Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cry of Alexa

Miracles still happen!!!  Today, we were in the clinic when Alexa and her family walked in.  We were hoping not to see her, because we wanted her to go to the hospital yesterday.  The family didn't have the means to get there, so they went to a doctor that was closer to their home. The doctor tried to find a vein that he could get an IV in.  As the family tells me, he turned to walk out of the room telling them he couldn't find a place to put an IV but he would be back soon.  Her godmother and cousin told me they sat in the room with her as the doctor walked out.  When he left, Alexa, the little girl we had just seen hours before that could barely grimace in pain and talked very little, raised her hands and began to sing a hymn.  According to the family, what they witnessed next is the miracle.  The doctor returned to the room, looked at Alexa, and said he saw a vein in her neck he thought he could put an IV in.  It was successful. Just minutes before, he was certain he could. BUT GOD!!! I honestly believe this was because so many of you were praying for her!!!!

This little girl cried out to her Creator, and he provided.

When she returned today, she had much more strength. We occasionally saw her eyes, and she spoke very clearly to us.  As I laid her down, and covered her wounds with warm cloths, she said to me "I need to pee pee."  That was the happiest I've ever been to hear a kid say those words.  She later told me, "raise me up." She actually told us that several times! She also told us she was ready to leave and she wanted to go to her house.  She put up a slight fight today.

When her family was telling me this story, she sang the song for us!  When we were all done, she asked us for a sucker. I asked her what color she thought she wanted and she immediately responded "RED."

Little Alexa is not out of the woods yet. Please continue to pray for her.  It's very important that we and her family keep her hydrated over the next several weeks.  It doesn't take long for someone burned this severely, to dehydrate.  However, we will praise the Lord for the life that we saw in her today, and pray for him to continue to intervene and heal this child.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, December 8, 2014

A New Brother

Last week, I was joking around with  one of our Gran Moun (elderly) in our feeding program.  I tease them each week on who's misbehaving.  It's an ongoing joke between all of us but it brings lots of laughs in the clinic as they wait for their weekly medications.  Last week, one of the men that I tease the most was raging mad.  He was screaming at a young lady that was there and threatening her.  When I confronted him, I asked why he was so mad.  He said she was being disrespectful to him but that she was also not respecting the clinic and the things that we had done for her family.

He told her that he wasn't going to fight her in the clinic because he had respect for us, but he would find her in the village.  Once I had him calmed down and laughing again, I asked him if he knew what her problem was.  He said yes, "she doesn't have respect."  I went on to explain to him that her real problem was her heart.  She didn't respect us because she didn't know Jesus.  I told him we needed to pray for her to become a Christian, not to threaten her.  I went on to say that if we were Christians, we would not be threatening her anyways.  I asked if he was a Christian.  He said "not yet."  When I asked him what he was waiting on, he told me he didn't have a Bible.  I shared with him for a while and promised I would try to find a Kreyol Bible.  He told me he would find me at church on Sunday.

I sent a good friend of mine with money to the market to buy a Bible.  When he brought it back, Sharron volunteered to go through and highlight some Scriptures from a pamphlet that we have.  He didn't come to church, but he came for food and medicine today.  I asked him where he was, and he said he went to another place but not church.  Upon further investigation, I found out that he had gone to a place where Voodoo is practiced.  It's a very dark place and well known for Voodoo.  I asked him to come back to the other room so Sharron and I could talk with him.  Sharron walked him through the Scriptures, explaining each verse, and asking him to repeat what they meant.  He listened and engaged very well.  At the end, we asked if he wanted to pray to accept Christ.  He said yes and immediately dropped to his knees.  WOW!!!!

After he prayed we explained that he couldn't practice Voodoo and Christianity together.  That if this was the life he wanted, he had to walk in the Lord.  He agreed to do so.  I asked him if he knew why I was so happy, and he said "because I prayed to accept the Savior."  I agreed with him.  As he left the clinic, I yelled out the door, "Why are you smiling?"  He responded, "because I have Jesus in my heart!!!!"  We are working on getting him connected with a Haitian pastor to disciple him but that was a great start to a CRAZY Monday.

I praise the Lord for years of Judy and Sheryl showing him the love of Christ;  I praise the Lord for a relationship with this man that would open the door for such conversations, and I praise the Lord for Sharron being able to speak the language I haven't mastered so eloquently to lead him to the Lord.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's Our Turn

We have been able to take several teams into the homes of our elderly individuals that we give food to on Monday mornings.  We have a feeding program for them and some are home bound and send family to pick up food.  This has truly been a blessing.  It is pure joy to see the faces of the individuals as they invite us into their homes.  For the most part, Haiti cares for the elderly much better than people in the US.  There are no nursing homes or in home care for these individuals.  They are fully at the mercies of God and their family and close friends.  I have been in the homes of a man that rents one room and lives alone, a woman that is blessed to live with family, and a woman that is 104, her daughter, granddaughter, the daughter-in-law of her daughter, and 3 great grandchildren also lives in the house.  The men have either died or run off to be with other women.  All of them so happy to just have someone come visit, talk, sing, and pray with them.

My heart is heavy for them because they have so little yet they have so much, but it breaks for the elderly in the US too.  I long for the next time I sit with my Granny and hold her hand.  The next time I can feed her ice cream and reflect on the solid foundation her, Pa, and Grandma Dean laid out before me and the faith that each of them had.  Granny can't talk, she sleeps most of the time, and she doesn't know who I am. But I know who she is.  So many people say they don't want to remember the elderly in their current state or the person doesn't know if we are there or not.  Each of these may be true, but when Granny opens her eyes and communicates with a smile, I know she knows someone is there and someone cares.

Please don't forget the widowed and elderly.  One day we will be that person and I pray that no one thinks these things about us and leaves us abandoned.  I encourage each of you to fight the battle of age with your family and friends.  Stay by their sides, and visit someone that needs love.  They've done so much for each of us, they have so much to teach us (even if it isn't with words), and now it's our turn to love on them.

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Balaam, Coaching, Teachability, and Gentleness

I never envisioned sitting in Haiti, working through a Beth Moore Bible study on gentleness, and it reminding me of sports and coaching.  However, this one did.  Teachability is crucial for gentleness.  James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself.  Do what it says.”  Athletes do this all the time.  Often as an athlete we can get caught up in giving an ear to the coach but then going on the court or field and doing what we want.  We can hear the coach but don’t do what is asked of us.  Christians are not just people that say they believe in God or go to church.  A true believer confesses their sins, hears the Lord’s word, and tries their best to do what it says.  We will fail along the way but there is redemption.  We will lose games along the way but have a much better chance of winning when we are all on the same page and that’s the coach’s page.
Our willingness to be teachable relies heavily on our teachers or coaches.  When there is a level of respect for that person we accept their ways but if we don’t respect them we do not heed to their instructions.  I have been fortunate enough to have several great coaches in my life.  Coaches on athletic teams and life coaches/teachers have been instrumental in making me who I am.  My Christian faith strengthens when I respect and fear the Lord.  Without those, we cannot implement the teachings and instructions.

In this study, we read the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22.  To recap, Balaam basically wanted to do his own thing.  God finally tells him to go ahead do what you think is best.  I remember when coaches would throw up their hands and sit down on the bench, they were clearly saying, you are going to do it your way, no matter what I say, so see how that works out for you.  More often than not, the lead we had would shrink or the deficit we had would grow.  At which point, a timeout would be called; we would circle up around the coach and then try to get back on the same page.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  Balaam had to be instructed on three different occasions.  Three times he went his own direction and something was placed in front of the donkey to stop him.  Three times he beat the donkey when it stopped and then God opened the mouth of the donkey to speak to Balaam. 

God opposed Balaam because his path was a reckless one.  God had grievances with Balaam because he loved to do his own thing.  The Bible tells us that if Balaam would have continued his way that Balaam would have been killed.  As an athlete, when one chooses to do their own thing, they kill the team.  Balaam admitted his wrong doing and God allowed him to continue on his journey but he could only speak the words God gave him.  Coaches, teachers, bosses do this all the time.  They continue to give us playing time as long as we realize our ways are not their ways and we do as they instruct.  God does that with each of us too.  There is forgiveness if we admit out wrong doings and decide to walk in his way and not our own. 

God’s ways often seem difficult or harsh but then we have to realize that Christ was the hand-picked king.  Coach’s way may not always seem like the right way, but he/she has been chosen to lead and instruct.  Proverbs 13:13 says “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.” 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Burning as Discipline

There is no doubt I am a firm believer in discipline one's children.  I was spanked as a child (not often but a few times) and I am relatively normal.  It did nothing to me physiologically.  However, abuse is a whole other story.  I am also in favor of abusing those who abuse children.

One morning a beautiful little girl was brought in by a neighbor.  She said that she heard the girl screaming and ran to check on her.  Upon arriving, she could see the girl was badly burned.  She had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on both hands.  She couldn't grip anything, hold anything, and seemed very sad...  The story we received from the neighbor was that the 5 year old girl was hungry and took a bite of fish her mother told her she couldn't have.  In her anger, the mother submerged her hands into boiling oil and held them there.  We were able to build a relationship with her, though she didn't talk much.  She would answer ever question with "Yes."  Eventually we would ask, "Who's beautiful, who's intelligent, who do we all love so much?"  She would answer them all with a smile and "Me."

One day she entered and had a small burn on her arm.  She told us her brother lit a match and placed it on her arm.  She was conditioned not to cry.  She would sit calmly and grimace a few times, though we knew she was in excruciating pain.  She had learned that crying would only bring more pain or that it didn't matter if she cried, no one cared.  She told us one day that her Mom didn't love her.  That was hard to stomach.  She's certainly not the first abused kid I have ever seen but she was the most aware of what was going on and that her parents didn't care.

The neighbor brought her every other day so we could treat the hands.  We would shower her with love and affection and then we would give her water and something to eat EVERY morning.  She told me every day she hadn't eaten.

It's now been 2 weeks since she was released but Sheryl happened to see her in the village shortly after her release.  She came running to her and hugged on her.  Sheryl was also able to speak with her father and explain how she needed to be cared for, loved, and provided for.  That this little girl was a gift from God.

She was one happy girl with all of her gifts on her last day of treatment.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eternal Destination

The same week as the electrocuted elderly woman, we showed the Hope film in a nearby village.  When the film was over and the invitation was given, there was a young teenage girl and her friend sitting beside me.  They were teasing each other about not being converted.  I immediately asked them if they were and both said not yet.  I began a conversation during the invitation and the one that was more open to the discussion told me she couldn't get converted because she didn't go to this church.  She went on to tell me her mother wasn't a Christian and if she became one she would be spanked (possibly beaten) for her decision.  I asked her if she would like me to walk with her to talk to the man leading the invitation and she said, not in front of all these people.  After some persuading she decided I could have my Haitian friend come back to the back and talk with her.

When the service was over, I had him come share with her.  Others gathered to listen as he spoke with these young people.  He was able to eventually lead 4 people to make decisions for Christ.  THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT.  Praise the Lord I have 3 new sisters in the faith and one brother.  All four were probably between the ages of 12-22.

My heart still breaks for the elderly woman, that was electrocuted, and didn't want to be converted, but I rejoice with these 4.

Late Night Arrival

I've had a couple weeks to reflect on a couple events.  It was 10:30 one night and the dogs were going crazy.  I looked outside and could tell they were barking at the gate about 100 yards away.  I turned out the lights and tried to watch with them.  I had been looking for about 3 minutes when 2 men ran across the field.  I immediately contacted the closest missionary family to me, to see if they were aware.  While the phone was ringing her husband shot across the field on his Polaris.  

I was finally able to reach his wife and she said there was some commotion at the gate and that she had seen our nurse (Sheryl) take off that direction.  I knew immediately we had an emergency burn.  The two men, were in fact workers of ours that had run for the gate when they heard all the noise.  I got dressed and headed to the clinic.  Upon entering there were probably 15 people in the lobby of the clinic and someone moaning in the exam room.  I entered to find Sheryl and one of our team members trying to get an IV in an elderly woman.  Nicky was helping get things set up too.  I put on gloves and became the person talking with the patient, trying to keep her calm, and holding her burned arm, with the IV.  She had been electrocuted at a well, and had many exit wounds.  She was burned on both legs, her stomach, both arms, and the back of her head.

It was serious.  She told me she was 68.  She was able to answer most questions but was also somewhat disoriented occasionally.  The back of her head was mush and we knew there was some head trauma too.  In talking with her to keep her alert, I asked if she was converted.  She said not yet.  I began to share with her.  I wish this story ended with her accepting the Lord, but unfortunately it doesn't.  We rushed to get her wounds dressed so we could send them to a hospital.  She was going into shock and she needed more than we could provide.  She said she didn't want to pray to accept Jesus but we prayed with everyone and sent her on her way.  Apart from a miracle she wasn't going to make it, and I knew when she left here, unless she prayed on the way there, she was going to die without a relationship with Christ.  It's a sad reality.

I finally got back to the house around 12:30 AM.  As I laid there in my bed, I was reminded of my friend Tony, that was recently burned by electrocution.  He fought hard for a month and I have a little better understanding, what he went through.  My heart broke for his family and I prayed for extra comfort that night for Tony's family and friends.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Smiles and Trials (update on Miley)

This little guy has been a buddy for me.  When he first arrived he was burned badly down his left leg and his whole midsection.  He came malnourished, feverish, and terrified.  He would cry and scream that we were making his burn worse.  Of course, one would think that when he came in with a black leg and left with a red and white one.  We would have to continue to explain to his grandmother what she needed to do for him.  He has been coming for over a month, and only has one little spot left.  

His mother has come once, and couldn't remember his name.  He is full of love and has a grandmother that loves him and does everything she can for him.  Today, we treated him for Malaria.  He has all of the typical symptoms and has been battling nightly fevers for 2 weeks.  Pray with us that he will start feeling better as we prepare to release him from burn care. His smiles have turned to exhaustion and sadness from his illness.

Unfortunately, Miley's skin grafts didn't take.  We tried them two different times, but God has different plans for this little angel.  It's been tough on her, her family, and the GO staff because we were all hopeful that we would not have to go back to scrubbing her.  Her screaming is more intense now than ever before and caring for her is extremely difficult but she really is a sweet little girl and such joy.  She loves to show off her uniform when she is done and gets dressed, because she has returned to school after 5 months and thoroughly enjoys that.  I have forced my headband love upon her and she has embraced it well.  She knows she is loved by everyone around.  Please keep praying for Miley too.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Huge Week

Well,the week before last was a whirlwind but what an incredible week.  September 20th became a day I had prayed for since 2001.  Mom first came to Haiti in 2000 and then I came with her the following year.  For years we have been coming to Haiti and desired to have Jim, my step-father, join us.  It's difficult with his work and the timing of our trips, but this year, God provided a great opportunity.  It had been 9 months since I had seen him and to spend a week here in Haiti with Mom, Jim, and the rest of the WMBC team was such a joy.  It was a busy hot week filled with lots of things and a full schedule but I was so refreshed and blessed having them here.  We were able to show them a lot of Haiti being my family and having a small team.  Jim and Lisa preformed in church singing and playing guitar, the men worked on the tractor and in the shop building most of the week, we visited the village, Mom and the ladies had her annual boutique day, which is a time for our female employees to come and pick out many items they like, we had a reception for a young couple, team members were able to meet sponsored kids, and the team did a special night for all the missionary couples.  They were able to have a  relatively quiet dinner with their spouse and then the team showered them with special treats and gifts for each couple.  What a blessing!!!!

At the end of the week, I flew home to surprise my family for my younger sister's wedding.  My wonderful friend Brandy and her 3 boys picked me up in Nashville and drove me all the way to the church were my sister and the families were having the rehearsal dinner.  I think my siblings were excited, my niece and nephews were confused (because they thought I wasn't going to make it home until Christmas), and my Dad was trying to figure it all out.  Afterwards, I went home and surprised my step-mom and another nephew.  We continued surprising family and friends.  Seeing everyone's face was wonderful, and I even found time to watch the hometown football team defeat a big rival, that they had lost to 12 years in a row.  All of this was made possible because I had an airline voucher that had to be used within the year.  Praise God for his provisions!!!!
This is Dad and I nervous that Ashle is about to get married!!!

My sister's wedding was beautiful and I gained an incredible brother-in-law and new niece.  I am so proud of her because of the man she has chosen to marry and spend the rest of her life with.  I was also able to pay my Granny, some aunts, uncles, and cousins visits all before heading to Nashville to overnight with one of my college roommates, who generously took me to the airport at 4:15 in the morning.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Big Day for Miley (one graphic photo at the bottom)

Well, today was a great day.  Miley has struggled for months with a severe 3rd degree burn.  Many of you have come and watched the battle 3 times a week for the last 3 months with us.  She was burned in April and after being turned down for surgery at several places, the Lord sent her and her family to us.  Day in and day out we hold her down as she relentlessly screams for us to let go.  We have been kicked, slapped, and even bitten, as we have tried to help in any way that we could.  It hasn't been easy on her, Momma, or even us. 

Our greatest joy was seeing her dress back in her uniform this week.  She missed the 2nd half of her 2nd semester last year of school and she was more than ready to return this year.  She proudly put on her uniform, grabbed her backpack and lunch box and strutted out of the clinic.  However, today was an even more special day.

Today, an American surgeon came and preformed a skin graft, free of charge for her.  Lord willing, we will never have to soak her or scrub her again.  From this point on, we will monitor it and lightly wash it but nothing like we have been used to. Going to the clinic today she was scared, hungry, and thirsty.  She clung to her father (her favorite person).  Papa and Momma struggled with the concept. 

When it came time to take her back, she held on to my hand and Papa's hand.  We walked into pre-op/recovery and she began to cry.  We medicated her and she started to relax but not enough for the IV.  We held her down and she began to get sleepy.  As she drifted off, the anesthesiologist picked her up and I held her IV bag as we started down the hall.  We entered the operating room and laid her down.  They began to numb the area and she began screaming at everyone to let go and that it hurt.  Surprised the doctor asked if she fought like this every day.  He seemed surprised when I told him I thought she was being very calm.  I mean, only 2 people were holding her down and we usually need 4.  He added another dose and she began to fall asleep.  After about 20 minutes the surgeon was finished. 

As the surgeon began taking his gloves off, Miley's mom handed me her purse and went and wrapped her arms around the surgeon, kissing him and telling him thank you.  Tears began to flow from my face as I watched her gratitude and knowledge of what had just been done for her and Miley. She then hugged the translators, the nurses, the anesthesiologists and thanked each of them.  She turned to me, looked at me and collapsed in my arms thanking me.  I told her I did nothing and that God had provided this blessing.  That this surgeon was the one that sacrificed to help.  It was an incredible experience.

As Miley woke in recovery, she began crying saying she was hungry.  Her parents handed her a can of pringles and she began chowing down.  They took out the IV and we loaded up.  As we arrived back at the compound, I kissed her and explained that we wouldn't need to wash it, soak it, or rub it when she returns Monday.  She was a HAPPY girl!!!!!!!  Praise the Lord for your provision. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Awesome Night with the Lord

Well, we had an incredible night of worship a few weeks ago.  I just got pictures uploaded and wanted to share.  The Restavek foundation here in Haiti hosted a talent search competition over several months.  They narrowed their search down (similar to American talent shows currently airing on TV).  The final night saw 13 (I think) original acts that wrote and preformed songs of freeing Restavek children.  These are children that are forced to work in the homes of other Haitians for little to no pay and often being abused in other areas.

The talent was incredible.  Chris Tomlin offered his talents to preform that night as well.  With several thousand people, we worshiped the one TRUE God, under His magnificent night sky, and some stadium lights at the Haitian National Soccer stadium.  WOW!!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lets Get Real..The Cross is BIG!!!

Well, as God begins to break down walls, I feel I need to be more transparent in this blog.  This one will be the most difficult one to write but pray someone else benefits from what God is revealing to me.  The last couple weeks, haven't been easy but especially the last few days.  Wounds and insecurities make one vulnerable and for someone that doesn't like to be vulnerable, I meet it with resistance.  So, when God sends someone into your life to help open you up to what God wants from you it can be difficult.  The reality is, if you can't be real with yourself, who can you be real with?

So often, the love that we know is conditional.  American culture teaches us that we have to seek approval from others, that we must do something to be loved and constantly fight for it, and if we mess up along the way, we are a failure.  God's love is unconditional.  When I fail, he still loves me.  The only prayer that God answers the way we want it answered every time, is when we pray for Grace and Forgiveness.  He may not always heal the way we want Him to, He may not always lead us down the path we want Him to, and He may not always provide everything we think we need, but He ALWAYS offers grace and forgiveness.  So, when I hold on to failures and sin in my life, I try to place restrictions on God.  I am in essence saying the cross wasn't big enough for me.  You see, I know the love and forgiveness of the Father, but I often want to hold on to and beat myself up over things I know God has the power to forgive.  The cross is big enough but the apologetic in me wants to "prove myself worthy" of all He has done for me.  IT ISN'T POSSIBLE, because apart from God's forgiveness I'm not worthy.

Not only for myself do I try to place restrictions, but when I say he will never change, she could never do that, she'll never understand, he/she can't or won't...  I mar God's creation.  I again say God and Jesus' cross aren't big enough.

I am forever blessed that God sent someone who was real with me.  Someone that was willing to not sit silently when God asked them to be bold and speak openly and honestly to me.  So often, we want to sugar coat things when what people really need is for someone to be real with them.  To be "respectfully real" with them.  

-Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.
-To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.  Criss Jami
-You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

I'm thankful that I've known forgiveness and the love of my Heavenly Father for 20 years but we all need a good wake-up call.  I'm thankful that I made a decision for myself, not others, to walk with the Lord at the young age of 11.  There have been and continue to be bumps along the way, but I recognized my need of salvation

(the grace that God offers) that only a relationship with Jesus provides. I recognized that we aren't born saved from Hell but that I must make the decision for myself.  That moment, I was immediately obedient to the truth God revealed to me.  Shouldn't we always be immediately obedient rather than questioning what we think is being said?  Whew...that's far more difficult!!!

God continually calls us to closeness with Him.  He offers rest for each of us.  He offers refreshment for our minds, body, and soul.  Waiting on the Lord keeps us connected to Him.  It makes us aware of what He has to offer us.  We must trust Him in every moment and stage in our life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pity to Passion

I heard a team member this week mention the phrase "pity to passion."  I began to think about that.  I feel like that can be said with the poor, children, people with special needs, or just people in another culture.  Anyone that has ever done a mission trip knows the feeling of seeing someone in need and thinking, "I should give them money" or " I should give them shoes, clothes, food, ETC..."  The pity we often feel for others is overwhelming.  It's the southern "Bless her/his heart" syndrome.

I remember my first several trips to Haiti.  I had so much pity.  I wanted to give anything I could to people, because in some sick way, that was supposed to help them or make their life better.  It was hard to see someone at the gate that wanted something and turn them away.  Pity isn't the answer.  Pity tends to give way to materialistic wants.

Passion on the other hand, tends to produce meaningful relationships.  It's no longer "the foreigner" but now it's "Casey."  Pity causes us to see people as objects while passion causes us to see people as people.  Those equal to ourselves.  Passion eliminates cultural boundaries, financial differences, or race dominance.  Once I was able to get past the pity view of things, I inherited a HUGE family.  I have more parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, ETC... than I did before.  Now we are one family in the body of Christ instead of Americans, Haitians, Africans, Hispanics, Asians.  With God as our Father, and Jesus as our Savior, we are one GIANT family.  We are all accepted equally, with our own quirks, annoyances, and aggravations.

People do this with their kids all the time.  Kids from divoced families see this a lot.  Parents will give the kids something or money to make a kid happy but as children age, is it the kid that was given "things" that is better off and has good relationships, or the kid that was loved and shown affection?  The child that had a "healthy relationship" with a parent?

We must work together, cross culturally to impact the world for Jesus Christ and we must move from pity to passion!!!!!