Monday, July 04, 2011

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, Haiti 2011

Its only been a little over a month since my previous entry, but it feels like i haven't written in ages.

We've left for and returned from Haiti. Somehow it doesn't even feel to me that we went to another country....it simply feels that we went to another community where almost everyone speaks a language we dont understand...and we got creative with ministry and creating VBS lessons on the fly, or at least in very little time--praying that the gospel was seen and heard in spite of our stumbling and some grumbling. It was a lesson in letting go of my control on a situation and being extremely flexible--not knowing what was going on from day-to-day very far in advance--trusting each moment to God's all-knowing hands. It was a study in embracing down-time, getting lots of rest--but waking up by the rooster call at sunrise. And even though i wasn't on a trip chaperoning a youth group or anything, It became an opportunity to no longer be one of the youngest adults on the trip, but to have the tables turned to be one of those middle-aged and more "experienced" people. It was my first time out of the country--my first time off the ground, even.
That's the short of it...here are some more details:
On Saturday June 18th we left Augusta about 3:30am. By about 3:30 in the afternoon we were arriving in our home for the week in Leogane, Haiti. During those twelve hours we rode in a van for 2.5 hrs, sat in an airport for 2 hrs, rode in a plane for 2 hrs, rushed through another airport eating and getting to the gate in about an hour, rode in another plane for 2 hrs, waited in lines and baggage claim in the immigration area at another airport for about 45 minutes, then jostled around in a tap-tap for another 2 hrs.
The trip was organized by the Georgia Baptist Convention Disaster Relief. GBC has a house rented in Leogane for the mission teams to use, which includes 1-2 disaster relief volunteers trained to facilitate and supervise all the incoming teams. the house can support about 24 people besides its Haitian staff and the GBC volunteers. This particular week the 24 people were: 8 of us from the Augusta area, a group we'd formed from two sister churches (Lake Park Baptist and Curtis Baptist), 14 GA baptist college students aged 18-27, plus the husband-wife team who lead them. The 8 of us didn't know each other very well, and turns out the 16 of them hadn't all met one another either, so it was a bonding experience all around.
We arrived, rather uncertain what our job would be in Haiti. Not many think of VBS as disaster relief work, but if you stop and think about it, children are deeply impacted by disaster, and very often looked over in the very important things of being shown love and compassion, and more than anything else-they need Jesus. We knew we were "likely" be working with children, but we didn't know how they would be grouped up, if we'd see the same group daily, or if they were churched or unchurched to begin with.
Because we were so uncertain what to plan, we didn't plan anything at all prior to our flight, which God allowed to be perfect, because when we arrived at the GA house, we were shown a beautiful stockpile of supplies at our fingertips! craft kits, outdoor game supplies, construction paper, beads, string, evangelism tools in their Haitian Kreole language, you name it, we could probably find it there in the stairwell!

Our team of 8 worked with 2 churches. The first was what we like to call the "country church" and the second was the "city church." The country church was literally "over the river and through the woods." because a bridge was closed, we drove through a riverbed! (the rainy season wasn't strong at the time, so the river wasn't a big challenge, but it keeps the story interesting!)
We spent Sunday through Tuesday at the country church. This congregation has been in place for over 40 years, and their ministry is vibrant. I saw our time there was a great encouragement to the pastor, who is aging and not feeling well, and the other layleaders within the congregation. We were encouraged to meet several ladies who are great at leading the children in scripture memory and a great worship rally. They were a great help to us and I feel good about the future of that church with women like that helping bring up the truth within the children we met. They currently meet in a tin and wood-frame tent type structure, but have a foundation and are beginning the process of brick-making for rebuilding their church building. We saw 25 to 100 kids, depending on the moment.

Wednesday through Friday we were at the city church. The church has about 100-150 members, but hosts a school of over 400 children. The pastor at the city church is the pastor in charge of lining up churches for all the GBC teams to work with each week, but it is not every week that his own church gets missionaries. It is a Save the Children food site, and directly on the main highway through town. School was on holiday during the days that we were there, due to some testing many of the students were attending. We had about the same numbers at this church, but in a much larger facility. Their church was made of tarps instead of tin, but similar construction. there were "school rooms" set up adjoining the "sanctuary" area. We only used the main area for our activities. (we gradually learned that one translator means keep everyone together as much as we can!)
We didn't see mass-conversions or get any life-changing, mind-blowing testimonies from our time with these churches, but we know that the gospel was shared multiple times, and that there is a strong ministry within each of the communities in which we were able to serve. We know that we planted and watered some seeds. God knows the growth which will occur due to our willingness to love these little ones. It could change the nation of Haiti. But even if it doesn't, it certainly will change more than one or two lives.

Our work at the churches was typically wrapped up each day by about noon, and the final meal in the house was served about 4, so we had a lot of evening time to bond with the other teams. One night someone decided it would be neat to share testimonies, and it caught on so well that it took the span of three evenings. By the time we'd all shared, it seemed that a theme had formed: invest in the life of someone around you. (testimonies about those who'd been invested in, testimonies from those who'd done the investing, requests to find Christian community now that they've returned from college, etc...)

I think it is interesting that we went to another country to be impacted with the message to put our passion to work right where we are. I think we all-too-often try to push off ministry till we are "on the field" someplace...neglecting the fields all around us.
We left the GA house on saturday June 25th just after breakfast, spent about 1.5 hrs in another tap-tap, about 5 hours in the Port Au Prince airport, 2 more hours in the air, 3 hours on US soil in another airport thankful for trash cans and government officials who regulate their cleanup, 2 more hours in the air, them 2-3 more hours by van--arriving home about 4:30am Sunday--And 3 hrs of sleep, up for reuniting with Jenbug and going to church!
I'm so thankful for this opportunity to be able to go. Now I'm eagerly looking forward to continuing and taking up new ministries here through our new church family at Woodridge and through deepening intentional relationships already established. I'm also looking forward to getting some more stamps in this passport of mine within the next 10 years!

amazing things: 1. God sustained our family-we made it through being divided for a week. I cannot imagine making it a whole week without my little girl without God having given me the strength. 2. During a particularly unstable/uncertain experience our team was kept absolutely 100% safe. 3. absolutely no fear of flying (i was fairly confident it would be fine, glad i was right) 4. full provision of all our VBS "resource room" needs, even left tons more for future teams use!


2 Prayer requests:
1. Pray for the pastors of each of the churches we worked with, that they would be encouraged and that workers would raise up alongside them within the community.
2. Pray for those of us who have returned, that we would keep the vision we came home with.

Friday, May 27, 2011

from Let the Nations Be Glad-by Piper

"Missions exists because worship doesn't."

Just started reading this book today. I haven't been much of one for finishing the books I start, but I hope I stick with this one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

from the corner sewing table

I've been crazy about my sewing corner recently! most of them have been refashions or re-purposing of fabric. so many finished projects i need to post....

listing them here, hopefully will remind me to add all of the photos from them soon

1. ribbon socks and bows, from ribbon jenbug got for her birthday



2. breezy tank top turned baby dress
(i did not make the flower clip on her headband...did make the headband, though!)

3. "Bali Bliss" outfit from online free pattern...made in a weekend from fabric purchased on sale about 8 years ago for a project i never did. will probably make this again with some tweaking..the top is a little too small and the pants were way too baggy...but since jenbug is adorable, she can pull off any look :)

4. jeans turned skirt....a project i've done a couple of other times. great fix to favorite jeans which have gotten a hole worn in the seat, or to a pair with too low of a rise. This time i added a little flare to the shape...love it! but hope to lose some weight soon so it can be converted to a maternity one for next pregnancy. (i have two more pairs of jeans that dont fit, which i am considering making into skirts to sell...i think they are size 13 or 15...anyone want to give input as to the length they'd like?)

(no photo yet)

5. long sleeved white cotton nightgown turned short sleeved. (saving the sleeves to maybe make some bloomerish pants for jenbug

(project not complete...photo after!)

i credit most of my inspiration for these projects to following grosgrain. you should follow her blog too!

The Toddler Days

since my last entry, my child has become a toddler, much of life has become a series of following and cleaning up after her. Since she is now only a few days fro thirteen months old, I would apologize for the delay in updates, but since she hasn't even had her twelve month doctor visit yet, i don't feel too far behind.
Photos may not come soon, but not today because i am posting this from my parent's computer (internet at our house is kinda of in and out recently...working on that)

Jenbug turned one on April 22nd, Good Friday. I'd already decided to postpone her party till the following weekend, because i know uncle Nick wasn't going to be able to make it during Easter weekend, due to his own church obligations in Columbia. After invitations had been ordered and mailed, we found out that Grandma Linda was going to be able to come to town from MS for the weekend, since its a school holdiay! So, though the official party wasn't till a week later, plenty of celebration occurred during bug's birthday weekend! Friday night jen got to open gifts from her mississippi family, and practice smashing up some cake, which was a huge hit (great video from that can be found on my facebook!) That Saturday we spent the morning at the Riverbanks Zoo and had a picnic lunch in the wooded picnic area afterward.

The official birthday party almost had to be canceled, because jenbug caught something mid-week which had her fever up for a couple of days, whatever it was seemed to have mostly worked itself out by Party-day, so celebration continued- Ladybug birthday cakes and all! i was a little disappointed that the "real" smash cake wasn't as big of a hit as the previous weekend, but overall, it was a great party with good family time had by all.

at one year and one week old, jenbug took her first observed steps! 2 or 3 at a time, then a few more the next day during her party. Now she is able to cross whole rooms, though much of the time she chooses to crawl instead. It is lots of fun watching her develop and cheering her on in her successes, even when she falls at the end.

only the start of this role of encouragement as a parent...growing up is so full of mostly-successful attempts which may end in a little failure....Lord, help me continue to cheer my children on as they grow. Even if they eventually fall, let me encourage the good attempted!

12 month pediatrician appointment is tomorrow morning, so we'll find out how our eager eater is growing. According to wi-fit, she has caught up well to a healthy weight! 19lbs yesterday, which for a 13 month old, charts about 10%! way up from where she was at 9 and 10 months!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

belated 9 month pedatrician appointment stats

so, jennifer turned 9 months january 22nd, but got her 9 month checkup on february 14th (happy valentines! have some shots!)
i was hoping the delay might make her chart a little higher, cheat the system a bit, you know? but instead, she came in soooo tiny!

my child weighs 14lb, 15 oz, (3%)
she is 25.5" long (3%)
and her head is still big for her size, at 50% (didnt get the inches for that)
which means her proportions are still the same, she just hasn't grown much overall. i had suspected that she was a little bit small, but i thought she was in the 16lb range...she wasnt even to 15 yet?

otherwise, she is a very healthy and active little girl. due to her teeniness, we're adding a 4th meal to her day (Taco Bell advertises 4th meal, right?) and making sure she gets lots of good healthy stuff in that tummy! though she has always eaten breakfast and dinner very well, lunch has been sometimes hearty and sometimes sparse. so we're working on a fuller lunch, plus a full snacktime too.

she got caught up on her hep and flu shots and goes back in may for more stat checks :)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Valentines from the Corner sewing Table

I have been spending a lot of time at my other corner table recently. Last week i set up a designated craft space for my sewing machine and all of my artsy supplies to be at arms-reach rather than in a closet or under a bed. This has been dreamed of for years!
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Being a teacher this Valentines Day, I thought I should get something little to give to my class of 3yr-olds, but since we are tight on finances, i decided to make something for them. After a couple of days trying to think of something which would be fairly simple, made from materials i already have, and look cute...here's what I came up with!
first i cut out the felt. two squares of one color and a heart in a contrasting color. the hearts are 2", the squares were about 2.5"-3" each
next, with the sewing machine loaded with a contrast color as the main thread, and blend in color of bobbin thread (white, in this case) I zigzag stitched the heart to one of the squares. be careful as you make turns...with the needle DOWN, lift the presser foot and slightly turn the fabric, stitch a few, repeat as needed. make sure the needle is down when you lift so it doesn't lose your place. go slowly and it will turn out great.
(photos to show what settings i used...zigzag width and stitch length)
then I trimmed the edges of this square with pinking sheers. I originally waited to trim both layers after finishing, but i thought they looked kind of like ravioli with both edges trimmed, plus it was harder to cut through both evenly...these sheers are not new, and also kind of small. 12 students had me choose to spare my hands the agony.
next i reset the machine to a narrower zag and a slightly longer stitch to finish (totally your choice, but these are what i used.)
sew both squares together on 3 sides, stop with the needle in the DOWN position, but don't remove your work from the sewing machine.
Add a little bit of stuffing (they are tiny, so a little really will do fine)
then continue stitching the 4th side.
trim up any uneven edges.
lastly, with a yarn needle i stretched the felt and poked a hole in a corner and slipped a piece of ribbon through and attached the card. (I've found it difficult to use a hole punch on felt.)
these would also make cute pincushions! This last photo shows what i meant when i said my first ones looked kind of like ravioli! anyone looking to make some toy pasta? that would be an interesting play set....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

9 months and so busy :)

Dear Jenbug,
You have been outside of my body for as long as you were inside of it! While I will always be amazed at how much of you was pieced together within, you have grown and learned so much in the time you've been out here with us, too!
You sometimes say "papa" for daddy, though once when he was gone you said "dada!" You say "baby" when you see pictures of babies, or your babydoll, or your reflection. You say "bye bye" when we tell it to you first, and you put all kinds of other sounds together when you have something to say. If only we could understand you now!

You can crawl everywhere and stand up when you get where you want to be (while holding on still.) You can dance a little and "sing" and love to play music with drums, shakers, rattles, and bells.
You like to "read" your books, and are very careful while turning the pages back and forth. You enjoy petting the dog and getting doggie kisses (or hitting her in the nose...or using her as a pull-up spot...)
You have recently been playing your own version of chase, or hide and seek...which involves you crawling out of the family room and waiting on someone to come after you, when we find you, you grin and begin crawling quickly away! You just got a swing in the backyard, and love to be pushed fast and high.
You are very snuggly just after a bath when you're wrapped up in your towel, and also when we are out around people you haven't warmed up to yet. I love how you shyly tilt your head in toward me, letting others know you want to stay with your mommy.
While you still haven't cut any teeth, you are a very good eater most of the time. You still eat lots of purred foods, but also love Cheerios, Kix, pieces of banana, black eyed peas and other legumes, chunks of sweet potato, pieces of crackers or bread, and really got into eating pieces of the apple cinnamon pancakes we had a few weeks ago! You're very good at holding your cup, but still trick us into holding it for you sometimes.
Your 9 month pediatrician appointment is going to be a few weeks late, so we don't know your growth chart marks yet. We do know that you are smaller than "average." You started wearing size 3 diapers about 2 weeks ago, and while we are starting to pack some of your small clothes away, most of your clothes are 3-6 month sizes. You have some 6-9 month sizes in rotation, mainly because the season change required them! You still have a pair of 0-3 month pants in your regular rotation! I think you weigh between 15 and 16 lbs...we'll find out on Valentines Day at Dr. Davids office (your first trip to see him as your pediatrician!)
Your father and I often find ourselves gazing at you while you sleep in your bed, bragging about what a sweet little baby we have. I look at pictures of you from when you were first born and can't believe how tiny you were compared to now. I know you're growing up, and even in these images of you, you will appear tiny by comparison as you grow into a young lady.