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An Alternate Route to God’s Plan for the Day

written by Lonnie Smith

You are probably familiar with the proverb, “We make our plans; God orders our steps.” And that is exactly what happened today.

Our team had decided to head to the markets for the afternoon, see how the local people work, and spend some time getting to know their culture. As our bus pulled to a stop on the side of the busy street, our guide led us down a road to an orphanage instead of to the marketplace.

It was at the orphanage that I experienced God in a whole new way. Kneeling on the floor with the children, I had the opportunity to tell them from Psalm 127 what a gift children are to the world. I also had the opportunity to tell them they have a Heavenly Father who is a Father to the fatherless and will never leave them or forsake them. As I explained to them Christ’s great love for children and how He said in the Bible, “Let the little children come to Me,” I witnessed their faces beam with fullness of joy.

I told them just like children in China and in Africa and in America, and all over the world, they are image bearers of God. Then I had the opportunity to pray and ask our Heavenly Father to provide for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As I quoted John 3:16 to them, imagine my surprise when I noticed half the children quoting that verse along with me! I was reminded of the great work of the gospel that God is accomplishing through His people in Haiti.

I walked into an orphanage to bless children with the message of the love of God in Christ for them, but I left that afternoon with the biggest blessing of all – actually experiencing the truth of scripture in that very moment, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”

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Learning Humility from Haitians

 

written by Renee Caskey

Yesterday’s Mission of Hope devotional was on humility, and in the midst of my eagerness to serve these beautiful people, they served me.

Here’s the story.

Our team had the opportunity to spend time in our partner village, Titanyen, yesterday. We were scheduled to paint a house for a newly married couple – married just 10 days ago!

When we arrived at the house, I had to use the restroom, so our translator asked the homeowner where I could use the restroom. I was prepared to go behind a bush, road-trip style. Instead, the homeowner walked me safely to his latrine, over hills and near a large hole in the ground. Before we left the house, his new wife handed me a roll of toilet paper (toilet paper is quite a luxury in Haiti).

After I used the restroom, while the neighborhood kids played and giggled, I returned the roll of toilet paper to the homeowner’s wife. She grabbed my hand and led me to their makeshift kitchen. Inside she handed me a bar of soap and poured water on my hands over an old 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve learned over the past few days that the people of Titanyen must walk to a local well to pump water, and being that they live at the top of a hill, that would be a mighty trek. This woman used water she and her husband had labored to obtain to wash my hands! Here I am – at their new house to bless them by painting the walls, and she blessed me by providing toilet paper, soap, and water!

As I said, we had just learned about humility. And this could not have been a better picture of Christ’s love for me than in that moment.

 

 

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Love Shared in Action, in Playing, and in Writing

written by Monica DeLeon, Fort Worth member

What an experience it was to worship in Creole yesterday at the Mission of Hope church! As we walked in, we were joined by several Haitian children grabbing our hands to sit with us. The service was a lively two hours long. There is certainly nothing like singing to our Lord in another language. It was awesome to think about how we will one day worship together with people from every tongue, tribe, and nation in heaven!

I had the opportunity to sit with a 15-year-old boy during church who wrote me a note in English asking if I could help pay for him to finish school. We have been instructed not to offer aid on our own but to offer to pray for them, knowing that Mission of Hope has a relationship with these people and can better discern how to help.

I asked him questions and he said that Jesus was his Savior. I also recalled the amazing message we had last Sunday at Watermark, where the pastor from India described speaking to a man in the class of “Untouchables” and telling him that he was made in God’s image. My eyes were full of tears in this moment, recognizing all the needs around us here. I sensed the Holy Spirit directing me to write a note of encouragement back to this boy.

I told him that I thought his English was excellent and that God had great plans for him. I told him to seek to grow in his relationship with Christ and to read the Bible. I told him that I believed that he would grow to be a hard-working man and that he would be a good husband and daddy one day. (He had been surprised earlier to hear that my husband and I have been married for 25 years.)

I’m grateful for the message last Sunday reminding us to love others who may not know how much God loves them. I expected the boy to be upset when he read the note, but instead he squeezed my hand tight. When the service was over, he gave me a big hug before we left. How interesting that God allowed this conversation to happen through written words rather than verbal. I am thankful that the boy could take these words with him as a reminder to combat the lies around him with truth.

In the afternoon, we were able to visit another MOH campus in Bercy to see their school and their newest addition – Grace House. MOH has identified a “reverse orphan problem” in Haiti, where families often abandon care of their elderly for financial reasons and lack of resources. Grace House is now caring for five elderly people with plans to take in more as resources grow.

From there, we continued to Leveque, where we saw the amazing work Mission of Hope has done in building concrete block homes to replace the temporary shelters that were created by Samaritan’s Purse following the earthquake. We were greeted by a rush of small children eager to take our hands and lead us up to the playground. It was such a joy to watch all our children engage with the kids so easily. The Haitian children were swinging, sliding, clapping, and asking to be picked up and held – which our kids loved to do.

Last night ended with a sweet time of worship with our Watermark Church family. Several shared how God was touching their hearts to live differently when they return. These moments away from our daily life are giving us perspective that we can take with us. To God be the glory!

 

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A Whole Lot to Experience – and Share About

Written by Justin Lord, age 17

There’s a whole lot from yesterday to talk about but I’ll try to be reasonably brief.

We didn’t have a good idea of what we were going to be doing heading into Labodrie that morning, other than it would generally be what we would do all day. We pulled up into the village that Nickson, one of our Village Champions, was from, and it was much more rural than where we had been before. That means much more space, bigger houses, more animals, and less job opportunities.

It was Saturday, so the children who could afford to go to school were now outside playing along with those that couldn’t, and it was with these kids that I and the rest of the Plano team spent the morning playing. The Dallas and Fort Worth group spent the time talking to, surveying, and evangelizing with the surrounding households. It was a lot of fun, and it was exhausting, especially because most of us were drinking from our water bottles minimally in an effort to be more sensitive to the surrounding Haitians.

Speaking of water, some of the groups were handing out AquaTabs, which can be used for several weeks to purify water. Due to some miscommunication, not as many were handed out as I wanted, but that ties back in to the lesson for me that we aren’t in control.

After lunch, the groups switched jobs, and thank goodness because I didn’t have much energy left. One kid who I had played frisbee with latched onto me still during Strategic Village Time, and right after he left several other kids came up. So I spent most of SVT holding and giving rides to Haitian boys, including one who had nothing on but a T-shirt. In the end, we all left thoroughly exhausted (2 boys managed to doze off on the noisy, bumpy ride back!), but with a clearer idea of the impact God was using us to create.

Well, gotta go, it’s time for church! TTFN

 

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New Paint & New Friends

by Ryan and Sarah Hartman

Haiti is a striking place in a number of ways: its mountainous, coastal landscape is stunningly beautiful; its people have a deep and powerful sense of community; and life here is is simple.

On the other hand, there is a severe lack of opportunity, resources and, ultimately, purpose. One of our translators, James, explained how people can find it difficult to have a reason to smile. Many Haitians grow up without an education, and some of them never find a reason to work. Who’s to blame them? Even the ones who DO try are at the mercy of forces outside of their control. They could work tirelessly and graduate high school with a true desire and drive to attend college, but outside of generous donations there is no actual way of even coming close to affording it.

And with all of these large-scale systematic failures, what can a small group of uncomfortable, awkward Americans do in a week to make a positive impact? Sarah and I have asked ourselves this question on multiple occasions, and today we found a possible answer: We painted a house.

While that may sound underwhelming on its face, it opened up a world of opportunities and hope in the power of God. Luke 11:39-41 says: “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” This reminded us that while it’s great that we took this gray building and covered it with beautiful, lively colors… it was the hearts of the people inside the house and in the surrounding community that really mattered. God placed us at that home to open up conversations with the villagers. Sarah and I were blown away by the Watermark families, who boldly initiated conversations and gave all of their energy serving the community. What an incredible way to kick off the week.

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A Thanksgiving Day with Pop Tarts, Cobbler, Water, & Living Water

by Makayla Hix and Dolly Viera, Young Adult team members

Happy Thanksgiving! Thursday morning our team started off by having Pop Tarts for breakfast, a family tradition for one of our team members! We were then able to go into Titanyen and participate directly with two local churches. Each of the church’s pastors identified 5 families who would greatly benefit from water filters. We partnered with the families in the installation and proper care of the water filters. We were then able to connect the water filters and explain John 3 and how Jesus is the living water.

God showed up many times today – the most notable moment was when one of the men who came to receive a water filter. His name was Dalexis and he spoke fluent Spanish. This was a blessing because Dolly also speaks Spanish and was able to clearly communicate with him. It was the first time this trip that we were able to have a conversation with a Haitian and not need our translators (which gave our village champion, Danny, a break).

After showing him how to properly use the water filter, we asked him how this water filter was going to improve his life. His response reminded me of something Christ would have said while on earth: This filter will give me clean water, but it will also allow me to give clean water to my neighbors. We were so encouraged by him. He learned Spanish from working in the Dominican Republic but returned home because he had a near-death experience and knew the Lord granted him a new life, a life fully devoted to Jesus. Now he strives to be the godly leader in his family, serves faithfully at his church, and holds fast to the hope that every man, woman, and child in Haiti will come to know Jesus.

Tonight, the Haitian women of Mission of Hope provided a delicious Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and cobbler.

We came to Haiti to bring people to Christ, to encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. But we’re the ones who are leaving Haiti so encouraged by the joy and hope of every believer here. We are so thankful.

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Strength & Conversations

by Kristin Perry, Young Adult team member

“Hump Day” may have been the best day yet here in Haiti. Our team started out pumped up and focused to spread the good news, and that’s exactly what happened. We were welcomed off the safari wagon by several beautiful children, eager to play and love. Great conversations were started with the people of Titanyen about their lives here in the village, where they come from, what they do for work, etc. As each team spoke more with the men and women of the village, the Lord used us to encourage believers to continue boldly in their faith. Several women expressed the challenges they face on a daily basis in their cultures, and many of us were able to relate. As people walked by and curiosity spiked, our team courageously engaged these people, resulting in a new sister in Christ.

After lunch, the Lord showed His mighty power once again by giving us all strength to go back out to the village (the rice is beginning to weigh on us) and continue His work. A group of us engaged with a man who practices voodoo and were able to share the power of Christ with him. He expressed his belief in Jesus but has fear that he will be unemployed if he accepts the Truth. He promised to go to Mission of Hope church on Sunday, and we will continue to pray for him.Others of us had more challenging conversations and were able to witness the need for peace in the community.

Others of us had more challenging conversations and were able to witness the need for peace in the community.

As we wrapped up Day 4, we were humbled and encouraged to know that we have three new sisters in Christ, several conversations helping people feel assurance of salvation, a full stomach of Haitian spaghetti, and more than anything, the love and comfort of Christ in our hearts.

God is at work, but there is still work to do.

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“The Lord has been working, and our hearts are humbled”

by Young Adult team member Rachel Thompson

What a great few first days!

The Lord has been working, and our hearts are humbled. On Monday we spent our first day doing “SVT” (Strategic Village Time). During this time our mission is to love on Haitians, build relationships, gather valuable information for Mission of Hope, and share the gospel.

Our groups have been overwhelmingly encouraged with the response of faithful followers of Jesus! Hearing our sweet brothers and sisters in Christ share their stories, speak of how God is working in their lives, and how we can continue to pray for strength in their walk with Christ is so encouraging for us!

Along with strong followers of Jesus, we met several people who said they were Christians, but who doubted if they would be in heaven one day. They based this belief on how good their performance was or how bad they have sinned. We were able to guide and point them to truth found in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace that we have been saved through faith, not by works, so that no one can boast.” We reminded them that there is nothing they can do to earn their salvation and that they aren’t disqualified by their shortcomings. Instead, through their confession, trust, and faith in Christ they can be assured of their salvation. This was such a sweet moment to see their lack of confidence turn into a grace-filled confirmation of how Christ continues to pursue us and offer forgiveness each and every day!

Tuesday was spent serving two families by painting their homes. We were able to engage in conversation and encourage them while we served them by making their home a more inviting and welcoming place with a spark of color. One woman we helped was a widow who had two daughters who were 11 and 6 years old. She was a follower of Christ and worked as a vendor to provide for her daughters. She was super grateful and encouraged, which was an added blessing to us!

The other house we served was a younger man who is in seminary and discipling his Haitians brothers and sisters. Through acts of service we were super-encouraged to bless and serve these wonderful and deserving families who love and fear the Lord!

After a full day of painting, we had an amazing night of worship with the campus church at Mission of Hope. It’s always so amazing and powerful to sing worship songs to our Savior in two different languages! No matter the differences between cultures and nations, we are both singing to the same God and worshiping the Creator of the universe. Our God is so powerful, and we are thankful we get to see a small glimpse of what worship in eternity will look like!

Pray for our time in Titanyen and elsewhere as we share the gospel and build more relationships!

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When Families Say “Yes” by Emily Loper

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This Sunday, I listened to a sermon on sanctification . . . in Creole. Or I should rather say, I saw the passages being used on the screen, flipped there in my Bible, and did my best to follow along, praying that the Lord would teach me something new regardless of the language barrier. And He did! The first verse that stuck out was 1 Thessalonians 4:3 – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . .” I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I have a tendency to shy away from sanctifying moments, believing the lie that I’m probably doing fine as I am and fearful of the process ahead of me, because let’s face it, sanctification can be hard and messy. But God’s Word says plainly that sanctification is God’s will and will make us more like Jesus. Passing up opportunities to be sanctified means missing out on a whole new level of knowing Jesus.

This past week, I was allowed to tag along on the family trip to Haiti. In Haiti, I saw 16 Watermark families boldly lean in to every ounce of sanctification the Lord had waiting for them through Mission of Hope. I saw kids in 3rd through 11th grade walk into villages drastically unlike anything they’ve seen here at home and love their peers in completely new (and what could be nerve-wracking) ways. I saw parents step out of their comfort zones by giving their kids the freedom to play with and connect with the Haitian children wherever we went, seeking to know men, women, and children in Haiti, and sharing the hope we have through Christ alone. And I saw the Church at work in both parents and children asking thoughtful questions about how we can step up and better love and serve the people of Haiti as well as those we encounter in Dallas.

These families said yes to what they knew would stretch and grow them in ways that are hard and messy. But we also know that sanctification doesn’t just happen in Haiti. The pastor at church on Sunday closed with Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17, just before His death and resurrection. In verses 17 and 18, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Regardless of whether we’re in Haiti or in Dallas, God has given us His Word as a source of sanctification, especially when we’re living out the calling it gives us to live as those sent into the world to love (John 17:26), serve (Mark 10:43-45), and boldly share about the hope we have because of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). I am confident that our trip to Haiti was life changing for the 16 families represented. And I’m even more confident that it will continue to spark conversations between parents and kids about our mission as the Church.

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Young Adult Team Arrives Right on Time

by Dean Ray & Bobby Senter, Young Adult Team members

We all finally made it to Haiti!! We had a couple events that meant 11 folks on our team (out of 16) weren’t able to make our flight to Haiti from Miami. Fortunately, our team of rockstars were flexible and stayed positive throughout the 16 hours at the airport, passing time by farkling and utilizing the downtime to prepare our hearts for the rest of the trip. We also had several great, eternal conversations as we stayed “on mission” in our home airport throughout the day. Because we were so delayed out of DFW, we were forced to stay overnight in Miami. We knew God was orchestrating everything.

We knew God was orchestrating everything.

When we finally got to the hotel (after 11 folks crammed into the airport shuttle), there was a tremendous series of loud thuds from the highway that could not be mistaken. While the girls began to pray, Frank, Dean, Vo, and Bobby ran towards the sound to find a car inverted with its engine and front axle ejected and smoking from the frame. Praise God that our friend Mauricio was still conscious, and while Bobby called 911, Dean and Frank were able to minister to him, keep him awake, and clearly share the gospel with him – even while he was bloody, bruised, and trapped in his vehicle.

The dash of the car was ripped out, and the backseat was smashed against the front seat. Gasoline was leaking everywhere. Mauricio was trapped but breathing. Fortunately there was no one else in the car. We were able to keep him awake through sharing the gospel and asking him some personal questions (family, occupation, etc).

It was so crazy to see the timing of our arrival, so we could help. God is sovereign and in control. Because of the delays, it took us 16 hours just to get to Miami, but it was worth every minute of waiting to share the gospel with our friend Mauricio. God is good.

We don’t pretend to know what God is doing, but we sure are thankful that we got to help our friend in that horrific situation and that God brought us to our final destination today at just the right time!

Please pray for our village time tomorrow, that we would be rested, bold, and faithful to share what Jesus has already accomplished with the Haitian folks we meet!

2 Corinthians 6:3-10

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