Sunday, May 23, 2010

End of a great season

On Saturday, we sadly said goodbye to my sister Rachel. She left early for Wildwood, New Jersey where she is serving as a student intern-staff on the Campus Crusade summer project there.

This goodbye was particularly sad because this coming fall, Rachel will not be returning to live with us, but will be headed back to New Mexico to start classes at UNM.

Rachel has been with us since we moved here two and a half years ago. She initially planned on taking one semester off, and ended up staying here for 5 semesters. Her time with us here in Ithaca was a total blessing. She was such a servant, helping us here at home, with the kids, cooking, cleaning, running errands. And she was a blessing to our ministry.
While here, she got to plug in and be a real active part in our movement here at Cornell. She got to make a lot of friends, and grow in her faith. She served on our prayer team, and was a real recruiter for summer missions as well as a relational connection to a number of the girls. Two weeks ago, she shared a very moving and powerful piece of her faith testimony that was very encouraging and challenging for us all.
Last week we celebrated her birthday, and went out to Taganough falls for one last hike together. We will miss her so much, and our kids will miss her as well!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

7 Ways to be a Missionary in College

This list is from a post written by Matt Jensen over at I like it, and it flows very well with the stuff we talk about all the time here on campus.

1. Know Non-Christians

It seems like common sense, but too many campus ministries are set up to babysit nice, moralistic, hypocritical youth group kids an create a bubble around them. As Christians, we have to be outwardly focused, as the father sent Jesus, Jesus sends us into the culture. It's so much easier to share the gospel if you belong before you ask people to believe (John 20:21)

2. Think about where you will live

Make your living situation missional: meet new friends and build relationships to see students meet Jesus instead of secluding yourself with people who all act and think the same way you do. Grab a Christian friend and move into the wildest apartment in the neighborhood. Don't conform, but be a movement of change in an area where it's desperately needed.

3. Join the Greek System

there's instant community established by living in the Greek system, and people in sororities and fraternities know everyone. Once you're in, you become really well connected and are able to be on mission in an extreme environment. Yeah, I know: They sin a lot. So does everyone else in college (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

4. Get involved (not just at church)

Join a club related to your major, hobby or interest. Stop saying yes to every church obligation and begin seeking how the Gospel can apply to all areas of life. build relationships by playing intramural sports on a team without all your Christian friends.

5. Start a small group in public

Instead of meeting in a house or apartment, start gathering in a coffee shop or study hall. this will not only allow you to support the local community, but it might also allow somebody else to eavesdrop on a worthwhile conversation

Serve the community

Get involved with a local non-profit or service center. By serving the community alongside non-believers, you're doing the work that Jesus calls us to do by being missional not only to the population you're serving, but also to the people you're serving alongside.

Practice Radical Hospitality

College students aren't known for being the most financially well-off or generous people around. Buying a classmate coffee or lunch is a small sacrifice that can speak volumes and made a huge statement in demonstrating grace. This could also mean driving drunks home from a party and sharing the gospel with them the next day as you take them to ge their car.

You have a few short years to reach people who will scatter throughout the world and live for something or someone. The key to being a missionary on a university campus is believing Jeus is worthy of every student's worship for his glory and our friends' eternal joy!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trip to Haiti 2

My unfortunate tendency would be to rush back into life here and not take much time reflecting or processing our time in Haiti. So, I’ll write just a little bit here for myself and for anyone else who is interested in reading. This is a rather long post. I've tried to keep it interesting, and I've included lots of pictures. I have also bolded certain sentences to keep it easy for you to skim thru it as needed.
(Above) This is Mike, one of the older kids at the orphanage. He liked to hang around with us.
(Below) Adam with Daniel and Kelly Thomas
The orphanage is run by a pastor named Rigo and his family. Rigo is a great guy who loves God and desires that all of the orphans be raised in stable, Jesus loving homes. He explained to us that he is not running an “adoption agency” but that he is a steward who has been called to raise up children in the family of the Lord. This compels him to be very particular about who he connects with, and who he allows to adopt from his orphanage. He’s not advertising on the internet or anything. People are referred personally to him by other people, so the process is pretty organic. This network of people is made of committed Christians. (Below is Rigo's son named Rico.)
Pastor Rigo has a church of course, and they also run a school. Here are the kids in their school uniforms.
Being in Haiti, of course the orphanage itself is pretty “third world,” and isn't necessarily up to first world sanitation standards. Most of the country is in a state of ‘black out’ and thus dependent on generators to provide electricity. While there, we would have electricity for just a few hours each evening. Most people also do not have working plumbing. Most of the water is trucked in, and delivered to various cisterns in the neighborhoods and carried about in 5 gallon buckets. We did not drink that water at the orphanage, so I do not know for sure whether or not it is potable. It was used primarily for cleaning, bathing and washing clothes. In order to shower, we simply drew cups of water from one of the buckets and poured them on our bodies. We did have a toilet, which was a real bonus, but in order to flush it, we’d have to pour water in from a bucket. Drinking water was brought in by the Culligan man, and water was made ready for cooking with the use of Culligan filtration.

But despite all of this, the orphans appeared to be in (relatively) good health, they are fed well, bathed every day, and were all wearing clean diapers and clothes. Looking back, we should have brought a load of diapers with us to leave there. There are about 60 kids at the orphanage, and about 10 or so full time care-takers. After the earthquake, some of Pastor Rigo’s teenage nephews and nieces moved into the house, so they are around to help out as well. But, the place could surely use some more help!

The orphanage is a 3 story place that was relatively unharmed by the quake. On the ground floor there is a small courtyard area, that is partially covered. That is where the children spend most of their time playing and eating etc. It is not a grass courtyard, it’s cement. In fact there is no real outside place for the children to play. It appears that before the quake, there was some room out in front of the house, but now that place is occupied by tents. It was kind of a bummer to see how little room the kids have to play in.

Regarding tents, the whole city is full of them. Immediately after the earthquake of course, nobody wanted to be inside their homes, so everybody was sleeping outside. All of the orphans, and caretakers actually lived outside in tents for over a month! Now, those who have homes are back inside, but many people are still residing in the tents outside, and of course thousands of people don’t even have that! Some of the tents are make-shift tarp and stick dwellings. Others are camping tents that have been donated by people (and companies) in the U.S. The nicest ones we saw were donated by Rotary international. It seems almost everywhere that there is a spare plot of land off the road, there is at least one tent –if not a whole colony of tents.

Guaging by images on the news, I was under the impression that the whole city of Port Au Prince was totally leveled. Most buildings sustained damage, and there are many that completely collapsed, but it seems the majority of buildings are still standing.

While in Haiti, Adam and I spent most of our time at the orphanage with the kids. We spent most of our time with 3 ½ year old Kelly Thomas. He took to Adam right away, and pretty much stuck with us every minute that we were there. He ate with us, played with us, and even slept in the same room as us on the 3rd floor. It seemed better to me to have him stay in his own room with all the same kids he always slept with, but the orphanage workers thought otherwise. Adam and I were concerned about disrupting his life too much, since we would only be there for 3 full days and he won’t be able to come here for many months yet.
One and a half year old Daniel was (understandably) more apprehensive about chillin’ with us. We still got to spend good time with Daniel, but he was more comfortable with the woman who takes care of him. Of course, we hung out with most of the kids there –usually the boys. A couple of the older ones; Mike and Davidson loved to come up to our porch and play. There were somewhere between 7 and 9 years old. We couldn’t communicate too well, but we could throw the football around.

We left the orphanage a few times. We accompanied Rigo’s son on a mission to find a mechanic to repair the diesel generator. It was a lot of driving around for nothing, but we were glad to be able to see the city. “Romping” is a better word to describe what it’s like to drive thru Port Au Prince. Though there are some larger paved streets, most of the town is made up of dusty debris covered roads. While out and about he showed us the Church, and school that they run as well. And just a few weeks ago, they started a small medical clinic and are hoping to grow it into a full grown hospital some day. This pastor Rigo is a busy dude!

On Wednesday, we went to the U.S. embassy so Adam could pick up some paper work and ask one more time if the ‘humanitarian parole’ option was available so that he could bring one or both of the boys home sooner. Though we prayed that some how they would say yes….they said no. So Adam and Tracy will continue to wade thru the regular adoption procedures.

It had been my hope to spend some of all of Wednesday with some fellow Campus Crusade for Christ staff members who were also visiting Port Au Prince. Campus Crusade plans to be working in Haiti for at least the next 5 years. Global Aid Network or GAIN is the humanitarian aid arm of CCC and they currently have a lot going on over there. While standing on the curb in front of the U.S. embassy, I saw our friend Brody go by in a large GAiN marked work truck, and I got to spend about 2 whole minutes with Esperandiue –a Haitian Campus Crusade staff guy. But because both communication and travel around the city was difficult, we didn’t get to do as much as we would have liked on this trip. Our friends Brody and Kurt did get to connect with GAiN the whole time though.

One cool thing though was the fact that Pastor Rigo and Esperandiue had met each other a few weeks prior. GAIN had provided some food for the orphanage children.

Mark, Gregory, Evans, Bernard, Maken, Milo and Kevins, were some of the older guys that we met. They all spoke at least a little bit of English, and in addition to the little kids, these were the guys we spent the most time with. Especially Mark and Evans. Mark would come up and hang out with us a lot, and it was fun to talk with him, hear about his country and learn a little bit of Creole. He is one of pastor Rigo’s nephews, and before the earthquake, he had another place to live, but now, he’s at the orphanage. Evans was not related, and in my understanding, he has basically grown up at the orphanage. He is around 19 now.
We learned that the Haitian college age students, -much like their American counterparts like to waste, I mean spend a lot of time on facebook. Whenever there was electricity, somebody was on facebook! The cool thing about this of course is that it should be fairly easy to keep in touch with these guys!
One other thing that dominated our time in Haiti was ‘hotness’. It was sweltering in Haiti. I don’t actually know how hot, because we didn’t have a thermometer, but we were sweating like pigs. I’ve been to hotter places, and I know that Haiti itself gets hotter in the summer months, but that place is broasting man!