Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Give it up (from Douglas Poole)


Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

When I was young I loved Christmas for the gifts I would get...now I love Christmas for the gifts I get to give.

That said, can I quickly tell of three really cool gifts I am a part of giving this season that are true WOW things?

First, I simply can’t wait to give the Cypress family the gift of a Christmas concert this weekend by renowned recording artist Sara Groves. Sara has a heart over-flowing with the grace of Jesus, lyrics that will stir your heard and a voice that could be making mega bucks somewhere in Nashville or L.A. Of all you do this Christmas, this concert will probably the one thing you talk the most about over the holidays. By the way the Saturday and Sunday night concerts are full with waiting lists for tickets. We still have approximately 50 to 60 seats available on Sunday morning...it would be a shame for them to be left empty...so who do you know that could use a beautiful gift of grace that will touch their soul? It’s not too late, really...invite but do so without delay. (If you have any tickets that you will not be using for the weekend...please turn them in at cypresschristmas@gmail.com so those waiting can attend. Thanks.)

The second gift I can’t wait to give is the candle light Christmas Eve services. This will be an evening enchanted with heavenly grace...A Cappella voices singing to us, carols we will join in on and a teaching from scripture all in the ambiance of the flickering light of candles. I can’t think of a better way to enter into the Christmas experience: “Today...a Savior has been born to you...He is Christ the Lord.” (Identical services at 5:00 and 6:30...no tickets required.) Whatever you do...don’t miss this Holy Night. These will be our only services for the whole of Christmas weekend...No Saturday or Sunday services.

And the third gift I want to tell you about was handed out yesterday. For a number of reasons I wanted to do something crazy nice for the Cypress staff this year that would totally catch them off guard and leave them buried under a great big Wow! And I think I pulled it off. After a little asking on my part, a way was made available for me to give each of our staff members a gift that knocked them off their feet...an ipad! I wish I had somehow filmed the deal...it was like one of those “Ophra Show final season” moments: “Everybody gets and ipad!” Blew them away...agape mouths, wide-eyes and a lot of “wow oh wow’s” being muttered. It felt so wonderful, really really double wonderful. What is there about giving to people you care about deeply that blesses you so deeply? Anyway if you see Cypress staff walking around smiling and hugging an ipad...you now know what is going on. Oh and just in case you think I’ve gone all soft...I told everybody enjoy the moment because come December 26...I’m back to being scrooge.
Blessings,
Douglas

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jesus and Sheikra [from Douglas Poole]


Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

One of the things I love about the Christmas season is the way the message of God’s grace through His son Jesus shows up in some of the most unexpected places.

I spent two days this week engaged in strategic planning for next year’s weekend services while sitting around tables at Busch Gardens (Yes, I know...Busch Gardens?...Really?...I was told the creative environment would make us more creative. Did it work?...You’ll have to show up to services next year to find out.) Anyway, at one point as we were sitting around a table in the sun creating away I had to lean in close to hear because our conversation was being drowned out by the sound of vocalists at a nearby show singing at about 10,000 decibels. My initial annoyance over having to strain to hear the person seated right next to me was quickly overcome when I heard the vocalists belting out the words...“Christ, the Savior, is born”. Suddenly I was a bit awed to hear the message of God’s grace being sung loud and clear at a place I hadn’t expected...a theme park. Sheikra, Montu and Jesus...what a delightful combination. Who’d have thought. Jesus shows up at some of the most unexpected places this time of year doesn’t He? Places like malls, motel lobbies, school concerts, country radio stations and theme parks. So I silently breathed a prayer that ears would listen and that hearts would be open to this message of good news...a Savior has been born.

As much as anytime of the year, people are open to this message. So leverage the opportunity and invite others to join you at the Sara Groves Christmas concerts next weekend at Cypress, as well as, the Christmas Eve services on the 24th. Both the Saturday and Sunday night concerts were maxed so we found a way to squeeze in 40 more seats for each service. There is still plenty of room in the Sunday AM concert, so if you could help us out by switching your attendance to Sunday morning just go on line and swap out your tickets. Thanks.

See you either Saturday night or Sunday morning as we continue with part four of the unexpected Christmas series...who knows...Jesus might just show up at church too, this time of year...heard He is a 10-10 kind of guy.

Blessings,

Douglas

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Humble Gratitude (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

May heaven's grace abound on you this Thanksgiving. May you bask in the wonder of God's passionate love for you. And may your heart respond with humble gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Poole household to yours!

Blessings,
Douglas
PS. Of all the many blessings in my life, Cypress Meadows ranks up in the top layer of what I am most grateful for. Thank you for the profound privilege of being your Pastor. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Twitter me this (from Douglas Poole)

Greetings Cypress Family and Friends,

Okay, I’ve got a crazy little idea to run by you. Next Wednesday I head into Haiti where I’ll have a day stopover in Port-au-Prince and then three days with our partners in St. Louis du Nord. Whenever I travel to be with our international partners in Haiti and Kenya a good number of people ask me how they can pray for me and while I’m away they ask Jacque for up-dates on how things are going. So here is my crazy little idea as to how you can know both how to pray for me and get live updates...twitter!

You tech savy-ites are saying what is so crazy about that idea...duh...welcome to 2010. For the rest of us tech dinosaurs let me offer the one sentence cliff notes: Twitter is “text-based” messages of 140 characters or less that you can view either on your smart phone or computer. Cool huh?

Anyway, here is how to sign up if you are interested: using your smart phone text follow douglasdpoole to 40404 or you can follow on your computer by going to www.twitter.com/douglasdpoole

As always, I covet your prayers. You can start praying right now that I might be used of God to bring His grace to a group of people who have been hit with an earthquake...slapped by a hurricane...and now are fleeing from the death shadow of cholera. I will be working with our Haitian partners on advancing the chicken farm, completing next steps to secure a water source and purification system and of course pouring into the leaders of the school. My traveling companions will be our resident “chicken business” expert Steve Ham and Haitian-American Pastor Caleb Deliard.

Finally, this weekend we will observe communion and our own Molly Bail will be with us in all the services for an up-date on our partner orphanage, Springs of Hope Kenya. You don’t want to miss the stories of God’s grace and power transforming the lives of children forgotten by the world they live in. And for my Saturday night friends...we have two new cool additions to the 6 o’clock service...one has to do with music and the other with atmosphere. This thing is starting to grow wings! Yea God!

Blessings,
Douglas

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unplugged Part 2 (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

One of the scripture verses that sort of always stays on my radar screen is 1 Timothy 4:16: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do , you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Who can argue with this wisdom of God’s Word? Not me. Can’t we all name either someone we know personally or someone we know of with a very public life who didn’t pay the kind of attention they should have to their marriage or their morals or their finances or their health or their (you fill in the blank) __________ and then they (and usually others around them) paid some major “stupid tax”.

That said, this week as I was doing some leadership reading and this quote jumped off a page at me: “An insidious enemy of a leader is exhaustion. Keep it at bay.” How true...how true in my life. I rarely make my best decisions  or do my best thinking when I’m exhausted. I rarely am the kind of husband, father, pastor or Christ-follower I want to be when I’m exhausted. In fact, if I let myself stay an exhausted me for any length of time at all, I usually end up paying some “stupid tax” over something I said or did that probably wouldn’t have been said or done if I wasn’t feeling so exhausted. A-r-r-g-g-h-h! And then I find myself offering apologies and making amends. My guess is, I’m not the only one exhaustion effects in just such a manner. I think this quote is applicable in just about any and every role and realm of life, isn’t it? Can’t we also say: “An insidious enemy of a spouse/parent/friend/boss/teacher/or (you fill in the blank)___________ is exhaustion”. Keep it at bay. Question...Who is ultimately responsible to see that you are leading your life in such a way that you keep exhaustion at bay...you right? Right! So as I told you in my previous e-note, last week I unplugged from most of the duties and responsibilities of the urgent to study, plan and listen for the whispers of heaven in some silence and solitude. What do you need to do to keep exhaustion at bay? You can find reasons to not do something or you can find reasons and ways to keep it at bay. Do what you need to do before exhaustion makes you into more of the person you don’t want to be and you live another day of the life you don’t really want to live. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, for if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

One small step you can take to fight exhaustion is to set your clock back one hour this Saturday night as we return to standard time. What a gift, an extra hour of sleep.

Blessings,
Douglas
PS. To all my Saturday night friends...see you 6PM...10-10 baby...10-10.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reminder

This weekend is time change weekend.  So, remember to set your clock back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.

See you at services this weekend.





[photo by peapodsquadmom]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unplugged (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

I’ve been “unplugged” this week. Unplugged from most all of the duties, expectations and responsibilities of the urgent so I could give attention to some very important matters like study, planning and listening for the whispers of heaven in some silence and solitude.

One of my readings this week has been the book: ‘Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light’ by Brian Kolodiejchuk. It is a compilation of the private writings of Mother Teresa and it gives an intimate look into her walk with God and her personal life-long struggle with the dark night of the soul. I’ve always admired both her deep love for God and her deep love for people. I read her writings in hope of deepening my love for God and others. She wrote these words in the book: “I want to love Him (Jesus) like He has never been loved before.” Now that is something to reflect on isn’t it...better yet to live. If you want a few more of the nuggets I have been ruminating on from the book read on:

. “Jesus wants me to tell you again...how much is the love He has for you--beyond all what you can imagine...Not only He loves you, even more--He longs for you. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy...”

. “Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love...the smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”

. “Act without delay, once you are certain it is God’s will.”

. “I made a vow to God...to give Him anything that He may ask, ‘Not to refuse Him anything’.”

. “Refuse God nothing and in turn trust that God will not refuse anything to you.”

. “Drink the chalice to the last drop.”

. “Satiate the thirst of Christ on the cross for love and souls.”

. “Bring souls to God and God to souls.”

. “You did not die for souls, that is why you do not care what happens to them.”

. “Jesus, my own Jesus—I am only Thine—I am so stupid—I do not know what to say—but do with me whatever You wish—as You wish—as long as You wish. I love you not for what You give but for what You take Jesus...”

. “God will fill what He has emptied.”

.  “Take whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.”
.  “Give Jesus a free hand and let Him use you without consulting you.”

Let me close by asking you to take even a few minutes either now or this weekend to “unplug” from the computer, smart phone, the urgent....and just reflect for a few moments on one or more of these thoughts...listen for the voice of heaven...then like Mother Teresa—obey without delay. Deal? Deal!

See you this Saturday night or Sunday morning 10-10 as we launch the ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ series...I think I heard from heaven on this series.

Blessings,
Douglas

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Path I Wish I Had Never Traveled

As we are preparing for our upcoming fall series, "The Forgotten Path" we began wondering:

I bet everyone has traveled some path in their life either figuratively or literally that they wish they had never gone down.  

Would you be willing to take a moment and share your "path I wish I'd never traveled" story with us below?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

At a Semi-loss for words (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

Have you ever felt something deep inside you that needed to get vocalized but you struggled to find the right words that could fully capture what was begging to be said?

Well, that is where I am this morning as I hammer away at this e-note. Earlier this week I spent some extended time working on “The Forgotten Path” message I will give at Cypress the first weekend in October. (The web page is finally up by the way...glitches and gremlins conquered! www.theforgottenpath.org) Anyway the material I was studying in prep for the series stirred some deep thoughts and deep emotions so powerfully in me that I finally had to just stop and pray, “Oh God please grant me the words your Spirit could use to do for others what You are doing in me right now.” Lights have come on for me as I have been studying. There have been some aha moments of: ‘Oh, so that is why things unfolded for that couple as they did...now I see why he is where he is...if she doesn’t chose a different path soon she will not like where she ends up’. To be forth-right here with you...I have had a few of those moments myself about myself. Anyway, as I pleaded with you last week, do more than come to ‘The Forgotten Path’ series yourself, bring others, by all means...bring others! Really. Beg, bargain, buy off...just get them here. Do anything short of sin to get them here.

Now those of you who know me realize I have a little extra octane in my plea with you. I just feel extra urgency on this and I think I’d be remiss to not challenge you hard on this one. I guess after 29 years of leading a church...some days I weary of seeing the levels of pain that could have been avoided, the heartache that was so unnecessary, the disappointment that was blindly self-induced....and some days I just want to plead with  other people don’t go down that path any further, it will only leave you with regrets...stop now while you can. I guess today is one of those days. So pick up invitation cards this Sunday and shamelessly invite.

Okay, I feel a little better having said all that...but I’m far from over it...you have been warned. This Sunday I’m addressing “Coming to Terms with God”, and this is for all of us who have tried to have God on OUR terms.

By the way, there is Saturday night church tomorrow at 6. If you are going to help us with the soft launch of the service in October...be there!

Blessings,

The Preacher at a semi-loss for words

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dirty, Sweaty, and Gnarly (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

The heat index was somewhere in triple digits...it had rained everyday that week so doing yard duty felt like I was pushing a mower over a wet sponge with three foot of grass sticking out of it and by the time I was done not only mowing but also trimming bushes, edging, weed whacking and blowing it all off...I was one gnarly, sweaty, don’t get within 10 feet of me smelly mess! When I finally crawled indoors it was in almost total exhaustion, and as I did Jacque made the “ew-w-w-w” face, stepped back, held her nose and sent me straight to the laundry room where I was instructed to immediately deposit my clothes in the washer and then told to head directly to the shower (do not pass go) and soap down twice! Ah the bliss of being married to a loving truth speaker! So being the loving, supportive and semi-compliant spouse that I am...I headed for the shower. And all I can say is that as the water washed over my dirty, sweaty, gnarly self...it refreshed not only my body but my spirits as well. There is something invigorating about washing off dirt and sweat and just being clean, isn’t there. Jacque thought so too and so only then did she get near enough for a hug. (Such conditions she puts on things!!!)

Anyway, I have had so many conversations with people these days who are feeling on the inside sort of the same way my body was after lawn duty:...weary, if not exhausted from challenges in life...and just a bit gnarly in spirit to boot. So, let me offer you some scriptures that you can read and simply let wash over your soul. Read, reflect, renew and refresh as God’s grace rinses you of frustration, anxiousness, fear, concerns, anger, or disappointment, and fills you with hope, peace, will power, joy and....

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
-Philippians 4:13

“My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:19

“God has said: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. So we say with confidence ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’.”
-Hebrews 13:5-6

“For the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
-Isaiah 41:13

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
-Isaiah 41:10

“When you pass through the water, I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God....and you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you.”
-Isaiah 43:2-4

Let the grace of God wash over your soul....read, reflect, renew and refresh your soul. Ah-h-h-h...now doesn’t that feel good?

Blessings,

The gnarly, sweaty and smelly one who has been refreshed...Douglas
PS. This Sunday we get reminded what a ‘Big God’ we serve. He is bigger than whatever seems bigger than you in your life...and so let’s all pray little bigger prayers, attempt little bigger things for Him and lead a little bigger life! Deal?...Deal!

Dream on!

 This Sunday, Jan Cox will be teaching.  Here's what she says we can expect:


Eight months ago we were challenged to dream big in a service called "Creating 2010".  Its been eight months since that day.  We're halfway through the year.  So, did you dream big?  Have you forgotten your dream?  Or have you been disappointed that your dreams did not come to life?  This Sunday we're going to take another look at dreams.  Why God created us to dream.  What happens in the space between dreaming and those dreams coming true.  And why its important to keep dreaming together, in the context of community.

Friday, August 20, 2010

2 Dates 1 Thought (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

2 dates to lock in and 1 thought to reflect on...

This Sunday – August 22- Cypress will have only one service at 11 AM. It will be “family-style”, so the kids will join us and participate in the service as we wrap up the “Orange-explosion” family camp we have been doing this week. It should be fast-paced, fun and food will follow in the courtyard. My apologies to the 9:15 crowd...but please don’t duck out on the day (10-10)...studies show that these kind of intergenerational opportunities significantly impact a child’s faith for the good. So let’s all join together and invest in the next generation. Deal? Deal!

Save the Date – On Sunday October 3 we will host a service on a topic I am chomping at the bit to address: The Path...the undeniable life principle...getting from where I am to where I want to be. If you have people in your life that you would like to introduce to your Lord and/or your church this is one service you will definitely want to invite, beg or bribe them to attend. Really...so save the date now and get your friends to do the same.

Thought for the Day- (from: The Path...the undeniable life principle)
“When happiness points in one direction while wisdom, truth, integrity and common sense point in another, that’s when really smart people start doing really stupid things.”

Blessings,
Douglas
PS. Remember....1 service Sunday at 11

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Sunday - Authentic Community


God created us to experience His presence in relationships here on Earth.  So why is it so difficult to live in authentic community?  There are a lot of things working against us but this Sunday we will spend some time reflecting on how to live in missional community in the relationships God surrounds us with in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, and beyond.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This Sunday - Who Are You?


This weekend, Jan Cox, will be continuing our Summer Reflections series with a teaching entitled Who Are You?. Here's a little bit about what you can look forward to.

I recently watched and became a huge fan of the Tim Burton version of Alice and Wonderland. I love the movie for a few reasons but mostly because it started a conversation in my relational world about our identity.

In the movie the very wise caterpillar, Absalom, asks Alice a very simple question, "Who are you?" And through a series of events (I won't spoil the end for you just in case) she is challenged to discover the answer to that very important question.

It sounds simple enough but I wonder how many of us, if we were really honest, could answer it. In the blink of this life, in the scheme of our human existence who are we really?

We have labels of course - mom, dad, plumber, computer analyst, wealthy, poor, healthy, sick - but is this really where our identity should lie?

Adam and Eve were the first two people that had to answer this question and the journey they took to find the answer transformed human history forever. This Sunday we're going to spend some time asking ourselves who we really are and why it matters so much.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We have arrived back in Miami. What a trip. What an experience. Awesome team awesome experience. I just want a pizza now!!

Best Sunday of the Year!

Sunday was an amazing day at Cypress! We had over 20 people make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus by being baptized. You can watch part of the service and hear their stories here. Here are some of the pictures from Sunday as well.


Bubbles with kids

School in session

Showing some love

Coming Home

A bunch of us sitting here in the morning sharing stories and pictures. Today we are going to take care of Mother Goose and do some small jobs around the guest house. This is not a requirement of the trip, but the team wanted to contribute to our host ( Dr Bernard)

On a lighter side, this group has really enjoyed each other and the light hearted times have been really energizing. I don't think I have laughed as hard in a long time. Got to love those moments

So we fly home this evening. Personally I am ready to get home and see the family. I will miss some things here. I won't miss other things. But the group, team, friends is something really special.

See you all Sunday. We will share a few more of these stories in service. Hope to see you all soon

Tim

Monday review

On Monday our team was split into 3 groups to try and impact a few areas all on the same day. Again you had the construction team, the medical team, and the team that was still in Saint Louis.

The medical team went to one of the tent cities to administer first aide. Megan and Lindsey joined forces with some other RNs and a paramedic from a team out of Georgia. Once they established a base, there was a constant flow of people all day. Their Haitian group leader and translator Jude was awesome in helping. Most of the treatments were minor in scope, but Lindsey did comment on the amount of malnurishment and need for proper hygiene and personal care. The team served well. Was able to establish a quick relationship with other doctors and take an opportunity to serve in a gift area. Way to go ladies!!!

The construction team completed the roof. There is now a shelter above this lady and her children. The temperature difference was at least 15 degrees cooler in the house once the roof was installed. Hans was our project leader and received incredible help from Pete, Paul, Gina , Michelle , and Steve. The tools were not the best, the conditions less than ideal, but they did what it took to accomplish the job. Awesome job again. Way to go Cypress!!

Last but not least, was my team in Saint Louis. I debriefed the group about our experience there and someone mentioned it was the most I have ever talked. To say the day was impactful on the four of us would be an understatement. Pastor Jean, Jose,and Pastor Charles are wonderful. What they do daily is incredible and overwhelming. The kids were awesome - all 400 of them. The support we give to these kids is life blood to them and well used. There is just way too much to say about our 24 hours there in a blog but I promise we will share updates of the school and Saint Louis in the coming days and weeks. Marq, Logan, and Chris were awesome. I mentioned to Douglas on a text, that without their knowledge, I would have been lost!! It was great to see and hear their contributions.

Overall I am proud of this team. It was great to hear about the day(s), see the joy and satisfaction in their faces after a great day of serving. God did extrordinary things with these amazing people!! No other way to really say it.

Coming home soon...,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Team 1 - day 3

As you read earlier, our team separated and 4 of us flew to Saint louis du Nord to accomplish some things at the school.
Today started out with a great and positive meeting with the company that we are working with to bring fresh clean water to saint louis. They showed us the test of the water these kids and adults drink daily at the school. It is full of a couple bad bacteria but the worst is Ecoli from fecal matter. ( sorry but really can't say it any nicer than that).

We boarded a flight and then flew to Saint louis to meet with Pastor Jean. We discussed many things including the water and that's when our plans hit a major wall. The current source of water is not constant. It's unreliable. That's a problem.
Logan , Jim and I were frustrated to say the least. There is a solution, we just have to find it. It's too long to go into on a blog, but you can help with prayers for wisdom and solutions to come to those involved in this process.
I do not feel that we were here to get a huge setback with no possible solution. We are here to figure a better way.

So that was the bad- the good was really good and a possible God moment was realized by Logan as we had lunch with some friends of Pastor jean and his brother. His name is TJ and he is all about doing things to improve life in saint Louie. We talked about micro enterprising, new forms to generate power with wind, solar power, getting someone to help spearhead efforts here outside of just Pastor. I don't know where it will lead, but it was positive.

There was a concert at the church tonight and the kids from another church were singing. It was really something to hear them. There was some passion in their voices for sure.

We spent some time talking with Pastor Jean and his brother Jose about growing up in Haiti as preacher kids( interesting) and life here. Then the conversation went to Jan 12th and how Jean and his wife were almost killed in their bed. We showed pictures of his house and it was evident the horror of that day is far from over for him. It will take a while for physical and emotional recovery I'm sure.


Tomorrow we get to see the school in action. They have exams (Pastor can't you let the kids play some soccer with us instead ?-haha) so not sure how much we will get to interact. But will try.
Today a group of kids were playing soccer with a beat up basketball. Where I grew up, Indiana, you do not kick basketballs. Tomorrow I have a surprise for them that will change that. I know giving them a soccer ball may seem insignificant and low on priorities, but to them it won't.

I am going to write a little more as I may only get one shot to send out as reception is in and out...,

Jean and Jose are really great and very helpful. Jean told me with emotions in his eyes, there is no way he could take care and educate these kids without the help of Cypress. We sponsor about 300 if the 400 kids. Parents make up the difference. He was very appreciative. There simply would be no school.
I asked what the number 1 priority is if he could have anything, water is on his list but the need us so great, I felt like there was a 1A, 1B, 1c priority with food and clothes.
In actuality they have many many needs. The roof is rusting through and rain rushes in. I could take 10 people in and around the church and school and each person would probably find a list of improvements that could be done. We take them for granted. To them, they are not in the radar as living and staying healthy are greater concerns. They don't care that it's 100 degrees inside the school/church. They would rather ask for things that sustain life first.

Pictures DO NOT do this place justice. It's hard to put everything into words. You have a land surround by natural beauty with the ocean and blue blue water. The green of the mountains But then the chaos and destruction and poverty inside those boundaries.

Haitians know their situation. They are not blind to what's happening. They are willing to do but they need some assistance. We ( the world) do not have to do it but rather show them the path and teach them. There is opportunity. You would see things and ask yourself " why is that like this?"
" where is the government?". "Why can't someone use that idea over in your town?". Believe me, we had a long lunch talking about improvements and lack of government interaction and lack of caring. Before you complain about a George Bush or Obama, just be thankful we have the government we do. Seriously!!

I could go on for 10 more pages but it's a long day tomorrow

Btw- the roads here, yeah, ouch!!'
Tim

Soul Exercise

Haiti builds the muscle of Cypress. It is working to increase the connective tissue that binds us together and gives us strength to do more. There is some sweat involved but it is a labor of love. There was an interesting dynamic at work when we first arrived - a simultaneous desire for Thought and No Thought. It is an overwhelming sensation for a first-time visitor, one that none of us will ever forget. The struggle is that it can be so overpowering, it is incredibly easy to give it no deep, meaningful consideration and just live in the moment. It is an onslaught on the senses - a tent city seen up close has infinitely more meaning than as viewed on the television or the computer. Be able to process the input is extremely difficult because of the sheer enormity of the situation. Can we, as a few representative of Cypress make much of an impact? The answer of course, is a resounding Yes, because we are also representatives of a loving Father and Son.

Spending time in the cretch (Creole for crib - a orphanage for the very young), we all had our hearts broken open and filled to overflowing. It was amazing to be able to share the gift of Love. It also shook us awake, as we realized that we are not being called to build walls, bring safety to the electrical system, hang fans, build a roof and floors....we're doing that too, but we are called to be like Jesus. Welcoming and loving the children, the poor in spirit and to bring smiles and joy.

On Saturday, we broke into two teams with our electrical experts (Hans, Peter and Paul) heading to the orphalina - the orphange for older kids and teens, and the rest of us heading to a jobsite to rebuild the home of a woman widowed by the earthquake. It was another battle with frustration, at the difference in how work is accomplished - our norm of instant results and repeated trips to the hardware store just aren't reality here. The lumber is warped, the nails are few and the tools are primitive, and it takes forever to restock supplies. But the children flocked to us, shy at first but warming quickly. Kirsten and Lindsay put their medical skills to use, literally caring for the feet of these children - cleaning and bandaging their infected wounds. Michelle was maybe the favorite of the day for sharing the music on her MP3 player with everyone - the love of music is universal. The house did come together with some very tangible results, despite our initial frustrations. The roof is framed with corrugated metal sheets ready for installation, the walls are sealed and the guys in all reality, probably saved a few lives with their electrical work and increased safety. Spent some time with the older children from the orphanage when we got back to the guesthouse. Dr. Bernard, truly a Renaissance man, runs the guest house and manages the orphanages, among many other noble pursuits.

Today is Sunday and while most of the team is heading to Dr. Bernard's church in Port au Prince; Tim, Jim, Logan and I are currently meeting with WMI Haiti - the org. that will help us bring clean water to St. Louis du Nord and then heading to the airport for our flight up north. Gotta run! Will try and get some pics uploaded!

Thank you for the prayers, we continue to need them! Love to all the families and friends from us all!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day two

I cannot put into words what is in my head. I do know however that there is a lot of beauty and a lot of beautiful people in Haiti and we cannot forget them. The Church has to continue in fact it needs to increase it's effort here and rally more Churches around the globe to bring an end to corruption and bring new fresh ideas to help these people regain there independence with an opportunity to live a life like we enjoy every day. I love and miss you Alice, Jimmy, Justin, Mom, Dad and all my family and friends. Please pray for our friends here in Haiti.

Jim Gregorich

Progress

Roof going on

Administering First Aid

Thank you Lindsey for your gifts of first aid. She saw some infections and first aid needs on the children near the house project. She scheduled a follow up appointment with them Monday. - tim
We are on the way to the home building site. Nice and cool at night on the mountain. We have been trying to learn some creole phrases to communicate with kids. Have to text entries for today. Sorry for short entries

Friday, June 25, 2010

Checking out the view

Landed safely

Received word from Tim that the team has landed safely in Haiti. Keep them in your prayers as they connect with our contacts there and begin their work.

Here we go

We are set and ready..pray for us and our friends in Haiti. I love you Ally! Take care of the boys andd Mom and Dad

Jim Gregorich
V.P.& General Sales Manager
Tempaco, Inc.
2050 Tall Pines Drive
Suite B
Largo, FL. 33771

Airport

Everyone has made it to the airport. You don't realize how much supplies and clothes we are taking until you try to check it all in. It's really a lot of clothes. The people who receive it will be very thankful.

I think we are all pretty excited. Just some down time in the airports then hit the ground running. First stop is to drop 7 bags off to Saul who helps 100 kids living in the tents.

Tim

Preparation - from Steve

Getting very excited about the trip.  I know the frame of mind I want to be in for the trip - an empty vessel to be used however God wants to use me.  I'm getting there but the work and prep for the trip can put a drag on it.  I'm committed to being in the right frame of mind and heart by take-off!
I helped pack donation suitcases and finished putting all of my stuff together and packing and that got me very excited.  The only downside is not seeing family and friends for several days but I believe I can use that to get even more out of this experience.  It will help me lay everything out there and fully commit myself to serving.  Here we go!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Haiti

I feel awesome to do this it feels great to go and really help the people in need I'm so blest wow wow wow god bless you all and I know he will be whit us to protect us thanks again for this
Change to make a diverens in somebody live
Sent from my iPhone

Packed and ready

Today a bunch of us came in and finished packing a total of 19 bags of relief supplies. These will get distributed to 4 different areas: a friend of the church living in tents and taking care of 100 kids, the two orphanages we will be visiting, and a few go up to our school in Saint Louis du Nord. 

I'm sure all of the supplies will be greatly appreciated. We have food, baby supplies, clothes for all ages, toiletries, games and toys, and even a couple soccer ( sorry - football) balls. 

It's been a long week and really can not believe we leave tomorrow. Everyone seems to have high spirits and are really excited to get there

So until tomorrow. It will be exciting. 

Tim


19 Bags of Relief Supplies

>

from Chris W.

Well it's my last day at work before the trip and anxiety and emotions are running high. Like the rest of the group leaving the comforts of home brings me many feelings. I have wanted to go to Haiti since watching all the news reports after the earthquake and now through the love and kindness of others I am going. God has been comforting me and bringing me peace within myself in order to go and be his hands and feet. I go with joy and love in my heart for the people I will form relationships with. Please pray for my brothers and sisters and I as we go to share the love of God.
Blessings,
Chris

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Before Haiti- Megan

The Haiti relief trip leaves in less than 2 days and I have tried my best to keep from concerning myself with the possible dangers or discomforts …. Why would I do this? I guess because a little part of me is scared to find out what I am about to fly into. I am a believer in the power of positive prayers and from my perspective, worrying about the future will not help or change what is to come. When it really comes down to it… I have no fear, god will guide me.  I am at a cross roads in my life and for some reason god has told me to make this detour.  I hope to change lives and help people while I am in Haiti but, I also hope to realize things about myself.  We are all god's children but, some of us do not realize how important we are and others do not realize the importance of the lives we do not see…. I hope to see the big picture.  I am excited for my journey and I am ready to be used for the good of humanity even in the littlest ways possible.

From Jim

A lot of excitement right now AND thoughts of where God is leading me. I pray that we can touch the lives of these folks AND more importantly save a soul who does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I also look forward to helping in any way that I can with our school in St.Louis du Nord. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.

More to come. Jim Gregorich

From Paul

Hello everyone,I took my first malarone malaria pill this morning. It really hit me that I'm going. The next step is getting on the plane Friday morning. Yep, in less than 2 days I'll be in Haiti for the first time since 1985. I wasn't sure I'd be able to go when Pastor Douglas asked for people to step up but through the grace of God, family and friends I will be. I vividly remember when Pastor Douglas gaves us the "smack down" because it gave me what I like to call my "Blues Brothers moment."

Remember near the start of the movie when Jake and Elwood are in the church where James Brown asks "DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?!" Then a light shines down on Jake and he screams "I SEE THE LIGHT!" That's what happened to me so thank all of you for the opportunity to go do God's work. I'm sure we'll all come back just a little different.

God Bless,Paul Hayes

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Michelle

So everyone told me I should blog on my trip. I hope I'm doing this right...I figured I should start by talking about myself first. My name is Michelle. Yes I'm 17 years young and the youngest on the trip BUT that does not mean I can't handle it. My family is incredibly supportive of my goals and dreams this one included. I couldn't do this without them.

My church family is amazing as well. They keep me in prayers and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be going on this trip.Well we leave in 3 days. I have a to-do list thats probably a mile long. Odds are... I won't get it done. But in my own defense i am a teenager...

Yesterday a few of us met at the church at 9 am to pack the suitcases that we're donating in haiti. People donated some really great stuff and it was amazing to see how much people pull toether to help those in need. Well while we're going through these clothes we were saying how ugly some of these items were and how we would NEVER wear them. I had no idea how spoiled i was until yesterday. Whenever someone would say that to me I'd pull the "I've been working since i was 14!" line. I bagged groceries...poor me. These people have nothing and are so grateful for anything. I think we all need to be told that we're not better than anyone and our standards are slightly ridiculous.

I know I'm going to make a difference and try to change the world... but i have a feeling I'll be one changing the most."so what could i say? and what could i do? but offer this heart oh god completely to you."well until next time,<3 michelle

The Haiti Team





Pictured from left to right.

Front Row: Megan Incorvia, Michelle Shiffield, Paul Hayes, Keirsten Reilly, Lindsey Reese, Gina Logan, Marq Caughell, Jim Gregorich, Tim Walters

Back Row: Chris Warne, Steve Manville, Pete Ward, Chris Logan

Please keep these folks in your prayers this week and next. Keep not only them in your prayers, but also their family and friends as well as the people they will meet and serve in Haiti.

Making An Impact

On Friday, 14 of us will board a plane and fly to Haiti to serve those who are still suffering from the earthquake. The idea and heartfelt notion to send in a team to help has come full circle. There was a time not too many weeks ago that I seriously thought we would have to cancel the trip. We did not have the minimum number of people nor the funds required. Then a God thing happened, people signed up and in came support.

Somehow things worked themselves out and the 14 of us are ready to go. This is not a cheap trip. Not like during Katrina which was a tank of gas and a sleeping bag. Of the 14, we have people who have emptied savings accounts, used school tuition money, held garage sales, asked the congregation for help, and asked family and friends for support - all to go and be the hands and feet of the One who matters. It goes to say something for these people and their hearts. It goes to say something about those who have supported us. It goes to say something about how God has impressed upon people who don't even believe in Him - to give and support someone in our group.

Our team is comprised of a great group of passionate people who really want to make an impact, have some significance, and help those who are in need. The youngest is 17 years old - the oldest is .. well lets just say older.. We have a nurse, and engineer, managers, VP's, students, journalists, hard workers, people who are out of work, and former military. A lot of people with very different skills and gifts but all with the same goal. To try and better the life of someone less fortunate. To try and offer a little hope in their lives.

Of the 14, only 2 have been to Haiti before. So, its safe to say, that most of us have no idea what to expect. We do know that we will be giving up many of the conveniences of home and yet, we will still be much better off than 95% of the population of Haiti. I read in the news today that a tropical wave was bringing rain to Haiti and Port-au_prince could see up to an inch of rain. With a lot of people living under sheets or in tents, one inch will create even more havoc in their lives - what these people would give to be safe and out of the elements. A couple months ago I was camping with the family and it rained so much, we bagged it- tore down the tent, threw it in the truck and headed home. Home, where it was warm- dry - and the bed was like a dream cloud. These people will have no where to go. No where to avoid the mud, the rain, the damp smell in their clothes. Most will just have to wait out the rains - hope it does not last too long and ruin what's left of their "conveniences" and their hope.

So we will give up air conditioning, our comfort foods, our Starbucks, ice cold drinks, etc - but we will still be in a very nice Guest House which most Haitians would love to enjoy. We will get 2 meals a day, a bed at night, and a roof over our heads. This is not to brag or be disrespectful, its just to say while we may be "roughing it" by our standards, we are still miles above the conditions Haitians live in today.

All of these experiences will be recorded at this blog site over the next week. The team has been encouraged to blog and share their thoughts. I would invite you to check back daily to see what has been posted so you can get an idea of the feelings and passion these 14 people are experiencing day to day.

Everyone is ready to go. Eager to serve - eager to make an impact of those we don't even know and some we will never see again. And yet in all of this, something inside me knows that after all of the work, all of the help, all of the discussions of helping - perhaps the other side of the story is not so much what "we did" - but of what "happened to us". For I don't think that any of us will come back and not be impacted. We will be impacted from those we don't know, whom we don't understand language-wise, and from whom we will never see again.

On Friday, 14 of us leave to help change peoples lives. On Tuesday, 14 of us will return with our lives changed.




Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heading to Haiti

This week we will be teaming up with 410 Bridge and sending a team of 14 people to Haiti to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people affected by the earthquake.

Please check back here often for updates on their trip.

My Dad Rocks Competition 2010

Happy Fathers' Day to all of the dads, granddads, and role models out there!


To honor Dads at Cypress we hosted for the second year in a row the My Dad Rocks contest. We wanted to post here the entries of honorable mention.

Later this morning during our services we'll announce the winner!

My dad rocks because he is honestly the most humble, genuine and caring person I have ever met. He has shown me the ultimate example of unconditional love & taught me through example that it is in giving that we receive. He has also been the spiritual leader in our house growing up & is the sole reason our family started attending church on a regular basis since birth & still does until this day.

My dad has been there to support & guide me every step of the way throughout my entire life. From sharing tears with me after I lost the spelling bee in 2nd grade to sitting out in the cold to watch me cheer at every high school & college football game over the years, I cannot think of a time in my life when he has not been there for me. He has been my spiritual coach, financial advisor, biggest fan & best friend.

Because of this, I feel so blessed to nominate Lee Staton, who just turned 76 on May 28th! However, I’m sure he would be too humble to accept any prize or recognition for this contest. That is just another example of what I love about him!
~ Gina Staton Logan


My dad rocks because:

· He’s young, strong, very handsome, loving, smells good (after his shower) and has a nice smile and dimple

· he works hard so my mom, me and my sister can have a nice house, clothes and go on exciting vacations

· he sprayed for monsters when me and my sister were little so we were never afraid of the dark

· when we get hurt, he takes good care of us

· gives awesome dolphin rides in the pool

· plays baseball, football, and soccer with us so we can excel in our sport

· if he has to, he will help with homework

· he takes and picks me up from school (my friends think he’s my brother)!

· if we need or want something, we always ask him first, because mom always says no

· he is without a doubt the best wrestler in the entire world, and he sometimes lets us win

· he is not crazy about roller coasters, but will ride with me over and over again

· the best thing about my dad is that he loves me and my sister, and that will never ever change..we can count on it.

~ Bekah and Brooke Kashtan


My dad rocks because of his astounding ability to remain the most masculine man we know, while being surrounded by seven females. It takes a real man to endure the challenges, and the daily obstacles of coping with watching those six little girls, develop into six beautiful women. His patience is inconceivable! Along with his capability to understand we’re far from perfect, and his undying love for every imperfection we throw his way. Superman may save everyone from bad guys, but daddy kept the monsters out from under the bed; and those everyday boys far away, far too well. He has never told us how to live our lives; he has lived his, and provided us the chance to watch. Although, he would never deny a challenge himself; he made it very evident that we would never be forced to face them on our own. It takes one amazing man to be a comical genius, a parent, a hero, a spiritual guide, a shoulder to cry on, someone to run to, and a best friend; and to be aware and around, whenever he is needed. Our daddy is the strongest man we know; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He has never needed a title, no number one dad, because he knows without a shadow of a doubt; he is the best. And there is not one man in this world, who could handle everything he does; with the same undeniable smile on his face. We really do appreciate everything about you, daddy. You are our hero!

Love, the six of us. (submitted to honor Bruce Boltze by Daphne Boltze)

My Dad rocks because he always makes me feel better in tough times. When I was a little girl, I had lost my two front teeth, I was so mortified. I was crying like crazy when all of a sudden my Dad turns around and his front teeth are gone too! I immediately stopped crying and began to laugh hysterically. Apparently when my dad was young he had gotten into an accident and lost his front teeth and has had partials ever since. I had no clue! To this day at the age of 28 he can still make me feel like the day of my missing teeth, loved, special and never alone. I may have gotten money from the tooth fairy that day, but the feeling and memory will forever be priceless and last a lifetime!

Missing tooth laughter with Dad - Priceless!

It doesn't really matter if I win this contest, I have already won with the Best Dad!




Monday, May 10, 2010

Haiti 5/10 Slideshow

View full size here

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just Show Up

I just showed up…

I've said that phrase quite a few times this week in Haiti. Every time I come here I wonder as I'm headed over on the plane if it's worth me coming. I mean let's be honest - I don't have all that many skill sets that are useful in Haiti. I'm not a contractor, a mechanic, a doctor, or any of the many professional trades that are in such demand here. I love making music taking pictures, but what is that in Haiti?

But each time I leave with a similar experience. I just show up.

I just show up and God arranges these crazy divine appointments. These things that could never happen unless we just show up.

So many times this week, Douglas and I would make eye contact and just say, "we just showed up". Time and time again - like our meeting with Water Mission International (read day one). I mean who in there right mind comes to Haiti without making some arrangements for where you will sleep that night (side note - if you do come to Haiti - make arrangements =) ).

We just showed up, knowing very little about this organization, and had no idea how important that connection would become (or that we would be able to stay that night).

Yesterday - same story. We ran over to the mission to check email and get a video home for Sunday's service. I saw a mac guy, so naturally I had to strike up a conversation (nerd - see above). I asked him what he was doing in Haiti - in a thick california surfer accent, he told me he was down here for a year working with two organizations. One was the mission and the other is an organization called Outside the Bowl. Outside the Bowl provides organizations & churches with food to distribute to the community around them. He asked what I was doing here and I told him about the church, about Jean, and about the kids at our school.

After we talked a while, he asked if I thought the school might be interested in distributing food to the kids once or twice a week. I told him I wasn't sure, but I thought it would be something Jean would be very interested in.

Once Jean arrived to pick us up, I made the introduction. He was so excited about the possibility of serving their kids at least one nutritious meal a week. He was so excited about the connection. Now, Siloe Missionary Church and School may very well begin providing their community with food - all because I just showed up.

We do very little here in the way of intentional choices beyond just coming, listening, watching, and being obedient.

I wonder in what ways I loose this mindset when I'm home. How often am I looking for where God is working. How often do I give myself fully to the wind of God's Spirit and allow it to lead me through my day - content just to follow His movement.

We fight the idea that it is not enough. Its not enough to "just show up". It feels irresponsible…reckless…lazy - and I suppose if given over to selfishness or complacency it could quickly become such. But after "showing up" a time or two, I will say - it is much harder (at least in the beginning) to follow God's plan than it is to follow the ways I believe are right, responsible, and wise.

Proverbs says, "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death".

I encourage you to think about that as you find ways in your world to "just show up".

Grace and peace

-Chris

Been To Haiti, Drank the Water, Got the Bug, and I Didn't Even Get the T-Shirt

Oh yes, I've been to Haiti. The handful of times I had been before this one was just preparing me for this trip. Crazy things this time - lost my iPhone, had to sleep outside in the rain, 3 hour church services every night (and some days multiple) almost entirely in Creole, and now the stomach funk.

I spent most of the night last night wearing out a path to the toilet. Good news - I'm headed home and tomorrow it will all just be great stories.

(Side note - Having "the funk" made me even more determined to get clean water to these people who have to regularly fight through what I've been whining about having the last couple days)

-c

PS - Douglas said, "Been there done that…"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day Three

Day three was fairly uneventful (compared to the previous two). And we were more than ok with that. It started at the mission enjoying the company of other groups who had come to help in Haiti. We had some breakfast and got to talk with the mission director for a bit. Interesting and extraordinary lady who has given her life to Haiti. She told us how busy the mission had been since the earthquake, and that there was a large group leaving and a larger group coming that day.

Maybe it was the three hours of sleep talking, maybe with was the crowd of people we tried to sleep in last night, maybe it was a God thing, but Douglas and I both had the same idea at the same time…get out of there. Jean had told us about a hotel that someone just opened at the top of the same mountain the mission was on. So we decided to walk to the top.

Now the reason we hadn't stayed there the night before was because Jean could not find a vehicle that could make the climb. So lets not call this a walk - this was an all out hike to the hotel. We would get to the top of a steep climb only to find another steep climb to make. Turn by turn, we made our way to the top of the mountain in the 90 degree heat. The thick humid air was oppressive.

We finally made it to the top and found a very nice hotel with a killer view. Douglas and I looked at each other and just had to laugh - it looked like we had jumped in a swimming pool. We got a room here (cheaper than we could stay at the mission) and got to just relax for a bit.

After cleaning up and a quick power nap, we got on the hotel shuttle (yes they had a shuttle) and made our way into town. After dinner at the Pastors house and made our way to the church to get ready for the service.

Service was excellent. Worship was inspiring. I hung out in the back this time - I wanted to be able to get some film and video (ended up not getting anything great). It was absolutely packed. Every seat, every inch of floor space, the isle, the balcony, people were literally hanging out of the building.

As loud as the speakers were, the worshippers were every bit as deafening. Beautiful songs with rich harmonies… it was awe inspiring. I worshipped right along side them. They would occasionally sing a song I knew in creole, but most of the time I was just listening and praying. It was beautiful.

Douglas and I both walked out with our ears ringing. I had a splitting headache. We were exhausted and looked forward to our beautiful hotel (and more importantly, the beautiful AC that we were told works after 10pm and until 5AM.

We made it back, AC did eventually come on, and we were all asleep very quickly.

It's a nice thought today that we are more than halfway home. I'm always happy to be here and happier to be going home.

Grace and peace

-Chris

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day Two - A Night Under the Stars (and rain)

***day one is below***

Ahhh…Haiti. What a beautiful and disgusting mess. There's trash everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE! There is little pride in this country. The dream, if you ask anyone, is to get out. To escape. America.

It'd be hard to have pride in your country in a place like this. There are so many problems. So much broken. I'd want out too.

But there are also men like Saul and his family, who, where most people see problems, see opportunity. Saul is a smart man. He's been in politics, law, a teacher, an author, and just an all around fun guy. A laugh as big as any I've ever heard. He and a handful of others like him, make these trips fun. We spend most of our days here with He, his boys (Lulu and Saul Jr), Jean, Jose, Jude, the pastor and his family, and a few other random friends and faces.

We spent the first half of the second day at the Water Mission riding around with the director and talking to the staff. We both left there knowing we had made a very important connection. We were met by Saul and Lulu (who could easily stand in as a middle linebacker for some college team) and went to the small airport to fly up to Port Au Paix.

We took our 45 minute flight in a tiny puddle jumper dodging clouds and bouncing around the mountain skies of the island of Hispanol. We landed safely and were met with some good friends of Saul on the airport runway (Saul's the kind of guy who has great friends anywhere we find ourselves among the 10 million people of Haiti). We went straight to the church service - the first of a five day "conference" that will end in the ordination of Jean, and the "real reason" we're here. The service started at 6. Our people decided they wanted to get there a bit earlier than normal, so we wondered over around 6:45 (nope-not a typo). The service was just getting ready to start. We walked in the door and the worship team and singers began. It was so loud, my ears are still ringing.

Great band - the Pastor's sons all play a few instruments. Jude was on bass that night and is every bit as good as any of the excellent musicians I get to play with.

It's funny. As far as I could tell, any one could walk up, grab the mic and sing any song they'd like. The band would quickly find the key the singer landed on and jump in with accompaniment. As a musician - it was impressive.

We made it through the 3 hour service of which I understood nothing of. After the service we walked to the pastors house for a meal prepared by the pastor's wife. We sat around the table and talked for a while about the church, challenges they're facing, and what God is doing there. Sounded a lot like conversations we as a church staff have every tuesday around our table at home. Same challenges, same complaints, same God coming through in similar ways.

After dinner, we headed out. Douglas and I were ready to get to the mission.

Everytime I've been to the mission, we've been the only people in a place that is capable of housing hundreds. This time was different however. This time, it was clear as we drove up that this place was full. It was so full. There were no beds, not a spare inch on the floor for an extra mattress. But with her characteristically gracious way, Maurine from the mission told us she'd be happy to have us if we don't mind just finding a spot. And that's what we did. The only spot we could find was up on the roof over looking the city and shore line. Really a very beautiful spot. A beautiful view with a welcomed escape from the muggy conditions inside the complex walls.

As we made our make shift beds and lay down, Douglas (once again in classic Douglas form) starts talking "sailor" (yet another language I don't speak). Something about the northwinds, low pressure mixing with the southernly high pressure and the barometric pressure philharmonic existential onamonapia (at least that's what I heard). After breaking it down for me, he told me "in layman's terms" that he thought it was going to rain. I told him he just needs to believe and all will be well. We laid there for a few more minutes and I hear him get up - I look over and he's packing up his stuff to bring inside. After ragging him (something about being old and girly) I convinced him to just keep his stuff out there and stay.

Cut to 3 hours later...

Downpour.

I manage to slip my shoes on, thrown my bag on my back and stuff my bedding under my arm. We find a muggy little corner in the entrance way of the complex to try and sleep the rest of the night away.

Needless to say - as I sit and type this this morning...I'm exhausted.

Alright - enough for now. Grace and peace.

-Chris

Day One - Nothing's Easy

The first day, like most days in Haiti, have been non stop. The trip started like most trips to Haiti. Frustration. The flight from Miami was delayed, we sat and sweated on runway for close to an hour. The flight itself was uneventful, but once we got to Port Au Prince, we walked off the plane and as we stood in line to get on the bus, I realized my iPhone was not in my pocket. I always have it in my front left pocket and remembered turning it on on my way out of the plane. Somewhere in between the plane and the line I was standing in, my phone either fell out or was taken. After going through all the normal routes of trying to find it, I surrendered to the thought of moving on and went to grab our luggage.

Luggage is always fun at the Port Au Prince Airport. The last few time's we've come, we've flown with as many bags as they will allow us to bring. We end up paying for the maximum because getting supplies here any other way is so unreliable. So we have people from our church bring in nice clothes for both adults and children, a couple tents and luggage that can be left in Haiti. It's a great idea, the thing we always forget is to remember what our bags look like before we give them up in Tampa. Baggage claim is so frustrating. All the passengers from flights that arrive file into a medium size warehouse building that is the temporary (due to the earthquake) home for baggage claim, customs, and airline offices (I heard Douglas describe it to someone as a "chaotic, boiler-house/makeshift hanger filled with hot angry travelers yelling at each other in french), The airline opens up a garage door and the luggage gets dumps into piles. Hundreds of people all looking through piles of bags at the same time. Add to it that Douglas and I have very little idea about what we're looking for, the sweaty crowd yelling in french and creole… It's always my least favorite part of the trip.

Once we got our bags together we walk out into the masses of chaos. We fight our way through the crowd finally surrendering to the pushy men around us to carry our bags and find our people. Saul, a man who has become a very good friend here, was there to meet us and take us around. We finally make it to the car with all our bags and as we get there, we see him looking in the windows and feeling his pockets…no keys. He's lost them somewhere among the mob. After altogether unsuccessfully trying to retrace steps, a man in the crowd notices that we are looking for something. Saul told him in french that he had lost his keys and was trying to find them. The man asked what kind of car he drove. Saul points to his pathfinder. The man with great pleasure told Saul he drove the same car and gave Saul his keys to try. We took the keys (mostly to just be polite) and tried it in the car. And crank - the car came to life. We were all amazed. The man and Saul drove up to a hardware store close to the airport and was able to get a few copies made of the key and we were on our way.

We often come on these trips expecting one thing and receiving something very different. We came with the intention of being a part of a ordination process for our Pastor in St Louis De Nord. That still will happen but, God had some divine appoints for us to make first. We arrived in Port Au Prince, not knowing where we would be staying for the night. We had an idea of some things we were going to get accomplished, but enough times in Haiti has taught me to stick very loosely to any plans that have been made.

Before the trip, our church had been in contact with a organization that has found a way to build very cheaply, water purification systems that need very little maintenance over time and provides reliable, clean water (10 gallons a minute). We knew the name of the place (Water Mission International) and had the address to the organization, but other than that had very little info. But we knew that we at least needed to have a conversation to see if this system might be a possibility for our people in north Haiti. We drove up to the walled complex and banged on the large metal gate to see if we could come it. A Haitian armed with an impressive looking gun cracked the door. Saul explained in french who were and what we were hoping to accomplish. After a couple minutes of a conversation I understood nothing of, the gate rolled open and we were escorted to the front door. We made introductions to a Portuguese woman named Elsa. In english this time, we explained what it was we were doing in Haiti and asked if we might talk to them about our school and how we might be able to work together. She escorted us in to the converted home and invited us to sit at a big table out back. She also told Douglas (my Pastor) that if he didn't have a place to stay tonight he would be able to stay there. Not making eye contact with me, she politely told him that they only make accommodations for Pastors and had room for only one. Douglas chuckled, patted me on the back, and said in classic Douglas form, "Good luck dude - I'll see you in the morning."He eventually told her that we were traveling together and that we would need to find a place we could both stay for the night. She kind of shrugged and said - if your only needing one night, we can make some room. We made our way back to a room with 4 bunk beds and dropped off the load of luggage we had lugged around. We toured the small complex and we're introduced to the engineers and staff and were given a full run down of the system they build for villages in Haiti (and around the world). We made, what I think will become, a very important connection for both the church and for myself. We ended up very quickly (as is usually the case here) making very deep connections with people who have a shared passion for a radical faith and a life that Jesus spoke of. We sat around the table till late in the evening with people from Germany, Honduras, America, Africa, Portugal, and Haiti. We talked about life, love, passion, and faith. Like most every of these trips, these late night conversations with the most interesting mix of people and food are what make these trips sustainable and life giving.

Enough for now, I'll stop.

Grace and peace.
-Chris