Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gene Summerlin Update on Political Situation in Haiti and Status of Medical Trips

[from Gene Summerlin, Dec. 18th]

Writing this email makes me sad. I should be in Mirebalais, Haiti, right now making sure our team is packed up and ready to head home after running seven days of medical clinics. Instead, I'm in Lincoln. Last week's rioting in Port au Prince caused American Airlines to cancel all flights into and out of Haiti and left us freezing in Nebraska instead of sweating in Mirebalais. This is our third medical team in a row that got derailed (October team cancellation, November Hurricane and December riots). We’ve had a great run over the past few years in avoiding cancellations, so I guess the odds finally caught up with us. The medical supplies that you generously made donations for are packed and ready to go. (Here's a picture of my date night with Terri last week sorting and packing meds. You can tell it’s a date night because Terri has a glass of wine in her hand and a big smile on her face.)


We are working on scheduling another medical trip, but Haiti's current political situation remains a bit unstable.  Here’s a quick rundown on Haiti politics.  Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) is a committee selected by the sitting Haitian President.  The CEP runs elections in Haiti (e.g., determines who is a qualified candidate, counts votes, announces the winners, etc.)  The three primary candidates for President were Celestin (the current administration’s preferred candidate and current President Preval's future son-in-law), Manigat (a former first-lady and law professor) and Martelly (a popular Haitian singer).  Celestin has almost no support outside of Haiti’s elite.  Manigat and Martelly both have a large popular following with older voters leaning towards Manigat and younger voters supporting Martelly. In Haiti, all qualified presidential candidates run in the general election (there were 18 candidates in the Nov. 28 election), but a candidate has to obtain 50% of the vote to take office (insert your own Bush v. Gore joke here).  Since there are usually so many candidates in the general election, no single candidate gets the required 50% of the vote and the top two candidates participate in a January run-off election.  Following the November 28th vote, the more than 5,000 NOP international election monitors announced that Manigat and Martelly were the top two candidates with Celestin a distant third.  No big surprise there.  However, a few days later, the CEP announced its stunning preliminary results which dropped Martelly to third and put Celestin and Manigat in the run-off.  That started the riots. 

No question exists that the Nov. 28 election was rife with significant problems. International election observers and journalists presented credible evidence of intimidation, ballot box stuffing and voters being turned away at the polls.  That is, however, the norm for Haiti. But Celestin's 2nd place finish goes far beyond a hanging chad or two.  It is the equivalent of George W. Bush sweeping an election in Berkeley, California, or Nancy Pelosi trouncing an incumbent Republican in Plano, Texas. It just wouldn't happen. It couldn't happen and if someone claimed that it did happen, we wouldn't believe them.  That is what caused the riots.  The CEP's placement of Celestin in the runoff caused the people of Haiti to lose all confidence that the election process was fair or reflected the will of the voters. 

Our problem is that the CEP is now struggling with how to deal with their current situation.  The official announcement of the Nov. 28th election result is due on December 20th.  Unless the CEP completely reverses course, we think that additional civil unrest is likely to occur following the Dec. 20th announcement. The run-off election is scheduled for January 16. The result of that election could result in additional rioting. We greatly appreciate the time and sacrifice that our medical partners and their families make when physicians and nurses come with us to Haiti and we do not want to do anything that will jeopardize their safety. So, we have to wait. We have put together tentative schedules for January, February and March trips, but our plans are subject to the reality of the situation on the ground. Ultimately, we know that this is in God's hands and we trust and pray that we will be able to get our people and our supplies to Haiti as quickly as possible.

Thanks again for the support you have provided to us in the past and please pray that we will be able to get back into Mirebalais as quickly as possible.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Haiti Team Trip Cancelled for Now

The Grace Chapel medical trip that was scheduled to leave for Mirebalais this week was cancelled due to the unrest currently in Haiti.  The anxiety has been caused by the belief of many that the election was rigged by the ruling government coalition.  Please continue to be in prayer for Haiti as well as the re-scheduling of this trip.  Thank you for all your prayers and support for the Haitian People.


Also, please see this wonderful post written about GCA Director Brian Kelso by Reformed Seminary professor Mike Milton: http://mikemilton.org/2010/11/25/my-friend-who-walked-through-the-valley-of-death/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Please Pray for Medical Team Leaving Saturday

Please pray for a small group of Grace Chapel people who will be joining a larger group from Vanderbilt medical school.  Gene Summerlin, Deb Knight, Al and Mary Halls will leave this Saturday Dec. 11th and return to Lincoln Dec. 18th.  They will be serving in Mirebalais to further the work of GCA's medical ministry.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Update on Funding of the Mirebalais Clinic

As of today, we have received pledges of $66,000 for the building of the clinic! and we still have others who have expressed significant interest in getting involved.  Our total funding goal for this project is $105,000.  We are hoping to break ground on the clinic very soon.  This is an exciting time.  Please keep praying for the funds to come in so we can build the clinic and get more needed medical help to the people of Haiti.

This was my post from the summer when we started raising funds for the clinic: http://hsumike.blogspot.com/2010/07/building-medical-clinic-in-mirebalais.html

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update on Frank and Brian Surgeries

Here's an update from Brian Kelso on recent surgeries that he and Frank Maiorana underwent.  Frank injured his knee when we were in Mirebalais back in Feb., doing relief work together.


Mike


Hey Everybody,

I just talked with Karen and Frank’s knee surgery went very well. There was no damage to the ACL and the doctor cleaned up the knee and corrected some damaged areas. This is great news. Please continue to pray for Frank and his recovery (remember to pray for Karen too – she might need it more – trying to keep the “big dog” down for a couple of weeks.

My surgery this morning went excellent. The doctor removed the metal fixator (sp) from my right foot/leg. After surgery I was immediately walking with crutches. I praise God for this new stage of my recovery. I feel great. My goal is to dance on New Year’s Eve (and being such a bad dancer prior to my illness – no one will know the difference).

I continually thank God for His provisions to us. This has been a difficult Fall by the Lord has seen us through every situation. I want to again thank everyone who has helped us through this time. God is continually to bless us even though “we walk with a limp.”

I believe that we
have striven with God and with men and have prevailed, we have seen God face to face, yet our life has been preserved. The Lord has touched our lives for His glory and even our infirmities (walking with a limp) bring Him glory and will bring Him glory all the days of our lives!


Genesis 32


24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.  26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."  27 So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob."  28 He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”  29 Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.  30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."  31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Peniel, and he was limping on his thigh.


Expecting Great Things from God,

Brian Kelso
 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brian Kelso's First Sunday Back at CCC

His message is "The Valley of the Shadow of Death".  You will be deeply impacted by this video:

http://www.christcovenant.cc/media/videos/index.html 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prayer and Need of Dec. Haiti Medical Team

A medical team made up of three med students from Wake Forest, plus Dr. Al Halls, Mary Halls, Deb Knight and Gene Summerlin will be headed to Haiti Dec. 11th-18th.  Since Grace Chapel has been given administrative oversight of GCA’s medical teams, one of our goals is to make sure that we are providing consistent medical support to the children within GCA’s care.  Currently, that includes 23 children attending GCA’s school in Mirebalais, 16 children at the orphanage in Sodo (just west of Mirebalais), and 25 children at Tutu’s orphanage (just east of Mirebalais). During the spring and summer months, medical teams come down on a fairly regular basis.  However, from August through March, far fewer teams travel to Haiti, and we want to make a focused effort to ensure that we don’t let our medical care drop off during the winter.

The primary goals of this team are threefold:  First, we will be creating initial medical records with pictures, heights, weights, and dates of birth for the kids at all three locations.  Second, we will be administering dewormer to all the kids at all three locations in addition to regular medical exams and treatment.  In places like Haiti, intestinal worms constitute a long term and chronic risk for children and the poor.  These infections can negatively affect all aspects of a child’s development: health, nutrition, cognitive development, learning and educational achievement.  Fortunately, the treatment is simple and cost-effective.  Finally, we will bring additional medical supplies with us to restock GCA’s medical inventory.  If time allows, we will also run a field clinic at a refugee camp where GCA has been providing food and water about halfway between Mirebalais and Cange.

We initially had a medical team scheduled to be on the ground in Mirebalais in late September, but that team had to cancel at the last minute.  As a result, this team was assembled very quickly and with very little opportunity to engage in advance fund raising.  We really need people to pitch in to help us cover the costs of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.  Craig Moore is currently going through our list of existing inventory and making recommendations for additional drugs to purchase.  Given the possibility that the current cholera outbreak could fester for years, we will also be bringing in IV fluids, tubes and needles and Oral Rehydration Solution.  Finally, as always, what we need most of all is prayer – for the people of Haiti, for the GCA support staff and for the team members and their families.



If you are interested in helping out financially or otherwise with the team, please contact Gene Summerlin at gene@osolaw.com or send checks to:


Grace Chapel
December Haiti Medical Team
4000 Sheridan Blvd.
Lincoln, NE 68506
402.484.8555
office@gracepca.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

E-mail Update from Brian Kelso

Here's an e-mail I received from Brian Kelso earlier today:


Mike,

Hey man – it’s me! I’ve been home for two weeks and getting a little stronger each day. I using a wheelchair for now but hopefully I’ll be walking by the end of the year. All my organs have recovered. I’ve lost a lot of weight so I need to build up my body, do my physical therapy and go to doctor appointments. Please tell everybody how much I appreciate their love and prayers! All the doctors call me the “miracle man” and I remind them that God preserved me for His glory!

GCA is going great. I has been a blessing to see how everyone has stepped up. Everything is moving forward.

Thank you so much for your partnership with GCA.

Expecting great things from God,

Brian

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Brian is recovering from Tuesday afternoon's surgery on his right foot.  He is doing well and is in good spirits but is sedated for pain.  The surgeon was pleased with the surgery -- a partial amputation.  The surgeon believes that Brian will be able to return to the normal active lifestyle similar to what he had before this malaria so aggressively infected his body.  He will continue to the hyperbaric chamber, dialysis treatments and physical therapy.  Brian is showing great contentment during this trial.  Let us continue to pray for his healing and comfort after this surgery.  Also, praise God that Brian's kidneys continue to slowly but steadily improve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Just received this update from GCA:

Brian is doing quite well, his kidneys are slowly starting to work again.  He'll have surgery today on his feet. Only during surgery will the surgeon know the extent of what has to be done. They will remove the dead skin and hope that there is good skin underneath. He will lose some toes but is very content with whatever the end result.  Brian's faith is strong through all of this, and it has affected all those around him: nurses, staff, dr's, friends and family.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Brian is currently doing OK.  He has been sick to his stomach somewhat from all the medication (very constipated).  Although the Dr. is very hopeful his kidneys will come back they still are not working.  We may know soon whether they have to amputate some of his feet/toes as a result of the gangrene.  Keep praying for Brian!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

60 Minutes Clip on Haiti with Pastor Moise Vaval

This was a 60 minutes clip that aired last March and was previously posted. I've re-posted it since I refer to Pastor Moise Vaval's story in my sermon today.  If you want to listen to the message, it will be posted here: http://gracepca.com/index.php/sermons/ .  The message is entitled, "Our Prevailing Triumph and the Life of Service".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brian Kelso Continues to Need Our Prayers

Brian will remain in the ICU for awhile, but the docs think he will recover full organ function.  However, he has devloped gangrene in his feet.  He has already lost a toe and there is a possibility that he might lose his right foot. His attitude is great but he can still use our prayers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Brian is doing well. He slept through the night and his breathing is normal. It has been 24 hours since Brian received his last pain meds.  His platelet levels are improving up from 40,000 to over 90,000.  Brian thanks everybody for all their help and prayers.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kelso Update, ... Good News

Brian has finally started to show significant improvement.  His platelet count is at 40,000 and since he hasn't had any recent transfusions, the physicians are confident that Brian's body is once again producing and retaining platelets.  Brian is starting to eat again.  He still has the feeding tube, but if he continues to eat, they will remove it.  Swelling is going down and Brian's liver function is improving.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brian Kelso and Kim Rodriguez Updates

Brian Kelso is currently receiving nutrients from a feeding tube and is not getting worse.  But he is also not seeing improvement either.  Brian continues to need our prayers for progress and improvement.  Test results came back negative on Dengue fever, so Brian is primarily battling malaria at this point.

Kim Rodriguez was released from the hospital without any indication of heart problems (praise God).  The issue seems to be neuro-muscular at this point.  Keep praying for Kim as well.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Brian's malaria count is 0.01, the lowest it's been. While that is a source of great hope, the doctors are still greatly concerned for his overall health and recovery. Even though the disease seems to be in decline, it has had a week to wreck havoc on Brian’s organs. Brian remains in critical condition. Even though his malaria count is down, he has not made any further improvement, so we need to continue in fervent prayer.  Also remember to pray for Brian's wife Barbara and sons Caleb and Josh who are undergoing tremendous stress right now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pray for Great Commission Alliance

Brian Kelso remains stable and will continue on dialysis today.  Also, this morning Kim Rodriguez, the wife of GCA’s Administrator Leo Rodriguez, was taken to the hospital by ambulance with chest pains.  Please keep the entire organization in your prayers. Our friends at GCA are currently undergoing a time of severe testing. Our Sovereign King will continue to uphold and sustain His people, but they need our prayers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brian Kelso Update

Bryan's fever is not getting any worse, which is good news.  They had to put him on dialysis earlier today to help his kidney function.  Keep praying. 

Update on Brian Kelso Today, Keep Praying!

Brian’s fever broke last night. He still isn’t out of the woods, but for the first time since he was admitted he isn’t getting worse.  Keep praying.
  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Please Pray for Brian Kelso!

On Monday, Brian Kelso, Great Commission Alliance's executive director and the pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Fort Lauderdale, was hospitalized in Miami with Dengue Fever, Malaria and Pneumonia.  The next 24-48 hours are critical. The elders at Christ Cov are assembling the congregation tomorrow (Sept. 2nd) at 6pm Nebraska time to pray for Brian, his wife, Barbara, and his sons Caleb and Josh.  Please take a few moments now and over the next few days to pray for Brian and his family.

"Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."  -James 5:14
  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trey Summerlin Back!

Trey Summerlin is back in town after spending the summer in Haiti.  Trey just got back last Friday night.  We're looking forward hearing updates.  It sounds like a lot of ministry projects are moving forward at the site in Mirebalais.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Reforestation of Haiti

The planting of trees and the training up of the Haitian people in environmental stewardship is a big step towards bringing stability to Haiti.  "Reforestation training" is something the Lord can use.

Here's a recent Newsweek article on much of the problem and an opportunity for involvement here in Nebraska:

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/16/a-tree-grows-in-haiti.html

http://www.worldforumfoundation.org/wf/donation/nature2010.php

If evangelicals reading this are skeptical, I ask these questions: 1) is this the world the Lord made? 2) has the futility of this world come about because of human sin? 3) is the promise of the Gospel that sin has been put away (and is being put away) in Christ? and 4) doesn't God's creation await redemption in the same way as believers (Romans 8:20,21)?

If you answer "yes" to the four questions, then pray for success of initiatives like these.  While they may not be the "final answer," there is value to exploring questions regarding how Haitians might grow in their understanding of environmental stewardship.

Blessings,

Mike

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summerlins

Gene and his wife Terri are in Mirebalais this week. Their son Trey has been there since early June. Gene has been to Haiti multiple times. This is Terri's first trip. Pray for them. Also, Gene is visiting with the Partners in Health Haiti director today. PiH has been very helpful in giving us input and insight as we put together plans to build our community health clinic in Mirebalais.

Here are some pictures from Gene's fb page:



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pictures of Trey Summerlin in Haiti

Trey loving on the Haitians and leading an American group.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Don't Forget Haiti

Six months is a long time in our sound-bite, media-clip, reality-show-lovin', sensational-driven culture.  I have one simple message today: don't forget Haiti.  Her problems today are as great as ever.  See the following:

Six Months After Quake, Haiti Still Suffers (CNN)
Haitian Orphans Have Little but One Another (NY Times)
Haiti's Camps of Despair (Montreal Gazette)

At Grace Chapel, we are focusing in on building a medical clinic in Mirebalais:

http://www.gcanet.org/update/clinic/update1.html

We invite you to get involved with the building and the furnishing of the clinic.  If you have questions about the project, contact Gene Summerlin at gene@osolaw.com or me at mike@gracepca.com.

Blessings,

Mike

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Building a Medical Clinic in Mirebalais

At Grace Chapel, we are focusing in on building a medical clinic in Mirebalais:

http://www.gcanet.org/update/clinic/update1.html

We invite you to get involved with the building and the furnishing of the clinic.  If you have questions about the project, contact Gene Summerlin at gene@osolaw.com or me at mike@gracepca.com.

Blessings,

Mike

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Update on Michelle! Hallelujah!

Some of you might remember a little girl we met in Haiti back in February. Her name was Michelle and she had a fibrous tumor. Here's my blog entry from our encounter:

http://hsumike.blogspot.com/2010/02/michelle.html

Our ministry partners had not been able to locate Michelle until recently but I just received this report from Gene Summerlin:

"Just wanted to let you know that the girl with the abdominal tumor we saw by the dam has been treated and fully recovered.  The pastor got in touch with Marcel last month and GCA got her to a hospital for surgery.  She is home and doing fine!"

Hallelujah! Thank you to all who prayed for Michelle!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 18th Update from Trey Summerlin

I received this e-mail yesterday from Trey who is currently living at the Guest House in Mirebalais:


Hey man, I'm doing really well. Frank's keeping me pretty busy, I've mostly been helping with medical teams that have come down and helping a Haitian guy Ricarto around the guest house. It's really beautiful; you won't believe it when you see it. I can't figure out how to send pictures on this thing but they're all on my facebook under mobile Uploads. I've been on dental for the past couple of days. Today the doctors from Cross Bridge saw more than 460 people not counting dental. It's been pretty awesome so far. We didn't get back till pretty late so I'm a little tired. I think I'm gonna head to bed. God bless, brother, say hey to Chris and Ben for me. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dedication of the GCA Guest House!

I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the completion of the Great Commission Alliance Guest House at the Mirebalais property. The bottom picture was taken in February when Trey Summerlin, Gene Summerlin, Chris Tran and I did food distribution at the site. The second picture was taken in late March when our group of 34 traveled to Mirebalais. And the most recent picture was taken at the May 30th dedication of the Guest House.

For more pictures of the Guest House, goto:


Saturday, June 12, 2010

NPR's "This American Life : #408 Island Time"

Recently I was driving up to Walthill to serve on the Omaha reservation.  I had two hours on my hands and a lot of beautiful Nebraska country in front of me as I traveled North on I-77.  I listened to a one-hour podcast put out by NPR's "This American Life."  This piece reflects on some of the complexities of implementing in Haiti what the typical American might think of as "simple business solutions" for productivity and growth.  It is a worthwhile, provocative and challenging piece, a must-hear for anyone interested in doing ministry in places like Haiti.  But it will involve a commitment of time (one hour).

You should can listen to it on streaming audio:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/408/island-time

Otherwise, it is available for 99 cents on Itunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/408-island-time/id374328413?i=374329329&ign-mpt=uo%3D6

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Trey Summerlin Leaves for Haiti Tomorrow

Hi Friends,

Trey leaves for Haiti tomorrow.  He will spend a couple days in Ft. Lauderdale and then travel to Port-au-Prince and then Mirebalais.  Trey was with me in Haiti in early February.  He plans to serve in Haiti with Great Commission Alliance through August.  Trey's main responsibilities will be to accompany and serve various teams as they come to Haiti.  Please pray for Trey.  He asks prayer for wisdom and direction on how best to be a vessel of the Lord's love and mercy while he is in Haiti.

Thank you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Rescued," by Soledad O'Brien, CNN

I was sent this CNN video recently.  It's very powerful.  I love the vision of this group I had never heard of before, Lighthouse Orphanage.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you for your prayers for Gene and me.  Our time with Brian Kelso and Frank Maiorana of GCA was a very fruitful, productive and encouraging time.  Thank you!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Prayer

Hi Friends, Gene Summerlin and I will be traveling to Ft. Lauderdale this Monday for two and a half days to meet with Brian Kelso and Frank Maiorana of Great Commission Alliance. We will be discussing the nature of our partnership with GCA as we look to serve in Mirebalais. We are looking forward to our time, and we appreciate your prayers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shirts from Lincoln to Croix Des Bouquets

Last Christmas, Grace Chapel put together a project raising funds for t-shirts and multivitamins for the children of Haiti.  GC member Ben Welstead owns a screen-printing business and made shirts charging us less than his personal costs.  The shirts are now being used as school uniforms for the kiddos at Ebenezer orphanage in Croix Des Bouquets:

Here are a couple pictures of the kids in the shirts:


Here's a video of Ben making the shirts (from an earlier blogpost):



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Team Photo Sharing Site

Our various team members are now just starting to share their pictures.  Here's the website if you are interested:

http://gcmedical2010.shutterfly.com/

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Renee Welstead Photos

If you want to see our time in Haiti through the lens of a professional photographer, one of our team members, here you go:

http://www.reneewelstead.blogspot.com/

Easter Message

I gave the Easter message at Grace Chapel last Sunday.  After a lengthy opening Scripture reading and prayer, I start the message talking about some of our experiences in Haiti last week, and I close the message with some reflections on our time as well.  I wrote the message not just with the Christian in mind, but the nonChristian as well.  It is written for the religious, the nonreligious, the churched, the nonchurched, the believer and the agnostic alike.  I hope whether you embrace the message of Christ's cross and resurrection or not, you might benefit from the message:

http://gracepca.com/podcast/2010-04-04.mp3

Or if you prefer to go straight to the Grace Chapel website to download the April 4th message:

http://gracepca.com/index.php/sermons/

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ben Welstead Making Shirts for the Kids

I just came across this video of Ben Welstead making the t-shirts for the Ebenezer kiddos.  It's pretty sweet.  Here's Ben's website: http://binkshirts.com/

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just Landed in Omaha

It's 11:30pm!

Nebraskans

What do you get when you have a group of 34 Nebraskans who really like one another, have spent the week together in a life-shaping environment, have been sleep-deprived and are traveling together through airports ALL DAY?

Let me just say this, I feel bad for the other people on this last plane between Dallas and Omaha. Man, are we a loud bunch! :-)

Landed in Dallas

We just landed in Dallas. We fly out of Dallas in about an hour and a half and should be to Omaha by 11:30pm.

Just Landed in Miami

We board our Dallas flight in about an hour. It's about 4:30pm Miami time.

Coming Home ... Leaving Port-au-Prince

Katie Loos, Ben Loos, Kristine Fry, Carla Pisel-Nixon, Rob Hemmer


Driving in Haiti

One of my favorite things about driving in Haiti is that sometimes the oncoming traffic is in the same lane as the one you are driving in. This is taken from the front seat of our SUV.  I'm in the passenger seat if you are concerned about me driving and blogging under the circumstances :-)

Tanya and Tanya

Tanya met a "Tanya" at Ebenezer.

Some of the Ebenezer Kiddos

Seeing Some of My Buddies Again

These guys remember you. They were saying, "Mike!" We were here for four days in early Feb.

Carrie and Renise

It might have only been a thirty-minute stop, but it was worth it. Carrie Davidson is hugging Renise. Renise is the little 13yr. old girl who had a baby recently. Renise's story was documented on 60 minutes on March 21st: Lost Children of Haiti Video.  Carrie spent a week in January following the earthquake and a week earlier this month at Ebenezer.  The kids absolutely love her.

Selling Bread on the Streets of PaP

Driving through Port-au-Prince

Here are some of the tent cities in PaP. Jerry and Patria Rector, Carrie Davidson, Tanya Hsu and I left early for the airport to go to the Ebenezer orphanage of The Global Orphan Project in Croix Des Bouquets. We wanted to see the kids as Carrie and I have been there since the earthquake and Jerry and Patria are very involved with The Nebraska Global Orphan Project.

If you want to see the 60 minutes piece on Ebenezer and the story of Pastor Moise Vaval, here it is: Lost Children of Haiti Video.  We are meeting Moise in a few minutes.

We just dropped off Frank Maiorana at the airport and now our Haitian friend Marcel Baptiste is taking us to Ebenezer. We will meet up with the other 29 of us at the airport to catch our 12:15pm AA flight back home. We will see many of you soon!

Brokenness

God broke many of us yesterday. It's not that we "broke" or that we sought our own brokenness, but that God broke us. I've now been to Haiti six times. I was here three weeks following the earthquake, ... but I've never seen a team broken quite like this, broken by God, ... ultimately the work of our Loving Heavenly Father.

In this post, I'm going to share some marvelous things we witnessed yesterday. The hard things we experienced yesterday take me to a place of silence for now, so I will not share of those things yet, but the marvelous things ...

First, we saw the man again who had placed his faith in Christ yesterday AND we saw his two daughters: they were looking much better, even walking around! They looked 100% better. Praise the Lord. The girls simply needed food, hadn't eaten in a long time, but the girls ate our Cliff and Luna bars. This family lives right by the GCA property. The man has just placed his faith in Christ: I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of his profession of faith. He even said to our team, "my wife is not yet ready to be a Christian, but I am". Pray for this man. I don't know his name, but pray for the Word of God to take deep root in this man. Some of our locals will have a chance to study the Scriptures with him.

There is a secondary and amazing storyline developing with the former witch doctor who received Christ on Thursday. The man has two sons. Caitlin Baker met the first boy last Wednesday night. She had no idea who he was, but she noticed a hardness to the kid. He was cold and joyless. The boy's father received Christ on Thursday. Caitlin saw the boy again on Saturday and noticed a visible change in the boy: he was smiling and tender. His heart simply seemed lighter and more full. Caitlin then made the connection that Jesus' Kingdom had come to the boy's house, that this same boy she was intrigued with a few days earlier was actually the son of the former witch doctor.

I also said there was a second son. After worship on Sunday, we ended up on a long hike through the countryside of Mirebalais. It was hot, but also breathtakingly beautiful, but I had one primary concern. Was my wife Tanya doing OK? Tanya had scoliosis surgery when she was a girl and in recent years she's lived with a lot of chronic pain. Was she OK as the hike turned out to be a long one. I was in the middle of the pack on a narrow trail. Remember, we have 34 people, plus a number of Haitians walking with us. In a word, I got split up from Tanya. Tanya ended up near the end of the pack, except for Rob Hemmer who basically decided to carry up the rear and watch after Tanya ... the Lord bless Rob Hemmer. So I'm on pins and needles waiting at the top of the hill, watching Tanya come to the end of the hike, wondering if every step is excruciatingly painful. She's tough as nails though, so I also know she won't complain, but I know she lives in constant pain. As she is walking up the hill, she is doing so arm-in-arm with a Haitian boy who has bowed legs and possibly cerebral palsy. Tanya has a smile on her face. I ask, "is your leg OK (it's her right leg that gives her fits)?" She smiles (not a forced, but a relaxed smile) and says, "my leg feels fine, but my buddy's legs are really hurting him right now". The boy and Tanya had been helping each other walk up the hill. It's the first time in the last five years I can remember that Tanya was walking with someone who could truly understand her leg pain, and it was a Haitian boy (it's 5am right now, Ben Loos and Craig Moore are sound asleep in our darkened room, and I'm blubbering like a baby right now). Tanya saw the boy again yesterday and she lit up like Clark Griswold's house on Christmas day. I also learned yesterday that this boy is the other son of the former witchdoctor who gave his life to Jesus on Thursday.

Here is the picture of Tanya walking with the boy and Rob Hemmer behind her:

http://hsumike.blogspot.com/2010/03/tanya-hsu-and-rob-hemmer-walking-with.html

I'm broken friends. A lot of us are broken because of the things we've seen, but God is with us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Boy on a Pony with Supplies


The boy in red must be thinking, "look at my cool bike!" and the boy on the pony, "but I'm on a pony!"

"Thank You for Saving My Sister's Life"

This woman came to our clinic today to say "thank you." Her sister was seen by our team on Saturday. Her sister was three months pregnant and had not eaten in a week. We put her on an IV and then brought her to the Mirebalais hospital.

Pictured are Dr. Dorthea Jacobsen and RN Deb Knight with the woman's sister. Dorthea and Deb were the woman's primary caretakers. The woman said to our team, "My sister would be dead if it wasn't for you all. Thank you for saving my sister's life." Deb Knight is crying.

Kids in Line for Balloons

Chickens in the Clinic

Ben and Renee Welstead

Gene Summerlin, Tim Scheel and Bryan Becker

"Manning" the UA and blood glucose table. It's great to see Bryan again, after he was feeling sick on Saturday.

Getting Set Up for Clinic One Last Time

Processing Conversion ... How Can You Know?

Last night, I got into multiple conversations with various people on the day we had yesterday and it was a mixed bag. In my last post, I had mentioned that the events of yesterday were too much to process, and I was right! So I'll keep working at it :-)

Some were rejoicing in the witch doctor and his neighbor's new professions of faith. Others were a bit more skeptical. Of course, there is always the possibility that the witch doctor saw the money that was coming in at the GCA property and said, "it's a great time to be a Christian".

What about the second man? What really bothered a lot of the team members was that his girls looked sick and emaciated, while the man and his wife looked somewhat vigorous. Why? Has there been abuse? Is food being withheld from the girls? We left a lot of protein bars and water with the man and when we left, one of our team members said with a fierceness in her tone, "he better damn well give that food and water to the girls" (instead of consume it himself or sell it on the open market). Not only were the words of this team member appropriate, but they reflected the heart of Jesus when he gave a fierce warning to anyone who would dare to cause little ones to stumble.

So all this puts us in a tough spot emotionally. Do we rejoice in this man's profession of faith in Christ? Or do we let the questions around his girls' health bring suspicion and a demand that clear answers come forth. In a word, can we celebrate this man's profession of faith, if we suspect he has not been caring for his children (or even worse, has been abusing them)?

Let me start with this man and then next I'll share thoughts about the former witch doctor. Let's begin by looking at some foundational truths at the core of Christianity.

1) God is merciful and saves sinners.

2) God is just and destroys sinners.

Miroslav Wolf and his family suffered greatly in the Balkans in the 80s. Wolf once wrote that it takes the quiet of a suburban home in the West to embrace the notion that "God does not judge," or that He is a God of mercy but not of justice. Wolf wrote that; however, in lands sun-soaked in the innocent blood of men, women and children, where injustice often seems to get the final word, belief in a God who "does not judge," invariably dies.

3) We always rejoice when people confess faith in Jesus Christ.

4) We always "wait" for the fruit of Christ to emerge from a genuine conversion experience.

5) We also "work" for that fruit as well through discipleship and pushing people into accountable community.

We can be so individualistic in our emphasis on "receiving Jesus into our hearts," yet so much of Scripture would have us believe that you cannot receive Jesus the Head without coming into connection with the Church His Body ... no "wafflehouse Christianity" here (don't get me wrong, I like waffles :-)).

So with the man and his girls, We MUST celebrate that he has confessed the name of the Lord Jesus! That is an awesome thing. There is power in the name of Jesus! Yet, we must also move into this man's life with questions of accountability ... what does it mean now that you have given your life to Christ? what are your new priorities NOW in relationship to caring for your family and others? How will you now enter a life of ongoing repentance and daily trust in your Savior who has made you His? What needs to stop TODAY? And what needs to start? At Grace Chapel, membership vow #3 kind of sums it up, "in reliance on the grace of the Holy Spirit, do you promise to live in a way that is consistent with a follower of Jesus Christ?"

So one of our Haitian brothers Gie will do follow-up with the man in a couple of days. He will begin to study the Bible with the man. You see, ultimately only God knows the heart; yet, we sometimes forget in our rather narrow and cloistered world that God is in the supernatural business of delivering people who are in complete bondage to sin. He takes those living in darkness and brings them into His wonderful light. God is merciful and saves sinners.

However, if this man is truly perpetuating abuse on his girls and he refuses to repent of it, after having confessed Christ, then woe to this man. He will be punished eternally by a Fierce and Holy God who does not tolerate the abuse of children and the defenseless. God is just and destroys sinners.

What about the witch doctor guy? Again, ultimately we don't know a person's heart, but have we become so calloused that we can't celebrate a man who says, "I am now free because of Jesus!"? Nobody likes to be duped or have the wool pulled over their eyes, but isn't cynicism ultimately a way of seeking to maintain control, ... when we are not in control?

I imagine in the NT Church, the supernatural activity of the Spirit must have come at the apostles so quickly, that only later would they be able to look back and say, "wow, really, ... Jesus is truly building His church like He promised He would".

The witch doctor guy tore down all his VooDoo relics. Understand this is no small thing as VooDoo is BIG business in Haiti. Maybe the man saw dollar signs with GCA and made a business decision in the middle of a "down economy" (times are rough in Haiti, the demands for curses and spells are down right now :-)). I don't know. But he professed faith in Christ! He professed faith in Christ! He professed faith in Christ! Doesn't that make us want to leap for joy? Christian, rejoice that the name of Christ is passing over this man's lips!

Now the hard and arduous work of discipleship begins. But remember it is the Lord who wills and works, bringing all things under His sovereign purpose.

It was a wild day yesterday ... still processing. Thanks for listening. Keep praying please! Today is our last day. We come home tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reflections on Today, The Lord's Day

Wow. What a day. Where do I even begin? We worshipped with the Haitians. Awesome. I got to preach out of Psalm 8: a privilege as it always is in Haiti when I get to preach. We walked through the countryside of Mirebalais. Awesome. We went to the home of a man who was a witch doctor as recently as Thursday this last week. We saw the VooDoo flags flying earlier this week since his home is right by the GCA property. Today all his VooDoo ritual stuff had been torn down. God did an awesome thing ... see 1Peter 2:9,10 (I kept thinking about this verse when I was listening to this man). This was unbelievably awesome. I saw a sign in Jayhawk colors that said, "Kansas Team, Welcome to Boyer, Welcome Home". That was wild and awesome in its own way. We walked to the home of another man who said he wanted to give his life to Christ and we prayed with him, only to see his girls were not doing well. This was very hard to see and a lot of questions arose in our heads as to why these girls were not doing well.

It's been way too much to process, but I'll try a little to do so ... walking around in Haiti is so different from walking around in the States. I've always described coming to Haiti as "stepping into the world of the New Testament". The things we experience here are a far cry from our bland-brand of Post Enlightenment rationalism where we have placed an unbridled trust in our own faculties to make judgments about ultimate reality, ... yet we still find ourselves living quiet lives of desperation with so much brokenness and loss around us. In our fierce autonomy, we reject divine revelation as having any significance or relevance for our lives. I know some of you reading this back home think that the humanitarian stuff we do is good, but all this Jesus talk starts getting a little hokey. Maybe. Or maybe rather in our finitude, our judgments are rather skewed like an efficient saw cutting with great precision, yet pointed in the wrong direction (Cornelius Van Til). Think about it. What if God is present in a world He made and enters our world through flesh and blood, gives Himself a name, and then offers new life and hope to all who call upon Him? Hokey? Maybe, ... or, ... maybe not? Just think about it, OK? Peace be with you.

Gene with some of the PaP Students


Tent Communities Where PaP Students are Living

Our translators were University students from PaP who left after the devastation of the Jan 12th earthquakes. There are around 130 students who have come to Mirebalais. Here is where they are living currently.

Tanya Hsu and Rob Hemmer Walking with Haitian Kids


Haitian Cow

Not quite like Nebraska cows.

Former Witch Doctor with Bible in Hand


Prayer

As quickly as we prayed over this man and his family, rejoicing over the power of God, as quickly did we learn his daughters are sick and had not drank or eaten in a long time. Our docs looked at the girls and we unloaded our protein bars and bottles of water. We will have one of the local Haitian brothers come check up on them in a few days.

Another Man Wants to Receive Christ

Our crew is walking to another man's house, a man who just said he wants to receive Christ. We make house calls!

You Are Not Going to Believe This

We're at the former witch doctor's house and we look at the building next door and there is a sign in Jayhawk colors saying "Kansas Team, Welcome to Boyer, You are Home". Boyer is the part of Mirebalais we are in. Is God in this place or what???!!!

A Haitian Witch Doctor who Gave His Life to Christ Three Days Ago

This man is giving his testimony of the spells and curses he used to put on people. On Thursday, he gave his life to Christ, tore down his Voodoo flags, and said "I quit!"

He testifies before our group, "I've asked Christ into my life and now I am free!"

He says he wants to invite as many fellow witch doctors as possible to give their lives to Jesus!

Team Foto Following Worship

Some Kids on The Streets of Mirebalais

We walked around for a little while following worship.

Haitian "Homeless Shelter"

Ben Welstead showing his camera to some of the kids at this homeless shelter.

Kneeling in Prayer as a Congregation


Worshipping at New Jerusalem

The Haitians put us in front and give us a place of honor, so we end up "looking at each other" during worship.

Humbled, Proud and Doing the Hokey Pokey

I've been to Haiti six times now. Our church has been a part of three other trips that I was not a part of as well. Yet with all our Haiti experience, we've never taken a group as large as this one: 34 people. When planning for a trip of this size, there were a lot of "moving parts".

Yet the biggest "part" I prayed and wondered about was the humanness of this trip. What happens when you put 34 people in a pressure-packed, dusty, humid and less than ideal environment? What happens when they engage poverty on an entirely different level than anything most of us have ever seen? What happens when they get hungry and feel their "systems" to be a little off (Bryan Becker was sick yesterday and Dorthea Jacobsen not great ... Dorthea was feeling better after taking it easy on breakfast and Bryan Becker able to join us by dinnertime. Both are doing better, though I write this early, early Sunday morning and we could use prayers for how the group will be feeling today after another long, hard day yesterday).

What happens when you take 34 individual personalities to Haiti? Well ... I can tell you what has happened after four days of being in Haiti: servanthood, open arms of love, embrace and service in the name of Jesus. Everyone back home should be humbled and proud to be associated with these 34 Nebraskans serving in Haiti right now. Through this entire week, I have not heard one word of complaint, only joyful sacrifice and work for Jesus, for one another and for the Haitian people. There is so much JOY among your friends and family members who are here. When you take the midwestern work ethic and combine it with the powerful work of the Holy Spirit where the people know the work is not about them, you end up getting this wonderful explosion of service and love that flows from the glorious Gospel of Christ. Thank you for your prayers ... they are working.

We had a wonderful dinner last night where many of the students from PaP, who have been serving as translators, joined us. There was a lot of laughter, dancing and fun. The evening closed with Paula Baker leading 50 people in doing the "Hokey Pokey". Have a great day of worship! We are really looking forward to worshipping with the Haitians today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Taking Break After Full Day of Clinic

Bottom four: Rob Hemmer, Al Halls, Dave Paulus and Craig Moore

Successful Day So Far

Thank you for all who have prayed for us. It has been a great day and any fear of a difficult situation has been relieved entirely. Our people have been great in organizing and getting a very efficient system in place.

Let me if I can explain the process. First, Rob Hemmer who is a former military guy does crowd control explaining through a translator that everyone needs to remain seated until their number is called. Ben Welstead helps with the crowds as well.  Secondly, our nurses (Susan Hays, Jami Fulwider, Patria Rector and Carrie Davidson) do "intake" meeting with patients and recording their symptoms, etc. Thirdly, Katie Loos, Renee Welstead and Tanya Hsu, our runners, make sure patients get to the proper station. Some need to see a doctor (Jerry Rector, Dave Paulus, Al Halls or Dorthea Jacobsen). If they need to see the docs, Stephanie Gohl and Karen Sayer stay with the patients until a doc is ready to see them. Yet others are taken to the vitamin and Ibuprofen station (Jane Vander Broek and Shirley Moore). For those who need pharmeceuticals, they see Craig Moore (pharmacist) and Jami Pickering (pharm tech). For those with back or leg issues, they see Chiropractor Doug Vander Broek. Gene Summerlin and Tim Scheel run urine analysis and blood glucose tests. Deb Knight is a "mobile" RN currently caring for a pregnant woman three months along who says she hasn't eaten in a week: we have this woman on IV. Ben Loos and I fill whatever need is there ... weighing kids, measuring heights, praying over people and I blog! All our docs, nurses and workers pray with patients as they feel led. Everyone else runs VBS or helps where needed.

 By the way, all this is taking place under one big giant mango tree.

Buckets of Water

This is a picture of the Haitians carrying 5 gallon buckets of water. The distance is about one mile. They bring the water to pour into a cistern and the water is used to mix with gravel to make concrete. The concrete is then used to build the Guest House. Ideally the well would have been dug first, but the process has been a bit slow... our well digger started with a metal camping plate and dug about 70 ft. But now he needs a jack hammer and is searching all over PaP for one.

Me Taking a Picture of Gene Summerlin Taking a Picture of Me Blogging

Katie Loos with 11-Day-Old Baby


Pharmacist Craig Moore and His Lovely Assistant Shirley

Cardboard Sun Umbrellas ...

While patients wait in the scorching Caribbean sun, cardboard umbrellas are held over them for shade

My Bride and Me

No comments on the shirt ... Northern Iowa got beat last night!

On Your Marks ... Get Set ...

VBS Crew ... Awesome Bananas Setting Up