21 December 2012
Well, what do you all-- the readers-- think? Should we expand into Haiti in 2013? We have the opportunity to make a survey trip to visit a specific orphanage with a good partner contact and good ministry references. There are several smaller works that can also be visited. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Since the earthquake, the situation of orphans and other needy children are all the greater. It is a short plane flight to go to visit and would be easy to manage our program-- at least as far as time and distance is concerned. But- we do not need any more added to our work load. Our small staff stays pretty busy as it is. Another country means more travel, more paper work, more recruiting sponsors, more evaluation, accountability tasks and expenses. I am sure there are many children in need in Haiti, but we have no shortage of children in need. And-- I am not attracted to Haiti-- not at all. When I think of Haiti, I think of dirt and disease, hardships and heat-- all things that are true of Asian countries and no issue at all to me there. Haiti is one of the few places on the planet that I really have no desire to visit. But that is one reason why I think this opportunity has come from the Lord. It has not come from my own desires. I would like to add in a people group from along the Amazon River in South America. What a delight it would be to see that famous river and the tropical birds and fish that have always delighted me. Or.... we have been asked many times to consider orphanages in Mexico and I am ready to go there. We've had some strong invitations to various places in Africa that seem to fit with what we do. And my love and longing for Asia is well known. But it is not any of these, but Haiti which is developing in front of us now and just as in other countries, we are taking one step at a time. Please pray with us as we consider this important decision.
The women on this team received an excellent overview of our ministry in Nepal. They visited most of the areas where we work and experienced a little bit of what life is like in Nepal-- such as the food, the rough mountain roads, the unheated buildings and the lack of hot water in the shower. One of the places we worked was Trisuli-- a village up in the mountains, where-- as far as I know-- no foreigner has ever gone, except those with Allow The Children. The little church in Trisuli rests on a ledge of ground carved out of the side of the mountain. One is wise to avoid walking too close to the edge, where the drop is too far to see all the way down. The space between the drop off and the side of the church building, is perhaps not as wide as I would choose. I often wonder about the children getting too close to the edge. Why do they not put up some kind of fence or safety barrier. But I suppose if they did, the whole world of these people would need to be fenced. They would probably wonder how we can live with busy streets coming right up against our property and no protective fence. In Trisuli, we slept all together on the floor in one room. The toilet required a short hike, which was no problem, except for the cliff edge which was still there in the dark and the leopards which were also there- somewhere in the dark. No I am not kidding. This was a missionary trip, not a tourist experience. Yes. I love it.
facilitated medical clinics for about two weeks each year for a number of years now. We set up in churches or whatever building is made available to us-- or even the open air. Most of the people from the village can think of some reason to see the doctor. Typical problems are skin rashes, infections from insect bites, pain in the knees or any joints, gastric (heartburn) discomfort. But we also see some potentially serious conditions suffered by people who have little access to medical care. They are hard busy days, but it is very satisfying to bring some help to these people. For the Hindu people in each community, it might be the first time that they have come inside the church. Now-- after meeting the pastor and some of the believers, it will be easier to join a worship or fellowship gathering in the future. As we are busy with the patients, other members of the team are filling their own roles. The pastors move among the people meeting them, praying for and with those who are open to that, building the relationships that will bear fruit in the future. As the people wait for the doctor, a woman was sharing the gospel with her picture flip chart. Each time we hold the clinics, the village churches grow. Many were hearing the story of a Savior who loves them for the very first time.
One of the places where we held a clinic was at our Maranatha Children's Home. Last year, we set up on the front porch, but this time, the church building was complete. We had prayed for it for years. We were working on it and fund raising for it for years. Now the ground floor was finished and we were using the building for the very first time. We look forward to pastor training, gathering for our children's sponsorship program, medical clinics, and the growth of the infant local church in this place.
20 December 2012
One of the special blessings of the October 2012 trip, was a visit to a little school in the village. It is a new project attached to one of our partner churches. It had not been there when I last visited about a year ago. The school is a very simple cinder block building divided into four sections or classrooms. There were no supplies or equipment or teaching materials of any kind. Parents should provide notebooks to write in for their child, but many do not buy them. Children wandered in throughout the morning with no particular attention to a schedule. They filled the seating available in each room. The special blessing was that these children were being taught by a boy who was a graduate grown up in our Maranatha Children's Home-- a boy who many have had little education himself without our program. He did not have any particular teacher training, just the basic education approximately the same as high school in the US. Now, he was sharing what he knew with these young children, moving from room to room-- giving some instruction and assignments, then moving on to the next room. Since the school is so small, he was able to keep ear shot of each group as he worked with another, but all the same-- it looked to be a challenge that would stretch a professional, experienced teacher in the US. The school is in a village more than an hour from a road. They rarely see anyone from outside their own community. Whether from cultural habit or fascination with a foreigner, every child sat attentively as I spoke with them. I learned that while the school is a project under the church, most of the children are Hindu. Our boy from Maranatha--now a man with a big responsibility-- is a strong believer, but would not be allowed to openly teach faith based topics in the school. If he taught a Bible story directly, there could be some complaints from parents, but not much could be done about the foreigner. With a translator who had come along with me, I dove right into New Testament theology, telling the story of a small man who climbed a tree to see Jesus and his surprise to find out that Jesus knew his name, and cared about him and wanted to visit in his home. I told the Hindu children that Jesus knew their names too and love them and wanted them to know Him. Then, I moved to the next room to tell the story again--four times to four different age groups. Every child's eyes were intent upon me and a few had lower jaws dropped. What a privilege to tell the story. As you read this account, please stop and pray for these children and for God's Word to grow richly in their hearts and for the witness of their Christian teacher to the children and the whole village.