Groan

miracle-on-voodoo-mountain-wide-800x445Read through without groaning.

I can’t.

I was wondering, why would a single, white gal from the states move to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? It’s dangerous. It’s hot. It stinks.

You take one-step off the plane and you groan.

That’s the reason.

In Mk 7:31-37 Jesus is moved by a mans suffering, and groans.

Later in Mark 8:12 when the Pharisees refuse to believe, Jesus groans.

This is the same word used in Romans 8:22 when it says all creation groans under the curse.

We pray, “Thy Kingdom done, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God has given us the power to bring a taste of Heaven to Earth, but we will never be effective in that commission without heartfelt groanings. We have to hate the curse. And we have to want Heaven.

Last week we had Sue who lives in Port-au-Prince come stay with us. I asked why she moved to Haiti on Sunday. The answer?

Groanings.

The article below can help put it in perspective. It is from one of my favorite books, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. It is writing by a 20-something-year-old gal who also moved to Haiti. I cut and pasted some sections of it below – in the hopes that it will get you to purchase it here.

Book Excerpt below [except brackets]

 Deye mon gen mon./ Behind the mountain, there are mountains.–A Haitian proverb

As I sat on the roof and watched the sun go down on my second day in Haiti, I ate another energy bar for dinner. I felt so very alone. Am I crazy? My friends are right. I must be crazy to leave such a great life in the States for a place like this. I don’t even know why I’m here. Oh Lord. Did I make a mistake? Should I just go back home?

 I needed to hear a familiar voice that night, so I made a quick decision to splurge on an expensive two-minute cell phone call to my mom. As soon as I heard her voice, the tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I tried hard to keep my voice steady and to sound sure of myself even though I wasn’t. “It’s beautiful here.” As I got off the phone I repeated the same routine as the night before, except this time my sobs and sniffles drowned out the beating drums in the distance as I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke the next day to the same goat-chicken-pig-people sounds and knew if I stayed around the house again all day, I would implode with fear and anxiety. I ate my breakfast energy bar, dried up my tears, and looked at David, the roof boy….

I pointed to myself, then moved two fingers like legs walking uphill and pointed toward the front of the house to show him I wanted to walk to Bellevue Mountain. It was the only place I had a name for in Gressier, and since I had holed myself up in the house for two days, I thought it would be refreshing to get out.

“Okay,” David said with a smile. He got it! I smiled, too, with a little jolt of happiness at having a plan, if only a small one…. Tons of children waited for their turn at the community water pump right outside of my gate. I looked at my feet as we walked, avoiding the gaze of dozens of dark brown eyes on me. As we strolled down the street, people yelled at me in Creole, and children ran up and grabbed my hands and clothes.

I followed close behind as he led me down the uneven brown road. We stepped onto a narrow footpath with clumps of weeds and bushes dotting the sides. We walked through a group of long-horned cows with tiny ropes around their necks, grazing peacefully. The path wound between a few decrepit houses and down into a small valley through a leafy green mango grove where the soil was rich and dark. As the path began to curve upward, we climbed a steep hill and came through some bushes to the top. It was flat and green, and my eyes followed the path that cut through the grass until I saw it. There, just as I remembered, stood the tamarind tree. It was a rich dark green, about twenty feet tall, with a single sturdy trunk and strong, supple branches that curved gracefully down at the ends.

I waved toward the tree and the land around it and asked, “Bellevue Mountain?”

“Wi.”

 …The top of Bellevue Mountain is a beautiful place. A cow relaxed nearby on the lush green grass, and I could see beyond the edge of the mountain all the way out to the turquoise sea. I smiled and took a deep breath, staring off into the distance.

A movement caught my eye, and that’s when I first saw her–a little girl, maybe six or seven years old. She was wearing a raggedy, soiled, yellow tank top that was too big, hanging off one shoulder down to her thin elbow. It must have been a woman’s shirt, and she wore it as a dress.

She was barefoot with matted orange hair, and her bony figure screamed of malnutrition. I watched as she threw a rock at a blackbird.

I felt drawn to her. She was so little. What is she doing out here all alone? I remembered the girls I’d seen earlier that morning, walking to school. They each wore a uniform with their hair neatly braided and tied with bright ribbons. Why isn’t she in school?

 I got close enough to call out, “What are you doing?” I was sure she didn’t understand me, so I glanced at David, and he repeated my question in Creole…

The little girl answered back in Creole. “There are two blackbirds.” David turned toward me to translate… “Yes, I see them. But what are you doing?” I asked again.

As she rocketed off in Creole, I received another loose translation from David. “Throwing rocks at birds.”

“Yes, I see. But why?”

Her beautiful brown eyes widened as she looked up at me. “To eat!”

…Bernard arrived shortly after to help with translation; David had called him when we left the house. Bernard was fluent in Haitian Creole and English, which he’d learned from a group of deportees from Brooklyn.

A few moments later I saw an older woman walking up the mountain toward us. She spoke broken English and told me the little girl’s name was Michaelle (Mick-kay-ell). Then, in an emotionless voice, she explained, “Mother dead. No father. Nobody wants her.” She looked at me, then turned to Bernard and began explaining in Creole that no one wanted Michaelle, so she had taken her in. She called herself Michaelle’s aunt, even though they weren’t related.

…The woman continued, telling Bernard her house had been destroyed in the earthquake and she’d moved from outside of Port-au-Prince to Gressier several months ago. “No one wanted Michaelle, so I brought her here although I can hardly afford to feed her.” Bernard looked at me, his eyes sad as he translated.

“Does Michaelle go to school?” I asked.

“No, she can’t go to school. No money,” she said.

…Early the next day I found the path and climbed Bellevue Mountain again, following the woman’s instructions to find Michaelle in a big blue tent on the side of the mountain with the older woman, four other children, and several adults. The relationship this mishmash family shared was unclear and unsettling.

Michaelle was playing in front of the tent in the same ragged yellow dress she had worn the day before. When she saw me, she ran inside and changed into a blue-and-white princess dress costume with white shoes and ankle socks. Her excitement propelled her ahead of me down the path. I had to walk fast to keep up with her. As I followed her down the mountain, I wondered who she was and why she was living in such a strange situation. Is it because of the earthquake? How did her mom pass away? Why was she trying to eat a bird? Was she really that hungry? Why isn’t she being fed? And why was she wearing that old yellow rag when she had a cute dress to wear? I had lots of questions, and I wanted some answers.

A person’s a person, no matter how small. –Dr. Seuss

 “Non,” she shouted, clinging with all of her strength to the branches of a scrawny little bush in the mango grove. Michaelle was refusing to let go. It was a Sunday morning, and we were halfway up the path to the blue tent on the mountain where she lived. With tears streaming down her face, yelling and screaming hysterically, words poured out of her so fast I couldn’t understand even one syllable. I crept closer and sat down next to her in the dirt. When I got down on her level, I realized I didn’t have to understand any Haitian Creole to know what was going on. I didn’t need to understand a single word to see that her face was filled with fear, fear of returning to her tent. I was rocked by the waves of terror emanating from her tiny seven-year-old body.

My heart ached, and I felt anxiety rising inside because I knew I couldn’t really talk to her, even though I tried. In my most soothing and confident voice, I called her Micha (pronounced “Mee-ka,” my new nickname for her) and told her everything was going to be okay, but it didn’t seem to help. After a few minutes of feeling completely helpless I, too, burst into tears as I stared, transfixed, at her frail body shaking and plastered to the dusty bush. I’d never before felt so helpless, and I begged God to show me what to do. Why is this happening? Please! Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

 …Micha’s aunt and the others in the tent where she lived didn’t seem to love her. At least they didn’t show it when I was around. It was so confusing. Why is Micha so sad all the time? Why is she the one that seems to be doing all of the household chores and all the work? Why doesn’t she want to go back home? The questions and curiosity and confusion swirled around in my brain and wouldn’t stop. My stomach clenched, telling me there was something deeper happening and I needed to find out what it was. After the emotionally exhausting morning I wrenched open the front gate, crossed the front yard, and burst through the front door, frantic to find my cell phone. I needed answers, and I didn’t care how expensive the Internet data charges were going to be.

I turned on my cell phone and pulled up Google. Then I typed in the three words that would forever change my life: Haiti + child + servant.

 A word I’d never heard before popped up in big, black, bold letters: restavek.

I froze, staring at the word on my cell phone screen for a good five minutes before scrolling down. There is actually a name for this way of treating children in Haiti. My mind reeled in confusion. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I continued reading, my head felt as though it would explode with this horrific discovery. The word restavek (sometimes spelled with a c instead of a k) is translated “to stay with” and is a common arrangement in Haiti, where parents force a child to live with another family because they are very poor or because of parental death or illness. Sometimes it includes the child being sold, kidnapped, or borrowed for a period of time.

I read a statement by the United Nations, condemning the restavek system as a “modern form of slavery” where even young children are put to work as laborers and treated as less than human.1 The majority of these restaveks are girls between the ages of four and fifteen, and they are responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and fetching of water for their households. Additionally, restaveks often suffer severe abuse and are very rarely enrolled in school.

There was much more, but I’d seen enough, and I put down  my phone. The room felt as though it was spinning. “Micha,” I gasped. Like an overwhelming rush, everything started to make sense. This is why she wasn’t in school when I met her. This is why I always saw her carrying heavy buckets of water or washing clothes in a tub outside the tent or surrounded by endless piles of dirty dishes. This is why she sleeps under a table on cardboard.

 Like a slideshow, images from the last few weeks popped up in my head as I remembered the many young girls I’d seen around Gressier who seemed to be working constantly. I had wondered why they stared down at the ground, eyes glassy and sad, and shoulders drooping. It was all starting to make sense, and I knew I had just made a life-changing discovery; I was finally able to put a finger on the disturbing feeling that had crawled its way up into my heart every time I passed these children. It was as if I could see the darkness of the situation and the evil behind it. I realized what the Holy Spirit had been stirring up in me the past few weeks, and I felt as though the Lord was igniting a fire inside me.

Children’s faces, one after another, popped into my head as I realized that Bellevue Mountain and much of Gressier were full of restaveks in an epidemic of child slavery. It made me sick to my stomach that I had been walking around this community for the last few weeks, knowing that something was wrong, wanting to question the situation, but not knowing how to begin. And it made me even sicker to know that so many Haitians had accepted and participated in this form of slavery in their own country with their own people.

I couldn’t find any firm statistics, but organizations that had studied the situation estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 children in Haiti are restaveks. I couldn’t get my mind and heart around that number. I still can’t. I never will…

I knew cooking pots of beans and rice or singing songs with kids wasn’t going to be enough.

[Get the book here.

I get to go back to Haiti this summer. What a privilege.]

 Romans  8:26 (NLT)  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 

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Miracle on Voodoo Mountain

voodoo-mtThe Good:

A 24-year-old girl from the States goes to live in Haiti and lives. And God changes her life. And her community. Sometimes there is nothing more unbelievable than the truth. Fiction could never been this crazy. I’ve been going to Haiti since 2007, and this book brings you as close to being there as you can get short of a plane ticket.

This is a MUST read.

 

The Bad:

The restavek system, voodoo, crime, humidity, fake orphanages, child slavery. . .  But not the book, the book is terrific – about a young girl moving to Haiti and watching God work to defeat the restavek system, voodoo, crime…

 

The Ugly:

The Son of God Orphanage was the ugliest part of the book for me – even worse than the voodoo. At least voodoo is what it is, it doesn’t pass itself off as light. Anyhow buy this book, it’s the first time i’ve found myself crying while reading in a LONG time. If you want to know more before ordering here you go!

http://www.respirehaiti.org/

Meanwhile, I’ll be back in haiti soon, at a ministry we believe in. Someone needs to write it a book! http://mcmhaiti.org/

 

Heartline’s Hurricane Relief Continues

I’ve been connected and worked with Heartline Ministries a bit over the last 11 years. A trustworthy organization with a great report of Haiti after Matthew.

Heartline Haiti Blog

Having lived in Haiti for twenty-seven years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the damage caused by several tropical storms; I’ve seen the destruction caused by coup d’états and numerous manifestations, and I’ve seen the incomprehensible damage caused by the 2010 earthquake, that ravaged much of Port au Prince and nearby cities. Some estimate that up to 250 thousand lost their lives, perhaps just as many were injured, tens of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged, and thousands upon thousands were left homeless. It was unimaginable.

And then on October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in southwesternHaiti, as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph. This seemingly demonic force uprooted untold thousands of fruit trees, damaged many more and wiped off the face of the earth tens of thousands of gardens belonging to people that depended on them for food and for…

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One Day in Haiti

This article was posted by Sue, who went to Haiti with us for her second time this year. She gave one of the best descriptions of what a day in Haiti is like – it’s like being there. Happy reading…

So…this morning i am overwhelmed with emotion. Those who have been to Haiti (or any other 3rd world country) will understand what i am feeling. But this post is for those of you who may never feel called or have the opportunity to experience this level of poverty and devastating living conditions. Last year when i returned i wrote a sweet little poem about the beauty of Haiti and the enormous pride of the Haitian people…i wrote about the lovely mangos and the wind in the palms at night. I wrote about the sacrifices of the missionaries and their families. I wrote about the delicious meals we ate and the sweetness of the children we teach. I wrote about how my heart was broken for this tiny island forever.

But today…i must tell you…i painted a picture that is only half of the story.

There is GREAT tragedy that i neglected. Emotional whiplash that is hard to explain…but it is laid on my heart to try… So…here is a day in Haiti: We wake up at 7…quickly take cold showers…shake the cockroaches out of our beds and clothes..and dress for a day at the beach. We struggle to put our clothes on because the humidity is so high our clothes stick to us like glue. 17 plus people are in the kitchen making various breakfasts and the chatter and laughter is loud and chaotic. We will leave the kitchen in a horrific mess that the Haitian ladies will clean up after we leave. Some will thank them..most of us will not.

We are transporting 33 people to the beach so we pile into several vehicles…where we experience the only air conditioning available. As we drive through Port au Prince…all of our senses are overwhelmed..the smells and sights and noise are extreme. There are wonderful smells of cooking chickens and bread and rice..mixed with burning garbage and sewage and exhaust. I say it all smells like roasting chilis in October…everyone thinks im crazy…they say it smells like burning trash. There are people EVERYWHERE…but you do not see any white American tourists walking the streets of Haiti. Its too dangerous? Every building has a gate…and an armed guard…EVERY building is behind a wall…except those that are hollowed out from the earthquake and within those crumbling walls … laundry hangs and children play on concrete steps that go nowhere anymore.

Everyone is selling something. Virtually EVERY square foot of the roadsides are filled with Haitian people making a living. Dan calls it a drive through Walmart..I call it a drive through flea market. And the things they sell are American…things we….often times missionaries…have brought to this island. Pampers and Coca Cola and Snickers and Cell phones and lingerie and vacuum cleaners (VACUUM CLEANERS!!?) And next to and behind and amongst all of these things is the garbage…pampers and cocacola cans and discarded cell phones and lingerie and broken vacuum cleaners…. Piles and piles and piles of garbage…everywhere. But no garbage truck ever comes to collect…so the garbage is piled into the streets and burned…toxic fumes mix with the smells of exhaust and fresh bread. All this up against the most beautiful artwork i have ever seen.

Everything and everyone dressed in loud brilliant colors. Everyone carrying heavy items on their heads…chickens, bananas, car batteries…Everyone walking somewhere..down he middle of he street…cars…motorcycles…ap taps….all swerving and inching and negotiating their way through streets that are seemingly impassable. No road rage…just an unspoken rule of navigation communicated through hand gestures and taps on car horns. Next to a large dumping of garbage…a playground…on a busy corner…with tons of traffic…i am worried because the playground has no fence.

And then we are at the beach.

Gorgeous resort! Turquoise waters. People serving me fresh pineapple or coconut water while i snorkle and sunbathe on the beautiful beach. Two of our missionaries are not feeling well. They get sicker and sicker as the after noon goes by. They are running high fevers…could be anyone of a host of diseases…we put them in the shade…i order another coca cola….and ask for extra ice please. And finally it is time to go home. We help the sick to the vans..load our bargain souvenirs in the trunk and head home.

Along the way we see a crowd of people gathered near the side of the road. I remember last time driving this route and seeing the body on the side of the road of a young girl… this time it is a young man and I am aware that I am not nearly as upset this time at the site of a body on the side of the road as I was last time… but I can’t get the picture of the bright red blood up against the grayness of the street and the colorful people dressed in their Sunday best gathered around as they wait for the makeshift ambulance to arrive to carry the body away.

 And… again back through the streets of Haiti and home again where we prepare to have a wonderful meal prepared with love and care by our amazing family of missionaries who spend every day ..living this day …and I wonder to myself….. how? And after worship and amazing music…and inspirational words from Byron, we go to bed to the sounds of pastors on loudspeakers preaching to the people of the street… long into the night. The next morning I will get up and teach babies…. some who live in makeshift huts along a dirty River piled high with garbage …and when I pick up one such child in the morning and hold her close to me I find myself overwhelmed at how wonderful her sweet tiny shirt smells like soap…and milk.

Day 5 In Haiti, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 

Today is the start of English Camp. 400 kids have been signed up, photographed, and had name tags made for them. 400 parents have been interviewed and cleared. 450+ kids will show up with their parents and 50 will have to be turned away. That’s no exaggeration. It’s always a struggle on day one. But, once we are under way, English camp will be awesome and hopefully I can get you some great pictures.

The picture at the top of the blog is from the opening ceremony at day 1.

The Good:
We met at the church office at 2:45am on Wed June 22, and arrived here in Haiti that night about 7pm. All our luggage made it, and we only lost one American off of the back of the truck driving to our compound, so we are mostly all here. Tegan was being difficult anyway. (yes, I’m kidding) It was a great flight. Thursday – Sunday was all about doing repairs and preparing for English Camp. Andrew, the director, had been working with over 80 Haitian HS kids who want to help as interpreters and leaders. He could only keep around 30, so telling 60 kids who tried to be a part of the program NO made for a difficult Friday, but the result is well-trained help. Everyone is getting along well, and the 12 or so interns (HS/College workers from the states here for the summer or longer) are amazing.

The worship, led by Ben, one of Byron and Shelley’s kids – our missionaries here – has been amazing. It’s so encouraging to see their kids, which we have seen grow up over the last 10 years, following God and growing in grace.

3haiticlass1200

We use the property next door that is a private school during the year. They have a lot of porch like classrooms – one is in the background. I like this one under the tree the best.

The Bad:
Our missionaries main vehicle is a 2010 Toyota Diesel Hilux. If there are machines in Heaven, we will all drive either a Hilux or a Ferrari. The clutch had recently been replaced but the throw out bearing was now making noise and it was shifting poorly, so we had to pull the transmission and transfer case. It weighed, like, 2000lbs. Not that I would exaggerate with my spaghetti arms. The worse was, late at night when we finally finished and took it on a test drive, it was not much better. Yesterday we checked the transmission oil. We put in 3 quarts. It holds 3 quarts. Not a good sign. It’s quieter now, but will cost thousands to fix so that it runs correctly. IT would be nice if it would actually shift into first gear and stay there without cramming it in and holding it there. You expect that in a Jeep, but it’s sad in a newer Hilux.

Sue, who runs the Cresh came down with Zika. No Bueno. Two of the interns are also very sick, one was sleeping in the bathroom last night to be close to the toilet. Bueno no.

4haitigirl1200

The electricity is off now – running on inverters so I have no interweb, and can’t send myself my phone pics. So, this picture has nothing to do with sick workers or sicker trucks. The missionaries here run 96 kids year-round in a preschool also in their home. I caught this girl looking up when I was cutting through the class.

The Ugly:
There is a tiny bathroom here inside the front door that is always extremely hot, full of mosquitoes and due to its location in constant use. I believe it is a portal to hell. The toilet wasn’t working, so I had to replace everything in the toilet, removing the tank, etc. When I finally got everything back in I was tremendously relieved to hit the flush knob and get out of purgatory. That’s when I realized I had installed it incorrectly and had to remove the tank and start over. Ugh. A good thing that didn’t happen on the Hilux!

Speaking of the Hilux, I have a picture of Theodore here. He isn’t an especially bad dog, great for protection I suppose as most people run away when they smell him coming. The only issue was when Jeff, Bill and I were laying under the Hilux. It seems Theodore likes to mark his territory, and he believes the Hilux and everything under it belongs to him.

OK, time to go to group devotions and help with breakfast for 400 screaming kids and all us workers. IT really is a blessing to be here, I’ve the best job in the world!

1haitidog1200

Theodore the Evil.

Dan

Back to Haiti

haiti 13It’s that time of year again! The Cooley’s are attempting to serve our friends in Port-au-Prince Haiti.
Not true.

This year it’s one Cooley. JoLynn has to work, Megan thinks being a new mom will limit her, Micah and Caleb will be at Camp Peniel, and Amanda doesn’t want to take Oliver and Emerson with her. I’m it.

Maranatha Children’s Ministries (www.mcmhaiti.org) is an organization that focuses on the children of Port-au-Prince. This year we plan to be in Haiti from June 22 to July 9, during their English Camp. We will be there before camp starts to get things ready, and for the first week to help things run smoothly.

English Camp is a program that teaches English, Math, Science and Biblical values to over 400 kids who are unable to attend school. Along with education, Maranatha provides breakfast and lunch for all the children and staff.

Spiritual Help: I’m asking for your prayers. Haiti can be an unstable, dangerous country , and I sometimes get in… situations. Worse though is the risk of disease, dehydration, fatigue, and drama. Last thing I want is to have Haitian Happiness (stomach issues) at someone else’s house with 400 kids running around. Cooley’s need their privacy. This one especially. Let me know on Facebook or email dan@cottonwoodchurch.com and I’ll put you on my list for updates.

Financial Help: Those going are raising money for Maranatha Ministries through a Silent Auction and massive Garage Sale. However we must each raise $1350 for our own travel and food expenses. If you wish to donate to me go, there are two ways.

  • 1. Snail mail a check to Cottonwood Church, 4041 Barbara Loop, Suite B, Rio Rancho NM 87124.
  • 2. If you would like to give by debit/credit card, just go to Cottonwoodchurch.com. Click on giving, then Qgiv. You can direct your donation to Haiti Missions and put my name in the Memo box. DONE!

AllBks

Haiti – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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My son Micah on the beach – beautiful place about 90 minutes from PaP. 15 people from Cottonwood Church came to minister in Haiti, this year. What a church!!

I just returned from another Haiti trip. Abnormality abounds.

The Good: It was the perfect 9-day sabbatical. It consisted of hot yoga, being serenaded during a moonlight swim, and afterwards lounging in the water while listening to the birds sing. OK, maybe trying one sadistic body knot, listening to some teenagers practice their worship music while wondering how to empty an entire pool with 5-gallon buckets, and then replacing valve seats in a shower while the birds fought outside. But, it was all in the Caribbean. So there. Where were you last week?

10658721_996953770323011_8748307849438125315_o
Daughter Megan who led the trip and a friend from English Camp.

The Bad: My goal was to get the 1998 Isuzu Trooper resurrected yet again. It came back to life on day two – a record. After shouting IT LIVES for the community to hear, I took it out for a drive. I was so excited I didn’t consider whether after starting once, it would start again – nor did I think about the brakes sitting for 5 humid rust-growing months. Rather than think, I grabbed Andres – a Haitian friend – and drove to the closest gas station, which is on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in Port-au-Prince, to fill it up with diesel.

You need to understand, there are no lights, no signs, no rules at this major intersection. Everyone just pushes their way through, motorcycles weaving through, big trucks, cars, everyone within inches of each other. It’s a dance really, only when feet get stepped on there is a lot of shouting.

Of course, after filling the Trooper up, it wouldn’t start. No one around would help us jump start it. Andres got into the drivers seat’ and we pushed it backwards through the crowd of people and into the intersection dance, popping the clutch to try and get it started.

No luck.

Now we were in the edge of the intersection making everyone squeeze around us. And there was this scrawny spaghetti armed white guy trying to push the Trooper backwards – and now forwards. We had to go way down the street to get into another driveway – into a little store called DeliMart. It seemed like an eternal distance away. I squeezed behind the Trooper and the car inches from our bumper with it’s horn blaring, and shoved with all the might my straw-like legs could muster.

Unbeknownst to me, when I left in a euphoria of IT LIVES excitement, 3 of the 4 brake calipers were stuck. As in 3 of the 4 brakes were mostly on. It’s a diesel, it moves with brakes on or off. I’m not a diesel, not a van diesel, not a dan diesel. Haitians on the street kept yelling “5 DOLLARS” in Haitian to help push – but Andres was too proud to take their help. Easy for him – he was steering.

By now we had a few hundred cars backed up into the intersection, and most of Port-au-Prince was at a stand-still. So, two frustrated kind guys watching came and helped me push. 20 minutes and two shaking and eternally sore legs later, we made it into DeliMart, where I paid the guys $5 each for helping.

At DeliMart we found someone who would help jump us, and life was good.

Meanwhile, at the compound, others were helping the community with education and planning and food and a clear presentation of the gospel. More importantly, a few miles away, Andres and I got diesel in to the Trooper.

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400+ kids at the first day of English Camp

The Ugly: Haiti has a bit of ugly. Being with the missionary when she stopped to help a lady whose child seemed close to death due to dehydration, seeing a child’s body left on the highway waiting for family to come and take it away, the lack of education, structure, employment, and hope for a proud people who only want to make it on their own. It’s smelly and dirty and yet…

There is hope.

When you see the kids learning at English Camp, you can since the hope and power that comes from Christ making a difference. With the gospel at Maranatha comes food for the body and education for the mind, and you come back to the States and feel like you have somehow wimped out by not remaining in PaP.

AllBks

3 Haiti Surprises

11666058_10205628805176998_8148816068556344032_nI’M IN HAITI!

Surprise #1: I left for Haiti Sunday night without the church knowing. I arrived here around 4pm Monday and did some upkeep around the place. Tuesday was the same, Wednesday I was able to work on my favorite Isuzu Trooper. Thursday at 9am was terrific.

I was able to shock most of the 14 people coming in from Cottonwood Church by meeting them at the airport. Great fun! It may have been more of a shock riding with me from the airport to Maranatha Ministries without brakes.

Surprise #2: The Missionaries stole my luggage. At the Florida airport i was asked if i wanted to check my luggage. Since I had 35lbs in my carry on and the flight to Port-au-Prince was packed, I did it. That gave me 2 50lb bags and my 35lb bag checked in the belly of the plane. When I arrived in Haiti there was the typical customs line up so it took me a while to get to the baggage claim. Not that I needed to hurry.

My bags weren’t there.

My life was in my carry-on. And it wasn’t there. I could have kicked myself for letting them check the bag. I went to the pile of bags that in this airport generally gets dumped to the side after they make a few rounds. Thankfully I put red duct tape around the handles to make them easy to find. I saw one bag with red tape. “My carry-on!” I prayed.

Nope.

But it was one of my bags. One down, two to go.

I started looking around, watching people leaving the area, looking for red duct tape. There was a missions group with the obnoxious matching t-shirts loading a bunch of bags onto carts. One of the bags they were about to load had… red duck tape!

I ran over and snagged it. “Oh, sorry” said the leader.

That wasn’t adequate. So, I started looking through bags already on the closest cart. There was my carry-on, loaded and ready to go with a bunch of matching t-shirt missionaries. I snagged it. “I looked like ours,” said the leader. “Why” I wanted to ask, “because it was black?” Ugh. Anyhow I finally got all my stuff and headed out to beautiful Port-au-Prince.

Surprise #3: The Trooper Lives! Well, it lived for a day. The 1998 Trooper with endless miles that had been sitting for 4-5 months ran after a day of work. A friend and I got it to the gas station, where it died. I had my first experience of pushing a car down a packed street with motorcycles and cars squeezing and honking around me. Great fun. Wish I had a video.

We then got it running long enough to go to the airport and back. Currently it is waiting for brake parts. It was a rather hairy airport ride. We now know 3 of the 4 disk brakes were frozen.

That’s it for now. Off to work on a Trooper and enjoy some Cottonwood folks crazy enough to come out here. What an amazing church!

danielcooley.com

AllBks

Daughter’s Awesome COMPASSION Post

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This was posted on my daughter Megan’s blog. If you don’t follow her, you should. We were able to go see our compassion child – this is her take on the day, way better than I could write it.

Compassion Sunday: Bregard’s Story

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This Sunday at our church is Compassion Sunday (For more information visit Compassion International).

Last week I was able to visit my family’s compassion child, Bregard in Port au Prince, Haiti. As we drove out to his house we passed a place where the body of my friend’s brother  was left on the street only a few days before. It’s a bad area. I couldn’t help but think, “How close does Bregard live to here?”.

Byron, our friend who’s lived in Haiti for 7 years (with mcmhaiti.org) told us this was the same route he used to take to drop off the trash at the dump. He quit taking it there after a gang started making him pay to use the road. He said if the car would stop on the street people would climb into the back of the truck and start going through the trash. I couldn’t help but think, “This is my 4th time here, would Bregard have gone through my trash?”

I’ve read people’s opinions about Compassion both positive and negative. Here’s what I learned to be true for Bregard.

1. Before Compassion called his father to say he had a sponsor, his father was looking into orphanages to place him because he could no longer provide for his son.

2. Before Compassion the family was separated. His mother and siblings were living in the mountains, his father in the city looking desperately for work. Due to his limited education, construction is the only job he could apply for and because he has asthma, this made finding a job in an already difficult economy, impossible.

3. After the earthquake, Bregard and his dad were living out of a tent.

Bregard's house. (center one). I promise you, that hill is MUCH steeper than it looks!! Slice my ankle nicely..

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4. This year when we visited, we found the whole family together again. His father has a job and the family has a sturdy home built on a hill. The placement of the house allows a breeze to run through it, which keeps the home cool and the mosquitoes to a minimum.

5. Without Compassion, Bregard WOULD be an orphan without an education and without any healthcare. Something else I learned is that if Bregard has any health issues, Compassion pays 80% of his expenses.

IMAG14086. Before we left his house we swapped prayer requests and prayed for each other. I asked Bregard to pray for one of my friends who has cancer. I had a prayer bracelet and gave it to him. I told him it was my reminder to pray for my friend and now it’s his reminder.

7. I believe that because of Compassion, Bregard is my friend. My friend has a whole family. My friend has a good  education. My friend has a bright future.

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