Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dreamcar

The other day we were driving around town and Jonathan was staring out the window. Suddenly he spoke up and said,

"If I could have one type of car in the world, it would be... a fork lift."

That's my special boy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Hilltop Experience

Tonight I spoke to The M who is in Haiti with our boys. This is the story she told me.

Yesterday, some of the team found a village up the hill near the hotel. Several of them met a "man of peace" as described in Luke 10:6 and had some great conversations about God with several of the villagers there. Two of the women there decided to become followers of Christ that day, and the team promised to come back and follow up.

The M was not present for this, however, because she was sick yesterday. She stayed in bed eating antibiotics and making "runs" for the bathroom. But today, gratefully, she was better and was able to join the team as they returned to the little mountain village.

They walked from the hotel up the rocky road that rose and rose up the hillside. The M said that today she saw the beauty of Haiti as she took in more and more of the countryside as they climbed. At last they reached the village at the top where the hill forms a little plateau covered with carpet-like grass. The M, the team leader Vincent, and a translator found the two newly-Christian women and sat down to talk with them in the shade for a while. They had some written material to guide them in the basics of Christianity - think of Vacation Bible School for adults in French Creole - if you can think of that.

As they read over concepts like creation, separation from God (a.k.a. the results of sin), God's love and forgiveness, she could tell that their level of literacy was not allowing them to fully understand. So true to her form, just like I have seen her do before, she pantomimed, effervesced, and smiled her way into their hearts, going over the concepts with patience. She pressed her open Bible against her chest to illustrate God's words to us soaking into our hearts and transforming our minds. She probably called them "sugar" and touched them a lot, I don't know. In the end, the ladies decided they wanted to be baptized.

The "man of peace" (MOP) had been receiving some training of his own about being a shepherd to other believers. At least I think that's what she said (I'm a little fuzzy on the details). He and the team gathered at the carpet of grass on the hilltop. Since no bodies of water were available, the MOP produced a couple of plastic milk jugs filled with water for the baptism! The team formed a circle as the first lady knelt in the center and the MOP performed the holy sacrament.

"I baptize you in the name of the Father... glug glug glug... and the Son... glug glug glug... and the Holy Spirit" he said as he poured the water over her head. It ran over her head between the rows of braided hair and cascaded down her smiling face filled with the peace that passes understanding. What a beautiful, beautiful thing. The team celebrated her with applause and prayers for her blessing. The second lady followed after that. It was an awesome day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Intensity in the Tent City

Jono went with the Haiti team to a tent city yesterday. It didn't go very well.

He is the youngest, and possibly the lightest-skinned, person in their group. And apparently his white skin was something the children at the tent city had never seen before. (All the white people they see are adults, perhaps?) They all crowded around him and wanted to touch him, which he didn't like very much. He was with our friend, Vincent, who is a huge African American man with muscles that don't seem to have diminished since he played football for Baylor back in the day. Jono got a little scared and buried his head in Vincent's stomach for protection.

Seeing how Jono was frightened, and how the Haitian kids were not deterred by this, Vincent took him to the van for refuge. David went with him and The M showed up as well because she was feeling nauseated from something she ate. So sick mama and scared son sat in the hot van for three hours while the rest of the team met with people in the tent city.


The M said she had never seen such squalor: grown women bathing naked in a river in plain sight, sewage and mud everywhere, hopelessness, and voodoo, etc.. She met a 15 year old girl who lost her mother in the earthquake. She doesn't know where her father is, so now she is raising her younger sister alone in the tent city.

Later that night The M started running a fever. (She has since started an antibiotic called Cipro that will nuke all the bacteria in her GI tract. I'm glad I recommended she get that prescription filled before she left.)

Between the fever and the squalor and the knowledge that her son had a scary experience, she was emotionally exhausted. With one of the other lady's from the team, she cried in her hotel room for a long time Sunday night. I wish I was there to comfort her. I feel out of control, but perhaps that was part of the plan...



(All photos copyright by Tiffany Bonow, used with permission)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Isaac

This is one of my favorite photographs from my recent trip to Honduras. Isaac just completed his freshman year in the engineering program at Baylor, and has been eager to come on a discipline-specific mission trip since he first heard about them (which was before coming to Baylor). He says that he is at Baylor because of the existence of our group, Engineers with a Mission. It fits him.


Things you might not expect about Isaac from looking at him covered in sweat, dirt, and whiskers are: he is a well-read intellectual, a devout follower of Jesus Christ, and a surprisingly good dancer! The later we found out after attending a quincea├▒era which we had the honor of attending.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a hard hard entrance into Haiti...

The M, David, and Jono departed for Haiti this morning at 4:00 AM. They are working in support of a long-term rebuilding and transformation project that our church has undertaken in the town of Leogane, near the epicenter. Sometime this afternoon they arrived in Port-au-Prince and this evening, about 13 hours after they left town, I got the following text message:

"...We are here. I miss you. It was a hard hard entrance into the country. I am afraid about our first night. Please please pray for my peace. I am really upset, but holding it together..."

That's all I know.

What does she mean by "hard hard entrance into the country" you might ask? I'm not certain, but if I know my wife it means the poverty and destruction and hopelessness they have seen has been emotionally taxing. She is one of the deepest feeling people I have ever met, and seeing people suffering causes her real suffering too. That is probably the "hard hard entrance". Either that or they had to jump out of the plane without a parachute. Thump.


This incredible photograph was taken by a friend, Tiffany Bonow, in a recent trip to Haiti. What does it have to do with The M's text? Not much. But isn't it stunning? I mean come on Tiffany! It also serves as a break in the middle of the post. It needs a break.

You see, after I wrote the first half, I tried to call The M again - and this time I got through. My suspicions about her response to the devastation were correct, and even underestimated. She is truly overwhelmed by it. It's not just the ruined homes everywhere and mile after mile of buildings reduced to piles of rocks, but it's the people. From the beggars to the overzealous baggage guys at the airport who literally pulled David's bag out of his hand to carry it - and therefore get a tip - the people are desperate and hopeless and more than enough to shake you up. And therefore my dear wife whose name is not really "The M" is awash in sorrow and compassion. I wish I was there to hold her, but I know she is experiencing the heart of God right now, and in this I take comfort.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jonathan gets Baptized

Last week we found out that some of our friends were going to be baptized in Lake Waco. This brought to mind an opportunity. My little Jonathan (Jono) had resisted being baptized because he didn't want to be up in front of the whole church with two thousand eyes watching him. Because the group at the lake would be much smaller, I brought it up to him last Friday.

He thought that was a good idea and was excited and nervous all weekend. Sunday evening we went to the lake with our friends and I had the great honor of baptizing him. After he came out of the water (the video stops there) Martha prayed for him with lots of tears. Jonathan turned around to comfort her, true to his normally compassionate self.



For the friends and family that didn't get to witness this but wanted to, I apologize. And for those who don't share our theological perspective, we believe that baptism is an outward symbol of an inner change. The change is authored by God and we respond by accepting his offer of forgiveness and new life, made possible by Jesus's death in place of our own. As Jono goes into the water, it symbolizes the death of the old self and Christ's death for us, and as he comes out of the water it symbolizes our new life in him and Christ rising from the dead after three days!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mono y Mano

Expect the unexpected they said. As a leader of a student team to Honduras, Baylor University gave me lots of training for all kinds of emergencies. I was prepared for an earthquake, a coup d'├ętat, armed robbery, or malaria. But who would have thought...

Lance and I spent several days together working on the mechanical design for the hydro turbine. One day we went to a machine shop in the city of El Progresso, near our hotel. The owner had a pet monkey, and Lance went over to take some pictures. The monkey was fascinated by his shorts, presumably because most Honduran men wear long pants instead. In the end, something spooked the monkey and he bit Lance in the hand, breaking the skin! Remarkably, Lance shot video of the whole thing!



Honduran machine shop monkey bites: I couldn't find that tab in my leader's book. I improvised with do-it-yourself lobotomy and a bucket of antibiotics. In the end, Lance was fine, despite a fang-shaped scar and a strange craving for bananas. Ooo ooo aahh aahh.