Yep, It’s a Good Day

Have you ever woken up feeling that you are about to have a really good day?  Have you ever felt that way although you have no justification for it except for the endorphins in your brain?  I recently woke up feeling this way for the whole upcoming season of my life (and for my country), and I’ve gotta tell ya, it feels really good!

The past year or so has been an interesting one.  It is hard to describe the combination of the absolute bliss of being newly wed to a DREAM of a woman with some of the most difficult life challenges that I have ever faced.  In all of my life, I have never felt the pressure of difficult choices as heavy as I have in the past several months.  I’m not even talking about the earthquake.  Until late last year, I had never truly understood what it meant to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Now I know.  I know it so well that I could give you a tour, if you’d like.  (If you’re wondering, “What the heck was he facing?” you’re probably never gonna know.  The details are irrelevant and I’ve resolutely elected not to share.)

At the same time, through all of this, I’ve never felt joy as sweet as when I am with my beautiful, intelligent, sweet, loving, wonderful, faithful, and emotionally strong wife of 282 days.  She has helped me in more ways than she could imagine as I worked to navigate us through some of the most difficult situations that no one should ever have to face, let alone a newlywed couple.  Words could not describe the joy we find in each other, but at the same time, there are no words to express what we found ourselves moving into.

Then suddenly I’m emerging, as if from a dream.  It’s come so very suddenly, and ironically, exactly 9-months (40-weeks) after I went on a hiatus from most of the outside world (i.e. since the wedding day).  That’s one reason why I said I was “giving birth.”  On top of new things going on, it’s like I’ve become stronger, more refined even.  I feel like I’ve grown up by decades.  Even my value system has been tweaked and I see the world with new eyes.  My whole world has become clearer and it has finally joined my side again.

Tomorrow is gonna be a great day.  I can feel it in my bones.  And for me, it’s not just the endorphins in my brain.  I’ve got evidence and proof.  If you want to read more about HOPE, then hang in close during the coming weeks.  I’ve got a whole lot of it.

I’m Giving Birth (Not to a Baby)

For those of you have have endured the 9 months of silence from my blogs and actually wondering what I’ve been up to, let’s just say that I’m about to give birth to some new things.

It has been an interesting period of transition for me and my beautiful new wifey. It has all been wonderful between her and me (I highly recommend marriage ;-). We’ve endured many interesting challenges in Haiti and we are coming out on top.  God has been VERY good to us, always with us just like he said. We now stand ready for the next adventure.

Haiti has also been going through some interesting transitions, as I’m sure you have heard. I’m very optimistic about the whole thing.  God really is about to do a new thing here.  I can feel it in my bones.  I am eager to be involved in this new thing, in whatever way God chooses to use me… but of course I always give Him a few suggestions and preferences :-).

I’ll be doing some renovations to this blog and hoping to be more regular in my updates.  There is so much to update you on about the past and there is so much to say about the quickly coming future.  Nine months (40-weeks) are almost up, so pray that this baby (the blog & more) comes on her due date ;-).  I hope you’ll be interested in following along as I share my story and the story of the world that I live in.

Peace,
JGBj.

Helpful Food Aid

Hi friends & family.  I’m back.  I was in the U.S. for a bit more than a week to do pre-marital counseling with Joyce.  We had a wonderful time with old friends, but most of all with 4 wise couples at different stages of life.  They were able give us a good look into married life, which helped us to look into our lives and help us to start asking some important questions for our future.  Joyce & I will be blogging about this soon in our joint blog.  You should take a look.  We have a pretty cool story :-).

So for now, I am back in town and back at it again.  I should be here up until the wedding in late July.  As I was catching up on email and surveying the work that had been done in my absence and seeing where I would jump in, I received an email that made me pretty happy.  About a month ago I made mention of my concerns of food aid potentially destroying Haitian agriculture, making Haiti even more dependent on the international community.  I suggested that aid-bringers buy out Haitian crops to give back to needy Haitian people, killing two birds with one stone, so-to-speak.  A man who has been following the development of food distribution policies with me sent me this email showing that some of the high ups have been discussing the same thing.

Click on this link to find a document that outlines this plan.  In it (and around the website containing the document) you will even see where former President Bill Clinton personally apologized in March for his role in the destruction of Haiti’s rice industry in the past.  President Rene Preval also had something to say about this issue as he sought an audience with President Barack Obama.

I’m not sure exactly where this will lead, but I am happy to see this progress.  I don’t think that we can stop by just buying rice, but at least we are headed in the right direction.  There is still hope and the Haitian People must be a part of this hope.  This is a great step forward.

Back to Normal Life: Catching Up

The aid work has not stopped.  It is far from over, but we hit an interesting lull that afforded us some time to catch up with ourselves…

All around the city there are signs that people are trying to return back to normal life.  By now, almost everyone who has work is back at it on their regular schedule.  People who made ends meet by creating their own work (i.e. buying and selling) are doing their best to restart their activities.  Even in camps these “markets” are growing.  A few schools have reopened, although their students are not yet mobilizing in full force.  Many children are still up north, down south, or across the border with extended family and friends… but they are trickling back in.

The repairs in our school are underway, and our school is structurally sound, but many are still psychologically broken.  Many adults and children alike still tremble when they “feel” a helicopter pass overhead.  We don’t want to take the chance of opening school under concrete ceilings until we are sure that the fear has (mostly) passed.  Many parents wouldn’t take the chance of sending their children either, so we ourselves are mobilizing to reopen school under tents in the backyard of the church.  The tents are on the way, but we have a fairly large payroll and we are still working out a way to make sure that our professors receive their just salary.  We are not counting on parents being able to pay out the rest of the year, so this may be a challenge without specific outside aid.

Yesterday, the church had its first non-quake funeral since January 12th and today we held our first wedding.  That brings me to my own wedding, which Joyce and I fell very behind in planning.  She has done a lot of work without me (you’re awesome, Babe), but I spent part of last week doing my part to ensure that our (late) invitations go out soon.   (They were originally meant to be “save-the-dates,” scheduled to go out in January, but no need for two mailings anymore :-).  In a week I will be in North Carolina for Pre-Marital Counseling, so I have  also been doing my “homework” and reading the books that were assigned to us.  (Good Stuff).

Today, I held my 3rd Bible Study with my children’s group.  In these three weeks we grew from two children to eight (with at least two more on the way) because children are beginning to return to Port-au-prince.  I’ve been seeing more and more of them on Sunday mornings as my weekly hugs and kisses are increasing.  This is bittersweet to me since I believe that a life should be created in the countryside to occupy these children and help with decentralization, but for two months I have been eagerly awaiting their return and they have also been eager to carry out our secret plan to save and revive Haiti.  Watch for these kids… they are powerful.

I also spent part of last week pulling things together for my new business which involves beekeeping.  That’s right, I’m also a beekeeper.  I had been working on the business (slowly) for over a year now and I’m ready to move on it full speed.  It is actually now more “necessary” than before.  How’s that?  Well, I hope to inform you on it later, but just know that a business wouldn’t be MY business if it didn’t include a secret plan to save Haiti.  I’ll be consulting some of my more business savvy friends on it next week, and maybe then I’ll be ready to give you the details.

Then halfway through my “normal” week, I received a reminder…  I was on my way to a Brasilian church service on the Brasilian Army Base (U.N.) with some of our Brasilian guests when it started to pour down rain.  Since our car is ghetto, the windows decided that they didn’t want to go up that night, so we got rained on the whole way.  By the time we got out of the car the rain had started falling at a merciless pace.  We still had a long walk (now a run) to the chapel.  When we finally arrived and as we were wringing out our shirts before going in, the thought hit me: “At least you don’t have to sleep in this…”

There are thousands of people who are still homeless in this merciless downpour.  Next week we will be more prepared to come to their aid.  Our Brazilian team has been working with some of our Haitian volunteers to gather pieces and build a prototype of a tent with local materials.  Next week we will go out to some nearby camps to build some of these new shelters.  Until everyone safe and cared for, this is the new normal life: helping those who cannot help themselves.  Next week, we really get back to normal life, sheltering people and beginning with the official registration system for our rebuilding network.  We thank you for your continued support and prayers.

The Soft Spot Between the Rock & the Hard Place

“My people go into exile for lack of knowledge;
their honored men go hungry,
and their multitude is parched with thirst.

–Isaiah 5:13

It seems that everyone who read the previous article agrees.  When it comes to “fixing” Haiti, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The “rock” is that Haiti desperately needs aid right now.  The “hard place” is that it is hard to do this without increasing these negative mentalities and the debilitating dependency that have developed over many years.

After a conversation with Ricky Ruffino (Church of the King in New Orleans) this morning, we found the common denominator for the most helpful programs.  The most helpful aid that anyone can give to Haiti right now is education of any form.  He shared with me stories of building crews coming in to New Orleans to build homes after Katrina while 5 able-bodied refugees looked on.  This is what we want to avoid. This builds an unhealthy dependence and a strange sense of entitlement that also breeds “laziness.”

If you want to come build, why not teach these able-bodied young men and women how to use some of your fancy equipment, leave it in their hands and let them get moving with their new occupation?  As for tents, with the right fabric and the right models & plans, there would be a whole new industry in tentmaking for our out-of-work tailors and seamstresses.  If you want to feed people, why not bring in some agricultural knowledge or literally teach people how to fish with tilapia fish farms?  Urban farming anyone?  People can literally grow food for themselves in their 4x4ft space in front of their tents.

Don’t stop with relief related things.  Hold a conference about servant leadership.  Teach young people about smart relationships.  Teach couples about managing a home.  Inspire men to be responsible fathers.  Inspire women to be loving mothers.  Teach us about smart business…  Teach English, Spanish, Portuguese…  **(Note: The language barrier is the monster that keeps organizations from making the effort to teach.  It is much “easier” for them to do everything on their own, but it isn’t necessarily “helpful”).  Then when you are done, let us teach you (didn’t see that one coming did you?  You might be surprised what you can learn from “needy” people if you simply open your eyes).

I’m not saying that we are lacking knowledge in these things more than any other place.  All I’m saying is that if you consider yourself an expert in anything, or if you have any experience to share, you will help so many more people if you leave your knowledge behind in responsible hands.  If you don’t consider yourself an expert, find a way to serve side-by-side with Haitian people doing things that should be a part of common responsibility to help them find their place in the reconstruction.  Even in this you are giving knowledge: the knowledge that they have a part to play in the building of THEIR country. (So far, NGOs are failing miserably at this.  Can the church do better?)  Knowledge is the hand-out that Haiti needs the most.  Knowledge is the only handout that doesn’t make beggars of men.  Knowledge will help us to find our own role in helping OUR country to recover and prosper.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: