Saturday, March 14, 2009

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck!

Yeah God for an action packed, full, challenging but successful trip to Haiti and back. This trip was fraught with obstacles that had to be overcome which gave an added sense of adventure. Annoying things like being bumped from a flight after waiting hours and being stuck in Port au Prince…a rooster who parked outside our open window and decided that 4 AM seemed like a nice time to begin crowing…our driver being detained by the police for over an hour until a little cash suddenly made things better…a bank president in Port au Paix who wanted me to go back to Port au Prince for a couple of days and stand in obscenely long lines to get papers documented before doing business with me and the Cypress money in his bank, for there is no other way he insisted – but when I reminded him how much money we put through his bank every year and that he is not the only show in town – he found a way…eating my yearly quota of way over cooked goat…to Chris being hustled off to a “room” as we tried to clear US customs in Miami where he was given a full dose of “Guantanamo hospitality” until it was verified that he was not the Chris Cox from Indiana they were looking for…and so on. Now tomorrow morning people will ask me how my vacation was! Yeah right!

Anyway, every time I began to wonder if it was worth it…I either thought of or looked into the eyes of the precious children who attend our school and then I would remember that outside of our involvement they have no other apparent option for the hope and chance at a better life and eternity we bring to their lives…and I would again find the fight needed. And the fight was won. The bank account was settled; encouragement was poured into our teachers and administrators; advance work on the well was done; filming was completed for our next focus on the school; the mayor pledged both support and a field for a sports camp we will offer this fall; plans were laid (bad pun) for launching a chicken farm so eggs can be sold to support the school and we ministered to numerous children and adults that God put in our path.

Thanks for your prayers…thanks for your support…and thanks for being a part of something that is bringing hope to an area of the world that is in short supply of it. The church is the hope of this world because we alone have the message of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

I’ll see you Meadowers at the front door of Cypress tomorrow morning…10-10.



Life on the Lamb

Every time I'm returning from out of the country and the plane wheels touch down, I'm so grateful to be home. I love my country. As I walk off the plane I see signs of organization and order. Moral and good people who are for the most part considerate and kind...

But then I enter into another world known as customs. I've certainly never enjoyed my experience working my way through the netherworld of customs, but tonight as I attempted to navigate my way through the chaos, it was a much different experience than I have had the pleasure of expereincing.

I'm always afraid I'm going to say some bad terrorism buzz word that will get me thrown into prison for years. I just try to answer questions in the most direct way possible - but something went drastically wrong this evening.

As I waited in line, the lady in front of me, on her way up to the official, invites her entire family in the back of the line to come join her. And as much as that stuff frustrates me, we had plenty of time to kill before our next flight, so I waited until her crew was through and told Douglas I would meet up with he and Pastor Caleb (a haitian american pastor friend) on the other side of the glass.

I finally made my way up to the official and was asked three questions: where were you born, where are you coming from, did you ever live in Indiana... I answered them and packed up to be on my way - however, he said that I needed to follow a customs office for further questioning.

The official led me down a long hallway and into a rather small(ish) room packed with about 250-300 people. As I looked around I noticed that I was one of the only caucasian-americans in the room. The official who led me into the room, turned around quickly and left through another door. As I opened the door to follow him, other officials communicated very clearly that I was not to go in "that" room and that I needed to wait in "this" room.

There was another official who was standing on his chair yelling (literally) at the crowd to make some space at the front of the room (which was really humorous because of 1-the size of the room and 2-the amount of people crammed into this small space. I asked the man yelling at the room if my name will be called or if I was supposed to wait for someone. He shot me a dirty look and said, "I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOU!" Because they had my passport, I found a seat near the back of the room and tried to figure out what was going on. I found a couple people who spoke english and found out that they had been in there for anywhere between 3 & 5 hours, and since I had a plane to catch in 3 hours, I was getting very nervous. I sent Douglas a text as quickly as I could so I wouldn't have my phone "confiscated", and told him I might not be making the next flight with him.

After about an hour of waiting, a man came in and asked if anyone in the room was in transit and hadn't already missed their flight. Three of us shot up our hands, but because they had actually already missed their flight, I was directed to come to the front. He asked me a few more quick questions then said I could go. I asked him if he would tell me what in the world the problem was. He explained that there was a warrant out for an arrest for a Chris Cox from Anderson, IN (which is where I lived for 4 years) and took them a while to figure out that I was not the one they were looking for. I grabbed my passport and ran out of there as quickly as I could, eventually found Douglas and spent the rest of the time there trying to stop shaking from frustration.

So that was my night last was yours?

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Heart Will Go On (and on)

I've been sitting in a tiny outdoor airport terminal for a while now. We're now on the third time through the Celion Deon cd that is blaring through the speaker mounted just two feet above my head.

As we waited, a little boy came up to me and wanted to shine my shoes. Today I'm wearing my 7 year old "run around in the mud" shoes. I'm sure you have a similar pair. I had no desire to have these shoes in any better condition then they were, but was happy to have a reason to give this little boy some money.

As he shined my shoes, I thought about how shoe shinning is a modern day foot washing. The same type of people would be doing the job (enconomic/class), it's a dirty job, cleaning the dirtiest part of the body. Then the thought overwhelmingly hit me-what if this were Jesus on his knees in front of me scrubbing the years of dirt and dust off of my feet. Could I stand there and allow him to do that for me?

Even as I write this now, I don't have an answer. I'm sure I would have reacted in some similar ways the disciples reacted.

As I hum along to the titanic song for the third time, I think about how I am so happy to be going home and at the same time, wished we had more time to be here. We sqeezed so much into two days time. Days started so early and went to very late with very little down time. I've just now started finding the time to process the things I've experienced. One thought (or emotion more acurately) that is certain in me is that I'm renewed in my commitment to make a difference for these people I've come to love.

I'm going to begin editting more of the photos and videos we shot here this week and will share as quickly as I can.


Lord willing...we return home sometime after mid-night....if the plane arrives, if we get on, if the plane takes off...if. The thought that runs through my mind is the same thought I have each time I prepare to leave the island...the thought that I am about to step out of the pervasive suffering and lack that so defines Haiti and step back into my over-privilegeded life of electircity, fully stocked food pantry, water heater and over stuffed clostets. I step out, while my friends and brothers and sisters here have no escape available to them. And what I admire is their determination to not escape but to see their homeland transformed by the power and grace of our God. So once again I recommit to and raising awareness and support for this grand vision. I leave Jean, Jos, Tanya, Wilson, Marita and many other people whose faces are in my mind but the ever present savor Jesus never leaves nor forsakes. Yeah God. If you want your life to matter give your life to what matters most to God...people. If you want your life to matter to people...make people matter to you. -Douglas

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A long...long day

9:30 at night, and I am falling over as I type. Our day started at 4:45 this morning. We woke to the sounds of a church singing...loudly. It was on one hand a beautiful sound, and on the other hand, just %@#$ me off. We were told at breakfast that the church across the street has a morning service each day at 5:00. I eventually gave up the fight to get back to sleep and climbed up on the roof to watch the day begin.

For the rest of the day, we fit a weeks worth of work into a one day visit. We squeezed every potential drop out of the day. It was both exciting and exhausting being chased all day by hordes of screaming children wanting to rub my head and hold my hand. I met so many beautiful children today, got excited and proud of the work we are doing here with the school, saw the potential of a new generation of hope rising in Haiti, and got to spend a lot of time with a few of the sharpest minds in Haiti (the guys running our school).

I have so much in my heart, but my head is done for the day.

Chris is right...a very long day...I left nothing on the table today so by now I feel as if I have nothing to say which would coherently capture the day and do justice to what needs to be said. So for tonight I will let the pictures speak on our behalf. Tomorrow will begin long before the sun rises and we retrace our steps back home. Somewhere as we sit in airports or ride on planes we will work to find the words that deserve to be said about these last three check the blog sometime tomorrow night. Au revoir -Douglas

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah

I've heard it all day long...blanc, blanc (pronounced "blah"). Literal translation: "hey white boy". Little children yelling it over an over again as they run behind the pickup truck that we're riding in. Saying it over an over again as we walk down the street wanting me to take their picture so they can see their beautiful faces on my 3" lcd screen. Beautiful children, not given the same chances that my own boys will never realize they have.

Its good to finally be here, it wasn't easy. We've had so much trouble on this trip. We got into Port Au Prince, Haiti around 11:00am yesterday and jetted over to a smaller airport just down the road to try and book the next leg of our trip to Port de Paix. We were told to wait, so we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally our names were called! Up to the counter to find out that they were full. So we purchased our tickets for the next day. We found a place to stay for the night and got to the airport the next morning (today). We checked in with no problems, but once we got on the plane, we looked out the window to see my luggage still sitting on the runway as we pulled away. We were told that it would get to us sometime worries. So not only am I'm I without a toothbrush and clothes, the video camera is also in there, so no filming. We were also stopped by the police and took about an hour before we finally worked a "deal" with them. Spent hours at the bank trying to rap up some school business. Yes - it was a long trip here.

But now that we're here, it seems right. It seems right to be with the people we're with. It's good to connect with people who live in a culture so different than my own, but still have so much "core" stuff in common. And - as I was writing this, my bag showed up! THANK YOU GOD! We have finally arrived!

We start filming tomorrow, lots of pictures today - I'll attach a few of the best below - all for now from me (Chris)


PS. A Few thoughts from Douglas

Once again I am seeing the faces and hearing the voices of some Haitian brothers and sisters I have come to love. As Chris said the journey here took longer than expected and was fraught with an interesting twist or two. As we drove the hour it takes to travel the 8 miles from Port de Paix to St Louis (yes you read that right...a hour to drive 8 miles) I saw again the simply deplorable conditions people live in here, I saw some spray painted words on a wall that read "Haiti, Mission Impossible". Were is not for the God with whom all things are possible the graffiti artist would be right. In the middle of this mess is a ray of hope, a church changing this little corner of the world one life at a time. After the bank fiasco...the police "pull over" and the bag issue I silently prayed and ask the Lord to remind me why I'm doing this...then we got to the school and I was met by the smiling faces of some of the children we sponsor and I saw hope in the middle of this hopelessness and I remembered why I'm doing this. Were things reversed, I hope some Pastor in better circumstances would jump in the mess with I'm elbow deep in it again.