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, February 28, 2009

Watch For Falling Rocks

His mother sent him out early in the afternoon on Thursday to collect sticks for fire wood. Not an easy task when you are looking out at mountain after mountain with no trees. Haiti is 98% deforested so it wasn't all that odd for him to be gone for hours at a time. His mother was home with her other eight children, breastfeeding the baby, their papa was in port. As he passed in and out of consciousness he told me he was eight and his name was Antonio. No one who came with him could verify that any of this was true, his mama said wasn't coming. They would send someone for her later telling her she didn't need to worry about paying.

Thursday would turn into Friday while he lay alone, hurt and bleeding from his head, nose and ear. He was dusty and dirty, the dry brown earth fell out of his clothes as Lori cut off his bloody shirt. He was so thin that his pants fell off his body as he struggled. Someone had tried to make the waist of his pants smaller with a piece of string tied through several belt loops but it was no use, his thin frame had nothing to stop them from falling off. It would be Friday afternoon before a yard man saw the sticks that he had collected now laying on the ground. He knew something wasn't right, he began to look for other clues and found Antonio laying alone.

This was suppose to be a relaxing family outing with Zack, Lori and Licia at the rescue center. We had just looked at the property Zack is interested in buying. It was about three o'clock, we stopped on the top of the mountain to see what the problem was with our truck. It was smelling hot and making an awful noise. Two unpleasant things when you are at the top of a mountain and know you have to come down, preferably not on foot in the baking heat with no water.

As we stood out in the dust and hot wind Maddie was deciding just how badly she needed to go to the bathroom as a white pick up truck approached us. Not all that bad she said as she hopped around trying to convince herself that she could wait. The Estella work crew had found what we had thought was a old woman who was now wrapped up in the back of their truck. She had been hit by a falling rock as the road crew worked 24/7 to carve out a fantastic new road in the mountains past Cazelle. I am still not sure where this road was going to take people but I can tell you I wouldn't want to be on it in a Cameo going 100 miles an hour on that road.

As we made our way down the mountain, Dan and Zack went over a mental check list of things that "could be" wrong with the truck. I don't get sick easily but I was now feeling sick about a broken truck in the middle of no where and what I thought was a badly hurt old woman who could easily die. All the talk wasn't making me feel any better as dollar signs flashed in my mind. The squeal of the clutch cut through the air reminding me I wasn't feeling good when Dan and Zack looked at each other and said, that isn't good. A few turns later Dan announced he had lost the breaks. I told him to quit screwing around it wasn't funny. I wanted him to laugh but he wasn't laughing.

Zack had finally gotten a signal on his phone so he could call Lori and tell her what had happened. She and Licia would be ready and waiting. The fluid had burned off the clutch and the noise was gone as we pulled into the gate, I was feeling better. I thought we had beat the truck down the mountain but as I rounded the corner I saw what I had been thinking was an old woman was really a little boy, Anotino. My heart sank and I felt sick again.

The work to get him taken care of went quickly. Lori got an IV started, their nurse shaved and cleaned his head, Lisha tried to gather as much information as she could. The room was small and very organized to help things run smoothly. It was hot and filled with the smell of blood and body fluids. As he struggled to get a way from the pain he listed reasons why we should let go of him. In all of his wiggling to be free Licia found a red whistle that had fallen out of his pocket. He had been laying on it all this time. It quickly reminded me that just yesterday he was a normal little boy playing outside, now he was a nameless little boy crying in pain every time he woke up. I lost track of how many shots he got to numb his head as Lori worked to sew his wounds up.

Earlier in the day I had told her I wanted to learn how to do stitches. Now was my chance. As she worked she walked me through step by step instructions so I would be ready to go. It was now close to five and we needed to get on the road so we would be back before dark. I hated to leave him alone but he was in good hands. They had sent someone for his mother. I am not sure she ever came, but in the search for her they found yet another boy who had been hit by a falling rock.

That was Friday. On Saturday, Zack said a woman in labor showed up at the gate. She had delivered one baby and the second was stuck with the arm hanging out. Lori worked to get the baby out but couldn't. She ended up putting her in a tap-tap sending her in to port. Yes, in labor with the arm stuck!

(note: photo's by madisen lynch)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marketing Nightmare

In the corporate world I worked in the marketing and art department as the traffic coordinator. I was responsible for working with the writers, marketing managers, graphic designers, engineers and different vendors to keep all the jobs on schedule. We had war room meetings, conference calls, press kits, photo shoots, press releases, press runs and trade shows. Everything was about how our software looked and it's position in the market place. It wasn't even considered odd to have all day meetings just to talk about what font looked best for our literature and boxes. Every detail was looked at with a fine tooth comb to make sure every detail was perfect even down to the placement on the store shelves.

I have been removed from corporate life for a number of years but I can easily slip on my marketing cap and see life through the eyes of the marketing world. While watching television I have often thought to myself, I can't believe a group of people sat around a conference room table for hours to come up with crap like this and got paid for it.

I was laying in bed the other night with both my marketing and thinking caps on, not my preferred sleeping cap. I was thinking about the Deli Mart lady again. I had come to the conclusion she would technically be considered a marketing nightmare on every level. I mean look at her, she is a mess. No one wants to be a tourist and see things like that and wreck a perfectly good mindless vacation. Not to mention she is bad for business and makes the country look bad. On a more personal level, no mother wants to think about her child growing up like that and no child wants her mother to end up like this. And the church, well, we all know no one wants to sit next to her, shake her hand or have her over for lunch. After all what would everyone think? I have never had the guts to stop on Sunday morning and pick her up for church. I am not proud of the fact that I am a chicken, but I can't seem to stop thinking about her.

If you are honest with yourself you would admit at some level you care about how people see you and what they really think. Everyone packages themselves to look better and be more presentable. We market ourselves so that our lives look perfect, our kids act perfect, our ministry is flawless, our marriage is wonderful and our GAP clothes are trendy . I am always amazed to see the number of Haitians who have little money for food spending money to have clothes dry cleaned. It seems to me that the way they look is one of the only things they can be in control of so they spend hours making sure they look perfect.

So what's up with the Deli Mart lady? Here is my media spin on the whole deal. The day I took this picture she had taken off her packaging, her blue dress that was now piled up on top of her head. Her packaging was never discussed in an all day meeting it was pretty simple. She had just finished washing it on the side of the road in the car catcher. Unknowingly presenting the best picture I have ever seen for what can happen to humanity when we don't or won't deal with our sin. Standing in front of me was one of the truest pictures of what our lives apart from Jesus really look like.

Imagine with me if you will, that when you look at her as she is, it is as if you can see she has an entire life time of sin, generation curses, hurt, loneliness and pain saved up in the bags she has tied purposely to her body. She has never taken advantage of the free gift of salvation. Maybe no one ever told her she didn't have to carry all her sin and pain around with her and one day it was finally just too much for her and she stopped marketing herself in what we would consider the proper way. She now hides it all in bags under her blue jean dress thinking no one can see the struggle in her daily walk to sit next to the car catcher at Deli Mart. Just as I assume no one can see my sin as I struggle to walk out my salvation.
That's the funny thing about sin, we never think others can see it because we think we have marketed ourselves so well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday Baseball - Monday Carnival

On Saturday I was going to write a nice short blog about how we try to make things as normal as possible living in Haiti. Normal, like baseball games on Saturday mornings with a handful of other families. I started to write about a fun filled Saturday afternoon doing family type stuff but never finished.
Sunday Parker wasn't feeling well so I stayed home from church with him and tried to get caught up on my growing list of things to do. Sunday night was game night, pretty normal. Minus the fact that the night air was filled with the sound of rara bands passing up and down the street as we played cards and ate popcorn for dinner.
We went to bed late Sunday night knowing we could sleep in a little bit since we are on spring break this week while the whole country celebrates Carnival. Carnival is a really big deal here. I have never been to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras in New Orleans but I am guessing Haiti would be on the extreme end Mardi Gras Madness in the States. In preparation they build massive band stands to play very loud music, randomly close off streets with trucks full of speakers bigger than people for even more music creating even more of an already confusing maze for those who are trying drive here, they dress up in costumes and go to massive parades, hundreds of young people fill the streets while they dance to rara music moving like a flood up and down Delma all the way from Port to Pentionville at any given time. This too is what is normal here for Carnival.

Monday morning came around and we loaded up the truck for a beach day with the Hojo's. Again, normal spring break stuff.
Believe it or not everything was falling in line with the theme of my original idea to talk about how we are doing normal things here in Haiti. When off in the distance I see this guy walking toward us surrounded by little kids. He was dressed in a big jewel toned sheet, had a snake skin around his neck, some kind of shawl around his shoulders, a cowboy hat on his head, this scary mask on his face and he wanted all the kids to put their hand in his box to get a prize as part of the Carnival celebration.

When he said, it might be scary, all attempts of normal flew out the window.
Maddie wanted nothing to do with him. Caleb and Charmaine are teenagers, enough said. That left Parker. I couldn't imagine what was in the box? But, Parker had no fear and put his hand right in with no problem. He didn't start screaming or crying so that was good. He didn't jump back or freak out so it couldn't have been too bad. It turns out that there was a puppy and a frog inside the box.
Normal, everyday beach stuff!

So, maybe I should say we live in "pockets" of normal here in Haiti. Normal is kind of woven into what is odd, strange and unperdictiable at times.
This has become normal for us and most of the time I enjoy this kind of normal. We have gotten used to it and it seems normal. Infact, so much so, that playing baseball can seem abnormal. Strange but true!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I always wonder what Jesus thinks about her when I drive by. I find myself checking on her to see if she is there. When she isn't I wonder what she is doing. She sits alone everyday at the intersection right in front of the Deli Mart.
I think she was beautiful at one time, she still is in a way that I don't have words to describe.
She is dirty, but her hands are thin and elegant. She has fragile features and perfect skin.
I wonder if she has children.
How is it that this corner is her home?
She has bags and bags of things that she has collected around her and under her clothes.
I asked her if she was sick but when she answered she wasn't talking to me. She was looking at me but she wasn't seeing me.
The two boys who stopped to ask me for food said she wasn't sick she was a fool.
I knew no one ever talked to her because when I stopped and got out of the truck I instantly had a crowd around me laughing.
As the crowd grew Dan thought he would see if she needed money before we left.
It seemed to me she carried all she needed with her and money had no value.
I think I will stop again and see if she will tell me her name.

I think Jesus would wash her feet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

United Nations (MINUSTAH)

I Googled you, she said.
It still sounds funny to me when I think about it.
But, this is how Amelia Shaw and the UN ended up coming to do a story on sewing school. I couldn't imagine how on earth she had found out about us. At first I thought John had been talking to someone. Next, I guessed it was Dave, a pilot who works for the UN and attends our church.

As Amelia was finishing up her story on Tuesday I couldn't stand it any more. I had to know how she found out about us.
"I Googled you"!
It is amazing to me that we live in this day and age where we can be Googled. We have found our street here in Haiti on Google Earth. That is crazy!

As it turns out she had gotten a Haiti News Alert with an on-line news story. When she did her search she found the recent story about us in The Villages newspaper. As she read the story she saw that we lived in Haiti and decieded to find us. When she Googled us our blog came up. It was that easy. She sent us an email to set up an interview and spent the morning with us seeing what we do.

The story will run on Haitian television after Carnival and be sent to New York. Amelia had come to Haiti to do some film work and always wanted to be a journalist. She said it was always something she wanted to do but didn't go to school for it. She has always liked to live in different cultures and went to school for anthropology. When all the trouble started in 2004 the BBC had known about her living here and asked her to start doing some work for them and that is how she ended up with the UN.

I don't think they Googled her...but I am glad she Googled us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy Birthday!!

He didn't show up dressed in a red suit.
He drove up to the gate in his white Toyota pick up, minus Rudolph of course. He simply honked so I would come out to the gate and check out his load.
A birthday cake would have been appropriate, but he didn't know what today was and he had something so much better.
He says he's just a bag of dirt the Lord put breath into....maybe.
I am not allowed to give him any glory - it was all God. He said he is just the yard guy....maybe.
Two days ago if you read my Facebook status it said, Sheila needs fabric!
Do you think he read my Facebook status and just happened to have twenty-one bags of perfect fabric? Maybe.
So, now that we are not talking about the Santa Claus looking guy in the picture, I am free to talk about what today was.
Today the sewing program celebrated it's one year birthday!
I thought about making a cake, but forgot. I am sorry to say I had thought about it earlier in the week but by the time today came I had forgotten all about it and moved on to the next thing.
Today the ladies started taking their written exams on shirts. I am very behind in grading paper projects and needed to spend the morning getting caught up with a number of things.
It was now nine o'clock, I had just heated up my coffee that Dan made me at six o'clock this morning before he did devotions with John that I didn't get to drink because I was going out for my run/walk when my phone rang. It was Dan telling me that we had a delivery coming from the yard guy, you know the one in the picture.
I'll admit I was thinking about freaking out!
Yes, I wanted and needed fabric but what on earth was I going to do with twenty-one bags of fabric? But as luck would have it (or something like that) I had just collected all the extra bins last week and had them sitting up stairs. Empty, Ready and Waiting!
The yard guy explained to me that these bags may not have anything I needed in them because the label said, upholstery fabric.
Ha! Funny! That is exactly what we need! As we opened all the bags I started to cry! It was overwhelming! So many perfect and beautiful fabrics! The yard guy said it's all about our brokenness and our willingness to let God use us in any way He can and he didn't have anything to do with it....maybe.
Everyone who walked in this morning wanted to know what on earth happened? The ladies said it was a cyclone!
All I can say is it was better than Christmas and one really great birthday party for the sewing ladies! Thanks to some yard guy!
He isn't too bad at diet coke and pepper jack cheese either!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fast Food

You won't find any golden arches on the corner of busy intersections here but the streets are full of fast food joints. You will smell the hot grease heating up as you wait for your order. The food can be really wonderful, but there are a few rules you should follow before you eat food that has been cooked on the side of the road at a local Haitian drive up (vs drive through). Depending on where you stop you will have your choice of filling, just like any good drive up...goat, pork, hot dogs, chicken, egg. These rules are not posted any place for viewing, nor is there an inspection notice posted that tells you what score they got out of a 100. Some details are better unknown. But, like I was saying, the rules are only to help you avoid what is better known as Haitian Happiness, a.k.a. one really bad case of the runs and I mean bad. Maybe after we have lived here a good long time we won't need to follow these rules but I just can't seem to get used to the idea of a thousand or more flies landing at random on my food while it sits in the hot sun being lightly dusted with diesel fumes and a fine layer dust just for good measure.

Here is a quick rule of thumb, make sure the grease is hot and clean. Well, you know, as clean as possible and if you can get your order as soon as it comes out of the pot that is always best so you avoid any extras being added. (Did you ever wonder how they wash their hands after they go to the bathroom as they sit on the side of the road all day long with no port-a-potty?)

You may be saying there is no way I would ever eat food cooked on the street. My advise - Come on, live a little!

Oh, rule number two: don't use the street ice.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Lost Is Found

Our suit case has been to Minneapolis, Argentina, Spain, Miami, New York and Haiti....all in one week!
Our lost bag has made it back to Haiti....minus the apples!
Let the sewing begin...we have thread again!!
Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe Season One and Two can now begin.
(We think Mike Rowe should come to Haiti to film a few shows of "Dirty Jobs")

Friday, February 13, 2009

Maddie's 6th grade class

Maddie and her 6th grade class went out today with the supplies they collected at QCS to feed the kids at Garden of Joy. Dan was one of the drivers for the adventure up the mountain near the Baptist Mission.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Music

I have a song stuck in my head by Brian and Jenn Johnson...."Where You Go I'll Go".....

Jesus only did what he saw you do

He would only say what he heard you speak

He would only move when he felt you lead

Following your heart following your spirit

Where you go I go

What you say I say

What you pray I pray

How could I expect to walk without you

When every move that Jesus made was in surrender

I will not begin to live without you

For you alone are worthy and you are always good

Though the world sees and soon forgets

We will not forget who you are and what you’ve done for us

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lost In Argentina

We got up at 3:45 a.m. and drove to the airport in Minneapolis last Thursday for our 6:00 a.m. flight. When we travel my carry on is always full of frozen food. I am used to the funny looks and the security scanner stopping with my bag being double checked as they look around for the strange person that has frozen fish, frozen hamburger, frozen cheese and coffee in their bag.
This time we couldn't fit the Fugi apples in my bag so against my better judgement they went in with the checked bags.
I was arguing with myself, half of me thought they would be fine.
In all of the trips we have made to different countries I have never really lost more than one bag and it was only for a day, not a big deal.

After our four hour lay over and lunch at Chili's we are standing in the PAP airport, almost everyone was gone. Two large teams stood waiting with us in their matching bright red t-shirts. They didn't have all their bags, so I really thought my bag would be coming soon - no such luck.
I began digging for the paperwork finally finally finding the bag tickets. My heart sank when I saw that one of the tags wasn't even ours. Some how the tags had gotten switched on our bag. I understand, it was 4:30 a.m.
Not only was the tag not ours but our bag went to Argentina.
At 4:30 a.m. I wasn't checking tags, I was needing coffee, strong coffee.

I began making a mental list of things in the bag.....
12 Fugi Apples
50 spools of quiting thread
Sewing Machine Needles #18
Tracing Wheels
Sewing Machine Oil
Dirtiest Jobs DVD set
Deadliest Catch DVD set
Tea from Teavana
Tea filter from Teavana
Assorted Teas from Tea Source
Movies for the kids from Wal-mart
Pot holders

I am not thinking my apples are going to be very good if they ever make it to Haiti from Argentina.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Speak English....

I have never been one of those people who can quote lines from movies off the top of my head. Maybe I shut that part of my brain off when my brother, who is mentally ill, started quoting lines from Star Wars back to me when he was seventeen exposing the on set of schizophrenia. I just find it strange that people can remember random stuff like that. I love my brother very much but this isn’t about mental illness or my brother. It is about the way the Lord speaks to me or maybe more fitting the way I want Him to speak to me.

Now, I am not sure which movie it was but it is with Whoppie Goldberg, Sister Act maybe. The only line I can remember is when she says; “speak English Mick", meaning Mick Jaggar. I often call the Lord Mick in my conversations telling him I wish He would just speak English to me. More often than not I end up feeling like my brother thinking I need to adjust my medication so I can hear God better.

The point that I am trying to make is when people visit Haiti they almost always want to know how long we plan on staying. Since I am not a Rolling Stones fan, I can say without a doubt that this answer is as clear as the words Mick sings in a Rolling Stones song. Being a Christian and hearing God can be like listening to Mick sing. You know how it goes, you have heard a song a hundred times and all of a sudden you hear it and find out you have been singing the wrong words for years. For some of us we have no clue, so we say crazy sounding things like, we are just living day by day waiting to hear from God. It sounds good I guess but truthfully, it is just as odd saying it and living it, but that is exactly what we are doing. At times what you really want to say goes something like this, well, if the Lord would speak English I could give you a straight answer but it just so happens he is using Mick Jagger to talk to me and I have no earthly idea what He is saying to me. I won’t go as far as saying I can’t get no satisfaction, because that isn’t true either.

Today I finally figured something out when I was reading our mission statement and thinking about a dream I had. In my dream I saw a time line that really looked like an EKG with all kinds of spikes in it. The spikes indicated times when we would be traveling in different countries and the flat lines where when we would be in the States. I understood what we are called to do is very much like a heart beat. As Christians we need to know the signs and the times and what God is saying to us with the beat of His heart. As God’s Plumbline Ministries are called to lay down a template in different nations. But what made it all click for me was thinking about Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey has written a book or a template for people to follow in order to find financial freedom. That is what we are doing with sewing school. We are putting in place a template for others to follow so that women around the world can find the tools to be empowered, rebuilding their lives and restoring hope.

All these years I have been busting on the Lord about sounding like Mick Jagger and here He was Dave Ramsey.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It is worthwhile to lose for a just cause - Matthew Hogan

Matt is the oldest son of some of our oldest friends from highschool (Tim and Gwen Hogan)...Enjoy!

I came upon a soldier one day he was lying beneath a beech tree drinking from a bottle of wine his armor was rusty and he had grown fat. From his face I could tell he was slobbering drunk.

“What place is this for a knight,” I asked him?

“This is where I belong, the world does not need men like me anymore,” he said.

“You speak nonsense,” I said to him, “it must be the wine, now get up.”

“Give me a war to fight; give me a tyrant to conquer; give me a dragon to slay; or give me a quiet place to die,” he said, “I do not wish to survive for the sake of survival itself. Boy don’t you see there is no enemy to fight, no army, no beast, no demon only an emptiness, a blackness thicker than a dead man’s blood and it separates each person from their sister and brother.
The world has grown small, there is no room for greatness only sameness and fairness or so they are called.
Life is no longer to be tolerated only existence to survive in this new and lifeless world you must cease to live and accept the terms of popular society created by a monster that does not exist you live on a foundation of unreal ideas.
there is no safety, and no governor tyrant monster or demon can protect you from the life you forsook for the sake of existence. Don’t you see? Everything you know is a lie, and all for you to feel as if you can be safe. You’ve forgotten that there can be no endless ocean to make you feel small if there is no danger there can be no high mountain to silhouette against the setting sun, no cold winter, no falling snow.

No, no I think not.
I will not cling dearly to your backward world where men race to their own destruction and do not even see that hell is where they are going. There is no beast to kill anymore because everything is dead, so there is no one to save from the bold demons because they don’t want to be saved. So, how can a hero be of use to a race that wishes to remain enslaved?”

It was true, the soldier was right, the villain was no being, but rather something that was missing. Not something that needed to die but rather a thing that needed to live, and you cant bring that about with sword or shield or any army small or great.

How can men live in such a senseless fear, and what’s more why would they?

The soldier continued, “The worst of deeds had indeed begun with the best of intentions. They wanted to protect themselves and who can fault them for that? But they were too proud to see that we were not strong enough, and that to destroy pain would mean to destroy the reason to live.
It would destroy the one element that allowed for beauty.
It would mean the death of humanity and the birth of a race that knew only empty existence. But, they were so blinded by the driving false hope that they might conquer all pain for the sake of an imagined peace that they did not see that they were poised to strike the heart of their own life. And now no man can see his neighbors and the world is whatever he wants it to be because what he wants is all that matters anymore. The truth is lost locked away from our minds so we can’t remember the hurt and the pain.
The men and women that lead us alter the perceived history of a race that once was human, now abolished by the pursuit of the phantasmal idea that is perfection. If only we could let go and feel the wind on our face without trying to control or understand, to touch the flame and know the pain that makes us remember why we try so hard to live, to walk the mountain road and feel small in the waves of the sea, to know the world as it should be, to be free of the idea that we can master our fate.
Life was never supposed to be safe, it was instead meant to be beautiful. But, how do you convince the hell-bent that there is something better than this safe empty life? How does one conquer a lie? The simple answer is with the truth, but the truth must be believed to set one free.”
“So why not endeavor to bring life and truth,” I replied, “why must you surrender only because you cannot see what it is that you fight?” the question was rhetorical but he answered anyway.

“I do not surrender child,” he said, “I refuse to fight because I cannot win. No matter what, the people will succeed, and in some ways they already have. They have destroyed the prophets and ignored the signs, and they die for it. I tried to save them, but they didn’t want to be saved. They wanted freedom but did not know how to have it. I failed them it is too late.”
I looked him straight in his drunken eyes, and I said with fiery indignation, “you are wrong!”
I walked away into another part of the world and never returned to that place. But, I never forgot what I learned that day from the defeated knight.
Life was supposed to be dangerous, and without danger there is no mortality, no humanity.
But, above all I learned that the impossibility of a war you cannot win is no reason why not to fight it.

It is worthwhile to lose for a just cause.