Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Sewing Machines

Vadette
Vanette
I am so glad Dan has a camera on his cell phone. I had forgotten to give him my camera to take pictures of the ladies when he took them shopping for their new machines!
I would have hated to miss this one. It would be like not having pictures of your kids first birthday!
I am happy to say I haven't forgotten the camera for that one, but I have on countless other things.

After only a few months, three of our ladies got to go shopping to buy things with the money they saved in their business accounts. (Not pictured - Igemene and her new stove!) They are so happy. It was a great reward for them (and us) to see that their hard work and commitment payed off. Others told them it was a waste of their time, I beg to differ!
I am sure they have never had this kind of money in their hand and walked into a store and said, yes, I will take this one!
They walked through the store looking at all the things they wanted to save for now with the money they are making.
Ofcourse they all wanted a television! We will have to see about that....kids school first!

How are program works: Each lady has to take a test in order to come to school. If she can't read and write well enough to pass the test she must go to literacy classes. Sewing school is for six months. While in school she will have been doing some work in the program to begin making some money. At graduation she will be offered the chance to sew for us for six months. During this time we give them 50% of the sale price of the bag and the other 50% goes back into the program for supplies, rent and other program needs. When she gets paid, half of her money goes into her hand and the other half goes into her business account to buy her sewing machine. Next she can pay for her childs school and after that she can buy things for her home.

We will start our next class for sewing on October 6 with another twenty ladies.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am Reading...


I am reading Blue Like Jazz.
Last night I got to the part where Donald Miller is having a conversation with Moses and Moses asked him if he was on crack? I haven't laughed that hard for a long time while reading a book.
It still makes me laugh.
I guess I find it so funny because I have been having a few different conversations with some of my friends about being a Christian and how we are feeling these days. It seems to me, that most of us are having growing pains and are really seeking change.
Real change that makes life different.
For years I have said, if you don't love this guy Jesus, why on earth would you sit in the same place every single Sunday going to the same church your whole life. Why not go out and find something that brings passion to your life.
Maybe I know the answer to my own question. Maybe?
Answer: MOVING.....moving from my place in the church and life that makes me comfortable will cost me.
Moving to Haiti is something I have wanted to do for a long time. If it wasn't Haiti, I knew it would be Africa. I love Africa as well.
As a child I was thinking India.
Who knew?
I am pretty sure if I didn't live in a place like Haiti my mom would have lost a bet some where. She has always known I would do something like this. Maybe she didn't want me to, but she knew.
Church is pretty much the same deal.
I always think I would like to go the same church my whole life and sit in the same place every Sunday my whole life like my grandparents.
Well, I think it and laugh. I could never do it. I just don't have it in me.
I need Jesus to be more than that.
Back to moving....
Moving to Haiti has cost us a lot and nothing all at the same time.
Living in passion and destiny sounds so "in-style" when you talk about it at church.
You know the conversation.... follow your heart, be true to yourself.
Depending on the day you say that to me, I may punch you or start crying. It is a mixed bag of emontions for me, so I may say nothing.
But the one thing I want to share after all this is....
I have found a place in Jesus that I have not known. A place that if I whisper His name He is so close I can feel Him with me.
Cost me?
Maybe? I am not sure I have an answer, but I needed to move in order to find him in this way. No, I am not on crack.
He is real, just never real in the way we think He is or should be real.
I don't know what "moving" looks like for you, but I hope you will choose real change, change that makes a difference.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday Is Baby Day!


I love Tuesday...it is baby day here.
As you can see Usher (Etrinne's baby) is doing well. Tara and I have noticed he has the George Jefferson hair thing goin' on. (Thanks for the picture Tara...)
We had a full class on Tuesday with lots and lots of kids needing meds. With all of the rain we have had in Haiti we are seeing lots of respiratory problems and funky skin stuff going on. A little rain here changes the face of everything but when you add days upon days of rain you have trouble for many families especially the children. Children who are not starting with a good base line to fight with are always at risk no matter what and in a country like Haiti it is not easy to stay ahead of the game.

This is exactally why we are starting with mothers who are pregnant. By giving a milk, eggs and vitamins to a mother you are giving each baby a better start so they are prepared to start life with a better base line. Life is hard here for children. Being poor is hard enough but being poor and sick is harder.

When I first started coming to Haiti I always thought I would work with children. I still believe what we are doing with our woman's program and sewing school is for the children. It is just coming at it in the back door so to speak.

God's plumbline in the book of Amos talks about the foundation being accurate. Without a good foundation things don't stand well. The same principle applies to life and the life of a child. Simply, we are working on putting good foundations in place and building better lives.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In Progress


For the past two days we have been working with Corrigan Clay on a video for God's Plumbline. We have been in need of a tool to help us show people what we do in Haiti.
It just so happened that Corrigan and his wife Shelley (and three children) go to our church. He is also the art teacher at QCS. Shelley has a heart for a sewing school as well so we had them over for dinner so we could show them what we are doing. While eating dinner we started talking about going to art school and as they say one thing led to another and now Corrigan is here helping us with this very needed project.
Thank you - Corrigan!
It is hard to share what you are doing with others while you here and have so much on your plate. You can't just pick up and go and be gone for weeks at a time. We believe that just from the visitors we have had in the past few months many will want to partner with us to help the women of Haiti be successful. One part of them being successful is that we, as a family and ministry, have a support base to help us stay here. We need others to pray, others to come and help, others to send fabric.
Talking about what we need is really hard and feels uncomfortable. It feels strange telling people that apples cost almost $2.00 each and one pound of turkey lunch meat is $23.00 per pound. Most people believe that living in a third world country is "cheap". On one hand I wrestle with sounding like I am begging and on the other hand I struggle with being really honest because it may sound like I don't have much faith. When the truth may be that others have a heart to help and just don't really know what it like to live in a third world country. I sure didn't and I came to Haiti for eight years before we lived here. Others may have the same ideas and passions that we do and don't know what to do. Seeing and hearing what we do may open a door for someone to be willing to walk in their destiny. For that reason alone I know we need to talk about what is like for us and our lives. It is important for us to share our heart and our passion to help make a difference for the next generation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Samson - Thoughts from 2007


I had spent many years visiting children in orphanages in Haiti. By now I was not a stranger to being caught off guard by what I may find on my visits.
On this day, I was standing before a child whose body had never had the ability to move at his command. He labored hoping that his sounds would eventually make a word that I would understand. But, not to worry if I didn’t, he would continue drawing me in and pulling me closer. I was always aware of feeling the physical struggle with in my own body as he labored to share with me what he was thinking. Over the years I had gotten better at understanding him, I was no longer uncomfortable spending time with this broken child. I would look for him on each visit finding him in his chair bouncing with a joy he could not control, a freedom I don't understand. He owned joy unspeakable and it knew him well consuming his whole face. Now, he would have to try to control the joy that consumed him while trying to say something.
Suddenly his arms could jerk and his head would fall back, he was struggling to pull his words from a door that seemed to be locked. Finally he managed to unlock the door and find words that would alter my life. Words that brought me instantly to a place I had never known to exist. I was instantly standing alone while surrounded by ninety children.
With hot tears on my cheeks, I pulled myself back from this place trying to process his words…I love you, Sheila.
Stunned, I remember gasping for air, speechless.
I hadn’t seen him for months, how on earth did he remember my name.
How could he?
His body was so broken?
I couldn’t speak.
I had collided with a time and place that I didn’t know existed with a child that for all purposes had no value.
Not in America, not in Haiti.
But he mattered to Jesus, just as all the other children matter to him. There was no difference between us. At that place and time I knew instantly that the love of Jesus had no boundaries.

As I lay in bed that evening I cried myself to sleep. How did this child know my name? It was so pure. I was ruined. I returned home not telling many people of the place this broken child had taken me. How hard it is to explain these things. How could I put into words the deep work the Lord had done in me in that moment.

This morning was no different than any other. I was back home, settled in, several months after my trip. I had gotten the kids off to school and had sat down with a cup of coffee to do my morning devotions, studying the book of Judges. I had come across the time and place of Samson’s birth. His parents had a collision of sorts. An angel of the Lord had come and told his mother about a child they would have. His father not believing asked for the Lord to come back and give a confirmation to them. He would be a Nasserite, set apart and different from the other children. His name means sunlight, to be brilliant.

Ofcourse his name was Samson. I am not talking about the man who was to bring freedom to the children of Israel by using his physical strength as a weapon. I am talking about the boy I left in Haiti who had all but been forgotten by the world. What else could his name have been?

All of a sudden, just as before, it all came crashing together hitting me again, catching me off guard. This child, Samson, the Lord used him to speak to me that he loved me in such a pure way. This child was a source of brilliant sunlight.
My emotions overwhelmed me and I began to cry again. This time it was a confirmation of the greatness and mystery of the Lord Jesus. The creator of the universe could take three words like, I love you, from a broken child and change me so deeply. It was just like Jesus to mend years of never understanding His love with the life of a boy that no one would choose, not in the broken body of a child.

It is an amazing truth that the Lord will use the unlovable and the things man rejects to bring His kingdom to earth. But, it is often not what you are looking for that often stops you in your tracks and leads you to a place that you had not known to exist, but it is in these places you will find Jesus waiting for you. video

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gonaives






The needs are beyond what you can imagine in Gonaives.
I believe that if everyone will do just a little part to help it will all get done and people will soon get the help they need. Don't get me wrong, some things will take months, some years and some things will never be the same. Some of these kids today are kids that lost their families in the storm in 2004 and now they have lost everything again.
I keep thinking about the saying...How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Today we took our first bite!
We drove out and got this group of kids that had been stuck on top of their orphanage in Gonaives.
They had not eaten or had anything to drink in days. We stopped and got bread, bananas, water and peanutbutter.
Trust me - we did the easy part.
We would meet up with Mike, Beaver, Renald, Rose and her family who had done the hard part. Walking for hours with all the kids. We met them at the badly damaged bridge and would carry them across. Our job was feeding everyone and giving them a ride back into town to stay at Sherry's.
BTW - she isn't running an orphanage, she is running a school. She never planned to have an orphanage, but she just happened to have an empty building ready for these guys to stay in. Hmmm!
Now the really hard work begins.
They will need food, clothes and help getting the waist deep mud out of their orphanage.
I have to keep telling myself - one bite at a time! We are collecting supplies to bring over to them in the afternoon.
I was thinking we should do something just crazy, fun and ramdom - like getting them icecream!
That is always best eaten one bite at a time - well, really big bites if it is Ben and Jerry's, but we don't have that here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering 9/11 and SaraH



Yesterday was 9/11. Even with our lives full of so many needs here in Haiti we didn't forget about the twin towers, we talked about it at dinner with our children. We also talked about the fact that on 9/11 last year I got the phone call saying that SaraH died here in Haiti.

I have posted a picture of SaraH the first day we saw her. It was my first trip to Haiti and I promise you I thought I had fallen in to a really bad dream. But my buddies, Barb, Kim, MaryAnn and Lisa, who got me into this mess, seemed to be right next to me reminding me it was all very real.

I can still see a picture in my minds eye of her standing on the road with her grandmother. I have to skip that part because I cry everytime.

SaraH's story is long and complicated for so many reasons. Part of me thinks maybe a blog isn't the best place to explain, but than again, it might be the perfect place. I am thinking a book.....

For now I will just say that I, and maybe others, still find some of her life very painful to talk about. I have struggles about her life... what could have, what should have and would have's mess with me.

But, this morning my sweet Jesus said to me...it is not how you found her, it is how you left her.
I could have added...."But, what about..." to His words, but that isn't what He was saying to me.
It was simple.
After a year of doubt and questions I got such a simple release - Sheila, you left her heart in a good place.

This blog wouldn't be right if I didn't add one final note about my buddy who loved SaraH most. She would not like it if I talked about her in public so I will just say - ditto! You left her heart in a good place!

Just one last note....Dan just drove in the gate with the ipod pounding out a song. It just happened to be playing Hall and Oats...you guessed it...Sarah smile! I am so not kidding!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Storm



As I went to get Jean Kelley the other day someone told me about a woman who went up to the roof to get away from the flood that was coming. As she waited for the water to pass she went into labor having her baby on the roof in the rain.

Yesterday, Junior showed me this picture.....

I am pretty sure I don't have the right words to finish those thoughts...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mom...


Yesterday, out of the clear blue, Parker said to me....Mom, who made God?
Mom: Uumm...well, God has always been here. He IS the creator....
Parker: Mom! But, WHO made him?

He didn't like my answer so he went to Dan.

Parker: Dad, who made God?
Dan: I think I was eight when I asked the same question......Son, God has always been here.
Parker: That is what mom said!
Dan: Believing in God is about FAITH!

That was that and he walked away...I don't think we are done with this one!

UPDATE:
1. You can send funds for Jean Kelley to the p.o. box listed on our blog. Please make a note in the memo so we know what the funds are for.

2. Thank you to all who have been praying for Haiti - we are fine but we had a really bad storm last night! Adding more rain made it even harder for many. We have two ladies in our program who are now homeless. They told us they are sleeping on a porch and left with only their babies and no other personal items. Please let us know if you would like to help them as well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Urgent Request For Jean Kelley


The past two days have been a bit of a blur. I got a phone call saying that Jean Kelley was in pain and he needed me to come and help him. For those of you who don't know who Jean Kelley is... I posted a blog on August 14th that you may want to read before you go any further. For those of you who know Jean Kelley, you know that he never asks for anything or complains about his leg. He is very much like my own kid, calls me mom and the whole bit so getting his phone call told me that this was something that needed my attention right away. This is where it gets blurry. I have been down this road with him and I kicked in to high gear. We went and got him from the orphanage he lives at, had a nurse look at him, got him meds for pain, fed him, sent emails, made phone calls to help determine our plans for today. With some direction from Dr. Jen I made phone calls to find the best price for an x-ray, labs and to find the doctors office that Tara and Troy had used. It makes me laugh that you can call a place to check on an x-ray and they can tell you that the generator doesn't work and they don't have current so try back in the next day or two. John said, he has had to buy gas for a generator in order to get an x-ray done. Only in Haiti!

So here is what I know now:

1. I need your help!
2. The doctor asked to do the operation today!
3. It will be expensive! It could be $3000 - plus!
4. It needs to happen asap!
5. I will do everything I can to save his leg - even when they say the "a" word!
6. The doctor said that there is so much infection his leg could burst again!
7. He will need IV meds for six week after the operation.

Please let us know if you can help!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thorn

Today was kind of gross....well, not kind of, it was really gross.
Roseline didn't come to sew on Monday and wasn't here again this morning. I was disappointed that she didn't come because I see so much ability in her.
At about 11:00, I heard the gate close and looked up to see her walking in with her son who had his arm in a sling.
Oh, dear! What was wrong now?
She began to explain that the thick yellow paste all over his hand was butter. No, he hadn't been burned. He had been poked by a thorn. OK....why, butter? I never did really get an answer to my question. His hand was so swollen I couldn't imagine what had happened. I was thinking a bite of some kind. No, it was a thorn. I had her take him in the bathroom and wash his hand so I could see what was going on with his hand. When I got it under the light I could see a small scab like thing on the side. I touched it a bit and found that the thorn was still in his hand and had been for the past three days. As I touched it he wiggled and made faces - it had to come out.
About this time Dan was in the kitchen making eggs and Spam. Yes, Spam! His new favorite breakfast meat. I am sorry, but I can't even really talk about it because I still can't believe that he really likes it. Remember, I am in the clinic room about to pull out a thorn that has been festering for three days and this kids hand is three times bigger than it should be. That can only mean one thing...it was going to explode. Suddenly, with out any warning Dan says, do you want eggs and Spam? Pop! The thorn was out and I was really thankful for a strong gag reflex! The stuff that was pouring out of his hand didn't go well with the picture of eggs and Spam, trust me! Nor was it good that it drained junk for a long time mixing with the smell of Spam cooking!
I told you it was gross!
BTW - she did stay and sew after the operation!
Spam anyone!
Sorry!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Even Little Girls...



I kept hearing myself say, "they are so cute!"
I wasn't making the connection that all the little girls with scarves tied on their heads loaded down with water, food or house hold supplies aren't really little girls in a third world country.
Pretty soon "cute" left me uncomfortable as I noticed that they look and act just like a grown up doing jobs just as a grown up would do, never saying a word about how hard it is or how unfair it is. I don't recall seeing any of them with a baby doll. A real baby, yes, but not a doll. I see dirty little feet that don't struggle to keep flip-flops made for some one much larger on their busy feet. They are often empty looking, watching every move made around them, never saying a word. Maybe be it is me that has caused the silence. Maybe it is me that has taken away any expression, reaction or emotion. I have, on occasion, seen children run as fast as they can to get away from the white people.
My guess is, it is more than that. I think that as a little girls their lives are lived as adults, even down to the way they dress.
I have learned to travel with candy on long road trips. It opens doors!
Even little girls who live life as an adult like candy, so do big girls who are now mama's.