Thursday, March 24, 2011

Entering Another World...kind of.

After I returned from Haiti the first time (September 2010), I read the book "Mountains beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder. It's about the quest of Dr. Paul Farmer - a fierce advocate for the poor and a doctor specializing in diseases that ravage third world countries.

Dr. Farmer is from Boston, but he lives in Haiti and has married a H
aitian woman. The title of the book comes from a Haitian saying used when someone is facing a challenge...a challenge so big it seems like you are climbing "mountains beyond mountains."

Kidder essentially travels with Dr. Farmer for an entire year as he advocates to medical schools, community doctors and governments for approval of stronger anti-tuberculosis medication for people in Haiti, Cuba, Russia and Peru.

One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from a conversation between Kidder and Dr. Farmer during a layover in Paris on their way from Haiti
to Russia.

As Kidder looks around the cafe in the airport they are eating lunch in, he contemplates out loud the beauty of the marble floors, mahogany tables and porcelain cups.

Kidder: "Just looking around, it hits me what a different world Paris is from Haiti!"

Farmer: "Well, that presumption would be wrong. Because, Haiti is only 5,000 miles from here and it's not a different world. The mistake is that too many people justifying it as a "different world" when it clearly is not."

Ouch....that realization hit me as much as it hit Kidder when he was having the conversation with Dr. Farmer in Paris.

Even though the sounds, smells, problems and overall mess that Haiti
is seems like a world away, it's not. Especially not from Charlotte - only 1,200 miles.

So, as we head to Haiti on Saturday, I'm trying to remember it is NOT a different world. We live in the same world yet we have such different lives. However, we
have the same God and Savior who loves the people of Charlotte as much as He loves the people of Haiti. He doesn't see our differences, he just LOVES US!

I'll be contemplating this throughout the week as I experience Haiti and open myself up to the possibility of being God's vessel for change and hope.

- Caylene
"God Save Haiti" - from

Monday, March 21, 2011

t minus 5

In 5 days I'll be heading to Haiti.

You know when you plan for a trip, and you think you have all of the time in the world to do what you need to do? I thought that was where I was, until today, when I realized....5 days!

I know everything will get done. That the pieces will fall into place. That someone else can fill my shoes back here at home while I'm gone.

But I am a little daunted at the doorway I am about to step through.

I feel as if there's a door labeled "LIFE CHANGE" that I am about to walk through....again. Last Fall, when I got on a plane headed for Burundi, I didn't have a clue I was walking through that door, not really. I was being obedient, thinking all I had to do was do my thing in Africa, leave, come home, and resume life.

Well, we all know how that worked out.

It's always eye opening to walk into another piece of the world and into another culture. You suddenly feel very self-conscious for being American. Sometimes, us Americans, myself included, get a little carried away with our enthusiasm for our own country. Sometimes we forget there are billions of other people on this planet. We forget how very rich we truly are.

I dare say when I set foot in Haiti, I'll have a lump in my throat for the next 7 days. All those news reports I have seen, all the stories I have read will become live and in person right before my eyes.

I'll see the devastation.

I'll see the suffering,

I'll see the pain.

I'll see the ones holding their hands out asking for help.

I'll see the look of desperation in their eyes.

I'll see them asking "Why isn't somebody doing more?"

Just as my trip to Burundi turned me upside down and inside out, Haiti is surely to do the same, and then some. Some people can go on a trip like I did to Burundi and come home and readjust like it never happened. But others can come home, like me, and never be the same again.

That's why I am going to Haiti, because I don't want to be the same person I was 6 months ago. I want to be the person who can come home and stir the masses to get of their duffs and help. We're not all called to go set foot in Haiti, Burundi or other places on this planet, but we are called tohelp.

My 7 days in Haiti will only do so much, but when I get home, if I can stir an army of folks to make a difference...that is where hope for Haiti begins.

Jenny Schmitt

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As we prepare to travel to Haiti in less than 12 days (!!!!), I've been thinking a lot about my experience at
Mission of Hope in September 2010.
I found this great satellite view of the Mission of Hope campus
outside of Titanyen, Haiti:

Please join me in praying over this satellite image and for the 60 plus orphans who call MOH home, the 600 plus people who attend church at MOH every week, the staff, the students and the mission teams (like ours) who sacrifice time, money and safety to have a relationship with the Haitians who have benefited from such an amazing organization.

- Caylene

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One million people existing in a tent giving water tainted by disease...violence being perpetrated on innocent women and children under cover of darkness...orphans wandering alone...aid, in the form of the very resources needed, inaccessible because of the corruption of authority...and hope.

This is the present situation in Haiti. It's what you see with earthly eyes. The poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti has a history of bondage from its very beginnings: bondage from slavery, bondage from economic debt, bondage to hunger and helplessness in the wake of nature's fury. It's REALITY. And yet, there is a relatively small group of people who somehow have the ability to dream, who have hope and the courage to act. What do they see that others don't or can't?

Today, our Ballantyne staff read Matthew 8 and contemplated what Jesus' disciples experienced in that boat on the lake near Capernaum. They rocked and sloshed through the waves of a pounding storm, and they were assaulted by fear. As their boat was being swamped, they called out to Jesus for rescue. Chaos reigned in their situation and the reality of the moment had overtaken them. Yet Jesus, with one action, rebuked the chaos and ushered in calm.

It struck me this afternoon driving down Park Road, that Haiti is a microcosm of all of human history. We are living in a temporary home. The disease of sin infected our life. We were all orphans. And the healing aid of the Gospel is attacked by the ruler of this fallen world as he fights to keep us from receiving its transforming power. Simply put, we were in bondage...and there is Hope. Hope in the person of Jesus who lives in the ultimate reality that He is reigning, restoring, and redeeming us from the chaos we experience. Jesus came to Earth to inaugurate His kingdom of light and hope. And He left us to continue the work as His body. We are to bring Hope into the darkest parts of the world as his ambassadors armed with His power.

And so Forest Hill Ballantyne is going to Haiti and bringing with us this Hope that the same God who restored peace in a tempest 2000 years ago, wants to do it again. My desire is that whether you are getting on the plane with us, supporting us through prayer or donations, or just watching to see what happens, we'll all be changed. I am so excited about what God is up to in our faith community and I'm thrilled to be on this journey with you.