Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lessons in losing control

I had two experiences this week that reminded me how much I desire to be in control and how I need the help of others. If you want to get a lesson in letting go of control, try teaching someone how to drive. I offered to help one of the refugees this week to learn to drive. We took my SUV to the Grace Point parking lot and switched places. I thought he'd had some driving experience in Nepal so I was not too concerned. He just needed to get used to driving an automatic and driving on the right side of the road. To my suprize he was like a young kid behind the wheel for the very first time. With some instruction about the brake and the gas peddle and some practice stopping and starting, I gave the go ahead to drive through the parking lot. Easier said than done. Everything was fine until we made the first turn. On one side of the lane we were turning toward was the end of the parking lot and a grassy ditch and the other a row of cars. Stupid me for having him turn into this lane because as he turned left, he began to press more on the gas which sped the car up. As he over-corrected the steering we turned toward the cars parked on the left. I'm glad we had practiced braking because I was screaming step on the brake! He stopped just in time, only a foot or so shy of one of the parked cars.
Over the next twenty minutes, it was all I could do to not jump out of the car and end the lesson. But I had to make myself trust that he could drive without hitting a car, a light pole or building. I had little to no control except through my vocal instructions. But until I let him drive, he wasn't ever going to learn. No damage done except to my nerves. It was truly a white-knuckle experienc.

Two nights ago, God seemed to further instruct me on the art of humility and dependence on others with another experience in which I ended up having no control. Barbara and I went for a walk in the early evening. We always take the garage door opener and lock the house. When we returned back from the walk, low and behold the remote didn't work. The garage door would not open. We had no keys and no way to get back into the house without breaking the door or window. Of course, I blamed it on Barbara. I let her know that she knew the batteries were low on the remote and she should have taken keys just in case. After checking the doors and windows to see if we had left something unlocked, which we hadn't, we realized we needed help. I wasn't the one to go ask, that was for sure. After all, I again reminded her that it was her fault. So Barbara went next door to humbly ask for help. Perhaps their garage door opener was the same as ours and had a battery. Well that wasn't a solution, but the college age son of the Iranian parents next door offered to take us to Wal Mart to get some batteries. They also had to loan us money to buy a battery because we didn't have any on us.
Our trip was actually very pleasant and we got to know the young man better. He was attending UTSA and studying premed. I got to tell a little about my ministry. After searching all over for the battery in Wal Mart we found the right one and it actually worked. All was back to normal in the Walters' house. Why do we have such a strong desire to always be in control of circumstances? Why is it so hard to ask for help? Why can't I anticipate that the little trials are ways for God to work through me? Life is so much more interesting and richer when we have these kinds of experiences. (Looking back). Help me God to learn to trust you, to know that I really have no control of my life and to not hesitate to rely on you and others. Help me to not always blame others, especially my wife and to take responsibility.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Haiti mission trip

Observations on Haiti mission trip
This being our first trip to Haiti, our first impression as we drive around Port au Prince is that this is a country devoid of your basic needs of decent food and shelter, the worst I've ever seen. There seems to be a total lack of a government structure to help deliver basic services. And there is little evidence that there has been much done since the earthquake to clean up and repair damaged buildings. A country that was in desperate need before the earthquake, is now even further behind. Although we see some teams from mission organizations trying to do some cleanup, for the most part there seems to have been very little cleanup and removal of the rubble left by the earthquake. But life goes on for the millions who call Haiti their home. They seem to be an incredibly resourceful people, making due with what little they have.

Port au Prince is extremely crowded with very poor roads to travel on and incredibly dirty. There are people in need wherever you turn. Any public land within the city of Port au Prince that once was a park or open area is now filled with tents. This nicest areas of Port au Prince would be considered extreme poverty in the United States.

There seemed to be opportunities for ministry all around us. The most impressive mission opportunity we visited was the Nehemiah Project outside of Port au Prince developed by Campus Crusade For Christ with other partnering mission organizations. Near a small community about 15 miles outside of Port au Prince, the mission has a School, Children's Home, clinic and housing for mission teams. They also provide a feeding ministry for the community at large.

We also visited an orphanage near where we stayed. Michael and Heather Popp had made contact about adoption through this orphanage and so we spent one afternoon interacting the with children and talking with the manager of the home. This would be a mission opportunity.

The Beree Baptist Church which hosted us, is a very traditional Baptist church which ministers to the educated and business class in Haiti. Pastor Jeanty preaches in French although he sometimes uses Creole when he feels it is appropriate. Pastor Jeanty sacrificed several days of his schedule to be with us and show us the city. We met with the mayor of Port au Prince and got to pray for him and visited the Baptist Seminary.

We also visited a hospital which was started by Pastor Jeanty's aunt. It was a nice, clean facility in port au Prince. We were surpassed to see so few beds occupied. There were only a handful of patients. We were told that most Haitians do not go to the hospital because they can not afford it.

One day was spent working with children at the Christian Academy. About 90 children came, either members of Beree Baptist or those who attend the Academy. We played games, did crafts and shared the Gospel with them.
While we were working with the children three of our team members lead a one day conference on Emergency medical training and medical care for amputees and the physically handicapped.

Any future partnership with Beree would be in either Prison ministry or conferences (medical or ministry related). The pastor and volunteers from the church visit the women's prison on Monday and Wednesday of each week .

The Walls International Guest House was a convenient place to stay. It was located near the church and orphanage. It hosted a lot of mission teams and was clean with a good breakfast and decent dinner included in the price. The downside is the lack of bathroom facilities. Our team of 12 shared two bathrooms and others in the house were using our bathroom also.

The one downside of doing missions in Haiti is the cost. Considering this is a third world country, the cost of food and services seem to be extremely high. Food costs are double what they are in the United States. We had to pay for our lunches each day and they were about $10 a person for meals that the church provided. We did have sandwiches one day at the seminary which were about $5 a person. Gasoline prices are incredibly high so the cost of transportation during your visit will be about double what it is in other third world countries.

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