Good News of Great Joy
December 18, 2022
During this Christmas season, many of us are so very busy. We are preparing cards and buying presents for family and friends. We are planning menus. We are managing relationships. We are thinking of loved ones who have gone on before and will be missed all the more on Christmas day. While it truly is a season of great joy in being reminded moment by moment how God changed all of our lives - it can also be an extremely time stressful time of year.
Consider Mary's life as she prepared for the birth of Jesus. In our time we would consider her a child - barely a teen, perhaps even a pre-teen. She was betrothed to a man and had to tell him she was expecting. (As a parent and grandparent, I have to wonder where her parents were in this story, too.) I wonder if her relationship with Joseph was as calm and beautiful as I always imagined it to be. And what of that nesting instinct that kicks in as the day approaches? Did no one tell her she shouldn't be riding across the region 8 months pregnant?
I imagine Mary had many natural/physical reasons to be stressed out. Her whole life was out of sorts. And yet Mary had something that you and I still have today; a message from God Himself: Fear not! The one thing that likely caused the most stress in Mary's life (this unexpected [by Mary, that is] pregnancy) is what God called "good news." Imagine that!
The people of Israel had long been awaiting the arrival of their King - the Messiah of the world. They recorded prophecies about it and taught them to their children generation after generation. And yet when Jesus was born in such humble circumstances, did they recognize their King? Would they consider a carpenter's son to be the King of the world?
Almost daily I meet people who look different than me. I often ask myself, if Jesus looked like this person would I honor Him? I consider the many stereotypes that have been assimilated into my thinking over the many years of my own life. Isn't it interesting that Jesus was born at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa? What if he looked different from my own European background? (It's likely, right?)
I've just returned from the Dominican Republic where, apart from the folks visiting us, I literally did not see one person who "looked" anything like me. Of course, what people look like on the outside may or may not reflect the mightiness of who they are on the inside. Right? This announcement from the angel (Luke 2:10) also tells us that this wonderful news is for "ALL PEOPLE!"
I arrived home late last night, so I will have to limit how much I can share with you today. This post will still be pretty long, but it's just a taste of what I'd like to tell you all about.
I must say, it's fascinating to me that while we are expanding MOHI's reach more internationally, the years of our lives, of our family's life, of the lives of many of you, which were sown into our friends in Haïti - those seeds are continuing to bear fruit and bring forth a harvest. It is a harvest of lives impacted by Jesus through all of us. Whether we are in Haiti or not, Jesus lives there and guides the choices of our staff to continue impacting the lives of others.
Pastor Lex had an extra special time at the church in Thozin this morning!
What a joy it is to see that despite the chaos in the country, students are still in school and learning. This class was learning from Matthew 1:18-25 during devotions this past week.
In countries like Haiti, where not everyone has the opportunity to go to school, education is highly valued. Students and staff alike work hard to continue learning and teaching others.
I remember talking with a wonderful couple about my vision for the library. How we wanted it to be a special room that the children felt privileged to be in. We wanted them to learn to love books and to travel the universe and beyond through them. I later found out that they were already talking about a library for our school. The husband had said to the wife, "But remember, Honey, we want to support THEIR vision, not ours!" My conversation with them about a library happened just days later. How wonderful it was to see how the Lord had prepared a path for the library to become more than a dream!
Many of us have experienced lifelong friendships that began at school. We get to see them from the start!
How awesome it is to be able to start children out learning and experiencing good nutrition right from birth.
The many aspects of service and education people find at MOHI began through sharing the vision with those the Lord brings along our path. The MOHI church in St. Etienne (pictured below) began simply through another missionary introducing us to Pastor Hakine. That missionary wasn't there to help him grow a church, but he WAS there to open the door for MOHI to do so. Pretty cool how the Lord did that, huh?
We are all about education at MOHI. When teams prepare to come on a Hope Encounter with us, we always encourage them to be prepared to teach what they know and have experience with. I may teach a group how to sing harmonies, you may teach a young man how to build a bookshelf, Sue may teach a group how to follow a recipe, Joy may work with Sunday School teachers to create lessons, and Roy may show others how to create a business plan. I find myself snickering when someone tells me they don't think they have any skills to share with others. We all know something that someone else would benefit from knowing, too.
Dentists, doctors, and other medical professionals that have visited over the years have helped to improve dental and healthcare for our communities.
Bless Back Worldwide continues to support this education with technical, educational, and financial support day in and day out. We are so grateful for their partnership!
Lex and I had a wonderful week with several longtime Haiti friends: Angie os a physician assistant who lived with us in Haiti and rant the medical clinic for over a year. Bless Back Worldwide's Haiti Country Director, Lisa made 2-5 trips to MOHI for years before the pandemic. Carole-Ann is an EMT who has supported MOHI for many years and volunteered regularly in the medical clinic pre-pandemic. Their time with us in Luperòn and the insights they shared were very valuable to us. I feel as though the Lord handpicked them to join us at this time!
We spent some time in the city of Puerta Plata - about an hour from Luperòn. We purchased some needed items (like patio furniture) and looked for places teams could go for their day off. We found some fun shopping and dining spots, a yummy (and informative) chocolate factory, and the longest cable car ride in the Caribbean. We saw several cruise ships (there were a total of 4 in the city one day).
We enjoyed walking down the sidewalk along the ocean, shooting the breeze with local Haitian vendors, and watching Lex and Jephte get into the music playing there.
We visited the village of Cambiaso. It's not a long distance from Luperòn but it is a very rough ride. It's not someplace you'd want to travel to in the rain, as the roads are dirt and get very slippery. We spent time with some of the residents (including the babies!) and did some medical assessments.
We went to the mostly-Haitian village in Imbert to visit our new friends. This time we went into the "heart" of the village - what Pastor Lex calls "the maze." The houses are very close together and it's a little difficult to know where you're at while you're in there. We bought some "paté" to share with the children from a young woman there.
We hung out with some of the kids under a big tree. We didn't notice, however, the pigeons that were living in it. That is until one of them gave Angie what the Haitians called a "blessing."
We may have had many a hearty laugh over that one! (Angie wasn't thrilled with the blessing, but certainly she felt good about bringing such joy to her teammates. Right?)
Saintilien was so excited to share his good news with us. He received a certificate from the hospital, clearing him to move forward with his surgery. Praise the Lord!
We returned to this village to hold a health fair. Lisa shared, "We had a great day in the community of Imbert. Everyone came out for some teaching on food safety, cut and burn care, and preventing dehydration. The participants asked some thoughtful questions. We also performed blood pressure screenings and some minor wound care. After the health fair, everyone received lunch before heading home."
Carole-Ann is a firefighter, too. It was fun for her to visit the Luperòn fire department, meet some of the firefighters, and check out the (rather outdated) equipment.
We met with the Luperòn primary school director, Miss Esther. How wonderful to experience her passion and enthusiasm for education and the well-being of her 420 students. This meeting is just the beginning of a partnership between MOHI and the Luperòn school system.
Our friend Jose makes Christmas baskets for the community each year. It costs $12.75 per basket and it is filled with items for a lovely dinner (rice, beans, oil, poultry, chocolate, and more). The people of Cambiaso work hard to put them together with him. We have already collected donations to help him. The more donations we receive the more baskets he can make and distribute. Would you help? Donate to Christmas Extras here.
The view from the mission house and neighborhood is beautiful...
Getting down into the bay itself was beautiful, too!
Lex and I are so excited to start "officially" hosting teams next month. Reach out to me if you'd like to join a team over the winter or begin making arrangements to bring a team of your friends. firstname.lastname@example.org