If we came across this today, we'd call the Fire Department
And therein lies one of the big problems we have with God. We want Him to do things our way. It's inconvenient that He wants to continue to speak to us in this obscure way that requires us to have a close, personal relationship with Him. We can't sit down in Starbucks and talk things out with Him over a latte; we can't invite him over to the house for tossed salad and lasagna and pepper Him with questions about all those crazy, confusing things in the Bible that - at least to us - don't make any sense.
God isn't on Facebook and He doesn't Tweet. Romans 12:1-2 says, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
So, on our fourth day in Haiti, I did my best to present. And, what do you know? The sun rose from behind the mountains and shone across the land and the sea. I could breath, felt healthy and had a purpose for the day.
After breakfast, we boarded Bluebird and headed off to Minoterie. See, the thing about Haiti - and in reality the entire world - is that it won't bend to our will. It doesn't matter if we're Barack Obama or Bill Gates. The world happens - and we just live here.
As President, he can have beach hotels anywhere...
Although we didn't see the scene of the accident, traffic along Route National #1 backed up and came to a standstill. As you might expect, it's not the easiest thing in the world to do a one-eighty on a two-lane road with a large school bus. But our phenomenal driver, Jean Justin, managed it perfectly. We rode back the way we came for a few minutes then turned south toward the coast. Did I mention we had a stupendous driver? We certainly needed it because the side roads were taking were not much more than skinny dirt roads.
We took up the entire dirt road in Bluebird
Was, or is going to be a house...
Once we had successfully negotiated the back way to Minoterie, Saturday morning kicked off with a walk through a suburb of the village known as Blue City, a small community made up mostly of shanty-type dwellings which still employed a lot of tarp material…thus the name.
Working with Frantzdy, one of the recent graduates, and another man from the village, Wilkins, we invited Blue City residents to bring their shoes to us in a small area nearby so that we could clean and polish them. Although we weren't able to serve as many as we would have liked, it did give us the opportunity to spend time in a different part of the community and meet some new people.
Knew that Air Force training would come in handy someday
Christy working hard on Blue City shoes
Vickie had a tough job with some delicate footwear
Another bonus to our shoeshine ministry came from the fact that all the kids were pulling on my wrist bands and asking for them. I told the boys and girls I could not give the bands away, and asked if they would like to know why. When they said yes, with Frantzdy translating, I was able to talk with them about my faith in God, and outline His plan of salvation using the colors and words on the bands. After we finished with all the shoes, we had a time of prayer and, with all the kids in tow, headed back to Berdy's house.
Noir, Rouge, Bleu, Blanc, Vert, Jaune
Berdy explained to me that in Haiti, soccer is one of the most important aspects of life. They are mad for soccer. As we gathered for lunch, a small television came on in the front room of Berdy's home and many people materialized from out of nowhere to watch the Brazil vs Chile game. Since there wasn't much else to do with the ladies cooking for the feeding program we were leading a bit later, we sat with them and watched. Everyone was cheering for Brazil except for one young man, and he was teased in a good-natured way every time Brazil made a play.
Futbol, you bet!
One other note from lunch, I spent a good portion of my time holding a little girl named Ashley. She was the sweetest thing and she shared my love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and smiling.
Hide and seek with Ashley (violet blouse) and friend
My first thought after the game, when the host nation (Brazil) finally won on penalty kicks, was how much different our world would be if everyone would get that excited about God. As the winning goal was scored, the room literally erupted. Fans young and old celebrated as if they had a personal stake in the victory. Isn't it ironic that every man, woman and child has a personal stake in the biggest victory of all time, yet we rarely celebrate it - even a little bit.
By the time the game was over, all the food was prepared and we loaded the bus with five huge basins, most holding rice mixed with beans, and one or two with an aromatic mixture of meat, vegetables and seasonings. We also loaded up several coolers with juice and then drove the bus around to the PoG school. We unloaded all the food and beverages into one classroom where a crew got to work getting ready to serve.
As children began to stream into the building, we played a few games and I was asked to share a Bible story while we waited for the servers to complete their set up and for all the kids to arrive and get settled. Christy had brought along a quilt stitched with panels depicting everything from creation to heaven, but for some reason I thought of Joseph and his life, so we used the quilt as Joseph's coat of many colors. Caleb played Joseph, Frantzdy was one of Joseph's brothers, Keith was the Midianite trader, Israele was Potiphar, and Bildad was Pharaoh. I recounted the majority of Joseph's life as illustrated in the Bible, with a young man - whose name escapes me - translating for the children.
Joseph kneels before Pharaoh
By the time we finished recounting Joseph's adventures, we had seated a lot of kids…we estimated there were about 450, many more than the 300-350 we had planned for. We established a serving line in the bucket brigade style and began serving. As the afternoon wore on, we began to run out of things, first plates, then spoons and finally - sadly - food. This was a crushing blow because we wanted to feed every child who came, but even with all the food we had prepared - none of the five basins could be lifted by one person - we still did not have enough.
Just a few of the many good people of Minoterie
Eventually, we were able to explain the situation to everyone and people made their way back home. There were a lot of mixed emotions as we cleaned up the school, ferried all the utensils and servers back to Berdy's home, and lastly made our own way home for the evening.
After dinner, still coming to grips with what had been a day of both joy and sadness, everyone gathered together for a group devotional time. Kelma, our fearless leader asked me to share what God had been highlighting for me and I read 1 Peter 3:15. We discussed this passage - one that God has really laid on my heart this year - we sang, and each of us shared what God had showed us that day. By the end, after everyone had talked - and many tears had been shed - God had brought us together in understanding that despite the food and plates and spoons all running out, despite the fact that there were some kids we could not feed, we had fed a lot of children - children who would not have eaten that day were able to eat a hot, nutritious meal.
With hearts still heavy for the kids we could not feed, we affirmed that we would all learn from our experiences and continue to try and do our best each day. That is really what God wants from us: our best, for Him, every day. And as long as we give Him that, we can have the peace that comes from knowing that we have given our all, and that the results will be up to Him.