Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aldente pasta, old boots and Barry's food economy

 If I could narrow down Barry's love language to one thing it would be "quality time" Specifically "Time spent cooking Quality Food" for him of course. You all know that I am less than enthusiastic about cooking its not that I cant cook I just really don't like to cook.  When its my turn to cook I generally takes the easiest and shortest route to getting a meal on the table and me back out of the kitchen.

As you can imagine that doesn't communicate much love to Barry. After a very challenging week last week, I wanted to show Barry just how much I had appreciated the care he took with me. He excelled as a husband last week, holding me when I really needed it, letting me cry and mopping up the tears, and just making sure I knew I was loved.

So today I wanted to show him just how much I appreciated him. I decided I would try to make salmon and spinach ravioli. I have always been in awe of people that make there own pasta and as the range of pasta here in Haiti is limited to spagetti and lasagne I thought I would give it a shot.

I had done a trade exchange with Joanna one of the Heartline midwives extraordinaire's here. 5 Avacadoes for a tin of salmon. We are blessed to have an avacado tree in our yard and it has produced a bumper crop and so I feel its my duty to ensure the neighbours and our missionairy friends are well supplied. Secretly I would have given them to Joanna anyway but her Dad is a master fisherman in Oregan and he catches huge salmon and cans them and Joanna brings them to Haiti, so this isnt just any salmon this is Oregan delicious salmon, gives Tasmanian salmon some stiff competition let me tell you.

I decided I would try to make salmon and spinach ravioli.  (Ive learnt the more adventurous the attempt the more Barry points I accrue.)  I have documented the fun for your entertainment.

My attempt to make the pasta without a pasta maker
I decided on a circle shape ravioli

So things where going well and I had headed the recipes wairnings that the pasta needed to be thin almost see thru.
The delicious filling, salmon, spinach, and cream cheese.

I thought my little pillows where looking good.

So things where going great I have always been in awe of people that make there own pasta and I was feeling pretty happy with myself. Tonight I was one of those people that make there own pasta. Yeah.

I decided that I should be really tricky and test how long they would take to cook so I could be sure they where aldente.
In you go.

I forgot to look at the clock to time how long the "test" took real smart I know. So a second pillow had to be sacrificed. This time I watched the clock.

So after many many more minutes than I expected they just were not cooking. They were a dismal failure I cant even show you the sad mess as they quickly entered the bin. Think of the texture of an old boot and you are close.

The pasta was just too thick. So unfortunately I am not one of those people that makes there own pasta.

I did manage to salvage the dinner and the valuable delicious salmon and we had salmon, spinach spaghetti instead.

Doesn't photograph well but it was delicious.

Happy customer.
Best part about stuffing up so bad is that in Barry's food economy I get still get huge points for effort, and he knows he is loved and appreciated which was the whole point to begin with.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So what does it cost to be a mssionary?

I wish I knew!!!!

Obviously it costs money to be a missionary but that's not what I am talking about.

I dont really feel qualified enough to answer that question having only lived 9 months on the job. I do know that some days it costs more than I expected and then other days less. No two days are ever the same here, that much I have learnt.

I know days like today when I am sad and missing home that the price feels high. It feels high when I see photos of my nieces and nephews and my best friends kids growing up without us. It feels high when we miss important milestones, babies being born, weddings, parties, family weekends, or missing my girlfriend catch up sessions. The cost seems almost unbearable when one of our closest friends battles cancer and we are not there to hold her hand, or hug her boys.

I know that we will probably feel the cost of living in Haiti for the rest of our lives. One of my friends recently wrote "I want to go back to 2009 before I knew better" I cant imagine what life outside of mission would look like anymore.

It costs me to know I won the lottery when I was born in Australia and what a difference that win makes.

If you asked me last week what my favorite scipture verse is I would have said Luke 12:48.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

I used to use this verse to spur me on, to not cease and to try to follow what I was called to do. I used to kid myself that I didn't take my life for granted and that I knew I was blessed. Today this verse feels heavy. After living here, I trully know what it means to be "entrusted with much" and the weight of what is asked sometimes feels unbearable.

Most days here I feel unworthy of what I have been entrusted with and unqualified for the task at hand. 

After losing our son Isaac, God had slowly but surely bought us back from a very deep ravine we were in. Our lives were together. We had a house, a dog we adore, I loved my job we had even talked about trying to have a family again. Then everything changed. Our world was turned upside down and I am weighing the cost.

The world looks different it looks bleaker, more painful and feels so far from redemption. Its not that this just happened its just that our eyes have been opened. Ive learnt there is a price to pay for knowledge and I get the feeling its not a one time visit to the checkout. Some days I just wish I could open the drawer and put on my rose colored glasses even just for awhile.

In November we will fly back to Australia to rest, catch up with our nearest and dearest try to make up for what we have missed. We will also be raising our support for 2012. We wanted to use our money and savings to pay for the first year of mission. We didnt have a clue why we were called here so we didn't feel right about asking for money. My A type personality hate's the thought of someone else paying for my rice bubbles. I want to be sick just thinking about it. I think mainly its the final realization that I have to surrender everything if I am going to let God do what he has planned. Don't hear a word of this blog in any way doubting why we are here. We know we are supposed to be exactly where we are are. There are days like today when I wonder if I can ever get out of His way long enough for Him to do what He needs to do.

The stupid part is that I have seen God already work miracles since we arrived here.  It sounds funny to say but I don't have a single doubt He will provide. It just costs my strong will and pride to be humble enough to say "I cant do this alone".

If this blog was an accounting ledger the last cost would have to be firmly in the "Good for me." column. Just not sure where the other costs go, and what the tally looks like. Don't think I want to know.

I think I want this to be my new favorite verse.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30


Thursday, August 11, 2011


Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere. from Chris Tomlin's Song

Have you every had the privillege of experiencing one day in his courts?  Well this last week there was 20 plus of us that had this privellege and it was humbling to say the least.

Our friends from Awaken Haiti Jeff and Deb Delinger allowed me to join their team for the week to build a church in Canaan/Carri. They had been consulting with the local pastor of this new settlement where 18 month old tents are the norm, so this area was in real need of some hope for the people who live in this community. You see these guy's have a great heart for this community and instead of rushing in and trying to fix things they have strategically consulted with the local leader, Pastor Nathan to find what will make the biggest difference in this community of displaced Haitians. Praise God after 9 months of working towards the goal, the people received the gift of not only a new church but a 70 feet by 30 feet community building that can be used as a school instead of the very weathered and torn old UNICEF tent which expired about 8 months ago.

Expired elementary school tent (photo credit Deb Delinger)

So what was so humbling about this week and the experience of building a church/school?

We carried 2 by 2 gallon buckets of concrete for 6 hours in the 38 degree heat along side the pre school teacher and even some Ti moons (Kids) who wanted to help, that was pretty humbling.

Local kids helping to prepare the pad ready for concrete. (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

The concrete bucket line. (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

A team of mostly Americans walking alongside their Haitian brothers to train them and teach them new skills to and to see their faces of achievement at the end of the week that was pretty humbling. But what really flawed me was when the construction was complete the community planned a celebration church service on the Friday night.

Pastor Nathan stood there in 30 plus degrees (still at 6pm) in a suit and acknowledged that the community had received a true gift from the God. Pastor Nathan has faithful served the people of Haiti for so many years despite times when he must have felt God had left them out in the desert to rot and suffer. He showed clearly to all that He has not forgotten or forsaken his people. No one can argue that these people have suffered and they still do, but this night was a reminder and celebration for Gods goodness and faithfulness. A chance to praise God's name at the top of their lungs.  They have renewed hope. Their children will be able to learn in a stable building sheltered from the elements.  The community can now gather to worship and continue to seek God's face and bring life out of the dust of this harsh land they now call home.

Jeff was asked to say something to the congregation and the Lord clearly delivered a good word to him. Jeff delivered it at a volume and intensity that would rival any southern baptist preacher, he said "This building is not the church, you and me we are the church and if we truly want to be the church we must remember the first two commandments 1. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and all of your mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. If we follow these commandments we will be the church in action. (paraphrased)  

Some people say a building cannot change a community, and I agree. I don't believe that a 2000 foot square building will somehow wipe away the pains the Haitian people feel day in day out as they struggle to find clean water and enough food to feed their families.  But in alot of ways it goes alot further than you might expect. After seeing what took place this past week, Americans working alongside Haitians training these guy's in building techniques and sharing some common understandings of life and community. These are the building blocks of helping that does not hurt, building blocks that empower a community. It helps rebuild a communities identity.
The church / school / community center (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

Now not only will the children from all around this village have a chance to go to school but they will be introduced to the gospel and that as we have witnessed is the real power that can transform lives because if it didn't then, I would not be here personally serving a God that has transformed my life.

That is the power in what I saw this past week, to see a community find hope despite the suffering, see a child valued and educated instead of sitting in misery in a dirt patch. To witness utter jubilation as the community thanked God for what he had given to their community humbling truly humbling.

So after 8 months of feeling like being part of the problem here in Haiti this was the week God humbled me in showing a glimpse of what he is doing.

I learnt that in order to be part of the solution sometimes you have to be part of the problem first, because you can gain a perspective from such an experience. Instead of seeing the problems you start to get a vision, but not a human vision but God's vision for how something like community can be developed and how in one week something like this can begin to transform an entire community.

I got to meet people who have lived and suffered from the loss of family members, their lively hoods and their homes taken from them in an afternoon. Yet here they were they had come together under one roof to sing to their God, to praise Jesus name in their local language, I wish you could have been there for a glimpse of this, one day in his courts it was truly amazing and I imagine a glimpse of what we can expect in heaven.

If you have had a day like that lately in your own Christian walk can I encourage you to share it with someone that does not know Jesus or the power of the Gospel because he deserves all the Glory and if we think were smart enough to work this all out come to Haiti because you soon realize these are God sized complicated problems and only he can bring the solutions. We can build all the buildings we like but if God doesn't change hearts nothing changes. 

Barry McDonald