Monday, November 30, 2009

MedEx

Ever heard of MedEx Hot Spots report? It's daily global intelligence about every country in the world. They send you a daily email with all the latest local news you would want- holidays, protests, unrest, etc. For instance, today it told me that on a certain street in Port-au-Prince, somebody has been throwing rocks at cars and to avoid that street. Good to know!

What did missionaries do before the internet?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cost

Happy Late Turkeyday. Kate and I are so thankful for you. Your prayers. Your insight. Your encouragement. And your donations. We are just a few days away from starting our 1 mouth countdown.

Maybe it is the holiday season, the fact that I have sold 2/3rds of my belongings, or that I am leaving soon and can only take 140lbs of stuff to live on, but I have been obsessed lately with the cost of things.

How much does that shirt cost? Could I justify to my donors the dollars spent on it? Is there a cheaper version? Do I really need it? And cost is not only measured in dollars but also in weight.

If I buy something is it useful in Haiti and is it too heavy that it prohibits me from taking something else?

I had lunch with a good friend on Wednesday and shared some of these questions. He is much wiser than I am and I value his advice. He reminded me that deciding how to use our resources is part of God's Grace in our life, that we have is already His. There are few black and white rules about how to use our stuff, and living in His Grace there is a lot of flexibility in how to use our material blessings if we are seeking what is best for His kingdom.

I want to be well prepared, but I can't pack everything. Even in my suit case I am reminded that I have to live by faith and experience Gods grace and blessing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Freedom from Holiday Shopping Madness

So its the week of Thanksgiving, and what's the talk of the town? Black Friday deals and holiday shopping. I woke up to CNBC this morning (not my fault, I live with Banker McCorporate, aka my fantastic dad) and all the talking heads are predicting, analyzing, amending predictions, re-predicting the holiday spending forecasts. Will it be Gray Friday instead of Black? What about Cyber Monday? How will the weather matter ("they" predict warmer-than-average temps are good for jewelry and electronics sales, bad for coats and boots)? CNN announced Walmart's Black Friday specials as "breaking news" as soon as the store's specials has been leaked a few days ahead of their official release.

Whatever. One of the coolest things about leaving for Haiti is that we literally can't buy anything. There's no place for it to go! We're living with my parents in one bedroom, one tiny closet, and we're moving to Haiti on American Airlines with two checked bags each - there's no room for any more stuff. It's fantastic. It's FREEDOM. Freedom from holiday shopping, from buying, from advertisements. I feel a strange power when I window shop, when I see a commercial - I can't buy anything even if I wanted to. It's really cool.

Further, its not just that we don't have the space, its that our budget just got super tight as we have only a few paychecks left before we're on 100% support from friends and family. For instance:

We're discussed the idea of buying a Kindle. It makes sense in a way - like an Ipod for books, a Kindle lets you have dozens or hundreds of books digitally so you don't have to lug all that weight and suitcase-space to Haiti. However, in the end, its $259, and that's not exactly a necessity in our new fundraising-for-income lifestyle. I had qualms about spending somebody's support money on a Kindle, even if I really love reading and reading would encourage us and grow us spiritually. It's just not the higher priority for use of money while we're in Haiti, trying to serve the Lord and the Haitians.

But, isn't it always that way? Isn't it always somebody else's money- God's? If all our money is a gift from God, provision from God, for the sole purpose of honoring God and doing God's work, shouldn't every purchase fall under such scrutiny? I believe it should. But its only now that I see all my finances for what they are - God's provision - that I scrutinize the purpose, the purchases, the maximizing of what I've been given to honor God and God's beloved people. What lessons God is teaching me, even before we leave.

Katie

Monday, November 16, 2009

Launch

Friends,

We are moving to Haiti! After today we've shared our news with both employers, so at long last we're  ready to share with everyone.

So here's the story - Ben and I are moving to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on December 29, 2009.

Why?
Jesus said, "God's spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free, To announce, 'This is God's year to act'."
- Luke 4

Jesus said these words in his hometown to announce the beginning of his ministry. It's become our theme verse, too, as we prepare for Haiti. As Jesus-followers, we just want to imitate Him. Love like He loved. We've been sensing a specific call to serve overseas for some months and have been praying about it ever since.

What will you do?
Ben and I will be high school teachers at Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince. Ben will teach high school social studies and history. I will teach high school English and electives (theater, life skills, geography, etc.). Quisqueya has about 300 students K-12th grade and is part of the Association of Christian International Schools. The school teaches in English, and students are a blend of Haitians as well as children of missionaries, diplomats, and businesspeople. Outside of the school day we'll be serving in the community alongside local missionaries.

How long will you go?
Several years. We'll renew our contract annually. Exciting news: we'll be home in the summers! We'll have around 8 weeks back home in Dallas. We're not sure exactly what we'll do during that time - possibly working, youth camp/children's camp/VBS/Young Life camp, resting, visiting family and friends, or probably a combination of all of the above.

Are you fundraising?
Yes. The school pays us a stipend, and on top of that we're raising $850 per month.The easiest way to give is via the PalPal link to your right. The thing we need most is monthly supporters.

How can we be involved?
1. Pray for us. We desperately need a community praying around us - thanks in advance for your prayers for us, for our ministry, for Haiti.
2. Support. We'll be counting on our community to support us while in Haiti. Since we'll be flying to Port-au-Prince on American Airlines, frequent flyer miles are a blessing, too.
3. Check back on the blog for frequent updates. You can become a Follower (click the "Follow" button to the right) or add us to your feed reader.

Love,
Ben and Katie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pay Pal, Constant Contact, HTML, oh my!

We are getting legitimate around here. I was up late into the night upgrading to a Pay Pal business account (and having a slight run-in with the Compliance Dept over the definition of "non profit"), scouring the internet for edited HTML code to program the new donation buttons (see right), customizing our blog, registering for a domain name, and learning about Constant Contact. The beauty of this day and age is that there are so many tools available for free - we haven't spent more than $20 so far getting set up, and all these tools will really allow us to fundraise and communicate to our Communidad with ease from Hatland.

As we prepare, we're devouring any information about Haitian life and culture.
Let's file this one under Restaurant Fail:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Communitas

K has made much about our community lately and I wanted to build upon that thought.

This has been such a time of growth for us and our community at Fellowship because of our vulnerability and their ability and willingness to meet those needs. So often the ideal of community seems so foreign to us because we, as Americans, do not allow ourselves to need anything from any one. This is seen as weakness.

Be honest, when was the last time you had a need and let someone else meet it with out first trying to meet that need yourself? We have been raised to be self reliant, to be independent and to a certain extent these are wonderful traits, but gone unchecked they have brought us to a place where we miss out on so much. We read about the 1st century church in Acts with wrinkled brows because we don't have opportunities to be generous; and people are often not generous to us. (I realize this could be labeled and over simplification, but bear with me I have a word limit.)

Maybe not everyone needs someone to provide a roof over their head for a few months or money to sustain them for a few years, but everyone has a need, emotional or physical, that they cannot meet for themselves. So I challenge you in two ways.

1. Be vulnerable and confess your need to your community.
2. When you hear about a need, act swiftly to meet it with the resources you have.

One will allow you to experience a tangible example of God's Grace, the other will allow you to be a blessing to someone. This is a big part of what community is all about.

Friday, November 6, 2009

If there were a prize for #1 Community...

... my small group would win it. I'm telling you, people.

Last Friday and Saturday small group moved us out of our apartment. Over the week or two before that, they showed up several times with trucks to help move our furniture to its various new homes - some Craigslist buyers, some family, some friends.

Speaking of furniture, my small group members who recently just bought homes and had some extra space had divvied up our "nice" furniture between them to keep for the next 2 - 3 years so we don't have to a) sell it all and re-buy everything in 3 years, or b) pay for a storage unit.

This week, our small group has been bringing all their extra stuff to our leader's house to get ready for a giant garage sale tomorrow morning. Then, tomorrow night, our small group is putting on a support dinner so we can share our needs and ministry plans with our church and young friends (the 'rents are planning to do another similar dinner later for their friends and people from their church).

Several young friends and couples, including one that's not even married yet, and including several that are on only one income due to grad school or stay-at-home-parenting, have indicated that they plan to support us financially every month. Often they apologize that they can't do more, while I'm standing there gaping at their generosity. These are people that are in their 20's and 30's... leaders in giving.

Community in action:) It's beautiful, really.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spreading the news

I told my workplace! It went so well. I work with the most lovely Godly people.

I had planned to tell my boss on Friday, then again on Monday morning, then Monday lunchtime...it kept getting pushed back. I was such a ball of nerves. We finally got to talk Monday late afternoon. I hated to deliver that kind of news at the end of a stressful day, but could not wait any longer.

Because I didn't get to share the news with my boss until after our staff meeting, I had to tell my friends at work one by one. Emotionally draining, but so encouraging- I had about 20 pastors speaking into my life yesterday. Such encouragement, such love, such life wisdom.

Ben has still not shared the news- a few more weeks to go.

God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He's so good
to
me

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