Thursday, May 26, 2016

Activity Unleashed

It's official as of last Friday. Our summer teams have started flowing in! A rush of activity has just been unleashed! The days heading into that first trip were filled for Almando. I am amazed at the amount of energy and stamina this man has when it comes to making sure the ministry--and his family--is healthy and ready for the busyness of the summer.

We visited Thomonde in early April and it was determined--by the pastor--that one of the many projects that the church needed completed was they needed new benches for their sanctuary. The ones that they had weren't sufficient for the congregation anymore. A normal church service here is 2-3 hours long. Imagine sitting on benches that creak and crack hen you sit down, standing for the entire service, or carrying your own chair from home to make sure you get a seat. Benches are a huge blessing for the pastor and the congregation.

The team that was partnered with this church raised more than enough funds for the benches, but how much could they get done in a week?

Time for the creative juices to flow freely! While, sometimes, it is good and healthy to give all of the money designated for work projects directly to the pastor to take care of all the pre-work for the team, this pastor desired some extra assistance. Al cared enough about the pastor and the relationship he has with the team to help him make the most of the financial and time investment the team was making.

To make sure the mission team is able to accomplish something in the way of construction--which is something this team wanted to do--we had to brainstorm ideas on how to make the best use of their skills and abilities. We didn't know if there was a skilled carpenter on the team, so we had to prepare for untrained willing workers. For Al, that meant getting the benches to a point where the team could finish with sanding and varnishing while they were here.

He built them here, at our house. 10 beautiful benches. He figured out a good design and ran with it. He worked hard. He worked fast. When he was done with his part, he sent them on a 4 hour journey to the church where they waited for the team to come and do the finishing work.

The team enjoyed working on the benches (among other things) this week and the partnership church congregation has been encouraged by the team's presence and their willingness to work with the kids of the community. This relationship has been strengthened for the glory of God.

Old benches on the top, new benches on the bottom. 
Activity around here has been unleashed. As Al leads mission teams and plans and oversees the different aspects of the ministry that God has entrusted to him, these months will be filled with stories like this one. Just one small part of one team during one week that takes creative planning and preparation. Pray that Al is granted wisdom in decision making, rest in the moments when rest is possible, and continued energy throughout these months.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prepare to be Poured

If you have been on a short term--or long term--mission, you know what it is like. You get geared up, prayed up, raise up support, and go! Someone was waiting for you on the other end. Someone to show you the ropes or get you connected. Someone to lead and guide you as you got your feet wet in the ministry that God had prepared for you. Think about that person. Think about what they did for you. Think about all the things you didn't think of or see that person do while you were serving. They prepared the way for you. Made sure your ministry was ready to go. Made sure you had food and water. Answered your many questions. Where did that person come from? How did they get to a place where they could lead you?

Some of our staff in our Haiti Pelican Staff T-shirts.
When we invite new Pelicans to join our family, we search--not for staff that can just speak good English--but for staff who have the HEART we are looking for and for LEADERS who are desiring to serve God and grow into leaders in their churches, communities, and country. Our vision is to develop leaders who will make a difference in Haiti and in the world.  

Last weekend, 22 of our 30+ Haitian staff gathered together one last time before the busy summer season starts. These young men and women have come to inspire many, including me. Their leadership for each of our short term mission teams is second to none. We invest time and energy into this Pelican Family because we know that without them leading well, the ministry God has prepared for each of our teams would not reach its full potential. God has called each one of them specifically to be part of our family of leaders for a good purpose.

The theme was simple: prepare to be poured. We never actually said those words, but as I prepared for this meeting time, the theme was made clear. I asked 3 of our leaders to share at some point during the meeting a word of encouragement for the rest of the staff. As we went through the day, it was evident that God pointed them to the same thing. From the story of Mary and Martha--don't get so caught up doing, that you forget to sit at the Lord's feet--to not losing your saltiness. From being satisfied in the Lord's presence (Psalm 65) to seeing the example of how Jesus got up early to pray. Example after example reminding us that we NEED to be filled up BEFORE we can be poured out. We need to be prepared to serve well. 

The day was filled with Scripture, prayer, worship and encouragement. Even when we got to going through the schedules and reminders for the summer, the emphasis was on remaining spiritually, emotionally, physically--"every-ally" to quote James, one of our leaders who shared that day--healthy. If we are spiritually empty or emotionally tired or physically sick, we can't lead well. Every team will be expecting (and deserves) the best of us whether they are the first team of the summer or the second to last.

At the end of the day, friends, I was filled. To the brim. God's presence was so evident in that place. The day was Spirit led and beautiful. I needed that day. Now, I pray that our Pelican Family is also filled because our trips start on Friday. I pray they are prepared to be poured throughout the summer. I pray they will plan to be filled, too.

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." 
Philippians 2:24-18