Monday, December 28, 2009

Go Time

The funny thing?
We're done packing, and there are enough clothes left in the closet to be an entire wardrobe. We are blessed, blessed, blessed.
We fly tomorrow afternoon to Miami. Night in Miami, then on the Port-au-Prince.
Prayers for safe travel, quick (but safe) security screenings, and on-time non-cancelled flights (forecast: wintry mix yuck).


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!
Today, B and I mentally put Christmas back in a box, loaded it into the attic, and moved on.
It's go time.
We started packing.
We registered our trip with the State Department.
We wrote thank you notes.
We read Quisqueya school newsletters- just posted online!
We made many evaluations - how many insect repellants do we need? Will the carbon monoxide/smoke detector make the cut? The Coleman lantern is a lot heavier than we realized....
Our life is a zoo!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

There are 5 days until we leave. Make sure your strapped in and keep all arms in side the car.

I am roller coaster excited. I know the ride ahead is going to be wild and fun and it will leave me breathless and wanting to do it again. Right now though we are being pulled up to the top of the hill... watch out for that first drop. Like I said, roller coaster excited.

If you have a few moments I would encourage you to pray for healing for two leaders, both have cancer. Matt Chandler ( Michael Spencer (

Goodbye deep V's

The creation is not in any sense independent of the Creator, the result of a primal creative act long over and done with, but is the continuous, constant participation of all creatures in the being of God.
- Wendell Berry

Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
- Amos 5:23-24

The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.

- Proverbs 5:7

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
- James 1:27

Have you heard of the Sweatshop Hall of Shame? As a person who loves Jesus and also shops, we need to put our money where our heart is. This document helps. For instance, Uzbekistan recently passed a law requiring children as young as 7 to work in cotton harvests in late summer, when they would normally be starting school. Many companies now boycott Uzbek cotton until they change their law, but some - Gymboree, Hanes, and LL Bean - have refused.

Dear Hanes (and other Bad Guys),
I really love your men's V-neck undershirts. They're my go-to shirt. I was planning to buy lots more before I go overseas. Except.... you support child labor - 7 year olds in Uzbek cotton fields. Sorry. No more V-necks for me.

Here's a special reason why I care: a brand new report says 225,000 children in Haiti are slaves. TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND children. Out of a nation of only 10 million. Known as "restaveks", these kids' families poverty is so severe that the families send their kids to other, less-poor families. Did you hear that? Poverty in Haiti is so bad, slavery is a better option that living with their parents. The study found that 30% of Haitian families had restaveks, 66% of whom are female (and all of whom are vulnerable to rape and abuse).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

10 days

To do:
-sign wills and power of attorney
-find new life insurance
-find new health insurance
-give blood to find out blood type (required for residency visa)
-deal with cell phones

-sell Ben's car
-purchase mosquito net
-Christmas shopping
-last day of work
-support dinners

Monday, December 14, 2009

Due to the beauty that is Google Alerts, I learned about a fascinating project included in UTD business professor John Barden's "Financial Information Management" class (frightening title, I know). Dr. Barden's class includes a "Classroom Citizenship and Social Responsibility" component that abides by a set of simple rules:
  • A treasurer will be elected for each class to collect and maintain funds.
  • Each class will elect one charity to receive the donated funds at the semester's end.
  • No baseball caps in class. If you want to wear a baseball cap, the donation is $2 per class.
  • If your cell phone rings, the donation is $10 per class.
  • If you are late for class, the donation is $5 per class.
  • If you want to text in class, the donation is $10 per class.
  • A publisher donates a textbook to each class and the donation is raffled off for $50. Student has 10 days to pay or interest accrues at 1% per week.
Isn't that fascinating? His classes have donated over $9,000 to charity in the past 3 years. This year Buckner received over $700. That's no small thing! Read the story here. Can I do that in Haiti with my classes? Could you do it with high school kids?

Also, my friend Jenny showed me "Haiti: The Cost of Life". A joint venture between Global Kids, Microsoft, and GameLab, this online game was helps you explore what its like to make choices in poverty. You have a family of four, and your goal is to keep them healthy/alive and get an education. It's really cool.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today I ran across a fascinating blog entry by a 29-year-old Chicagoan named Bethany who traveled to Port-au-Prince last year to spend a week in an orphanage. Her looong and very detailed report paints a much clearer picture of city life for me, and sounds almost exactly like my time in India. One of my greatest fears has been the whole "unknown" element of moving to a place you've never seen, so knowing that the streets of Port are similar to Delhi comforts me.

Further, I found an interesting artcle in the Haitian Times on the renewal of the UN MINUSTAH presence in Haiti for at least one more year, through October 10. This 9,000-member UN peacekeeping force has been in the country since 2004 and has significantly stabilized the capital.

Lastly, Ben found an interesting piece called Our Man in Haiti: Bill Clinton on the great work that Mr. Clinton has done as special UN Ambassador to Haiti. He's gone around the world seeking private investors to pursue business interests in Haiti to stimulate the economy, as well as pressured the government to become more business-friendly through greater transparency, better laws, and less corruption. He's also pressuring those who've made pledges to Haiti to pay up, and he was involved in recent cancellations of Haitian national debt by world banks - a move that will save the government $50 milllion per year that can now, hopefully, go to better serve the people.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For the slave is our brother

I love the song "O Holy Night". This Christmas, though, a different verse is popping out at me. I've probably heard the song a hundred times, but never this part before.

Third verse:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord
Let ever ever praise we
Noel, noel
O night, O night divine


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stuff Ben and Katie Like

Look, I don't know if this applies to us. But, it is always good to be self-aware.

Katie and I love this site, and I want to apologize now if the link describes us while we are gone.

But what do you expect, after all, we are white.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Matt, Missions, and degrees of seperation

Unless you have been living under an evangelical rock, you know that Matt Chandler had brain surgery this week.

Reading about how he and his family are handling this trial is inspiring, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who has heard him speak at The Village Church or listed to a podcast of his sermon. As Katie and I are getting ready to leave a few people have asked if we are nervous or scared. Matt's attitude is one that I want to have.

Before I share let me be upfront in saying that I really try not to get caught up in the personality cult around him. I probably fail at it, but I try.

Matt had a big impact on me at formative time. Right after college I was very de-churched. I was not really interested in the way church was being done around me. I didn't like my options. Go to churches that didn't feel very real to me and just go through the motions... Doesn't that lead to boring religion and eat at your soul? My other option I thought, was to stop going to church. If there wasn't one I liked I should probably not fake it.

Then through word of mouth I heard about The Village and things changed for me. I don't go there now but for a good year I was regularly in a chair drinking up every word.

Here I am 25 days away from moving to Haiti and I know that getting to where I am now was jump started by The Village Church and Matt Chandler. His passion for Christ, authentic living and his understanding that there are a lot of people who were tired of the way things are being done has made him a favorite pastor of mine and of countless other Millennials.

I am praying for his health, for his families peace, for his doctors wisdom, and for The Village's leadership. Matt has a lot of life a head of him and and I hope more ministry in his future.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


"I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
-Stephen Jay Gould
American evolutionary biologist (1942-2002)

You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien.
-Leviticus 19:10

What does this look like in 2009? How can I incorporate the spirit of this instruction from God in my life? What are my modern-day "vineyards"? What are my "grapes", and how do I avoid "stripping my vineyards bare"?

Could it mean giving some of my time to mentor a child or teen?
Could it mean blessing a poor family directly by giving them items from my house instead of selling them or donating to an intermediary, like Goodwill?

It seems like a passive kind of charity- not gathering up some grapes and taking them down to the local food pantry. Just leaving them there. Is this kind of like how some of my tax dollars go to welfare, or lots of other social helping programs?

I think sometimes I rob myself of the joy of giving directly to the poor (instead of through intermediaries like churches or charities) because (let's be authentic here) I don't know very many destitute people personally.

Do you have any homeless friends?
Not me.
Well, not yet.
Give me four weeks, then my answer may change:)

I think its particularly interesting that the passage directly mentions giving to "the alien" in addition to the poor. Especially in Texas we often have a very uncompassionate view toward the "aliens" living nearby - the immigrant community, including undocumented immigrants.

People (coughLouDobbscough) get up in arms that "they" are crowding up our ERs and causing strain on our schools. But, as Americans, what are our collective "fallen grapes" that we should leave behind to share with the poor? Maybe its a few seats in the waiting room, or a few books borrowed from the library, or a few extra kids on the school bus?

Now notice, the verse does not say "leave every single one of your grapes" or "gather up all your grapes and give them all away to the hungry". But, we can spare a few, I think. We can scoot over and make room for another on the couch. Maybe my view would change if I spent a little time at their dinner table, or watched a Cowboys game together, or babysat their kids.

PS I'm thinking more and more about issues of immigration as I fall more in love with Parkside Place.



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