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. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something Old - Something New

I am getting ready to head out again.
I will be back in one of my favorite places doing something I love.
Women helping women.
I have had this idea in my head for two years.
We are going to take something old and create something new.
What is the idea?
Making cloth beads out of scrap fabric.
We will start creating jewelry from the beads.
Marjorie has six new ladies that will be joining the program.
We will also hire one lady to make "gift" bags for the jewelry.
Seven women will start the process of changing their lives, making beauty from ashes...

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor

Isaiah 61:3

Monday, October 25, 2010

Whatever happened to....Couple still helping Haitians long after earthquake

Whatever happened to....Couple still helping Haitians long after earthquake

By David Wickert
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When an earthquake killed more than 230,000 Haitians in January, many in this country wondered how they could help.

Dan and Sheila Lynch of Marietta didn’t have to wonder. They’d already spent nearly a decade helping Haitian families escape crushing poverty. So with a borrowed plane and other assistance, they flew medical supplies to the Caribbean nation.

But it’s what they tried to bring out of Haiti that made headlines. In a land where thousands had suddenly become orphans, they targeted 22 children whose adoptions already were pending when the earthquake struck Jan. 12.

Today, 20 of those children are with their new parents in the U.S. The Lynches are still keeping track of the other two.

It’s that kind of focus – concentrate on helping a few people – that has guided the couple since they founded God’s Plumbline Ministries 11 years ago. The organization gets its name from the Bible, from the book of Amos, chapter seven: “Then the Lord said, `Look, I am setting a plumbline among my people.’”

Builders used plumb lines to show vertical direction. Dan and Sheila Lynch try to give direction to Haitian families by teaching skills that translate into income.

The ministry consists of Dan and Sheila and their three children. Working with other groups, they provide health education and vocational training to Haitians. In February 2008, they started a sewing school that helps women earn a living. It’s grown from 15 women to 57.

“We wanted to be part of a solution,” Sheila said. “Our solution was to help children. The best way to help a child was to help his mother and to keep a family intact.”

The ministry grew out of a church mission trip to Haiti in 2000. Sheila saw a child die on that trip and saw many others who were severely malnourished.

“I realized I was less than two hours from the United States,” she said.

When the earthquake struck, they used a corporate jet donated by Duluth-based Kids ‘R’ Kids child care centers to fly $75,000 worth of medical and other supplies to Haiti.

They twice tried to bring those 22 children to their adoptive parents. But they were turned away as Haitian authorities became concerned about child trafficking in the wake of the disaster. Authorities later arrested 10 Americans for trying to smuggle 33 children out of the county.

Eventually most of the children Dan and Sheila Lynch tried to transport made it out of Haiti by other means.

“Many children are doing well,” Sheila said. “Many children, however, are struggling with a lot of trauma issues.”

The same can be said for Haiti, where hundreds of thousands remain homeless. Sheila has visited six times since the earthquake.

“It’s almost criminal to me that there are still people sleeping in tents,” she said. “It seems so cruel to me that the whole world has donated so much and it’s still so broken.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Season

The smell of rotten fish had gone, my heart was swelling.
I sat and counted.
The women's program has grown from fifteen in our first class two years ago to fifty-seven.
Fifty-seven women come to the women's program every day.

Today was a special class, they would hear about family planning.
The message was loud and clear
"Yes, children are a gift, but have the number you can care for on your own.
Have the number you can clothe, feed, and send to school while taking care of yourself."

Spacing children out and planning for your future - all new thinking.
Not easy concepts, here.
There was laughter, questions and lots of resistance.
Nevertheless, this was a new season.
They would be given information, an education and a chance to learn new skills.
There will be new courage, new thinking, new self-confidence and yes, a new season.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lessons From Psalm 23 and a Comma

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

6 Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

I have know these words since I was a little girl.
Even non-Christian types know this scripture, maybe the whole world.
As I listened to a sermon on these familiar words they became so alive for me when the speaker paused after the word surely.
It was as if he added a comma and it changed the meaning of the whole thing for me.

Sheila, surely you know goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.

It was no longer a lyric in a song from my childhood, it was now truth.
I owned it.
Goodness and mercy are mine for the rest of my life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Funerals and Rain

"If it rains on a funeral, it means the person was cheap"
- Haitian Proverb

Well, that puts a whole new spin on it now doesn't it.
Third world country, worst earthquake in history, rainy season, tent cities and to top it all off, people think you are cheap because it's raining on the day you are being buried.

I wonder what it means to be cheap in a third world?
Is it the fact that a guy on the street, working in a tent made your casket?
Even when you are the poorest of the poor, you can still be cheap?

I wonder how?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jonah In Miami

I wasn't running away from God because I didn't want to preach against great wickedness.
I was, in fact, headed to a strange land that would lead to what one could call a crazy "fish story".
A "fish story" being a tale that continues to grow with greater and unbelievable details each time it is told.

My tale started in Atlanta.
I told myself that I would put the past behind me, not thinking about my trip in April that landed me in the Bahamas, sitting on the tarmac for five hours with no food or beverage service. I wasn't going to dwell on the fact that my plane was struck by lightning putting me in the middle of a plane full of screaming, swearing, praying, truly ticked-off people or the fact that I was stranded in Miami spending the night with friends, arriving in PAP the following day.

I really should have noticed a faint fish smell in the air as I made my way just East of nowhere in the newly remodeled Miami airport to hook up with a friend to collect tuition money for kids and a large zip-lock bag of cell phones to be given to the kids as well.

Truth be told, I didn't really get that over powering fish smell until much later.

I was also meeting up with a friend from high school who would travel to Haiti with me.
Once on deck, so to speak, we sat on the tarmac talking, catching up on life, exchanging books, filling in the blanks about what happened to our old high school friends never moving off the tarmac, unaware of the storm brewing around us.
The crew didn't start throwing cargo off the plane or ask us to pray to our gods, they just kept repeating they would try to fix the mechanical problem.
American Airlines flight 575 was beginning to look, smell and sound a whole lot like the ship Jonah boarded headed for Tarshish.
After two and half hours of trying to fix the mechanical problems and some FAA guidelines now kicking in we got tossed.
We debarked the ship sitting for yet another hour, while the murmuring, complaining, texting and phoning began only to hear the dreaded words...flight cancelled.

We had now been tossed into the sea of mass chaos, mad dashes, swearing and the surrealness of a happy faced first time missions team. Bags in hand, all in matching t-shirts calmly declaring God had a plan and it was just part of the adventure.
I however, did not have on a happy face or the matching t-shirt and was not part of that crowd.
My t-shirt said, been there, done that.
I began to wonder about the ten pounds of frozen cheese now thawing in my carry-on, sweating all over my clothing.

I am pretty sure the voice over the loud speaker said, "welcome to Nineveh, the land you so desperately tried to avoid".
It was decided that said friend would leave me in Nineveh, not to make the rest of the journey with me due to the failures of traveling to Haiti on a "bubby-pass", always risky.
There were no casting of lots to find out who was responsible for this calamity, only food and hotel vouchers given to those of us who stood in the cattle line at the American Airlines counter in Concourse "D".

I would be spending the night in Miami, alone, eating a $16.00 cheeseburger.
I was happy I didn't have to collect my one hundred pounds of cargo.
I made a few phone calls, some to vent, others to a hand full of travel buddies who would find great humor in this journey.
Two calls to see if I had really lost my mind, now doubting that I should be making this journey.
I found the ice machine, unpacked my thawed and sweating cheese, poured ice over it in the sink to keep it cold for the night and went to bed.
It says, Jonah was in a deep sleep during the storm, this is where he and I differ.
I am not a fan of getting up at 4:00 a.m. two days in a row and don't sleep well when I have to fly.

The seas seemed rougher in the land I had desperately tried to avoid.
I wanted to be in a place that didn't always move so much, a place I could control.
I was praying a pray that sounded much like the one Jonah prayed.
He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave, I called for help
I needed help, I knew it and I was asking.
Part of the asking and attitude adjustment would hopefully come after I used my five dollar breakfast voucher for a triple shot, two pump vanilla latte at Starbucks.

By the time I made it to the gate, it smelled like an open air fish market all around me.
I didn't want to admit it was just the rotten smell of my attitude.
Not even strong coffee could fix that.
I should try to read.
Then I noticed the happy faced matching t-shirt people talking happily.
I still wasn't wearing the t-shirt and wondered if I had forgotten deodorant.
Maybe I should check.
It was once again, time to board.
It got worse when the gate attendant took my personal carry-on with the now sort of cold ten pounds of cheese, the zip-lock bag of cell phones, the new lap top away from me.
My protests went unheard.

I found my seat.
Thankfully, it was not next to a happy t-shirt person.
I was sitting next to my kind of traveler, quite and reading.
I sent a few text messages to say it looked like I would be leaving soon.
After thirty minutes the door should have closed, but it didn't.
No messages played about breathing devices falling from heaven to save us.
We had, you guessed it, mechanical problems.
All signs were now clear, I was Jonah.
I was sure of it.
Maybe if they tossed me off the storm would become calm.
I texted friends who I told I was leaving to say, I was not leaving.
I was trying to make lemonade.
I looked at the quite, book reader next to me and said, "can you say, Jonah?"
He didn't get it.

I wondered why after ten years of doing this I didn't find the humor in the darkness of traveling in a whale to a strange land.
How it was that the words, "we have to manually close the electronic door and fill out paper work" felt as repulsive to me as God telling Jonah to go confront wickedness.
I am not a big throw a fleece before the Lord kind of person.
But, I had determined if they couldn't close the cargo door, I was done.
I was torn, half of me wanted off, the other half wanted to get on with things.
I had things to do and people to see.
A miracle happened and we left for Haiti an hour and a half late.

Jonah's journey was three days and three nights, mine only two.
We landed in Haiti and as I walked off the jet way I could hear men singing to greet us.
I would fight the crowd to see if my hundred plus pounds of cargo actually caught up with me.
To my surprise, they didn't end up tossed over board in the Bahama's because of the defective cargo door issue.

Bags on cart, happy to be the ground, I searched for a familiar face to pick me up.
After all the confusion I wasn't to surprised I didn't see my ride.
I made a few phone calls on a borrowed phone since my phone was saying "invalid Sim card".
I did try the taxi route, but refused to pay twenty-five dollars for a three mile ride.
I argued about the cost of fuel and time it would take, finally telling them to take my bags out and forget the whole thing.
I would wait.
All the happy t-shirt people had loaded their bags into several vans.
I was now the only white face in a sea of black faces surrounded by cargo guys wanting to know if I liked the sun and why did I keep standing in the sun looking for a ride?
Finally, another white face and a ride.

This, however, is not the end of my fish tale.
I learned a long time ago never to say, "what else can go wrong"?
Especially when it comes to Haiti.

Ringing wet from my new love of the sun, happy to be in the comfort of friends, I had to get the ten pounds of cheese of out my suitcase.
I opened up my carry on to find that I had been robbed.
Half of the cell phones had been taken out of the large zip-lock bag along with the envelopes of money.
My heart sank, $1200 was gone.
Never mind Jonah confronting wickedness, I wanted to swear.
Instead, I put my face in my still cool suitcase, trying not to cry and throw up all at the same time.
Didn't they understand, they didn't steal from me, they stole from their own people.
My mind started to race, how could this happen, I was never away from my bags.
I replayed the trip in my head over and over again.
I would have to send an email and try to explain what happened.
You know the part when Jonah says, he would rather die, me too.

The next morning was like salt on a wound.
As Marjorie unpacked the supplies and fabric, she found the empty money envelopes in a completely different suitcase.
Even though I had placed two fifty pound bags on top of "the" suitcase, they still found the money and cell phones under the ten pounds of sweating cheese.
They even picked the phones they wanted leaving me the ones that they didn't want.
My conclusion, it had to have happened while I used a cell phone.

It was good it stormed that night, reminding me of those in the tent cities and choices made for survival.
My heart softened for this country that made me want to swear.
There would be no word from the Lord allowing me to go to the airport, proclaiming a great message leading to repentance, sackcloth, ashes.
It was done and over.

OK, so I don't know what the inside of a whale technically looks like.
I do know what it is like to stink.
I don't really like the end of my story.
I do however like the way Jonah's story ends.
So, I will end with his and not mine.

Jonah 4:11 - The Lord said,"But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well, Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Fair Trade

* 1.4 billion - estimated number of people in the world existing on less than $1.25 per day, according to Bread for the World

* 2.7 billion - estimated number of people in the world existing on less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank

* 30% - women in non-agricultural conventional production in developing countries in 2004, according to the United Nations

* 76% - women engaged in non-agricultural fair trade production in 2008, according to the Fair Trade Federation's 2009

* 284,000 - number of children in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon working in hazardous tasks on conventional cocoa farms, according to a 2002 International Institute of Tropical Agriculture study directly involving 4,500+ producers.

* 15,000 - number of children aged 9 to 12 in the Ivory Coast alone who have been sold into forced labor on conventional cotton, coffee, and cocoa plantations, according to a 2000 US State Department report

* 7.5 million - individuals in 2008 that directly benefit from Fair Trade Certified production, according to the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International

Saturday, October 2, 2010

September Newsletter

September 2010

Dear Friends and Family:

10 is said to be one of the perfect numbers and signifies the perfection of Divine order. Noah was the tenth generation from God. There are Ten Commandments, ten Lords a leaping, October is the tenth month and hopefully we all have 10 fingers and toes. This October will also mark 10 years that we have been working in Haiti.
In ways too many to count, it is both hard and easy to believe we lived in Haiti for two years and have worked there for 10. In preparing to write this “anniversary” letter, I got out my first travel journal. I saw names of places we traveled to, clinics we held, adventures we will never forget, hand prints of children I had traced as we sat waiting and waiting for our rides to come, supply lists of things needed, names of doctors, some crazy ideas that really worked, carrying a child, who should be walking, in a basket that now sits in my house, laughed at some of our made up songs, cried over people who have died and cherished the people who have become life long friends. I think about the boy who died on the boat with us on that first trip, the little girl who looked like a walking skeleton who came to clinic with her grandmother in funny, black high top tennis shoes that were meant for a boy and about they boy who stole my heart 10 years ago on that fourteen hour boat ride back from a place called Pestel, who is now a grown up and calls me “Mom” and my children call “brother”. He changed the way I see God, gave me the courage to believe in healing and showed me that the scripture about having the faith of a mustard seed that can move mountains is really true.
Yet, in all of these memories, it was the journal entry a month after I had been home from my trip that stopped me.
“I have come home a different person, I now understand men who have been at war coming home. No one from your everyday life comes with you to this place you visited or to the place you went spiritually. You think to yourself, ”what is wrong with everyone” and then it clicks, they can’t come with me and I have to give them grace. I will never be the same, and for good or for bad it feels strange to be in this body. There aren’t words to connect these two experiences and trying to put them together is culture shock that causes me to cry often. You really feel like you left part of your soul there and now something is missing. Is this a soul tie or burden for the groaning of those held captive? Somehow the saying, “the carpets been pulled out from under me” comes to me and I have to reevaluate a lot of my beliefs.”

In this place of the perfect number and divine order, we continue to believe that the Lord has ordered our steps and is calling us to work in the Nations. We are putting everything we have done down on paper creating a business model for a “purpose business” that we can put into action in other countries, we have applied for grants seeking the funding we need to move forward into the next 10 years. I (Sheila) will be in Haiti the first few weeks in October preparing to ship 5000 pounds of fabric, working with different ministries, while accompanied by an old friend from high school, who will be helping me put “the corporation” (his words) I have in my head on paper so we can present it to different resources. We have been approached by other organizations with the opportunity of expanding our work in Haiti, while taking what we have already done and putting it into action in Africa. It is a new season in our lives!

His Grace, Dan and Sheila Lynch