed,” Jonas recalls clearly, “I was laying there and audibly heard a voice.  ‘Jonas, why are you struggling with me? “

It wasn’t the only voice in Jonas’s life. His sponsor showed him Jeremiah 29:11, and though Jonas began to realize that God had a good plan for him that might not involve riches or dentistry, letting that go wasn’t easy. Weeks of prayer and fasting ensued, with pressure mounting.

“People kept telling me that I had to pursue something profitable, because if my family left me at an orphanage, it was because they would be expecting me to leave the orphanage with a profession, with a way to get them money” Jonas shared. “Finally, my pastor said, ‘OK. Your family is waiting to get money from you and waiting to get a house from you and waiting to get a car from you, but what is GOD waiting for? God is waiting for YOU.'”

With that, Jonas finally stopped struggling against God’s best for his life. His very mother had forsaken her child, but God had his name written on the palms of His hands, and had a plan for Jonas’s life that could be trusted.

Another graduate from the same orphanage was in the middle of his first year at Emmaus, about 3 hours from Gonaïves, and both he and Jonas’s pastor told him the same thing. “If you want to learn philosophies about the Bible or hear what people think about it,” they said, “Go somewhere else. But if you want to have God’s Word, go to Emmaus.” Jonas is now in his second year of study at EBS.

“People always go to church,” Jonas observes, “but the rest of the time they keep repeating the same life they lived before they were followers of Christ. That is a big problem, and I think it’s because people don’t really know the Bible. I want to disciple people to be in God’s Word every day, because that is what will change who they are. God’s Word will truly bring transformation in people’s hearts, just like it did mine.”

02 October 2018

doesn't really matter what it looks like.

This is short and random.

I sat with a student for almost an hour today, typing as fast as I could as he shared his story, which could be called devastating, horrible, unbelievable or even appalling.  Long story short, his parents  split when he was four, one taking some siblings and the other taking the others, and no one taking Jonas. He was sick, anyway, his stomach always protruding, left for dead, left for nothing. There was NO plan for his life, no good, no purpose, no use.

Later, the orphanage he ended up in led him to Jesus, and helped him to understand that his "sickness since birth" was actually malnutrition, malnutrition that he had suffered from for so incredibly long that permanent damage had been done, and at age 10 he had to have corrective surgery.  He has never again seen his parents, though when it was time to graduate from the orphanage program, they contacted him to see what he could do for them financially.

His story is nothing like my story. His story, in fact, is nothing like any story I have EVER heard.  I can't wait to share with you the whole thing, which could also be called beautiful, inspiring, powerful or even miraculous.

But this is what's hitting me again and again today.

The worlds plans, the worlds thoughts, the worlds ways, the worlds values...Our plans, our thoughts, our ways, our values, our perspectives--praise. the. Lord.--have absolutely NO impact on HIS plans, HIS thoughts, HIS ways, HIS values, HIS perspectives.

It does not MATTER what the world thought of him, what his parents thought of him, what his siblings thought of him. It doesn't matter what he came from.

The Lord thought of him. Cherished him. Greatly loved and valued him, sent His Son for him, kept His eye on him, HAD A PLAN for him.  A beautiful one.

And He is seeing. It. Through.  Sometimes through others, sometimes all on His own.

I will never relate to Jonas's story.

But I am greatly in awe and thankful, today, for the reminder that all my messes and worries and burdens and fears have NO IMPACT on Him doing His beautiful thing.  I'm not big enough to mess up what He's doing.

His plan, it wins. His values, they will endure. His perspective, it trumps. His heart, it overcomes.

You may never relate to Jonas's story, either...but I hope these TRUTHS that it exposes resonate with you.

Whatever it feels like, whatever it looks like, He loves you incomprehensibly, He has a beautiful plan, for YOU, and He WILL see it through.

Be at His sweet peace.


30 September 2018

good church

Saturday we celebrated Matt turning 35...he sure is loved, and his lap is getting full! 
We also celebrated sweet Kendix turning one!
Then today, we hiked a bit to worship with our family in DiFour, a humbling and inspiring Sunday morning, as always.
As soon as we stepped through the silky blue curtain, it was obvious...there was not one empty chair in the place. Embarrassed, I looked down, and as soon as I looked up again, a dozen men, women and children were already standing, quickly moving the chairs they’d been sitting in into a neat row in the back for us, sitting on each other’s laps, the young man voluntarily standing in the back the entire two hour, sweltering service. 
We went to DiFour to encourage. Went to preach the Word and to support the pastor-student Noseben Calixte, and we did. Matt preached very practically on what it means to actually LOOK like Jesus.  But as always, the people we’re called to serve are serving US, the people we’re called to teach are teaching us, the people we’re called to reach, reach US. 
So much of what God does is so unmerittingly, graciously one-sided...what grace and love and forgiveness and peace He freely bestows. But when He’s at work though His people, ministry always feels so beautifully communal. THAT’s good church.
Heading into another big week, I'm so thankful for incarnate, communal ministry!

28 September 2018

little by little

We've all been fighting colds this week and are, little-by-little finally mostly winning!!  Matt and I are getting to know our first year students better, the girls are feeling more settled into the new school year and with Nikki changing up homeschool some, and all the girls are deeply enjoying having the Edler boys next door again...constant playmates.  Even Ben's never left without a truck :)
The new classroom building project continues, this month with the HUGE and tedious job of crepe.  I don't know what the North American equivalent of this is, but in Haiti it's covering block (or in this case, the foam/metal walls) with sprays of cement over and over and over in layers. It's all done by hand, this flicking of the concrete creating thick layers, and then a smooth finish. A LOT of little-by-little work by a lot of guys.
  


I also spent an hour this morning with Jean-William and Rujerry, our students-turned-staff-turned-missionaries.  So many of you have been praying for them and supporting them and we are so thankful. After working for over a year to get them the necessary travel visas to get to Italy to NO avail (the Haitian passport is globally very weak and they've been rejected the travel visa 3 times), we have all watched the Lord, little-by-little, opening a different, similar door for Togo, West Africa, and their visas have been APPROVED.  There are some really exciting twists to share...I'm working on the story now...stay tuned for next week!

This weekend includes a school-friend sleepover tonight, Matt's birthday Saturday, a first birthday party for our little man-buddy Kendrix, and Matt preaching at Emmaus's church plant in DiFour Sunday...can't wait to have some good time with Phida and Nosebin and to see how things are going there!  

How important are your prayers...Thank you.

25 September 2018

the Giver

This morning I walked down the hall at Emmaus, from one end to the other, and spent a few minutes in each class.  EVERY time I do this I am so blessed.

Each classroom I entered, the chairs are FULL.  I've never cared about numbers and I don't care today, but in light of my time talking with several students about the Emmaus family lately, I was blessed to find each room full of FAMILY.  Good family.  Family who is obviously greatly affected by the study of His Word, as we must be, by the fruit of how they love each other.

Each classroom I entered, the teaching was dynamic.  Like, drew me in, right away.  I wanted to plop down and stay...swirling through passionate debates on Job and how sickness works in light of an all-powerful God (Wisdom Literature), through study on the light of Jesus even in the Abrahamic days (Intro to OT) through an empowering look at how to trace all things through, from, and to God (Systematic Theology) and though a passionate and relevant debate about how to deal with issues within the community of your church and outside of courts (Civil Law).


Each classroom I entered, the community was so rich. Talking to each other like brothers and sisters, learning from each other like family. Laughing together like siblings.

This morning when Nora was crying (and almost had me there) because she wants to "get on the airplane and go to Jayla's house", I felt the pains of having been here so very long.  A few moments later, I felt the likewise joys of having been here so long, because those walks down the hallway wouldn't mean nearly as much if I didn't remember well the many days, the long years, where all that I found in the classroom this morning was NOT there.  They wouldn't mean so much if I didn't know, well, the long and deep and complicated need for Jesus in this part of the world.
Best, as I visited, is the obvious thick presence of the Giver of the Word we are studying.  

So bittersweet was His time on earth, and so bittersweet our own short years - for God is at work and it is often painful. He is at work, and it is often beautiful, too.