care more than some think is wise; risk more than some think is safe;
dream more than some think is practical; expect more than some think is possible


El Jardin

Meredith and I have started what we hope will become a fairly significant garden! We are using a couple of raised beds, and a hillside bed we constructed. Our aim is several fold ...
  • To grow & produce our own organic & fresh veggies & fruits
  • To spend as little as possible & produce as much as possible
  • To produce sufficient amounts to be able to give some away
In Haiti, about 3" of topsoil which is extremely shallow
Having said that, we are seeking to use all organic techniques (as much as we can control). There is some real significance to organics, not to mention it is a simple way of making yourself mindful of the 100's of 1000's around the world who must garden organically simply by their God given places of life (where access to synthetics is limited or cost prohibitive). So, we are using various meals (ie: bone meal, blood meal, etc) for nutrient inputs, as well as using a live composting method (or trench composting), where basically we are burying what will become our compost before it is decomposed, then covering it with our layer of soil. This expedites decomposition, since its already in the soil, nutrients will be readily available as it decomposes. This is a technique often used to re-establish top soil in areas where erosion has degraded top soil layers. As the materials decompose, they re-introduce micro-organisms to enrich the soil again.

We began with seed (organic seeds, to the best of our knowledge), simply because it is so much more fun to see entire plants come from something as small as a seed! Also, purchasing seed is much less expensive than purchasing pre-grown plants. Further, nursery grown plants are almost always produced utilizing synthetic inputs.

We sowed 19 different plants or varieties of plants. We have had about 90% germination rate, with only our cantaloupe & basil not germinating. We've sown more basil, &are going to sow cantaloupe again to see if we have better results. The repertoire of plants is as follows: basil, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, cilantro, green beans, green onions, bibb lettuce, okra, a generic hot pepper (not organic), JalapeƱos, Bell peppers, radishes (a great little spice to a salad), spinach, summer squash, sunflowers (for fun and beauty), Beefsteak tomatoes & Yellow Pear tomatoes, and watermelon!

1st half of the hillside garden, planted w/ 12 of the 19 plants
Transplanted radishes!
Extra green beans, lettuce, & broccoli
A raised bed for cilantro & basil.


Haiti - Part II

Outside the 1st clinic.
While in Haiti, we visited 3 of the 13 feeding centers to provide basic medical care for the people of the local communities. This is something that was - at the time - totally foreign to me. I have never participated in a health clinic, and has actually in some sub-conscience way decided that I never would, since I was not remotely close to being a medical professional of any sort & because I have no immune system. I was wrong.

The clinic grew more and more "rural" as the week went on. I say "rural" because they were all in a remote part of Haiti, but the latter two especially were off the national highway that most of our travels in country centered around. The latter two exhibited a totally different set of ailments as the first one.

Maybe the gentlest old man I've ever met

Several passages of Scripture filled my mind and heart as I witnessed the need and at time desperation of these hurting people for a simply touch of love, look of concern.

Initially I looked upon all the people I saw with reference to how Jesus perceived a massive crowd,
And Jesus went throughout all the cities & villages, teaching in their synagogues & proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom & healing every disease & every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest."
An old man with chest congestion

Shortly after that I was a bit convicted actually about my attitude & subsequent view of these people. I looked upon them - meagerly as Christ did - but more so as I actually saw them. My attitude came across a bit haughty as I sat later that day considering this passage and my attitude. I viewed them as needing me, our team. After all, we were the educated Americans and we had a doctor with us. So! My heart was broke and changed quickly. And the compassion I thought I had felt for them gave way to true, Christ-like compassion & an aching heart for them. Afterward, they appeared to me not as sheep needing a shepherd (although this is an excellent analogy), but as broken, survival-driven, hurting people in desperate need of a supernaturally powerful God, who alone can heal all their hurts and pains, who alone can redeem them.

Later, an obvious passage flooded my mind, "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." As my attitude was changing, so my view of the people at each clinic was changing. Nothing changes that they need Christ most, above all more than any medicine or vitamins we could pass out. That does not change. What changed was what I saw in them. Christ's words here are clear, "you did it to me" ... hard to mistake what he meant. So, I realized as I watch a people in need gather around at the 3 centers, I was witnessing the identification of my Savior with the people considered the least in all the world! I realized, that in some way, I was witnessing the face of
Each member of this family had some ailment
 my Savior in these people, for as surely as He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Christ is with those who are ailing, and these people were & are ailing. So, instead of seeing them as needing me, I saw them as ministers to me.

And just the other day, as I was reading in Mark 3, I understood the desperation of people the world over and throughout all time - it does not change. Hurting people are hurting. Period.
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee & Judea & Jerusalem & Idumea & from beyond the Jordan & from around Tyre & Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him, to touch him.
3rd clinic where the people were pressing in
This screams desperation to me. People living in a fallen world are always desperate for something, only sometimes that know it & other times they do not know it. Ask a disease stricken person, they are keenly aware of their need for healing and thus are vividly desperate for healing and help. The above passage says "so that all who had disease pressed around him," because they knew that if they could only touch him they were healed! Like the woman with the hemorrhage. The Haitians we sought to serve with basic medical attention were desperate too! They knew we could help, by God's grace, and that we had resources they did not, nor would ever have access to. Thus, they cam to us. At one clinic in particular, this passage has a new mental image attached to it. The Haitian people at the 3rd clinic were swarming ... the crowd never grew unmanageable (size-wise), but it also never shrunk. For every person we saw, another showed up. We had so many that we eventually - because supplies were lacking - had to dose out vermox (de-worming medicine) and vitamins to all, and leave it at that. Throughout the afternoon there, we repeatedly had to ask them to back up because they were continually pressing in upon us (not like they did Christ, but it helps me understand this passage better).

The 2nd clinic
And with each patient, we prayed. Often we were able to ask if they knew Christ. If they said no, we asked if they wanted to or not. So, the Lord opened many doors, to many hearts. For all that I am grateful. And from hundreds of hurting people, I learned how Christ has and does view me, and how he has great compassion upon me and all who call upon His name.


HAITI - Part I

So, I am going to share the public (ie: less personal & private) aspects of my "processsing" from my recent travels in Haiti.

This way to the Matthew 28 orphanage
 I visited Haiti for 9 days, working with a local ministry there (Bohoc, Haiti), Matthew 28. It was started & is currently facilitated by two American men, but all day-to-day operations are overseen by an entirely Haitian staff. Matthew 28 has two purposes - 1) Share the gospel & glory of Christ with all in the Central Plateau of Haiti, & 2) To care for orphans in the area. And to my best understanding their priorities - although closely knitted together - do go in that order. If they are caring for orphans & the community at large without sharing the gospel, then they have become obsolete (I don't think thats too harsh a statement). I would say their priorities are right on target. They are involved in a number of tangible means of ministry, two dominant ones are the orphanage housing 69 children, and supporting 13 feeding center's which provide 50 children (ages 6 & under) with 4 meals a week. Each center is connected and lead by a local pastor, so the gospel and good news of Christ is intrinsically interwoven into each feeding centers operations. Another ministry avenue (which is where I am involved) is producing tilapia to provide much needed protein supplementation to the children at the orphanage & families in particular need.  So, thats Matthew 28.
A desolated landscape, reflecting a desolated people

Lesson I

Don't ever under-estimate God. If you know me, then you know my "health situation" ... that I have Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, and am the recipient of a double lung transplant 7+ years ago. These impact my daily life in seemingly meager ways, because God has provided for me to be supernaturally healthy on this side of transplant, for which I am continuously grateful. As such, He has provided me with opportunities to live and travel internationally in the last 1 & 1/2 years. This is  bit surprising since I am also immunocompromised (ie: I deliberately suppress my immune system because of my transplant), thus (supposedly) being more susceptible to sickness. Remember, supernaturally healthy!

In light of that, I have to be mindful of what I expose myself to in diligent efforts to be a good steward of my physical gift of life. So, upon learning that my doctors gave me approval to Haiti for this trip, I was thrilled. I told them about the living condition, the disease exposure, etc ... They replied, "Take some extra water purification tablets." That was it, a major shock to me.
SIDE NOTE - I don't worry about my health, a gracious outpouring from the Lord. I simply am not concerned, because I know the Lord is sovereign over my life. So, I am responsible with my lungs, but I am also going to go - without hesitation - to any location I am certain the Lord is calling me to. He made it very certain that I was to be in Haiti, another story for another time. So I went, with great expectations & huge anticipation & with a sense of grand adventure, for God Almighty is full of wildness and adventure!!!
I arrived in Haiti on Saturday the 26th of March. After a conversation that night about the reality & presence of diseases (malaria, typhoid, cholera, etc) in the area & in all of Haiti, I grew a bit reserved and contemplative. Come Sunday, I was actually fairly freaked out. My thoughts went a bit like this, "O what have I done? Have I made a mistake, acted foolishly, following my hard-to-wrangle sense of adventure? Did I mistake generosity for an act of God? Did I fail to adequately describe this to my doctors? I cannot get sick! I cannot go home to Meredith or my family sick! What the hell?" ... It was a jumbled diarrhea thought process.

This is the first time I have been legitimately concerned about my health and what risks I was exposing myself to. And I am well aware that my life does not only affect me. In God's providence, many many folks from all over the Southeast and from different parts of the world have been a part of my life. If I do something foolish, to result in sickness/death then it affects all of them too. Thats a big responsibility to carry! Like they say, there is a first time from everything. I did not like this first.

Notice the clouds 
Before I knew what I had done, I had second guessed God's good & gracious providential hand. I had under-estimated His power, might, and sovereignty. Going into this I knew (& know now) that He had absolutely ordained this trip in my life. No question! And all of a sudden, with a subtle lie - which I believed - I had undercut God & His faithfulness. The Bible is clear about God's faithfulness, "Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds" (Ps 108:4), which is to say, His faithfulness knows no end!

And in His faithfulness, prior to leaving He had given me Colossians 3 to meditate on throughout my trip to Haiti. As I referenced back to chapter 3 (which I highly recommend) I read verse 3, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Nothing else needed to be said or explained. Christ had dealt a death blow to my doubt and faithlessness. As He has said, "It is finished." It was finished again - not the same thing - but my doubt & concern was laid waste. As it was slain & fell dead as a vitally wounded beast, it gave way to the light of life, the power of God, the power of Christ who has defeated death at His resurrection never to taste death again, having once and for all tasted death for all who shall call upon His name.

New life flooded my being.

Not only was I at peace, but I was exuding confidence. I was at peace if I contracted an illness; but more so I was confident that since God had seen me to Haiti in the ways He did, that He would - in Christ - see me home to Meredith, my family, and friends to report upon His goodness, the deep despair of Haiti, and the Hope of nations, the Hope of Haiti, CHRIST JESUS! Because my life is hidden with Christ in God nothing can touch me - even death has no stake or claim upon me, or any other who has been dipped in the precious blood of the Lion & the Lamb. Psalm 91 says, "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you," which is shortly followed by my life verse, "For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." (vv7 & 11).

So, did I encounter God in Haiti? O hell yeah I did, in ways I never expected, this being the first of them. So I rejoice to share this with you. I commend to you my Gd, the Almighty whose faithfulness reaches to the clouds ... and with my commendation, I offer my greatest gratitude and praise to the Lord, for I have tasted afresh His presence and love.