Sunday, March 28, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Being the very intelligent, perceptive person that I am, I have been pondering some hard to answer questions this weekend.

The first one is one that almost all parents have wondered at one point or another. Why do children fight naps and bedtimes while most grown-ups would give a limb to be able to take a nap and go to bed early every night? As I stood at the kitchen sink cleaning up after yet another meal today and that pregnancy mid-afternoon tiredness hit me, I could barely stand the sound of Luke's loud protests from his bed. I considered making him the offer of swapping places...I'll take a horrible nap while you play in these fun bubbles and wash the dishes. But, after further consideration, I didn't like the thought of half-dirty or broken dishes everywhere and a kid covered in soap from head to toe. Woulda been nice, though.

So, I've also been wondering this: It seems like there are more stores now than ever before. You have department stores, specialty clothing shops, bed and bath stores, Walmart and Target, sporting goods stores, maternity get the idea. So, why is it that when I finally decide I need something so desperately that I'm willing to take Luke shopping, I can NEVER find what I need? Cute boy Easter clothes? Nope. Maternity pants made for someone with no rear end? Nope. Brown boy sandals that don't make Jack look like he's ready for hiking or combat? Nope. I'm so not a shopper, and to take another non-shopper (that would be Luke) on a hopeless and fruitless mission is so frustrating. If it weren't for my mom going with me or her persistence in the hunt for the needed item, I'd give up and we'd all go naked, I suppose.

Here's one more. Who decided that we must all have nicely manicured lawns with no weeds? Who decided that people needed to spend their time and money achieving a plot of grass totally devoid of weeds, whose whole mission on earth is to grow in your yard and mess everything up? It seems like it was not that long ago that you just cut your grass and weeds (whichever decided to grow) every Saturday, maybe trimmed the bushes once a season, and that was it. Okay, I think that was before my lifetime, but I'm pretty sure that Trugreen did not exist to take all our money just to kill weeds back in the 1950's. We've created a society with so much pressure to accomplish meaningless tasks that we're all in debt and sleep-deprived. And I, being the perfectionist people-pleaser that I am, have a really hard time NOT getting stressed out at our weedy lawn and bare flower beds for fear of being labeled "those neighbors." I'm working on it. Having almost four kids helps. It's just not feasible to keep it up, but I truly wish no one had come up with the idea in the first place.

Really, just one more. How could God, holy and timeless, in need of nothing, decide to bless me so greatly? How could the King of kings decide to leave His throne and His glory and come live on this wretched earth and drink down the cup of God's deserved wrath for me? And, as if that wasn't enough, how could He then choose to bless me with a wonderful family, fabulous friends, access to His Word, health, food, shelter? And lastly, why, when I am blessed so beautifully with a home beyond this world, do I spend so much time chasing the things of this world? I am blessed, weeds, tiredness, droopy pants and all. And I am eternally thankful for a love greater than I can ever comprehend.

Take time this week to remember what this Holy Week really means and the beautiful gift that we've been given.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Big Trip to Mickey's House

Life follows you to Disney World, whether you think it should or not. Sickness, two-year-olds with minds of their own, tired feet, more sickness, grumpy grown-ups, pregnancy nausea...they all came along for the fun. But, despite all that, we still managed to have fun. Maddie has declared it the "best vacation ever," while Jack says he'll just take a trip to the beach. Luke ranged from royally ticked off at having to ride in a stroller/be on a leash (yes, we put our child on a leash)/hold someone's hand while walking to being beside himself with joy at seeing Mickey's house or riding the Nemo ride for the sixth time. Over all, he had a great time, and it was fun seeing his reactions to everything.

The great thing I took away from it all was the kids' view of everything. They didn't notice the fact that the schedule didn't always work out, that we almost missed our character breakfast, that being sick part of the time messed up the whole plan, or that we only took warm weather clothes and ended up with chilly days. They just lived in the moment and had fun. I'm so not a living in the moment kind of girl naturally, but I tried my best to just go with the flow. I think if life with three kids has done anything for me, it's helped me not sweat the small stuff so much. Don't get me wrong. I still get worked up over ridiculous stuff sometimes, but I think I've made drastic improvements. We were given this trip as a blessing, and the kids enjoyed it as one. It wasn't perfect by my standards, but we came away with good memories. That's the real blessing of it all.

To sum it all up, here are the highs and lows of the trip:

Low: Jack running a fever and staying up all night puking snot on our first night there.
High: We got him some antibiotics a few days later, and he was a new man...our last two days.

Low: Not sleeping for the first four nights of a tiring trip.
High: Snuggling with Lukey in the bed all night.

Low: Nana's hurt tummy and almost missing our character breakfast.
High: Seeing the gigantic smiles as the kids danced with Mickey once we made it inside.

Low: Missing lots of fun rides because I'm prego.
High: I'm prego!!

Low: Feeling like death warmed over on Thursday morning and being stuck at the hotel.
High: Having a sweet husband who stayed and took care of me without complaining.

Low: Luke's screaming fits.
High: Luke's screams of joy at Mickey, Nemo, Nana, the teacups, the playgrounds (his favorite part), and everything else that thrilled his soul.

Low: Tons and tons of people.
High: Getting there early, using our strategy, Fast Passes, and good luck, which all equalled very little waiting in lines.

Low: It was cooler weather than we'd planned for.
High: It wasn't 95 degrees. We didn't even sweat.

Low: It felt like we were eating the same food over and over.
High: I didn't have to cook any of it.

Low: We had to come home.
High: We got to come home.

The ultimate high: Having a great time with our family, Nana and Papa included. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without them. We were blessed.

Assuming you haven't fallen to sleep from boredom, I'll leave you with a few more pics of our fun, exhausting, unforgettable trip.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What a Week!

Thankfully, I've just about gotten back to normal after our very spiritually stressful trip. Thanks to all of you for checking in on us and praying for us so faithfully. If nothing else, I feel very loved and prayed for, which made the whole honesty and coming to a decision thing a little harder in some respects. Chris and I are the type of people that do not want to disappoint others, but we just had to focus on what God knows, wants, and thinks.

I felt as though everyone (including us) expected something special to happen on our St. Maarten trip. Instead, we came home feeling defeated. Chris was disappointed that God had nothing to say to us (so it seemed) and that he probably would not get to move to a tropical island. I was racked with guilt, feeling as though I'm always the one holding us back and wondering if I was ever really surrendered to the whole possibility in the first place. I felt very far from the Lord and unable to come to Him with what I was feeling. The first few days home were rough in our house, but I woke up on Sunday morning (I think it was) and just told God I couldn't deal with this. Being cut off from fellowship with Him just was not an option, and I pleaded with Him to just make it right. I got out of bed and went to take a peek at my email, where I found the most appropriate and God-sent message from a special friend. (You know who you are.) God just used her words to release me from the guilt of it all and the tears flowed freely.

Being the annoyingly obsessive human being that I am, I am still struggling with the guilt a little and wondering if I screwed everything up and caused us to miss something important in our lives. But I did try to be as open and surrendered as I thought I could ever be to whatever God had for us. It was just like, once we were there just a little while, I slowly withdrew and just did not feel like myself. I'm praying and trusting that God just used that to show us His will and that it wasn't me being a total screw-up. Time will tell, I suppose. We still covet your prayers as we walk this sometimes complicated and frustrating journey.

So, since that drama has died down a little for now, we decided it was time to share some more by announcing the upcoming arrival of our fourth child! I cannot believe I am typing those words. Really. Me? I'm so not a kid person. Yes, it was a surprise, but we appreciate surprises after having to work hard and wait a long time for that first one. This is the phase of pregnancy where I usually fret and worry, but I'm just not going to do that this time. There's no point. So, we hope to welcome a sweet baby girl - I mean, baby Bond - into our home in October. And we're praying feverishly that Luke will release his death-like grip on his mama by then. He does not like to share me. Who would have thought the third child would think the world revolves around him?

To top off this week of decisions and fun announcements, we're headed to Disney World. We like to cram all of our excitement into a compact two week period and take the rest of the year slow. So, we will set off with three excited kids, four nervous adults, and two vanloads full of junk to see "Mickey's House." I am trying to keep my expectations low as far as the kids' behavior and how much stuff we get to do and just enjoy their reactions and go with the flow. We'll see how long that lasts. I mean, I'm such a great go with the flow person. That was obvious from our St. Maarten trip, right? Hopefully we'll return next Saturday with three tired, yet happy, children and four sane adults.

Have a fun spring break (if yours is this week - or I guess you can have a fun one whenever yours is) and we'll see you when we get back. (Because I'm pretty sure I'll be too pooped for blogging this coming week. Well, you never know...)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Subway in St. Maarten

No, they don't have an underground mass transit train service in St. Maarten, but they do have a Subway restaurant. Evidently, KFC is big in the Caribbean. Not sure why, but there you have it. But they have Subway as well.

I'm not really a big Subway fan. I think it's one of those pregnancy things. When I was pregnant with Maddie, we ate at Subway quite a bit and I just hit the lifetime quota. Enough Subway for me. However, sometimes life requires eating at Subway, which is fine, I suppose. Here is what I wonder, though. Why and how do all Subways smell the same? Anytime in any state of our great country that I have eaten at or even just passed by a Subway, the smell in the place is exactly the same. It's a unique smell known only to Subway. I just have to walk near one, and the smell materializes. The smell is not bad, really, but it's not good, either. It does not make me scream, "I must have a sub sandwich from this restaurant!"

So, we went in a Burger King in St. Maarten (don't was just to use the bathroom) and it did NOT smell like a Burger King in America. You know the chargrilled hamburger smell. I'm not sure what the St. Marteen BK smell was, but it made me want to go to the bathroom and then make a quick exit. This whole experience left me wondering, a couple days later as I walked toward the Subway door, if the ever-present American Subway smell would greet me. I think you can guess what happened. How do they do that? Does each restaurant receive a Subway air freshener with their store-starting kit? It just blows my mind, and honestly, if they could improve their smell, I might be inclined to eat there more.

Okay, so I know I said I would post pics on here, but I was thinking all of you were on Facebook and could see them there. The more I think, though, a few of you come to my mind who aren't on FB. So, I'll try to put a few pics on here as well...another day when I'm not about to fall asleep. But here is my hangup about posting the pictures. Most of the pictures we took are of the beautiful parts of the island that attract tourists. However, when you become a missionary there, you spend your time living and ministering in the dirty, poor, third-world country parts. So, I really don't want to hear all the comments like, "Oh, you poor thing. Anyone would want to live there," and, "What are you complaining about? The place is amazing!" or ,"I'd go in a heartbeat." I just don't have many pics of the other parts because I was inside buildings there or speeding past in the backseat of a tiny car down narrow, scary roads. We did try to get a few on Chris's little camera, so maybe I can put some of those out there, too. Just a warning: I may scream not very nice things at you if you make any comments like the ones I mentioned above. But I'll do it with love in my heart, I'm sure. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

St. Maarten: Day 4

We're back home now, and I'm tired. But I want to write about everything before my weak memory fails me.

I think by this day, the last full day of our trip, I was tired, stressed, and feeling completely unlike myself. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but when I'm out of my routine and normal surroundings, I slowly seem to lose myself. Things just don't feel right. I think and act differently than I normally would. Add the weight of a huge decision to that, and I was just feeling weird.

Our day was much more relaxing than the previous one. We spent the morning at Dawn Beach, sitting on the sand in front of a snazzy resort. It was one of those moments when I almost forgot why I was on this island. Then, when I remembered, I foolishly thought, "This wouldn't be so bad." Of course, I know that our time there, if we moved, would not be spent relaxing on a beautiful beach, but it seemed like a comforting thought at the time.

When we were forced back to reality, we drove into Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island and had lunch at a charming French cafe. That was one seriously yummy panini. We strolled through the streets looking for real estate offices to try to get some idea of what we could afford if we came back one day to stay. I left hopeful, but that didn't last. You see, I was coming face to face with the reality that I am a completely spoiled and selfish clean freak who thinks bugs (especially roaches) in large quantities and funny smelling places are nightmarish. The thought that plagued me the most about moving to St. Maarten was having to live in a stinky, bug-infested, hot, downright yucky apartment. By the end of the day, I was pretty much convinced that would be the case, and that did not sit well with me. This is just the ugly truth of who I am and not something I would easily move past. Can't really explain it, but I'm just sayin'.

That was pretty much it until that evening when the guys went back to the Bible class and Lisa and I went and spent time with Stacey. By that time, I was near my breaking point, but managed to hold it together during our three-hour visit. I loved getting to hear more about Stacey's life and background and was amazed to hear where she had come from to where she is now. I certainly take my wonderful childhood and family for granted sometimes.

Not really sure what to say about the rest of the evening, except to say that I finally lost it. It's not as if anything horrible had happened on the trip, but I was ending it not reassured, but desperately, suffocatingly homesick and lonely. I'm not sure if it was my fault or not, but I did not experience God's presence like I was hoping to on this trip. I knew this whole missionary thing would be incredibly hard for me(which doesn't even express it), so I was looking for God to place such a call or burden on my heart for these people that I would be willing to overlook all my fears and follow Him there. Here it was time to leave, and all I had was fear, guilt, lonliness, homesickness, frustration, anger, and confusion. No peace. No comfort. No call. I was only left with the ugly reality that I was freaked out about my own physical comfort instead of having an overwhelming desire to minister here. It's so hard to weed through what is my own selfishness and lack of surrender and what is just a lack of God's call.

I think Chris and I both left very disappointed (although he enjoyed his time there much more than I did - which goes without saying for those of you who know both of us). We had prayed for God to speak, and while we both came away with new thoughts and emotions and our own desires, neither of us could say we heard Him speak. So, we are left with a huge decision. I'm not sure what God is doing here or where I am right now spiritually, but what can I do but keep praying and seeking Him? I'll struggle with guilt for not feeling more compassion for others than concern for myself, but only God can really change my heart on that. I want to be the kind of person who is willing and ready to live in a bug-infested scorching place for Jesus, but evidently I'm not there yet. I don't want to be the kind of person who is freakishly obsessed with cleanliness, but it is so ingrained in me, I think I'll always struggle with it.

The trip was good for me. It stretched me and showed me some very ugly truths about myself. It reminded me that I am unworthy of God's love and grace and that there are so many out there who are in such spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical need. Where do we go from here? God only knows, and He ain't tellin'.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

St. Maarten: Day 3

Day 3 was a packed day in which we darted from one place and one meal to another. We began the day with breakfast at a little French restaurant, where I ate french toast made from freshly baked croissants. I's a hard life. (But wait until the end of the post.) We walked through a marina and marveled at the money some people have and the lives they lead. Amazing.

Next, we darted off to Phillipsburg, which is the capital of the Dutch side of the island. It's a busy place with lots of traffic and crazy drivers. I don't know how long we spent looking for a parking place only to park far away in a dirt lot and take a long, hot walk back to the shops. Oh, well, I had to work off that sinful breakfast somehow. We passed New Testament Baptist, where Chris suggested I try to find a restroom. I refused, afraid I would have flashbacks of the three hours I'd spent there the day before. There is a little outdoor market right next to the church, where island women sell souvenirs that everyone who visits such a place is compelled to buy, for some reason. Naturally, we bought a few things (after Chris skillfully talked them down on their prices).

Then it was off to the water. As you can guess from any travel brochures you've seen of the Caribbean, it was breathtakingly beautiful. There were two huge cruise ships parked in the distance, many smaller sailboats dotting the water, and beautful crystal blue water to put our little piggies in. That's the part of the island that you're thinking of when you ask me why I wouldn't want to move here. I'll tell you about the other part later. We continued through the shops on Front Street, a beautiful cobblestone street lined with palms and full of cruise ship tourists. I was seriously tempted to swim out to the ship and just see if they'd let me on, but I had a sneaking suspicion the answer would be no.

After a few moments of forgetting while we were here, it was back to reality. We had lunch (on that very same beach) with a local pastor who is one of the students in the Bible training classes that CMA does here on the island (which we'd be heading up if we moved here). It was a very interesting conversation. Most Americans who come here don't sit for hours and get to ask a local any question they can think of about the island. There's nothing like the perspective of a local. He has been a pastor for many years, but says he has learned so much from the five classes he's taken already. It gave us a glimpse of why the ministry is important.

On a full stomach, I came back to our little apartment for some rest. This is the thing I hate about the heat. I came into a stuffy apartment, covered in sticky, dried sweat and tried to get comfortable. Not happenin'. For a guy, he could just take a quick, refreshing shower, but for a fairly high maintenance gal like myself, that would mean redoing hair and makeup only to return in a few hours for another shower to get the new dried sweat off before bed. Yuck. I know that's too much info, but I just hate being dirty. I'm always horrified when I tour old homes in historic places and the tour guide tells how they would take one bath a week, all sharing the same water. Seriously, that is disgusting.

After trying to get refreshed without actually showering, we headed to dinner with Kadesh and Stacey Jerome, their kids, and two other men here ministering on the island. I ordered a gigantic hamburger and loved it, by the way. Stacey is such a sweet and fun person to talk to. It's so amazing how you can live such different lives, but connect so easily with someone.

With a full stomach once again (I'm starting to feel a little piggish), we headed to Kadesh's church, where the Bible classes are being held. We met with the students as they came in. There was one lady who I liked a lot, beginning right after she asked me if I was Lisa's daughter and told me how young I looked. (I'm not sure Lisa appreciated it so much.) There are about six men and six women in the class, all very eager to come and sit for three hours a night and study the Bible. Last night's discussion was on angels and demons.

However, I only heard the introduction, because Stacey came by to get me and Lisa so that we could go visit one of her church members with her. Now, I've been on visitation before, but this was a little different. This is the part that seems a world away from the sailboat bordered beach I had been on just a few hours earlier.

The three of us stepped out of the very basic church building, walked across the rotting plywood that is the front step, and headed down the very narrow, dark street, full of speeding cars and lined with local men. I wasn't really scared, but I'm sure I would have been if I were alone. I actually felt rather adventurous. Now, where strange men on dark streets didn't really bother me, bugs were a different story. After walking a block or two down the road, we turned down an even darker street and stopped at a gate. We walked through the gate into a courtyard area with houses on each side of us. All the windows were open (no a/c) and people were walking in and out, talking, shouting, and making noises I couldn't discern. Stacey knocked on the window and shouted that we were are there to see the girl inside. (I'm awful and can't remember her name.) The 19-year-old seemed a little caught off guard and sent her 1-year-old girl and 2-month-old boy into the courtyard/dirt yard with us. As we stood there and waited on her to get decent and invite us in, I was a little worried about the people around us and more than a little worried about the bugs that were probably around us out there in the dark.

We were eventually invited in, and we entered a kitchen and living room area that is probably the size of my living room, maybe a little smaller. There was one light bulb burning in the adjacent hallway, blankets hanging over the open windows, and a tiny space full of furniture. A table, a couch, and two chairs are smooshed into the small area. There is a slightly foul odor and the room is stuffy and hot, but we sit down to chat. Now, this is where I show how absolutely spoiled and selfish I am. While I feel bad for the girl and am happy to spend time with her, most of my thoughts consist of a prayer to the Lord, "Please don't let me see a roach." If I do spot one, I'm afraid that I will run screaming from the house into the dark streets alone, never to return. Fortunately (I guess you could say), I only saw small bugs that would crawl on the ground toward me and which I would discreetly squish under my flip flop as the conversation continued around me. I'm sure they thought I was a freak because I kept brushing off my arms and legs to get the imaginary (I like to think they were) bugs off of me.

During our visit (and a later conversation with Stacey), we learned that this girl had been severely beaten by her mother, raised a few years by her grandmother, and shipped off to another island where she stayed with some other old woman. At 14, she returned to St. Martin and met the father of her children, whom she is not married to. She lives in a home owned by her father and neighbor, who just happens to be a cocaine addict.

What can be said about that? It made me thankful, of course, for the blessed life I lead, and amazed that God would allow me such blessing while others are born into such misery. Evidently, the nicest thing anyone has ever done for this girl was when Stacey bought her a pack of diapers a few weeks ago. Of course, people in this situation are sometimes blessed by the fact that it is easier for them to see their need for Jesus, which is what this young girl has done. After a tent revivial at the Jerome's church, she gave her life to Christ. But where do you begin to disciple someone who can't read and who is in a situation like hers with two babies? That's just what Stacey is aiming to do, though, which is wonderful.

When we left, honestly I was relieved to get fresh air and eventually return to my tiny, but seemingly luxurious apartment. And, tomorrow, when I get home, I will be so appreciative of my clean home, electricity, running water, and cozy bed. I'm not sure yet what to do with my experience from last night, but I did think, while I was there, that this is not unique to the French Quarter of St. Martin. There are people who are living very similar lives just miles from our home. I've met some of them at Lovelady. What do I do with that? I'm not sure.

Monday, March 1, 2010

St. Maarten: Day 2

So our first full day on the island was a little better. Morning always gives a new perspective on things for me. We got off to a leisurely start, eating breakfast at the apartments and getting ready for church. I was eager to get my first real taste of island life. It turned out to be not just a taste, but a five-course meal.

We headed to New Testament Baptist Church for their morning worship service. My first impression was good because they had a/c. We had been told they probably wouldn't and it is HOT here. We walked into a sanctuary scattered with people, with a beautiful wood ceiling and stained glass windows. Just as we found a seat, the service started. Though it is labeled "Baptist," it was a little different than our church in Alabama...a little more exciting, shall we say? But the enthusiasm was first. People were filing in for almost an hour. I had heard that time is not so much a factor in the Caribbean, but later I came to think they were just smarter than me.

So, we sang, then we sang, then we sang some more. I actually enjoyed the worship time, but got a little weary after standing for an hour. Then there was a prayer time when people could go down to the altar. After a few seconds, it became apparent they wanted prayer for healing and were also anointed with oil. They are very expressive with their prayers as well (which isn't a bad thing), so that lasted several minutes.

Then, finally, a young man from the front row takes the pulpit. Now, in Alabama, we would have a 10 second prayer and the preacher would begin so as to get everyone out in time for lunch and avoid nasty emails in the coming week. In St. Maarten...not so much. He preluded his sermon with a praise/prayer kind of thing...which was great considering he emphasized wanting God to be glorified and speak through him rather than bringing glory to himself. At last, the sermon began in earnest. And, once again, not so much like home. Over an hour later, we had heard all about paradigms, SHIFT! (apparently if you yell that word enough, your paradigms will, in fact, shift), repentance (that part was good), and how we are all little gods. Don't even ask. I won't even mention the prosperity gospel thrown in here and there, except that I just did.

Really, some of it made me think. How many of my observations are based on my denomination and culture verses the truth of God's Word and Who He is? Haven't figured it all out yet, but it's good to think outside the box a little.

Well, after 2 hours and 45 minutes of church, I was about to pass out from hunger. So, imagine the look on my face (Chris tells me it was priceless), when the pastor finished the invitation, passed the offering plate, then announced, "Now we'll do baby dedication, and after that...baptism." I was ready to do some praying then. Paul and Lisa, who are with us, were seated a couple rows back from us. When I looked back at them, desperately, they nodded their heads toward the door...and I felt like praising Jesus again.

After making our great escape, we passed our afternoon on the French side of the island. (I won't be able to post pics until we get back.) While the Dutch side is very crowded...the houses, the stores, the streets, the parking...the French side has more countryside, quaint looking areas, and an old fort on top of a peak that overlooks the Caribbean. If you don't know, the island is very mountainous, so there are many hilly and curvy roads and houses built up the sides of the slopes. There were many expensive French restaurants on that side. We ate at a roadside bbq place where they were cooking the ribs and chicken, along with the sides in big pots, on a grill outside. The food has all been good, but they are not all about waiting on your table. They appear to take your order, deliver the food, and bring the check. So just settle in.

Then, at 7:30, we bravely ventured into another church service. This time, we went to the church plant of a missionary family, the Jeromes. They live on support, and struggle to make ends meet for their family and their ministry. They meet in a store-front location. There were about five adults there besides the four of us and the Jeromes. There were a few youth and children as well. It was totally different than the other church in every way. They sang hymns a capella, pausing at the end of each one to take suggestions from the audience. Once, two of the pastor's daughters whispered in the music leader's ear, then took the microphone and sang a little duet. When the pastor arrived, he picked up the electric guitar and was the accompaniment, except when he would pause in the middle of a song to try to get his computer to work. There was a greeting time when I received several traditional French know, the kissy on each cheek. I'm just guessing, but I don't think there was a staff meeting on Tuesday of last week to plan the order of service. And, one more difference - it lasted maybe an hour, hour and a half at the most. Thank you, Jesus.

It was very laid back, but when Brother Jerome spoke, you knew it was from his heart. He would speak in English (with a very thick Haitian accent), then follow that with French. What was so moving was his heart for missions. Here he is, a man who can barely afford to feed his family of six, talking to a handful of church members who do not (and maybe cannot) give enough to pay rent on this small, very basic, room where they meet, about giving to and going on mission. Brother Jerome just returned from earthquake-ravaged Haiti, where he went to check on family...but also to take supplies and minister to the people there. He has no money, but he felt lead to go. So, he planned and God provided. And he is going back in April. Astounding.

And this is where I say something controversial and harsh...all I could picture in my mind was our church building at home, complete with amazing technology and sound systems, indoor slides, very expensive murals on the walls, and surrounded by fancy cars...several per family in many cases. Disgusting. I've never pulled out my wallet to put money in an offering plate faster.

I realize I've just written the longest post of all time and I'm getting a headache sitting in the heat in a wicker chair typing on a miniature keyboard. (Don't ever say I never did anything for you.) And I haven't even said anything about today. So, I think I'll be done and try to recover and cool off before we head to our third restaurant of today for dinner with the Jeromes. Thanks for checking in!

Oh, and no answer yet, as far as we can tell.