A thankful heart

As always I would like to say thank you. The support I have gotten from each of you keeping up with this trip has been overwhelming. I’m so thankful to be surrounded by so many people who support our vision as a church.

I thank God yesterday wasn’t as smooth as my team would have liked. For our sake, God stretched us. I feel as though each moment that occurred yesterday day taught me to truly be still. No matter how fast pace life can be at times, its vital for us that we take a deep breath and remember, its truly not about us. I leanred two years ago when challenged by Daniel Cazanev that its not about me, nothing ever is. We fool ourselves into this great big idea that life is about us, but in all true reality, this shows our selfishness. Going into today, I knew I could overcome any situation with being still, for the simplest fact that I overcame yesterday.

This morning was our last in Little Africa. We passed out the last of the water filters for this specific area of Little Africa. During our time our team was humbled to see the delegation of the leaders we are partnered with, as well as the desire of the other Haitians to help pass put filters to their own people. My favorite part about this process was handing out a filter to the voodoo temple. Seeing that I have the opportunity to be a part of a church that just desires to be Christ to each and every person we come in contact with blew me away. As we finished up, we waited in the church for the kids to get out of class. While we waited, Robb presented the gospel in such an amazing way to a congregation of people. They were captivated by every word he said,  fully engaged in conversation, many prayed to receive Christ. Before we know it, Robb Billue is going to be pastor Robb! 
Finally when the kids were out of class, they all came in the church. April taught the students about the creation story and led us in learning children’s songs together. It was incredible to see her where her passion is, with children. Each student was so engaged by who God was and what He did as April told each of them. As this afternoon progressed we were able to feed the community in an orderly fashion. Children ate first, adults followed after the children were completely finished with their meals. As I sat in the truck passing put food with other leaders from Haiti, as well as Kim and Laura, my heart becamed filled with the thought of this, “Although we may not be solving world hunger, we are solving hunger for this specific community on this day. Tonight, they will not go to bed hungry.” In missions I have learned through Michael Wahl that missions isn’t about doing everything that needs to be done, but doing what you can with resources you have access to. Missions has become so much more than a week trip to a country, missions has become a partnership with missionaries on the field and helping their vision come alive with o ur resources. Missions is a calling, for everyone as a believer in Jesus Christ. Matthew 28. And when I say missions, I don’t always mean over seas. Missions is being a disciple od llf Christ, dying to yourself for the hope that someone may come to know Christ. Missions is hard and rewarding when done correctly. Tonight I heard something for the very first time from someone I met, “People mistake being a vacationary for a missionary. A vacationary goes to a country for a week and builds half a church, goes home and rejoices about what they did. What they fail to realize is they leave the people of that country to finish that building with no  resources or money.” One thing I learned was I never want to be part of a trip that cannot fulfill what they started because lack of leadership, delegation, and motivation to get it done. I’m thankful to be a part of something greater than me, because as I have said once, its not about me. I’m thankful for the leadership our lead pastor Greg Towler gives our staff members, like Michael Wahl, who can carry out a vision through utilization of resources, delegation, and other great leaders.

As we finished serving the community, we were waiting to load up the bus as we said our “see you soon” to our friends in Little Africa. During this time I was drawn to Lisa Yancey and Kim Tidwell who were leading one of our new friends, Jedidia, in learning one of the songs April taught the students. (Its called deep and wide.) During this time, he was so determined to learn the song and exactly what the words were, so that he could take it back to his community and teach the children. Seeing the patience and joy Lisa and Kim had in teaching him filled my heart with the upmost happiness. Seeing the image of Christ shine through them was overwhelming. I’m so happy to serve with these women of God. As we drove away, we stopped one last time in some land and Robb Billue anointed Jedidia. Robb felt passionately about letting Jedidia that God had something special for him. We all could sense that. The moment Robb started to pray for Jedidia, Jedidia threw his hands in the air, showing his submission to God and desire to follow wherever God called him. We were all touched by our friendd obedience. For we know the Lord has plans far above and beyond anything we could fathom.
Finally we were heading to the metal mart. This was my first time going. The metal mart is just a market place of nothing of metal shops with people creating different art. I bought some pretty awesome things! During our time there, it was just wonderful to be shopping around with everyone. After about 40 minutes, we headed back home for dinner.
When I got off the bus, our two translators stopped me to ask when I was coming back. As we discussed future plans, they expressed to me that they are going to allow me to do some children’s ministry next time. I was taken back. I haven’t ever exactly considered doing children’s ministry. I know I’m great with kids because of my passion for that age, but its never connected. So, to say the least, I’m thrilled to see what God does when I return to thr beautiful country of Haiti.

One last thing. Where we are staying, there is an orphanage on the same land. The orphanage is maybe 50 yards away. Each night they have devotion before bed, which consists of children’s worship songs and a mini lesson from a man who helps run the orphanage. Each night many children fall asleep outside until they are carried in by a nany, which is their mother figure.  Tonight I held a child and rocked him to sleep. He is 9 years old and the size of my 6 year old sister. With sadness in my heart, I rocked him until I had to go put him in bed. They recently found him in the mountains, malnourished and orphaned. As sad as I was to hear his story, I had to rejoice and be thankful for a place like New Life that is rescuing children and keeping them safe from starvation and even death. So I thank God I’m here today, not sad, but thankful and excited to see what He does and how I get to be used in his plan of restoration for many children like the little boy I held tonight.

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Morning meeting
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Johnny passed out before our day started
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April and Robb get ting ready to teach the children
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April bringing the word to these students!
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Momma Mary and Kim preparing the food
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Lisa and Kim in thr background, this is when they were teaching Jedidia Deep and Wide
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This sweet little girl wouldn’t let Brian go
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Jedidia being anointed today by Robb
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Our team! Minus Johnny
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Medal mart shopping!
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Laura, me, Michael and our new friend who helped pass out some food.
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New bracelets from the mart
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Dinner down at the orphanage
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The sweet 9 year old who has forever touched the depths of my heart.

Thank you for being a part of what Crossroads has the opportunity to do because of the doors that God is opening. As always, this trip if fully about Him. To God be the glory

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Lesson learned..

As I spent time with the Lord I kept asking for Him to show me something new today, to give me a deeper understanding of being His child, and by God, He freaking showed me. Haha, so if you ever pray for God to do something in your heart..be prepared. I’m having a horrible time putting my words together tonight, so please be understanding!

As we started off this morning, we had expectations that today would blow yesterday out of the water. And as we all know, if you’re always on the mountain top experience, you can never appreciate the accomplishment of surviving the depths of the valley. For me personally, today was tough because the beginning of our morning didn’t go smoothly as any other morning.

We handed about 80 filters out today, stopping occasionally to explain the process of how to effectively use the filters. Because we are partnered with a team that lives here, they agreed to have leaders of each community checking weekly and helping with the filters if some people find themselves having trouble. Frustration arose because our team, made of incredible and strong leaders, all had an idea of how things should have been, but as Proverbs 16:9 states, “in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” What I and some of my team failed to realize was as we were passing out filters to homes according to “plan” God was working so powerfully and mightily in a mans’ heart at the front of the community.
As I became overwhelmed in selfishness and frustration, my teammate Geno stopped me and taught me a quick lesson on patience with others. I had an idea of things that should have been done more “effectively.” But I also was not the one In charge. Geno let me, lovingly, know that God had this & I ultimately had to submit to God’s plans, not my own.
As time continued, Geno, Lisa, Janie, and myself continued to pass out filters until we no longer had any to give. When we returned to the bus, we learned that a voodoo priest (who was yelling when we arrived with much anger) was talking with Michael, Beth, and the pastor we work with from Haiti. In the midst of this Laura Billue realized we hadn’t prayed, so our team stopped and we surrendered  the remainder of the day to God and His will. This moment changed everything.
Bondage was broken, unity was brought, and joy filled our hearts. As our team went onward to continue passing out water filters, we had no idea that God was about to change the day.
About an hour later, we came back to the bus & Beth informed our team on the events that occurred with the voodoo priest. She explained he was really upset we were there because a lot of missionaries promise things, but never return to fulfill them. After Pastor Lionel spoke with him explaining we have now fulfilled our promise twice, the voodoo priest accepted the fact we were different. Through all of this, he dropped to his knees and completely surrendered his life to God. He said he couldn’t make the decision right because he had to pass down the title of being the voodoo priest, but when we returned tomorrow he would make that decision and commit to Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. This was amazing for all of us!
I don’t exactly have words, so I’m finishing this blog in pictures!
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The Billue’s are so cute! Its truly been a joy to have them here and getting to know them more.
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This guy climbed up a coconut tree to give us some coconuts!
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Water source for someone before the filters could provide clean water
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As you can see from the next few photos, we all enjoyed the coconut water, especially Geno
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Heather shared the gospel with this woman, it was incredible seeing the joy that came from this extension of hope
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Michael prayed with an older woman of a community that was so thankful we had come. This moment was when our translator told us,”I don’t know how you ended up here, but this is why God sent you.” The picture below is the only source of water this community had. Because the source was so filthy, multiple people have died of cholera and dysentery. Thanks to filter of hope, they now have clean water.
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And as we came back to meet the rest of the team, we found April in her element teaching children songs!
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Kim and her baby!
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Such a cute moment to see our team being so welcomed by the children
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Lisa and April being walked by children.
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All in all, today was amazing. I have never been so stumped on how to descibe a day. God was evident through difficult moments and we were all reminded that He is the ultimate planner of our day. Our team has been bonding and growing to know each other much deeper. I’m so thankful to be here.

No confidence in flesh.

Day 3.
Philippines 3:7-14 (NIV)
“But whatever were gains to me now I consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake  I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Ahhhh, insert synonyms of being in complete awe of God here! I am so thankful to serve the God I do, who shows me how life is found in the gospel daily! I want to shout, but you wouldn’t hear it on the other end of the screen, so those of you who know me well..imagine my happy dance and the sounds of excitement, facial expressions, and lots of hand motions showing you how much this trip is opening my eyes to the beautiful God we serve!
This post is lengthy, so if you’re here for photo’s, they are posted below. However, I encourage you to be encouraged through what God is doing here by reading the next few paragraphs..

As I stated yesterday, we went into Little Africa today to gift hope through the ability to provide water filters. As we gathered with the community to explain what we were doing, there was much uncertainty that fell upon the people surrounding. As a country, much less a community who has no access to clean water, they were skeptical, but honestly. .I would have been too. After Michael’s demonstration of the installation process, he drank a glass of water from the filthy water bucket, after it was filtered. The people cheered and clapped, for we all knew this moment was ground breaking. Thanks to everyone who purchased a water filter for Project 300, we were able to install water filters for each home in the community today, which was well over 300 filters.
Quick insert, project 300 was a vision Michael Whal had. When he discovered we, as a church, could partner with Filter of Hope to provide clean water, he jumped on board and moved forward. Back in October we launched this ministry with the goal of selling 300 filters by December. Well, God showed up & the same Sunday we launched we had over 400 filters sold. The door was opened and we moved forward with an unplanned & unexpected trip to Haiti. Originally the trip was supposed to be in spring, which there still will be. However, if we have filters provided, we wanted to waste as little time as possible and begin getting into the communities. &&& to add on this, crossroads now has an established trust and bond with little Africa because we installed water wells/pumps and have now returned to give clean water.
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We split into a few different groups so that we could visit each home, donating water buckets and filter kits, walking through the process with them on how to connect the filters, and presenting the gospel if the person was interested. The second home my team, (Michael Whal, Johnny Taylor, and Kim Tidwell), went to visit is a highlight of my day, maybe even my trip so far. An order gentleman invited us into his little hut, and before we were all in, he dropped to his knees saying he desired to know the God we served. He desired to be a believer of Jesus Christ. As we prayed with this man, mt heart was overwhelmed with the thought that although we spoke different languages, I now had a new brother in Christ that will one day stand in the throne room of God in complete awe of who God is, because of the decision he made today.
As we continued our journey through different huts, my team became completely inspired by what God was allowing us to do here in Haiti.
As our team met up from distribution, we soon had a crowd of children we were playing with. As I chased kids around, I was reminded of the universal gift of love. No language or poverty could ever create any barrier too great to extend love. I received so much love, as well as my whole team, from a joyful group of children.
As the time passed we found ourselves standing in front of the village with a group of about 30 people and our teammate Robb Billue presenting the gospel. And by the holy spirit guiding Rob in confidence, almost every person standing there accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior today. I’m, once again, overwhelmed by what God is doing and how He Is using us out here.
The rest of the day was filled with laughter, community, astonishment at God’s beautiful nature, a few head bumps on our tap tap truck, and an incredible dinner, followed by chocolate chip cookies.(Courtney Thomas, if you’re reading this..I was thinking of you & I cannot wait to cook some Tollhouse when I get home!)
So, overall today..I saw what a beautiful God we serve. And just as you date your spouse to keep the love alive, you should spend time with your father who yearns for you to know Him.
This trip isn’t about me or my team. Its not even about the water filters. This trip is about seeing the glory of God shine through such a broken and poverty struck country. But don’t be fooled, He is here. Jesus is evident from the moment I wake up, to the moment I fall asleep, not only here, but also there, as you sit behind a screen scrolling to my next sentence. Spend intimate moments with our awesome God tonight as you have the few quite hours of night or early morning hours. & just as Paul spoke in Philippines 3, its all for the glory of God.

Until tomorrow, here is a glimpse of today, captured behind my lense.

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Water pump provided by crossroads!
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As we started putting project 300 on the ground today, I found a Haitian guy wearing the same shirt!
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Restrooms!
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Water wells installed within the past few months
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The second house man who dropped to his knees in awe of God
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Thanks for catching up with us!

Haiti: Day 2.

As I begin to write tonight I would like to thank you for the following: your prayers for strength and your encouragement. I’m so overwhelmed by the love I feel and have felt today, so again I say thank you.

Today was our first full day and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it. This morning we went to an orphanage that New Life (the orphanage we are staying at) used to be partnered with. As we arrived we found ourselves being directed to enter the church service many of the children from the orphanage were attending. As we entered there were these girls singing so beautifully in Creole and I soon found myself in complete awe of their beautiful unity. I could feel God’s presence in the small room/building/class room were were attending service in.
Not long after we all found ourselves adventuring around the orphanage, learning the building. (Photos are posted below.) As heart breaking as this was, I was reminded that these children all had somewhere to sleep, and they have each other. There are so many children here dying of starvation because their parents don’t have the funds to provide. Or some have Daniels story, which was a little boy April held today. A few days ago the orphanage heard a noise happening in a trash can out of their gate-which they discovered to be a baby that was abandoned by a parent who didn’t have a way to provide for this 6 day old baby. Luckily, Daniel was found, but the unfortunate thing is there are many children like this left undiscovered.
Afterwards we came back to New Life for a quick lunch before the big concert tonight a community put on for us because 4 of our teammates are celebrating thier birthdays on this trip. During these few hours we had to relax I spent time with my mentor Michael Wahl, Geno, and Johnny Taylor (the birthday boy!!) Discussing visions of what we see happening between now and summer of 2015. Let me tell you, if you are a part of Crossroads, you dont want to miss out on what is coming up. As we continue to prepare for these transitions and progressions in our partnership continue to pray for God’s will to prevail and not our own.
After 3 we headed off to Pastor Lionel’s house for a big dinner and then to the church he pastor’s for a concert. During this time, we gave a motorcycle away to a pastor we are partnered with who will be helping us with the upkeep on the water filters while we aren’t here!
It was incredible being around children and young teens who sang familiar songs and utilized so many instruments. From the clarinet, to the trombone, to drums, and an electric guitar we heard it all tonight. We were so welcomed by the people and it was an amazing feeling to have. I sat beside a beautiful little 9 girl who held my hand throughout almost the whole service and I’d be lying if I wrote that I didn’t want to leave that moment with her tonight.
I’m just having so many walls torn down here already. God truly is an amazing God, who truly has no boundaries. You may question how I could say that after being around so much poverty, so I’ll tell you its strictly Him. He is most glorified when we are not only satisfied in Him, but also when we love those in need around us. Not only in Haiti or Nicaragua, but also in our own class or work place.

I’m loving every moment while I’m here and cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow. So far, tomorrow is our day to go to Lil Africa and begin to explain and distribute water filters..

Until then, pray for us!

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The orphanage we went to visit today
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The kitchen for the orphanage
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Baby Daniel that was found in the trash can & 6 years old with April
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Boys bedroom
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Michael explaining hoe to clean the water filter we gave the orphanage
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BIRTHDAY GUY!!! & a sweet girl
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Janie & I!
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Look out of the tap tap
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Dinner!
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Giving away a motorcycle to a local pastor to continue his ministry today.
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He was pretty happy!
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The sweet little girl I sat beside
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Johnny and Geno!

Haiti.

We have arrived safely and have settled in just fine. My heart has been overwhelmed already by poverty. No one can tell you how to prepare to see orphaned children, disabled infants, or even nanys who are doing the job of mothers and fathers for those 120 children who are orphaned. I’m incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be here, but as I’m here I can’t help but to continue asking why? Not in a bitter or abrasive way, but just why?

And then..tonight as my thoughts wandered off into the endless possibilities, I found myself attending a service with all of these orphaned children, who have been forgotten by the person who gave birth to them, but now have been rescued by the missionaries we are partnered with. As I sat in a service with children began singing songs of praise so loudly, my heart filled with joy and my eyes with tears. I know God is going to do something this week in my heart as we prepare to give out over 500 water filters, but I can’t help but to keep asking why I, of all people, have the opportunity to help. And then I simply remember Isaiahs heart and desire to go, and suddenly, I’m taken back by this desire to die to myself each moment and serve my brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say tonight, our team is just completely exhausted from lack of sleep. Keep updated to see how God uses us tomorrow and there will be a TON of pictures!
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I know these photo’s aren’t much. But today I was too overwhelmed to take pictures.
Thank you all for your support and love!!