No, I don’t think that my life is so special that I should post about a day in my life, but rather it is just a way for you to know what my typical day looks like as we seek to honor God by ministering His love to the orphaned children of Haiti. So, here goes:
After sleeping through the night in our oh so cold air conditioned bedroom, I get up at about 7AM, which is very late compared to the average Haitian who is already at the market selling their fruits and vegetables by 6AM. I think the average Haitian wakes up at about 4:30 AM. So, as our house worker arrives at our house at 7:30 AM and still sees me in my joes (pajamas), I can only imagine how lazy she must think us Americans are…well…at least me.
So, upon waking up, I see that my bed is empty of my better half who has already gotten up and made her way to the couch to read her Bible and spend some quiet time with the Lord. So, I get up and look down at my feet where my 7 year old silly daughter is still sleeping on her air mattress at the foot of our bed. She sleeps in our room since our bedroom is the only cool room in the house. The rest of the house is a literal sauna at night. I’m serious. We could start a weight loss program just by inviting people to sleep over at our house. But in a few days we will have an AC put in Isabela’s room as well.
So, I make sure that Isabela gets up and then we open up the door and get a fresh blast of heat to our face as we get ready to brave the new day. I go out to the living room, give my wife a kiss good morning, and then we talk for a moment about something that God showed her in the Book of Revelation. This opens up to a brief discussion of how much we miss our little Susana. Then we shed a few tears as the reality bites us for a moment that our little girl is not with us, but we know that we can’t stay there otherwise we will be useless. So, we shed some tears and then turn our thoughts towards the goodness of God and what she must be experiencing right now. This causes our tears to stop and soon my attention shifts to my hunger pains.
Breakfast time usually consists of a bowl of cereal, usually from a box of Frosted Flakes that costs over $6 in Haiti. The milk comes from a box. It does not have to be refrigerated until it is opened. I’m the only one who uses it. Maria will not have it. Nor will Isabela. So, they just eat their cereal dry. After cereal, I have a yogurt. Again the type of yogurt that does not need to be refrigerated. That will be followed with a cup of “Jumex” Peach Nectar, which, you guessed it, does not need to be refrigerated until opened.
After breakfast, Isabela gets dressed and then goes to the office/school room and begins her homeschooling. She is so excited to be in 2nd grade. I usually hear her talking back to the DVD as she goes throughout her lessons. She must keep a fan on her feet at all times or else the mosquitoes will have a feast on her.
Maria tends to the baby and I will usually (on a good day) return to our chilled bedroom and spend some time in God’s Word and prayer. And then, if I’m in the mood, I might play a quick game of “hearts” on my ipad so that I can become an expert and beat anybody who has the last name “Brown” and lives in Asheville, NC. But hearts can’t last forever. There is Kingdom work that needs to be done.
After getting dressed and giving my daughter, son, and wife a kiss good-bye, I grab the keys to my truck, my ipad, some money, and of course, a sweat rag, and head out the door. Maria closes and locks the gated driveway behind me.
My first stop is to pick up the 2 guys that are working with our ministry, Lures and Anderson. They are part of our Leadership Development Program. They speak great english and have incredible hearts for the Lord. After picking them up, we then go and visit with some of our sponsored families.
The first family that we visit is with one of our kids who we really think has great potential in the Lord. His name is Bradley. He’s 15 years old. I really like him a lot. Every time he is at our Mission House during our discipleship program, he is very attentive and seems to really want to learn more about Jesus. He always has a big smile on his face. This is my first time visiting with Bradley in his home. I am appalled by how tiny their one room house is. There are 2 other girls there. I assume that they are both his sisters. As I only see a full size bed and a tiny single bed, and I’m talking very single size (maybe 2 feet wide), I ask Bradley where everybody sleeps. His older sister (or so I think) tells me that she sleeps in the full bed with her newborn baby and that Bradley and his 13 year old sister share the single sized bed. I learn that the single sized bed does not have a mattress. It’s just a huge pile of clothes that covers the wire frame. I’m saddened and shocked. I ask where Grandma sleeps and I’m told that there is no Grandma. Then I learn that the “older” girl is Bradley’s aunt. She is 21 years old. She is the one taking care of Bradley and his sister. I ask them if they have food. They reply that they don’t. I ask them how they manage. That always leads to rather interesting stories. She tells me that her husband just got fired from the little job that he had working at a store. I ask her why he was fired. She tells me that he left work for a few days to go into the mountains to tend to his sister who got cholera. When he got back, he was told that he was fired. Very sad.
So, I tell “mom” (I refer to all of our care takers as “mom” since they are the ones who are truly being “mom” to these orphaned kids.) that we will be back soon with a surprise for her. Lures, Anderson, and I get in the truck and head downtown to buy 2 new mattresses and a bed. We buy the mattresses at the mattress store. I ask the guy to give me a good price and tell him that these are for orphaned children. He gives me a good price. Then, we head over to the open air market and I have Lures and Anderson buy the bed there so that they get the haitian price. If I were to show my face, the price would increase significantly.
On the way back to Bradley’s house, we talk about the three of us getting together each week to study the bible. I tell them that I want to teach them how to do inductive Bible study so that they can apply it to their own studying of the bible. They are very excited about doing this. I also learn that both of them don’t have a great knowledge of the Old Testament, so I suggest that I can do an Old Testament survey with them each week as well. They are very excited to start this. We also talk about our desire to visit another child whom we know who God has put on our hearts in a big way.
We return to Bradley’s house and carry the beds and mattresses up the path to his house. He and his sister are so excited. They now each have their own bed and mattress to sleep on. Most likely, this is the first time in their lives that they have this. I give “mom” some money to buy food. She is so thankful. I ask her if she has a Bible. She says that she does not and would like one. So, I tell her that we will return next time with a Creole Bible for her. She is very excited. We then take a picture of Bradley’s sister Berlin so that we can get her into our sponsorship program as well. I tell Berlin that she is now invited to come to the Mission House for our after school program. She is very happy. We gather in a circle and pray, giving thanks to God for his provision.
After we leave, it is near lunch time, so I run back to our house and quickly scarf down a salami and cheese sandwich with a handful of pringles and a cup of gatorade. I hook up Lures and Anderson as well. The salami slices are like a half inch thick because for some reason the people at the deli mart do not know what “sliced thin” means. But hey, it’s still meat, so I’m happy.
After lunch, we plan to visit with another family. Lovely. That’s the girl’s name. We recently just moved this family from the tent where she was living for 17 months since the earthquake into a house that we rented for her. Last time I saw Lovely at her house, I saw that she slept on a full size bed, but did not have a mattress either. Her mattress was just huge piles of clothes all piled on top of the wire frame. So, I told “mom” that if she could get just one thing for the house, what would it be? She said she would like a mattress for Lovely. ”Mom” sleeps on the concrete floor. So, thanks to sponsorship money, we head back to the mattress store. The guy is happy to see us return. We purchase a good full size mattress and head to Lovely’s house. She is so excited when she sees us pull up and unload the mattress from our truck. ”Mom” is very happy too. We spend some time talking with “mom” and encouraging her. We thank her for raising up Lovely and assure her that we are here to help support her. I gather some information about “mom’s” family history and type it in my ipad. I do this because we are really trying to get to know our families so that we know how best to encourage them in the Lord and support them. ”Mom” is very very subdued in her mannerism and speech, so I can’t help but suspect some abuse or neglect or child slavery or whatever in “mom’s” history. But for now, she doesn’t share anything of the sort. We also deliver a set of sheets and some toys for Lovely. She is so excited. We take a great picture of her sprawled out on her new mattress. Most likely, this is the first time ever that she has slept on a bed and mattress. We are all happy. We then gather in a circle and pray. I ask Mom if she has a Bible. She pulls out a very worn tiny Gideon pocket New Testament in french. Mom can’t read french. I tell her that I am going to return next time with a Creole Bible for her. She is happy. Lovely is clutching her new Minnie Mouse doll, something that we bought for Susana on our Disney Make a Wish Trip just before the Lord called her home. I’m happy to see Lovely enjoying the doll.
As we leave, we see another 2 children outside who are part of our sponsorship program. I give one of them a box of “Kids Against Hunger” meals that we distribute for our feeding programs since the feeding program that she goes to has been out of food for several weeks. We are praying that more food arrives soon.
Last stop fro the day – the boy in our program who seems to be in great need of love and support, Franky Jean. Anderson tells me that God has really put Franky on his heart. I tell Anderson that I am very happy to hear that and that this is what our sponsorship program is all about – investing in the lives of these children and families, mentoring them, speaking truth into their lives, spending time with them, making disciples. We all agree that Franky seems to have a very bad home life. We all agree that that is all the more reason why we need to spend some extra time with him as much as possible. I have a new bathing suit in my truck that I have been waiting to give him.
We roll up to his house and ask his “mom” where he is. She does not know. Some other kids tell us that he is in the field playing soccer. Anderson tells me that this is not good because kids know that they are not supposed to play soccer during the week because they should be home studying. I really like Anderson. Franky comes over. His clothes are dirty. He looks very skinny. His voice is very raspy. Perhaps it is an indication of poor health. We ask him if he wants to come for a ride with us and maybe go to the store where I can buy him a candy bar and a soda. We just want to hang out with him. On the way, Anderson asks him when was the last time that he ate. We learn that it was yesterday morning when he had “yon ti chiko” (a little cereal). He tells us that “mom” gives him 5 or 10 goudes a day and that is what he must use for food. 5 goudes is about 8 cents…just about enough for yon ti chico…certainly not enough to be healthy. So, I scrap our plans of going to the store for a soda and candy bar and instead buy a huge plate of chicken, rice, and beans off the street for about $3. It would take Franky over a month of saving his money that “mom” gives him to buy this. He devours it upon saying “amen” after giving thanks to God. We spend some time just sitting around and talking with Franky. He is very guarded.
Anderson is really trying to speak into his life and encourage him. I’m so happy to see this. I encourage Anderson to just give Franky one or two directives that he can start working on instead of bombarding him with so much at once. We agree to tell Franky about the importance of studying during the week instead of playing soccer. Franky is 9 years old. He is in first grade. Last year is when he came into our program. Last year was his first year of school ever. Franky needs a lot of support. He is very skinny. ”Mom” is rather chunky. Something is not right. I will not put money or resources into “mom’s” hands. I fear that they are not reaching our skinny, yet very loveable friend. We also teach Franky the importance of looking somebody in the eye when talking to them. Franky listens for a moment, but then drifts off into talking about something else completely unrelated. I give Franky the bathing suit and tell him that it is for swimming. We drop him off and remind him of the things we spoke about.
(The next day, I pass by Franky’s house. I ask somebody to call him. He comes out from the back of the house. He’s wearing the new bathing suit. He says that he was in the back studying. I hope he is telling the truth. He is happy to see us even just for the moment. I really like Franky. I think next time I go fishing, I will ask him to come. I’m certain that he will want to come.)
So, after leaving Franky’s house, Anderson and Lures share their excitement about just spending time with him and trying to speak into their lives. I share with them that this is what is called mentoring. I share with them that this is what I am doing with them by meeting with them regularly, teaching them the Word of God, sharing lessons about life, and speaking into their lives. I share that my hope is to do this with them so that they in turn can do it to others such as our great friend in need, Franky Jean. They agree that this is very good and very important.
I drop off my two young friends and tell them thanks for all that they contributed. I head home after a rather long, but very productive day.
I’m happy to be greeted by my lovely wife who opens up the gate. I’m happy to see my chocolate lab Casey wagging her tail. I walk inside and kiss my little school girl Isabela and pick up my newborn son Jake.
After a good dinner that hopefully involves some type of meat, we hang out for a bit and talk. Then, Isabela asks if we can have a Family Night. So, I agree. It’s time to play “Yahtzee”!!!!! Mom has to bail before the Family Night even begins because Jake is rather demanding now. So, Isabela and I just pull up on our bed and let the games begin.
After a fun night, it’s time to take our cold showers and get ready for night night. By God’s grace, I take some time with Isabela and we read the Bible together and talk about what it means in our lives. We are on Matthew Chapter 7. She is learning so much. I am too.
“Wow! It’s 8:00 already?”, I say. Yes, for us in Haiti, that is already late and we are exhausted by then. I pick up my kindle and try to read some of the “Circle Trilogy” by Ted Dekker, but I am so exhausted that I only am able to read for about 10 minutes before passing out.
So…there you have it. A day in the life of…me.
After that, I