Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Church of Hope - Leveque!

This past Sunday was the launch of our church in Leveque.  It is exciting to have a church for both the current residents and the new deaf community to worship together.  It was a beautiful sight to see, however, when we arrived at the pavilion last Sunday morning…there was nothing inside.  I was a little concerned but remembered how “Haiti Time” works.  My mom and dad were with us and my mom asked, “Where will everyone sit?”   Within a few minutes we saw men carrying wooden benches our direction.   Before we knew it, there was enough seating for everyone.  As people started to enter the “church” you could hear many greet each other with a “Bonjou” and at the same time see others greeting with the sign for “good morning” (I learned sign language in Elementary School…many, many years ago…and I love how a few simple words are coming back!).  I was able to introduce myself to a few people and even learned how to sign “Madam Ruben”. 
Pastor Patrice brought his guitar and began singing worship songs.  Right by his side was a Creole to American Sign Language interpreter, Franklin.  I looked over and the whole front row was following along, signing the words, and praising God in their own way.  I didn’t want to stare, but it was incredibly beautiful.  I started thinking about how God hears our heart…not just the words that come from our mouth.  Anyone can sing the words and recite a prayer, but if we don’t mean it with our heart…it means nothing.  In the book of Matthew, Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is and He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”  It doesn’t say we must love the Lord by singing the best, preaching the loudest, or praying the longest…it says to love with all your heart

After praise and worship, Pastor Patrice shared a great word from God.  Again, right by his side, Franklin was interpreting it to ASL.  

It is such an honor, and I feel so blessed to be apart of what God is doing in Haiti!  

Peace, Love and Sign Language!

Friday, February 3, 2012

a land of starfish

I was talking with some group members today about blogging and when I told them my title...the sooner state and starfish...they asked why I chose it.  The "sooner state" was easy...Im from Oklahoma - the Sooner State.  And for the "starfish", many may assume I chose that because I am living in the Caribbean, surrounded by ocean...and starfish.  Well...that is one side of it.  The other reason is because of a little story I heard once in high school (many years ago) and have loved ever since.

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.  Approaching the boy, he asked "What are you doing?"  The kid replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean."  In amazement, the man said "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?  You can't make a difference!"  After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said "I made a difference for that one." 

Back in 2007-2009, I told each of the teams I hosted this story to encourage them.  Many would see all the poverty and be overwhelmed.  Sometimes it is easier for us to sit back and do nothing because we are only 1 person and can't make a huge impact.  Well...this is why I love this story...to remind us 1 person can make a difference.  Even if we only save one "starfish"...its a difference for that one.  

I truly believe Haiti is a land of starfish...both literally and figuratively.  Even with so many lost and broken lives...we can still make a difference...by, and through, the grace of God.  But at the same time, even in land-locked Oklahoma (or wherever you are), there are "starfish" that need saving.  

I feel so blessed to work for an organization that believes in changing 1 life at time.  The vision here at Mission of Hope is "to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti."  

Peace, love and starfish.